Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment

Maceio Brazil Mission Assignment
Serving in God's Army


Homecoming Talk on Sunday - 29 June 2014

Elder Ralph's homecoming talk brought many family members and friends to church. Brian and Ruth with Daniel and Shawnee, Jessica Salcedo came as a surprise along with Ben's niece Hadlie. Doug Guptil and his family along with Br. Gary Sabin and his daughter Heather.
The "Jenna Face" made popular in the Ralph Family.
Getting everyone ready for the pix takes times and organization.


Finally a good shot of the siblings.
 Hadlie had her first meeting with her Uncle Ben. Not sure about smootching just yet.

 Doug Guptil and his family were there to hear Elder Ralph speak.
Rebecca Kozy came too!
 Gary Sabin (5th cousin???) and his daughter came to support the newly returned missionary.


Homecoming for Elder Benjamin Lowell Ralph - 25 June 2014

It's takes quite a while to get home from Brazil to Washington State. Elder Ralph flew into the SeaTac airport just after his brother Jonathan flew in from California to surprise him. Brian and Ruth and Daniel came to the airport along with  Rebecca Kozy. Rebekah and Samuel, Stephen and I had balloons and posters for Elder Ralph.

Candy poster always makes a big hit!


Hugs from Elder Ralph. Mom got the first one
Samuel liked to take pix.

Jon wanted to surprise every one...he did.
So nice to have Elder Ralph home after 2 years!!!


23 June 2014 -- Last messages from the Mission Field

Do you know what time I get home and everything? --- 11:10, Wednesday morning!
   Hey mom a bunch of people sent me e-mails saying that they are super excited to see me but I don't have a lot of time to respond so if you could send them all a love note for me and thank them for everything that would be great!
    We're gunna need to stop by Wendy's and buy a smoothie and fries!
11 elders are going home with me but I'm the only one going to Washington from my mission. If there are other Elders that are coming home from other missions, I don't know.

I just had my final interview with the Mission President! weird!
   Anything else that you think I will want to do just go for it!

Do you know who will be there???? Anyone can come! Kelly if she is there!
   I gotta get my talk ready too, haha. But I'll have plenty of time on the plane... too much time.

I wanna go to the temple when I get back deal...
 I'm going now, thank you for everything. I love you so much!
Elder Ralph


16 June 2014 -- A scriptural message

For my letter this week I will send you a scripture.

    3rd John 1:13-14

"13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
 14 But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name."

Love it! :)
Are you excited to see me!!!!

Speaking of taking care of myself... last night I almost died! When I went to bed I was super, super cold but my whole body was hot, and I had a huge headache. I tried sleeping in a little ball the whole night but it didn't work. I got up several time to drink water and take medicine. and during the night I kind of freaked out. While I was laying there I started looking around and I noticed that I couldn't see anything, my hand in front of my face, light coming from under the door nothing! I started thinking that I was blind! But I managed to find the cell phone and I pushed a button to see the light from the cell phone light up the whole room. While I was laying there thinking that I would die of hypothermia I thought to myself... I want my mommy! haha, but lucky today is p-day so I got to take a little nap, but my heads still killing me! Love you!
Elder Ralph


9 June 2014 -- 2 more weeks

Well this week was really quite nice. One of my favorite experiences was with the Book of Mormon. This past month, during my personal study I have been a little different. I have been studying in topics according to the difficulties of my investigators. Or I've been trying to answer questions that I have. But to say the least I haven't been reading the Book of Mormon as I should have. But during this past week I decided to start reading it again from the beginning. And from the moment I started reading it through the whole week I have been feeling so much better, so much more energy so much more life and happiness. I know that the Book of Mormon really is the word of God and I don't want to go one day without reading it. It fills me up.
   This Sunday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on Love. The branch is in need of a lot more love. I've been here for six months and I have heard a lot of stuff. Rumors, grudges, anger. So I talked a little bit about that, and how we need to improve as children of God. I liked it. It flowed.
   Yesterday we went to contact a referral from the ward of a friend of a member who accepted to receive a priesthood blessing, she and her daughter. It was an amazing. The spirit was so strong, after the blessing I didn't want to say anything. The experience was very marking. It was interesting explaining about a blessing to someone who wasn't a member of the church.
   I love being a missionary!
Elder Ralph


2 June 2014 -- a really slow week‏

     Well this week was kind of strange. We started out on Monday in Maceio, one of the capital cities of our mission for a zone conference. The President gave me permission to go to Maceio one day early so I could visit some areas that I already passed through. Going and visiting people that I was able to help recognize the truth. It was really rewarding and I felt like I really made a difference in the lives of these people. It gave me a lot of energy to work even harder to baptize more people. During our visit the mission secretaries called us to inform Elder Lira that he was emergency transferred and had to go back to Penedo to get his stuff and come back to Maceio to meet his new companion and to go to another area. That was a downer. I really liked Elder Lira. But we got another companion. Elder Bispo! I was companions with Elder Bispo for one transfer in my fourth area, Lagarto. And now we're back together again in the end!
     At the Zone conference, all the newbies gave their testimonies and all the oldies who are on their way home gave their testimonies, that included me. I didn't plan anything. I didn't have anything on my mind, just blank. But after a few seconds things started coming to my mind and I was able to give a decent testimony. To tell the truth I don't even remember what I said. But I think it made sense.
     My companion got really sick this week so there is really not much to tell.... But this coming week will be much better, you better believe it!
    Sorry I don't have a lot of time today, so this message will be super short. But know that I love you guys SO much and I can't wait to see you all!



26 May 2014 - HEY!

    Hello my dearest family and friends. This week was full of little great experiences, miracles and moments of learning. One of our recent converts who is probably the “youngest in heart” ladies I have ever met in my life was at a Ward activity at a member's house. There wasn't any more room inside so we sat outside talking with her about life, family, and all that was new. She said that she talked with a friend who is a less active member of the church and the friend told her that she left the church when she heard that we can one day become Gods. The recent convert told her that she probably understood wrong or the person who was teaching didn't know what they were talking about because she hasn't heard anything about this teaching. Silence.... haha I then had the pleasure to explain to her about this doctrine that was restored during the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. It was something that I had never explained once in my whole mission. But it seemed as if it was something that I taught every day. Scriptures, examples, explanations and questions came so quickly to my mind. The spirit, in that critical moment of the spiritual progress of that member, helped us to teach with power and conviction something that was never trained into us or rehearsed beforehand. The spirit really does guide us as we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    Something really special that happened this week was to see one of our recent converts give a talk in Sacrament meeting about obedience. He did a great job. I asked him afterwards how he felt and he said “I feel great!” and I asked, “do you wanna do it again?” and he shook his head "no."
    This week I will admit that I had a slip with patience. It was during the Ward council meeting. We were instructed by the stake presidency that we need to have Ward council every Sunday for half an hour and that we would talk about the progress of our investigators and our recent converts and less actives. The presidency passed a great training about what we should do and what we should say. So we got together with our Ward mission leader and filled out all the records and the whole deal. But when we got to the meeting it seemed like no one was paying attention to the stake presidency. They started talking about the same old problems that the branch is having, cleaning the church and few people singing. I got really tense and I wanted to say something really bad. I was able to control myself until one of the members started complaining to the president about something that he did and everyone was arguing about random stuff. That's when I lost it and I raised my hand and got the attention of every one and told them what the purpose of the meeting was and how they were not doing their part. I said a few things that I don't remember anymore. But my heart was pounding. The president said a few more things and then turned the time over to our Ward mission leader. He said, “you have 8 minutes to talk about missionary work”.... I wanted to get up and leave. Eight minutes. Eight minutes to talk about the salvation of God's Children. Eight minutes to talk about those who are coming to know the true gospel of Christ. Eight minutes to talk about those who have let go of the iron rod. Eight minutes to talk about the progress of those who have entered in the straight and narrow path. I was so mad. I couldn't believe what I was seeing and hearing. Nothing depresses a missionary than to know that those who he has helped enter into the fold of God WON'T be nourished by the good word. We got a lot of work to do....


    PS We were almost robbed this week. But we have a friend who is a security guard.
I love being a missionary. There is nothing better! Love you guys so much Keep it real.


19 May 2014 - Ups and Downs!‏

 Elder Ralph will be finishing his mission in a threesome! I am now with Elder Lira and Elder Alves. Elder Alves was with Elder Luis and Luis was transferred. So now we have the whole city of Penedo to ourselves, hahaha!
   Well this week was full of ups and downs. One day was amazing and the next.... not so amazing. We were able to find some amazing people; members introduced us to their friends. And it seemed like almost everyone wanted to be baptized, haha. We are getting pretty excited and the members are too. This Sunday a member of the stake presidency came and he passed a new way to do Ward Council. So now EVERY Sunday, the council will meet to discuss how they can improve and what progress is being made in the missionary work, the work of salvation.
   So after one good day we had a rather BAD day haha. We marked a whole day full of appointments and referrals and less actives and recent converts, the whole nine yards. And everything fell through. We went a whole day without teaching a single lesson. I don't think I've ever had a day like that in my whole mission. I ended up being so sad that it was funny! But one bad day doesn't knock down the three musketeers! We have some great people that we are working with. One of them is Everton. Everton is a referral from a member. The missionaries have already taught Everton some time ago but they lost contact because he moved to another city for a couple months. When we started teaching Everton he said that he was reading the Book of Mormon still and was really enjoying it. He said told us about Lehi's dream and how he partook of the fruit of the tree of life and that it was the most delicious and sweetest taste he had ever tasted. Everton was very detailed to tell the truth. But he said that he wanted to know what the fruit means, and how HE can taste such a fruit. WoW! Holy moley! I couldn't believe what I was hearing. We went on teaching him about salvation and eternal life and how he could taste that fruit. We explained about Christ and how He showed us the path to the tree of life, we explained about baptism and how it is the key to salvation, but when it is done by someone who has the restored priesthood Keys of God. It was really good and we're excited to teach him again.   Another sweet surprise this week was when two members brought their friends to church! Love it when the blessings just fall from heaven. The work is coming along great. We're all super excited and working hard.
Thank you all for your love and support! God Bless!

Elder Ralph


12 May 2014

Hello Family!

   This week we were able to find a young man named Alex. He was a contact made by the other elders in our house. He is really cool and full of light and respect and is really bright. It was interesting talking with him because he had a lot of doubts about religion, which one is right and how he can know it. While we were teaching him he was called in to work so we gave him a watered down version of everything that we had to teach him and we did it in less than five minutes! But he understood everything and said that he would come to church this Sunday. At the end we invited him to be baptized, which is something we do in every first lesson. And he accepted and asked what he needed to do to get himself ready! He is a really good guy. During the week we arranged to go to his house in the morning to help him finish plastering the side of his house with cement. We arrived at his house around 8 o'clock and he was still sleeping, haha. Bummer. But we let him sleep. We had doubts if he would be able to wake up at 8 o'clock to come to church that Sunday. But he came! All spiffy and clean and ready to hear the good word, haha. He's really a great guy and we are super excited for him. It is amazing to see how the lord has prepared him to hear and accept the gospel. I love being a missionary!



5 May 2014 -- HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!‏

Rain, rain, go away...

Hello Family and Friends,

Getting started on a service project.
   Well this week it rained, rained, rained, and rained. All my towels and clothes are soaked and starting to smell funny haha. But the work still goes on. There's nothing better than walking in the rain to go and teach the gospel to someone. This week we have been working in a new area. We got the names of all the members that lived in this neighborhood and we are visiting one by one. And it's been working quite well actually. We have found a lot of people who needed a few words of comfort because of family members that had passed away. And we were able to tie all the experiences that these people were going through to the gospel and how we can all one day return to the presence of our Father in Heaven as families eternally sealed and exalted. And my new companion and I are getting used to each other's teaching habits, which has helped a lot. Elder Lira is really good and he can bring the spirit into the lesson so well. And what are we without the spirit? Nothing! This week we needed the spirit big time to help one of our investigators with the fact that God has a body of flesh and bones. It was great! She was having a lot of trouble with the concept until… Ding! The spirit hit here like a bumble bee in a dog house…. Ha! But everything just started clicking for her and she started talking positively about the principle and just kinda sat there thinking. Then she nodded her head and agreed that she will pray and ask to be certain. Milagre!! Love the Spirit it's so AWESOME!
Roof repair needed...the posts were eaten through.
     This week we got to help with a service project at a widow's house. Her house was basically collapsing but the Mormons came to save the day, haha. Termites had eaten in the support beams and cross beams of her roof! So the branch bought the wood and called the troops and we started taking the tiles off her house. We were about halfway done when we saw a dark group of clouds coming towards us. Yeah it dumped rain and the poor ladies house was all drenched. But she didn’t seem to mind a bit. Better than the roof falling on her during the night. And I was having a blast using work clothes in the rain. Nothing stops a Washingtonian from working in the rain, isn't that right dad? And I learned how to lay down shingles on a Brazilian roof! It was good to get out and help.
The São Fransisco river is famous here in Brazil. 

   Everyday my testimony of Christ and his restored church grows. Every day I can hear the little inspiring voice of the Holy Ghost telling me to do something or to not do something or to talk to a specific person. My testimony of the Church and it's divine organization grows every day. I am so thankful for the opportunity that God has given me to serve a full time mission, to be a member of his church on this earth. I am so thankful for the testimony that I have which is something that I will cherish and nourish forever. I know that God lives and that He loves each and every one of us. I know that he has a body of flesh and bone and that we are made in his image. He IS our father and watches over us. He made a plan, a perfect plan so that we may gain a body, develop, learn, progress, return to his presence and become as He is. I am eternally thankful for all that he has done for me. Especially for the wonderful mother that he gave me. She has done so much for me and has helped me become who I am today. I wouldn't trade her for anything in the world. I love you mom SO much and I can't wait to see you!

A homeless guy...dirty from a service project...

Getting help from an Elder


Trying to start a car???

This is more like it...


29 April 2014 -- Rained Out!‏

Yesterday it rained a lot so the whole city didn't have internet But I'm here now! YOOOOOOO

Dear family and friends.
   This week was great. My new companion and I are working really well together, finding new people, teaching with the spirit and always striving to be more and more obedient. He likes to work hard and always finds things that we can do to be better.

   This week we worked really hard to help a young girl named Tamires be baptized. Ever since we started teaching her, Tamires was always scared to make decisions and just go for it. Last week we almost unmarked her baptism because we didn’t want to push her more than we already were. But then we met Bia. Bia is Tamires neighbor and best friend that started coming to church with us and was absolutely loving it. Bia wants to be baptized so much and wanted to be baptized with Tamires. This gave Tamires a lot of gas and so we continued working with her. But unfortunately Bias parents wouldn’t let her be baptized because they don’t want her to be part of another religion besides their own. That was a major disappointment, but that didn’t get Bia down. She just kept encouraging Tamires every step of the way even to her baptism she was giving her advice and encouragement. It was really special for me to see all this take place. I really do believe that God is in complete control of this work and that he puts people in the right place at the right time. Without Bia I don’t know if Tamires would have taken those steps of faith to baptism but with the help of an inspired friend, she made it. I was touched when I saw what a difference a friend can make in the lives of others, made me want to be a better friend to the friends I have and always strive to make new friendships, always helping people come unto Christ.

   Two of our recent converts came to church this past Sunday with a shirt, tie and black pants. They looked so awesome, haha. They came all dressed up because they wanted to bless the sacrament. So one of the Elders sat behind the bench and instructed them on what to do and what to say and it was really, really great. It was a great feeling to see those two blessing the sacrament and exercising their priesthood. They both want to serve missions and I think they are on the right road to get there. After the sacrament one of the boys, Cicero, gave a talk about service. He was super, super nervous but he prepared a great talk during that whole week and read it to us many times. While he gave a talk he just looked at me the whole time. He hardly even looked down at the paper but just spoke everything by heart on how we should serve our fellow men. It was great! I was sitting on the front row next to the other boy that blessed the sacrament and it seemed like we were all alone listening to him. Everyone was dead quiet, not even a baby made noise. Cicero has been a member for one month… The testimony of that boy is amazing! He passed through so much and is still passing through many difficulties, but he is conquering all of them! Everyone complimented him after his talk! Ahhh, tears, tears!

   Something rather interesting happened a few minutes ago. We went to visit one of our recent converts, Sara, who came a across doubts. But the spirit has been taking away every doubt that she comes up with, haha! Got ya! Teaching her has been one of the most spiritually strengthening experiences of my mission. She's done philosophy, college, and has been taught a lot about religion. She's awesome, haha, and super smart! But not smarter than two boys called of God! Haha…. It's funny she goes on these little tantrums of doctrine or principles and says that she doesn't agree and so on and so forth and we just smile at her and start teaching by the spirit and at the end of the lesson she is either in tears or with a smile on her face. And it's not me or my companion, it's really the spirit. Because when we plan to teach her something and lay out a plan the lesson never goes according to plan, but the spirit always touches her, without fail. Today we talked about the fact that our loving Heavenly father has a body of flesh and bones which is something that her past did NOT teach, but taught that he is spirit because of one verse in the Bible. She was fixed on her train of thought and her own knowledge for almost the whole lesson until, at one moment the spirit touched her and she began to understand the magnitude and beauty of everything we were teaching her. The spirit is So real and really does testify of Christ and his eternal plan! I love this, I know this!
   Thanks you all for all of your love and support! Until next week!

Elder Ralph


21 April 2014 -- New Companion

Hello Family!
   Well as you all know my little boy was transferred and I stayed in the area and my new companion is..... Elder Lira!
   Elder Lira is a Brazilian, turned 19 this past week and has about 4 months on the mission. Newbie still haha. I'm his third American companion, haha, poor kid. He's really good I like him. He works hard and knows how to teach. He teaches really clearly and directly to people, he's very bold and doesn't have fear to say anything. When I started my mission I wasn't like that so it's good that he has already gotten over fear. The poor kid was kind of tired of his old area and has asked me to help him get his fire back, the same fire that he had at the beginning of his mission. So we're working hard trying to find those specific people that God has prepared for us to teach and baptize.
   We're working with two girls who are neighbors. One is super excited about the church, how it works, the teaching, the Book of Mormon, everything and she is kind of dragging along her friend who is trying to decide between our church and another. She says they are both the same and can't decide. It's really weird that she says that because the churches are completely different in doctrine principles, standards, everything! I think that sometimes a person looks at who is in the church or what activities a church has rather than what the church teaches and what is the organization of the church. We're still trying to help both of them.
   So this week we had interviews with the Big Boss, President Gonzaga. I don't know why but I felt a little bit more intimidated this time than others. I ended up asking him three questions that I wanted to know. Needless to say the interview which normally takes about ten minutes took around half an hour. But the answers that he gave me really helped. I actually think it was inspired because yesterday when we were talking with a group of our recent converts they asked the same question. YES! It is interesting to see how God works. He's great, haha.
   So we have had a lot of success here in Penedo these past few weeks. Now we are trying to find a new group of people to teach and share the gospel. We're trying to talk to more people and be more involved with the members so we can teach their friends and families.
   I'm so happy to be on a mission, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else! Love this work :)

Stay strong!


14 April 2014 -- Semama Maravilhosa!‏

Great week for baptisms.
Well this week was a busy one. We spent the whole week strengthening our investigators that were lined up to be baptized this week and trying to organize everything with the members. But it was all worth it. 
     This week a lot of our focus was on Rosangela. She received her answer and knew that what we were teaching was true. The answer came from someone from another religion. She got on a chat site and started talking with a man who said a lot of anti-Mormon stuff to her. She thought to herself that maybe this is the answer that God sent this man to warn or show her that what we were saying was false. But she said that she knelt down and prayed and asked our Heavenly Father. She said that the only thing she could think of is that the enemy does all he can to impede us from accepting or finding the truth. She knew that God responded to her and we invited her to use her faith that she says she doesn't have, and use this answer, being baptized. And she accepted! woot, woot!! So we made a goal to help her be ready to be baptized with her kids that Saturday. Her real trial was coffee. And man does she drink coffee.
     We decided to challenge her to stop all at once, to just cut the coffee. And she agreed. The next day she had a major headache and when we passed by she said she was gunna die or we were gunna die. Hahaha, she's kind of dramatic. But she did want to go to the hospital. We asked her if she wanted to receive a blessing. And she turned all serious and accepted. The next day she said she was feeling great, that her headache went away and that she didn't even go to the hospital. She said she was going to advertise us to people that she knows that have headaches, haha. She loves to joke about things but she really believes that her headache went away because of the priesthood that we hold. Rosangela was baptized with her two kids this Saturday :) She's amazing! I love that lady!
     The baptism was really great and the spirit was so strong. Rosangela and another lady named Sara were baptized together and they became friends at first site. They sit next to each other, hug each other, and laugh together. It was really cool. When we all went to the sacrament meeting to see the confirmations, Rosangel called Sara to sit next to her during the meeting and they gave each other hugs and congratulations. I felt really good at that moment. I felt like I was doing my job. These two ladies will support each other and are friends for the rest of their lives. Ahhhh gave me butterflies.
     The only downfall this week was transfers. This whole time I figured that I would be transferred because I have been training Elder Martins, and normally the trainer leaves the area. When I was trained this happened, the first time I trained this happened. But this time... Nope. Martins was transferred and I will stay in the area for at least one more transfer, or two. HA I only have two left!!!! Hahaha, Crazy!
     This week was really good. I love being a missionary, there's nothing better :)
Thank you all for your love and support. I love you all So much! Can't wait to see you! :)