Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army


25 February 2013

Hello family Dearest!

   This Week... Hmmm it was a weird week, but good. Started off with a normal P-Day filled with Volleyball, basketball and a little bit of Soccer with our Zone (except the sisters haha). And the best part was that it was dumping rain almost the whole time, so I didn't get sun burned! AND I got a haircut! I'm bald now, but its way cooler YES!   
   Tuesday was Zone Conference, all the Zones in the State of Sergipe went to this Zone conference so I was able to see a lot of the buddies that were with me in the MTC, and I was able to see my trainer :) That was way fun! The Assistants, secretaries, and the president all gave a talk or presentation, it was good. I love our president he is such a great guy, he really cares about us. Every time you talk to him you can just feel the authority that he has, that love that he has for you, it's such a great feeling. One part that I didn't like about the conference was watching the elder that I live with give his farewell testimony, Ah it was a killer but it was such an amazing thing to see the affect that a mission has had on his life. That's one thing that I've learned this week, from talking to my Zone leader and Elders that I've met, is that you can always learn something from every missionary and every companion, the mission really has power to change people for the better, I learned that every missionary, every companion has some attribute or characteristic of Christ and we have to learn from each and every one of them. The Conference was great. :)
   Wednesday we moved houses. We moved about five minutes away from our old house but the difference is huge. Our house is way nicer than our old one, we had rats, cockroaches, and the water and electricity stopped working at times, yeah we're living the life now :)
   Thursday and Friday were normal days, we found a number of new people to teach that were really interested in changing their lives. One lady really wanted to be baptized, but perceiving her circumstances we taught her the word of wisdom.... She openly told us all the things she was using and the amount, everything, I was kinda surprised. I found it interesting how much people trusted us, basically two random strangers that showed up at her front door. Then I got to thinking that it really wasn't to us that she was confessing her problems, but to God, not saying that I'm God, but she really trusted us and knew that we can help her. One afternoon we knocked on a door and a lady answered and said that her son was searching for a religion but he wasn't at home. Pity.... But the next day a man stopped us on the street and said that he wanted to know more about our religion.... alrighty tighty :) He ended up being the son of the lady that we talked to the day before! Amazing how God can put us and the people who are honestly searching for the Gospel in the same place. LOVE IT!
   Saturday we had a baptism of a friend of a recent convert, he is cool and we're pretty good buds, he keeps calling me Sir! makes me feel really old. Haha But it was a great meeting. After the meeting was over the bishop said a few welcoming words and the boy that was baptized stood up and gave the bishop a very tender hug. It was a moment that I realized or saw the difference that I made in his life, showing him the straight and narrow path and bringing him to a family with open arms.
   Oh my Goodness you have to hear this story... So we had arrived at lunch and were waiting for that father of the family to arrive so we could all eat together. He arrived and when everyone gathered around we counted twelve heads. For those of you who don't know I have a rather large awesome family, so twelve people is a normal head count, but for this family, no. So the wife decided to bring a table from the dining room into the kitchen, alright lets go elders! The table had a glass top and a younger boy in the family was trying to take it himself, so I offered my hands of delicacy to take the glass. I took it into the kitchen where everyone was waiting, watching.... I decided to set the glass on my foot rather than the ground while I waited for the elders to bring in the table. As I bent over to set the glass carefully on my foot, the glass exploded, seriously EXPLODED, into many tiny bits of glass. The whole thing in one instant scattered and flew everywhere! In the sink, in the table, in the food, down my shirt, Everywhere! Poof!. My heart stopped.... And everything went silent... then everyone started laughing and asking if I was okay.... I just stared at my hands in disbelief in what just happened. I seriously didn't do anything the glass literally exploded, like someone threw a rock and shattered the glass. After cleaning up for about half an hour we finally settled back down to eat, I was too embarrassed to eat and had lost all my words, and of course the father asked ME to bless the food (that the glass wouldn't hurt us, hahaha) They said that they would tell everyone what happened and that they would never forget me haha, "RaLpH the table breaker" haha
   Tonight we are waiting for the call for transfers, who will go and who will stay, during the week the president called and asked our LZ about me and my companion, everyone says that I will train, and to be honest I think I'm going to train too. oh my gosh!..... I'm super nervous, training basically means you have to do everything by yourself and teach a "greeny" what to do ... and around 7 months is when most of the other American missionaries trained... PRAY FOR ME. I actually want to train to be honest, to see what I can do, to do things my way haha and see how they turn out haha, but at the same time I'm super, super nervous. AHHH We shall see. And during the zone conference the president came and talked directly to me... hmmm suspicious ;) We too are having a tidal wave of missionaries coming into our mission, this transfer 18 will arrive and in May around 20! And lots and lots of sisters too....
   I'm So happy to be here serving my mission! I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, I know it.

I love you all so much, thank you for all your love and support. :)


25 December 2012

Pictures sent from Elder Ralph.

  The Maceio Brazil Mission Home

18 February 2013

Almost the whole family is Home but me! WHAT is dis!
Man I made a Huge list of things that I wanted to write about in my planer but I forgot it at home! Blast
  But anyway this week was pretty good. We had a baptism! We were able to baptize Rose. Jack Rose Jack Jack Rose! (Titanic) It was a great meeting, she was crying we were crying, everyone was crying, except the bishop... haha But seriously she went through So much in order to be baptized, the word of wisdom was working on her, her family was giving her grief and her landlord was been a Landlord, the devil really worked on her. But we were always there for her, whenever the word of wisdom was tempting her she called us, we gave blessings, and hours of comforting and encouraging words, many promises too. I'm so thankful too Heavenly Father that he was able to bring to pass all the promises that we made to her, cause there were quite a few that were quite stretchy. The ward has already taken her under their wing because she's so active and self motivated, she's gone to church 5 times before we even started teaching her.... She has many friends in the ward, lady friends.
   So a couple days ago I ate a fruit that was strange to me. Ya know the nut cashews...? Well it's actually the seed of a fruit, its the fruit and then the seed hangs outside the fruit, its weird but cool haha So a sister in the ward offered me one... it was super yummy! :) Yeah tasted good to the tongue but the stomach, NO, That day I had to use the bathroom 8 times.... it was awful and I know you all wanted to know that :D
   So we found an amazing family, first we met the husband who absolutely loved our message. He accepted everything! Then Saturday we met his wife, who already accepted everything that we taught to her husband, he told her everything that we taught him. Man it was awesome! We taught both of them again, just to be clear on a few things. Afterwards they offered us coffee.... So then we had to explain about the word of wisdom.. without us even making a commitment or asking them to stop drinking coffee or smoking they said, " Well I guess we're going have to stop drinking coffee then". YES! SCORE haha they have a little boy who is a hand-full, no he's like three handfuls. I was his entertainment during the lessons haha, he stripped everything out of my pockets, my backpack, he drew on my tie, on our pamphlets, everything you can imagine, just a ball of energy.... I loved it! It was super fun playing with and entertaining him. Reminded me of my little nephews...ah miss them. But now I decided that I'm gunna buy a couple toy cars to entertain little kids when we teach you couples.
   Unfortunately this Golden Family who accepted everything had to move to Panana, southern Brazil.... That for sure was the biggest disappointment this week, when they had to move.
   So this morning we ended up playing volleyball with our zone, and it was dumping rain! Loved it :) Today's been Washington weather, really cloudy :)
    Ah, We've been able to find a number of people that have SO much potential, like people that have distant relatives that are already strong members of the church, but were too shy to explain the church to their relatives. Or people that believe that the Catholic church is wrong, that they teach or have doctrine that isn't in the Bible! YES! :) God really does prepare people for missionaries to teach, I know that's true, we just have to, as missionaries, follow the rules or be obedient, work hard, and love the people.
   I'm so thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve and grow, and I'm so thankful for all your prayers on my behalf, it really does help SO much.
   With all my love,
Elder Ralph

11 February 2013

Got a letter from Elder Sabin :) That was fun, hahaha.
  Last week we played volleyball and basketball as a Zone. Yes mom I used sunscreen... But still I got cooked! My poor nose was peeling all week and everyone was like Woah What happened to You!? haha but it felt so good to do something active :)
  Saturday night we got a lovely call from the secretary of the bishopric asking my companion and I and another Elder to give talks in church the next day. Yippppe! Now everyone will know how horrible my Portuguese is! Fabulous. We were asked to speak on missionary work as usual, so rather than looking up a topic in Preach My Gospel I decided to look through the Ensign. I found a first presidency message that talked about sharing the gospel. It gave an example of a man who was inspired to bring a Book of Mormon with him on a plane and ended up sharing it with one of his coworkers that he sat next to. I talked about how God prepares people to hear the gospel of Christ, he prepares them in many different ways, and he will place them in our path when we are prepared to receive them. I talked about how we as members of the true church of God need to prepare ourselves to share the gospel. That we need to prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually, learning the doctrines of the gospel and having a firm testimony of its truthfulness. But as usually with me I got super, super nervous! And the microphone was having issues so I'm not 100% percent sure if anyone heard me, but still, I liked my talk :)
  Part of this past week and this next week is Carnival here in Aracaju so almost all the stores are closed, nobody is home, and nobody wants to hear us because of the long nights without sleep. We've been walking the streets always looking behind us to see if anyone was sneaking up to throw Flour or Rotten eggs at us. Fortunately we haven't gotten hit, but we've had a few close calls. And unfortunately because of Carnival, many of our investigators that were making progress overcoming addictions fell into temptation. But still we have one lady who is in her mid 50´s who is progressing really fast. She's stopped drinking coffee and is trying her best to stop smoking. She went from smoking 40 cigarettes a day to only 5. PROGRESS! She has gone to church by herself the past 3 Sundays! And hopefully this week, if she doesn't smoke she can be baptized. I personally think she can do it:) She really was prepared by the Lord to find the gospel, everything from her past, the people that she knows, her financial situation, EVERYTHING has prepared her to find and accept the gospel, to find Christ. She´s like a little Grandma to me and my companion, it's funny, But every time we meet with her she uses at least! Two hours! :)
  I'm learning a lot, about the gospel, about Christ, about myself, about others, and how all of it can improve! I love it! 
  Love you Bunches! Everyone of you:) Have a great Week!
    Love Elder Ralph

4 February 2013

Feb 4, 2013

If you want to see where I'm working, search on google maps for Aracaju, Sergipe, next to Rio Sergipe. Street- Visconde Maracaju.
   I'm still having a hard time believing that Sarah got called to the Philippines, that's super exciting! And I'm So happy for her. Sure do wish I was there to help her out.. Miss you SO much Sarah!
   So my new companion Elder Gonzales is from Chile, Santiago I think... He has almost 11 month in the mission and I'm his first junior companion. He's from Chile so he speaks Spanish, so we're both kind of learning together, me more than him haha. There's many words that we both don't know so at times it's hard to communicate, haha. Something funny that I've noticed, the Brazilians are really good at guessing what you're going to say, so many time they will understand what your trying to say and respond before your even done finishing the sentence, but I guess that's the same when two Americans talk, haha.
   So we're working in an area that the scale of wealth ranges from very poor to very rich, depending on what neighborhood we work in. Our area is huge and since we both arrived in the area at the same time, we have a hard time finding where people live and where the streets are etc.. There have been quite a number of times when we've gone tracking and gotten lost in the dark, or knocked on a member's door, or a person that was baptized and left the church. Since we've opened the area we've had to make a lot of street contacts or knock a lot of doors. Normally I and Elder Gonzales trade off or he gets one side of the street and I get the other. Doing contacts by myself is harder but at the same time easier, cause I can act like myself... I don't know why it's just easier. Like I'll play with the dogs, comment on something, talk with the little kids, idk. Something I've been learning is that there exists a huge number of people in the world who aren't like me.... I thought I was a patient chap before my mission, HA Nope! but I'm working on it, trying to be more patient. ...
   Our ward is HUGE compared to my last ward. It has around 100 people active in the ward and a bunch of kids, this past Sunday one of the more hyper active kids ran around in the chapel during sacrament meeting with my name tag pinned to his shirt, haha, he was whispering Elder Ralph Elder Ralph to everyone! I pinned it on him but I didn't expect him to go around whispering my name, Oppps... But it was funny. Unfortunately the missionaries that were in this area before us didn't do anything, just stayed in their house, so the members are still observing us to see if they can trust us enough to give us references. But they are starting to come, wehehe. The other day we put on an activity with some of the members, one of the games was "Do you love you neighbor", haha kinda difficult when you can't make contact with people of the opposite gender, haha, and the sounds between the word amo and não are very similar hehe
So if you guys have any ideas for games that are simple for big groups PLEASE let me know.
   We've been working with a number of great people with great intention, a couple ITALO and LAELA who have been coming to church but are still working on a few problems, marriage is one of them. And Denise who is still searching for her answer, but she really believes that she´ll get it. And Rosá, who is an older lady that a member has been bringing to church. She has been a part of many religions in her lifetime so she knows a lot, but is very lost in certain topics of the gospel, its fun teaching her, she talks a lot haha.
   We've been teaching a lot of other people but unfortunately the "real intention" just isn't there, they make up a lot of excuses or run away when they see us coming, they seriously run! It's sad but it's their choice, sometimes I wanna chase 'um down or call them out when they lie but it's really not worth it. It's something that Elder Bednar taught us, the difference between helping an investigator gain a testimony and helping them be converted, if we chase them down or force them to go to church they aren't growing in either, a testimony or conversion. Many people in our areá know the Mormons because of the two boys that walk around in the streets, most of them have never talked to them, UNTIL NOW WAHAHA.
   I don't know why but talking about food is one of the easiest topics when talking with the female members, like I've been asking for recipes for certain foods and the women just talk! They probably think, awe this cute little American wants to learn to cook haha but seriously I do! I got rice done to a tee, and pancakes, and I make an awesome salad but I want to learn more, mainly because the guys that I live with are pretty low on the cooking skills. That reminds me! this week we're going to move houses, we're moving into a house way cleaner and bigger because our contract expired and the president has moved us into another house.
  Dearest Friends and Family, I am so thankful for all of your support, your prayers, your examples, love, everything that you have done and are doing to help me. I'm working hard, staying focused, and trying my best. I know that this time that I have will pass so fast so I will soak up every moment of it. Learning and growing in every way that I can. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH, and MISS YOU LIKE CRAZY!

Love, ELDER Ralph


28 January 2013

Hello family that I love so much

Well this week was way better than the first week, the first week we spent a lot of time looking for people that we found in the area book, but nothing was following through. We were trying to find members to show us the area or teach with us but we got nothing. So this week our work was more organized, we had people to work with investigators that we could visit. We have been working with a couple that we found our first day of tracting and they were able to come to church this past Sunday. Unfortunately there was a little disagreement during gospel principles that turned into a unnecessary argument. That's probably one of the most frustrating things as a missionary, when members don't act like members and disrupt the reverence in church. Ahhhh! so frustrating, but then there are other members who really reach out and help the missionaries when they bring investigators to church.
This week we were invited by a contact in the street to go to church with them, So, we accepted only if she agreed to come to our church on Sunday. (she didn't come) So we went and it was rather interesting. It was my second time going to a catholic church. Without being offensive, it was a workout! A lot of standing up, sitting down, clapping and singing. The padré read a few verses in Salmos and explained them. It was interesting, you could tell that they were missing something, that they depended on the pastor to teach them, and as long as he praised God, Jesus Christ, Mary or the people in the congregation everyone would give an Amen!. You can see how other churches help people feel closer to Jesus Christ, to feel his love. Help them separate themselves from the cruelties of the world, but really that's just the spirit, So much more exists. The priesthood, the priesthood is such a huge difference between our church and others. We have the ability to receive personal revelation from God, He organized our church, He organized the meetings, everything! He organized it in a way so that people can feel the spirit when they walk into our doors, as members we're responsible to keep that reverence. Without being offensive, I didn't feel the spirit when I went to that church, but I felt it when I went to mine.
We talked to an older gentleman who was sitting outside his house reading a religious book. He has millions of books and loves to read and learn about religions. He said that he has a Book of Mormon and believes that it could be true. But he doesn't believe in our other book, the second visitor, which teaches that Joseph Smith is Jesus..... What?! Uh never heard of it, he said that he had it and went into his house to find it, but he couldn't find it. We ended up talking to him for quite a long time, about religions, differences between our religion and others, and it was amazing to see that two young men who were raised in the church of Jesus Christ knew more than a man like him, extremely educated, well read. He interpreted scripture in a totally different way, then he confused himself about other topics of the Gospel, it was interesting to see. The Devil works through little details, little changes or doubts about the gospel can have a huge affect, like dropping a little pebble into a pond, it affects the whole pond.
This week we decide to have a fast that we can find new people to teach. It worked haha. We've found a number of people this week that have such high potential to progress. Real intent that's the word. :)
I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to learn and grow, spiritually and mentally. I've found so many attributes that I lack or need to change. I'm So thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve the lord.

22 January 2013

Family Dearest That I Love So Much.......

Why is everyone going on a Cruise without me?! :( I Hope it Rains Hahaha)

So.... I have been transferred to another area, another state honestly, I am now in Sergipe, the state on the bottom half of the mission. I was in Maceio, Alagoas and now I'm in Aracaju, Sergipe. I live with three other Elders (YES!) Elder Mendes, Garroza, our Zone Leaders and my companion Elder Gonzales. He's from Chile. He's still working on his Portuguese, haha. This makes the learning process a little bit more difficult because he speaks Spanish, but we're learning together. He's a great guy I really enjoy being his companion. He has been out on the mission 10 months. We both arrived in our area at the same time, so we have nothing really to work with, no investigators, no converts, we don't know where any of the members live, or the streets. But it makes it kinda fun, ya have to start somewhere, so we've been knocking a lot of doors, making a bunch of contacts inviting everyone to church and trying to teach lessons. EVERYONE'S CATHOLIC, hahaha. So basically I've been able to improve my contact/door-knocking skills a lot just this past week! It's honestly simple, just say something, haha, ANYTHING! about the church, about them, their house, anything! So yeah I'm starting to lose the "fear to talk to strangers"... YES!

So we had quite the welcoming party... When we arrived at the house we got a call from the bishop who informed us that the son of the second counselor was murdered. And he asked us to go to the funeral at the church that night. So we walked from our house to the church, thirty seconds away. That was really strange... Because I didn't know who was who, the family of the boy that died, who was in my ward, who the bishop was, who was a member, anything! So I just stayed quiet. It was a strange night.

So a few days ago there was a festival, or a holiday, (everyday is a holiday in Brazil). This holiday is where Men dress up as Women and dance and drink in the streets. The first time I saw a group of these men? I was knocking doors, and I couldn't help but laugh! I was dying! Cause these men? would dance to music all provocatively wearing high heels, wigs, and Flintstone dresses. So we moved on. Later we ran into them again, but there were a bunch more of them. Two of them came over to us, one of them kissed my hand, once he realized that I was American they called over all of their friends! 30 men? started running after us! We booked it! haha super scary.

Got to go love you so much
Next week I'll tell you about Elder Bednar.


19 Jan 2013

Mother Dearest That I love so much! :) 

You Missed! you didn't send me an e-mail and I felt like a lost child... haha NO No no its okay, honestly last week was crazy cause I had little time and wanted to say bye to a lot of people, and I wrote you and awesome letter Huh huh huh? :) 

Well here's the dealio, Monday morning (3am!) I have to take a bus with my companion allllll the way to Maceio, 5 Hour bus ride. Which is nothing compared to driving to Utah, but that gives a little perspective to where I've been transferred. That being said I will not be able to write a letter to you Monday. Funny huh? It's PAYBACK! you didn't write me now I won't write you! HA 

No no I'm writing to let you know that I will be writing you on Tuesday instead of Monday. Works out nicely huh, because if you forget or someone's using the computer you can still write me :) LOVE YOU! 

Please Please Please Wish Sarah a happy birthday for me! Tell that she means so much to me! :)

Love you bunches! Até terça feida!