Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army


23 December 2013 -- Merry Christmas


Hello Best Parents in the Whole World! I hope you are all doing well, staying out of trouble and are all good with health and spirit! Merry Christmas to each and every one of you! Here in Brazil I have been singing Christmas songs 24/7! I love the Christmas season its really one of a kind, a time to remember our savior Jesus Christ and everything that he has done for us. He was a king seated at the right hand of God and chose to come to earth and be born in a meek lonely stable, a son of a carpenter. What an amazing example of humility and character. I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and a happy new year!
   This week had its ups and downs. There were days that just didn't go well and there were days that we couldn't help but smile for the answers that God gave to our prayers in relation to finding and teaching people. There were many people that we met during this past week that were really receptive and accepted our invitation to be baptized. But by the end of the week these people lost all interest in learning more about the gospel, going to church, or even receive us in their homes, which can get really frustrating after a while. At times it seems like a group of Catholics, Adventists, Protestants and monks are followings us around and right when we leave a house after a spiritual lesson, they all come into the life of that one person and cause havoc - outside influences. But even with all the rejections, the hard work, and disappointments there is always a sliver of light or the diamond in the rough. That diamond is Maria.
   Maria has told us about times that she doesn't want to be baptized and will stay in her own religion, but at the end of a lesson she wants to be baptized in our religion, haha, it's kind of funny. She said ever since the first time we came that she felt the Holy Ghost and knew that what we were teaching was true. She even has a sister who is a member in São Paulo (far away) and has always heard good things about the church, she just needs to make the decision and be strong with it. We are really excited to see her progress and we pray every day that she is protected from the influences of the world. This week we also got kicked out of a house. It's been a long time since I've been kicked out of a house so it was pretty special to me. It always helps to have a companion with a positive attitude so that these things don't get ya down. :)
   One of the hardest challenges here in Brazil is helping everyone go to church because the church is rather far away from our area and people don't have cars, they have to walk in the hot sun!

   This past Tuesday was our Christmas conference which was super fun, all the missionaries made videos thanking President and Sister Gonzaga for the work they have done for us. This is/was their last Christmas.... I'm gunna miss them. But they will go home at the same time as me so it'll all be good. Speaking of going home! The mission secretary called me and asked to which airport I will fly into so he could buy my plane ticket... I didn't know what to say when he asked me that... I wanted to say...."I don't wanna go home." "I don't wanna think about that kind of stuff." Or that "my airport was bombed" so I have to stay here in Brazil, but I couldn't lie....weird to think about that. At the Christmas conference I sang in a quartet with three other American Elders, "Far Far away on Judaea's Plains" in A Capella. It was super good and we didn't even practice! I sang base!
   One thing that was kind of difficult for me this week was church. There was hardly any one there. And none of my recent converts came this Sunday. I felt so.... lame. I felt like I wasn't doing anything to help this little branch here in Lagarto and they really need all the help they can get. The sacrament really helped me that day, I really felt that I was becoming more and more like my Savior, feeling how He felt. I was able to understand just a hair more of how He felt. And I know that I have SO much more to improve till I can become like him. Later on Sunday I found out that a large part of our recent converts went to Aracaju, a nearby capital city where the church is really strong and there is a huge chapel there and they went to the sacrament meeting there! This relieved SO much stress. I am so thankful that I am on a mission, that God trusted me, and called me to represent his son Jesus Christ. I love this work and I don't want to be anywhere else. I know that this church is true, I don't have doubts of it. Thank you all for your love and support!


16 December 2013 - My Week

   My week was super full. Sunday Elder Gubler left to go pick up his mother at the airport and I stayed in a threesome with two other elders that I live with. Tuesday I went to Maceio to pick up my new companion,. I was almost 100% sure that my new companion would be a missionary that has been an ZL for about six months and has never passed through this Area. And I knew that I would be ZL-B because I've only been a ZL for two transfers. But when we got to the meeting I found out that I wasn't going to be with that one Elder. I would be with Elder Bispo (bishop) and I would be ZL-A. I can't describe to you the stress that fell on my shoulders when I realized the responsibility that I was given. I am in charge of about 20 missionaries and after the transfers I had to help them get to each of their areas...which is rather difficult because all the missionaries go to different areas and they take different buses. They don't have cell phones and don't have a clue where they are going. Yeah stressful, but everyone made it home safe and no one had to sleep on the street, haha.
   I started off this week being really, really stressed. I felt as if my eyes were closed for the two transfers that I was here in this area and I felt like I knew nothing. I needed new people to teach. I needed them really bad. There was a time that I was brought to my knees and pleaded for help from my Heavenly Father. I needed him so badly. I asked for new people to teach. And it wasn't within 10 minutes that he gave us someone to teach, someone who was prepared, willing, open, and excited. I know that God hears and answers prayers and my testimony was strengthen even more this week because of this experience.
   My companion is a great guy. He is from Brazil, up north. He teaches so well and is so willing to work hard. Love the guy. We work really well together.
   This past week we had a district conference, where three branches came to our chapel to hear talks about the salvation of souls. And when I got there the district president came up to me and said that I would be the first speaker and would talk for 15 minutes. I explained that I wasn't advised about it but I was still going to do it. He told me that my topic was on how to talk to people about the gospel or how to invite people to church, basically opening your mouth which was an easy topic for a missionary. It went really well and I involved the audience. I was super nervous but everything went well and the president said that it was excellent, exactly what he wanted.
   Elder Gubler and his mother passed by here to say goodbye to a few people and to show his mom all his areas, and she doesn't speak.
   I am so thankful to be on my mission. It's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

Elder Ralph


9 December 2013 - Tchâo Elder Gubler!

Elders ready to go
Well I'm comp-less.... My dearest companion Elder Gubler has left the building and is now a normal person. Yesterday I took him to the bus station to go to Maceio to be released as a missionary. He really taught me a great deal of stuff, which is what I wanted to share with ya´ll today.
   He taught me how to feel and follow the spirit. At the beginning of my mission I always wanted to feel that guiding feeling of the spirit. Like the spirit saying... go there, talk to her, say this, read this, DONT do this!... I always tried to feel that. And at the beginning of the mission I couldn't feel it. Probably the only thing I was feeling was the hot sun, and the tired feet. I began to be more sensitive to the spirit, trying harder to hear or feel it. But when I was put with Elder Gubler it seemed as if my spiritual earmuffs were taken off. It was amazing to see how the Lord was working through us, leading us to the people that needed our help or the people who were prepared to hear the gospel. Thinking back now maybe it wasn't that I wasn't hearing it or seeing it but I wasn't recognizing that the spirit was guiding me. I wasn't giving Him credit for the things that were happening on a daily basis.
   Elder Gubler helped me stay focused on my mission. Not that I was thinking about girls, family friends, home, things like that, but he helped me stay focused and always thinking about our investigators. At times when we walk in the street our minds go blank and we think about random things because the journey doesn't seem as long. But Elder Gubler he always had a thought, a question, an idea. And this also helped me with my Portuguese because we talked about topics rather deep at times. Probably never realized it but this helped me a lot, to just always be thinking about something good. :)
   He helped me realize even more the importance of Christ. This came from our studies together but also the way that he talked, the way he acted and how he treated people that were against us. He really was a great example to me. And don't worry I did teach him a few things too, haha. 

   Tomorrow we have a transfer meeting. I wasn't transferred but that means that I have to arrange for everyone in my zone that was transferred to arrive at the bus station on time and without leaving anyone behind, which can be a challenge at times. And I'm doing it by my lonesome and it's my first time.... But it's going well. A lot of people were transferred this time. And for some it's something kind of hard to accept or believe. But one thing I know is that my mission president is called of God and has the keys to receive revelation for us. It's kind of like a "mini-prophet" just for us! and its amazing to see how many people don't follow the revelations of the "mini-prophet". It's something that gets under my skin a bit... but what can I do. Just be a good example and keep working hard.
   I love my mission. I love the spirit that I feel here. I'm so thankful for my savior Jesus Christ and his Infinite mercy! He is my example, my all. I know that He lives and that He loves us. Thank you all for your love and support, I really do feel your prayers.
   Elder Ralph


2 December 2013

Dearest Loved Ones
  This week was full of travels. We started off going to the capital of the state. We went there to have a zone meeting with the Mission President and His wife and three other zones. It was really good and we all learned a lot. I don't have any doubt that my leaders here in the mission are inspired of God. It seems that everything they say and do is made for me, be it an example, or a lecture or something they tell me during an interview. It's something really special.
   Due to the conference and other travels that we had to take we didn't have very much time to work in our own area. It seemed like we were traveling more that actually teaching. We had to do interviews for the district leaders in our zone. Due to the short time that was passed in our actual area we weren't as successful with people coming to Sacrament meeting as we had hoped. A family that we are working with didn't come. We passed by their place yesterday afternoon and found out that they are all sick. SO we have high hopes that they will come this next week.
   The final of this week I have been feeling kind of down. I don't know what it was, discouraged, tired, frustrated, and confused. I really don't know what it was but I was just feeling down and I didn't know what to do. It even seemed like fasting wasn't helping me get more excited so I could act the way that I wanted to act. This morning I was finally able to pull myself together. I just sat on the floor reading my patriarchal blessing, praying for inspiration, help, comfort, or some sort of inspiration. And it really came. I read something in my blessing that really helped me. Showed me what I needed to change in myself to be a more effective missionary. It was something that I never noticed before. But it was meant for that moment, for that trial that I was facing. Ever since that morning I have been feeling SO much better, as if a big weight has been taken off my shoulders and my mind has been cleared. I am so thankful for this gospel and for the Priesthood power that guides this church. I know that it is true, I've felt it. It is real.
   I know that God loves us and guides us in our struggles and gives us comfort when we diligently seek it.