Wednesday, October 29, 2014

To Eternity and Beyond--Chile here I come!

Hola familia y amigos!

This is my last email from the CCM! Just got my flight info—I am leaving on Monday afternoon and arriving in Antofagasta on Tuesday fun! I will probably be pretty tired by the time we arrive. Hopefully we don’t go out the first day visiting with people door to door, I will definitely fall unconscious on some poor Chilean while I attempt to give them a Book of Mormon haha.

We heard a great story about the first day of the mission during one of our classes. Whether it is true or not, it doesn't really matter. An elder was on the bus going to his first area in South America when he saw a lady he wanted to talk to, but all he could say in Spanish was ¨Jesucristo Jesucristo¨. So he pulled out the Book of Mormon and said those words. He found out where she lived--a house with a red sign. The senior companion thought it was dumb to go find her since he was sure she didn’t understand what the new elder was even talking about. But he convinced the older elder to come. They wandered around seeing multiple houses with red signs. Every time they came up to a red-signed house, the new elder would say ´´nope, that’s not it´´, until he finally saw a particular house with a red sign and said, ´´this is the one.´´ They knocked on the door and there she was. A few weeks later she was baptized.

So though I may not speak their words well yet, I can speak words of love. If I can pour out my love for them and rely on the power of our Savior to touch their hearts, I can change someone’s life just by uttering his name. But I will still work hard to learn the language! :)

Since I am so close to leaving the CCM, I have been thinking about the purpose of missionary training centers—why they even exist. My conclusion is that the CCM, MTC, whatever you call it, exists to build and strengthen the missionary, blasting them with the spirit, pounding positive experiences into their confidence, and then teaching them obedience--all in a structured environment, so when they get to the field, they will have progressed in their own conversion process. You CAN’T convert others to this gospel if you yourself do not have the strength of your own testimony—it would be like the new iPhone that bends from just a little bit of pressure (at least that is what I have been told). No, you need to be like the Nokia phone, INDESTRUCTIBLE against evil.

Don’t get me wrong, I doubt things sometimes, but I have worked hard to make my testimony strong enough to stand firm against those dark forces that try to penetrate these castle walls. Did that sound a little like Harry Potter? haha

Well, this is it. Talk to you guys from Chile!! Here comes the fun!!

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Famous map pointing picture

Ready or not, these Elders are on their way!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Of Sins and Fish, and Preach my Gospel in the Spirit

Hola familia y amigos!

The quote book by my bed gives me excellent advice: "If there's something that makes you laugh, then every day is going to be okay" -Tom Hanks

And man, there are a lot of things to laugh about!

Some words in Spanish are incredibly close in pronunciation. Sins are "pecados" and fish are "pescados". Mistake #1: Be careful not to say, "Jesus suffered for all of our fish". No bueno. Mistake #2: If your investigator says they want to be baptized but you don't really understand because they are speaking a different language, ask for clarification before you rush into the next point in the lesson you were going to teach. Our teacher asked us after our practice lesson why we weren't excited for her to be baptized. I was like, " she wants to be WHAT?!!?" Rookie mistake haha.

Missions are great because our souls are constantly being fed the words of life. All we hear, talk, and teach about concerns pure truth. And, at least at the CCM, there is no one bashing or discrediting what we hold dear to our hearts like in the real world sometimes. Yeah for the spiritual bubble!!

Elder Neil L. Anderson (an Apostle) came on Saturday to speak with us at the CCM. I could literally feel a difference when he walked in the room. He talked about the Atonement and how Jesus Christ is not just the most important person in the universe but the most important ANYTHING.

A shoutout to my friend Grace for getting her mission call to RUSSIA. That’s so awesome! And another shoutout to Shad and Noah for going to the temple in preparation for their missions! I’m sad I won't be able to go to the temple for two years (there isn’t a temple in his mission boundary). The temple gives me strength to do hard things, something I need right now. Make sure you three go as much as you can before you leave! It will help you so much during your mission and your life.

Sunday nights are the bomb here because we all get together and watch a movie! Last week we watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. Ok, I wish. No, we watch inspiring movies about church history, Jesus and the prophets. Three days ago we watched a new movie about the history of sister missionaries. I don’t know if it is online yet but it is very inspiring. I love the spirit and enthusiasm sister missionaries have. What a blessing it is to be in a church that understands the true nature of men and women. Our roles are equal, but different. When we work together with our different strengths and abilities, the work of the Lord is able to go that much further. So, YEAH FOR SISTER MISSIONARIES!

Who doesn’t love Elder Holland? (An Apostle) We watch many of his recorded MTC devotionals. Did you know the actual title of Preach my Gospel (the book used for missionary work) was supposed to be Preach my Gospel BY THE SPIRIT, but they thought it would be too long of a title. It shows how important the Spirit is in this work. We need to work hard to have the Spirit with us if we want to be powerful member missionaries.

I’m a little nervous for the Spanish in Chile. It’s supposed to be super muy muy rapido. A worker here said her native Spanish-speaking daughter who is in Chile wrote home and said she can’t understand what they are saying. Yikes....

The Church is true. God loves you personally. The Atonement is real. Love you! Have a great week!

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Lego Hands "Everything is awesome" :)

CCM Selfies are alive and well

Nacho Libre Cart!

Channeling Harry Potter and quidditch--see the goals!

Mexico City--a fence away

CCM "Tie black market" alive and well!

My Christmas ornament this year :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Week #3 at the CCM--Mosquitos and Mary Poppins

Hola familia y amigos!

Another week in the CCM has come and gone. The real world creeps closer everyday. I’m excited to go, sad to be leaving, and too tired to do anything haha. But I am mostly excited.

The CCM is a lot nicer than I thought it was going to be. I have a warm shower, a working toilet, clean living quarters and beautifully landscaped grounds. The church has been doing a lot to make this place very pleasant.

The booming sounds from the city have stopped. Well, either they have stopped or I don’t notice them anymore. The locals say they are just fireworks... ok, yeah, sure... it’s still hard to sleep at night with all the police sirens and parties going on till 2 am. Also, a mosquito loves to fly into my ear at night and buzz around until I wake up :)

Even though we don’t get to go outside the walls of the CCM for safety reasons, we can talk to the workers here to practice our Spanish. Their kindness astounds me. If you say you like their jacket, they will start taking it off to give to you! And I have a hard time sharing my stash of candy... still got a long way to go. Mom's note--It must have been a little hard for Austin to share some of his limited supply of american candy that he brought with him with one of the other missionaries for their birthday; notice the little baggie of american candy in the photo below that I was sent from the birthday missionary's mom lol

Every week we do a 1-hour service project around the grounds. This week I swept the outside walls of the building with a giant broom. I was very confused about what I was supposed to accomplish with this task, since the walls weren’t even that dirty. But it has never felt so appropriate to sing ´´Chim Chimney´´ from Mary Poppins.

During gym time we mostly play volleyball. When I tell everyone that my older brother was on a state championship team in high school they don’t believe me because I am so bad haha. Too bad I don’t have a swimming pool to show them what I am really made of.

We found out that Elder Neil L. Anderson (one of the church’s apostles) is coming on Saturday to talk to us!! YEAH! He is also going to shake ALL of our hands(several hundred missionaries). My first thought was, I am definitely washing my hands after that (Austin is somewhat of a germ freak), and then I was like, THAT IS SOOO COOL. So yesterday we had a mock shaking hands with Elder Anderson practice (firm handshake, look him in the eye, etc.)

It’s great to feel the spirit all the time. And pray all the time. I am grateful the Lord believes in me enough to share the most important message someone will ever hear in their lifetime: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And for those of you who are wondering what you can do to prepare for your mission, my favorite quote this week comes from the actress Meryl Streep. ´´Start by starting´´ don’t keep wondering what you can do. You know what you should be doing, reading the scriptures, praying, becoming a missionary now. Just start today.

I can't wait to change peoples lives and my own. I hope I can come back as a different person, a better version of myself. My heart is full of the love of Christ. Thank you for all of your love and support. This is the hardest but most rewarding thing I have ever done.

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

The District
Happy Birthday Elder!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Week #2 in the CCM--Everything is Awesome!

Hola family and friends!

Thank you so much for your kind emails. I look forward to them every week. The guys in my district are all super nice and positive. We are lucky that we get along well.

General Conference (bi-annual televised meetings of the Church with many speakers) at the CCM was awesome! Everyone was right in telling me that the first time you really pay attention to conference is on the mission. Granted, it’s easier to focus when you are sitting upright in a chair, not in pajamas, and you are constantly taking notes. But maybe the reason we all love conference on the mission so much is because it is the first time we desperately NEED the words from living prophets.

I loved a lot of the talks from conference but I won’t bore you with the details since I know you already watched it. I just want to tell you how amazing it felt here. When they spoke, I could literally see truth escaping their lips. When men of the world speak, they speak to the mind. When men of God speak, their words shoot light into our hearts. What a wonderful thing it is to have such Christ-like and experienced men helping run the Church.

One thing I love about the CCM is every hallway has pictures lining the walls from missionaries out in the field who went to the CCM. There are pictures of them with the families they are teaching, baptizing, and taking to the temple. Their faces glow with joy from the work. It makes it easier to work hard when you are constantly reminded of what miracles you are about to witness in 4 weeks.

4 WEEKS! THAT’S CRAZY! It’s ok if I completely fail at a lesson here because it is training--there are no lasting consequences. But out in the field, it will be real people with REAL questions and problems! Good thing it’s not all up to me. When my words fail, the spirit will help me make sense J

Singing is helping me get through a lot. I already have the reputation as the Elder who can quote/sing a myriad of musicals--the whole Sound of Music, Tangled, Frozen, Wicked, etc. My companion Elder Swain says I am rubbing off on him. Good. Mission accomplished. My district says I should go into voice acting. I will keep that in mind J

Food: Before I left, I received a blessing. In it I was blessed that my stomach would be able to digest the food. I’ve been blessed! I can now eat ALL of the food here--and like it! (Austin has never liked Mexican food much, so this is good to hear) Maybe I will even get fat...or at least normal looking. Thank you Aunt Christy and Uncle Marty for the Krispy Kreme Donuts!!

I’ll tell the truth, it’s still hard here sometimes. Fatigue + frustration + stress+ self doubt + homesickness = some challenging moments for Elder Phillips. But they are just moments (maybe minutes), not the majority. I wouldn’t be doing this unless I was certain I knew all of this was true.

Love you and pray for you always.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips
Krispy Cremes!
District Study
Earthquake Panic Circle
CCM Store
CCM Store
Dinner--I like it :)
CCM Cafeteria
Hallway Missionary Pictures

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hola--Mexico MTC First Week Survival Guide

Hola family and friends! 

There is so much to tell you and so little time.  Most of our pday (the one day a week we spend writing letters, doing laundry and errands, etc.) was spent at the Mexico temple visitor center, so I don’t have as much time to write today.  

My district (they divide the missionaries into smaller groups) is all going to Chile. The 4 hermanas are going to the Conception South Mission, and ALL six elders are going to Antofagasta. 

MTC (CCM) first week survival guide:

1. The first week is hard. Why? Well, after the plane ride, traveling through an airport where they speak Spanish, driving on a bus through a crazy city, not eating dinner because it looks gross, you finally lay down on your bed and realize you are not going to be with your family for 2 years.  After that first day being so long, you think every day will be the same.

2. It gets better. Not easier, but better. The food took me about 3 days to finally start eating it. Now I eat every meal.

3. Tuesday Costco pizza night saved my life this week ☺ I used to think Costco pizza was just ok. NO. IT IS THE BEST THING EVER.

4. You teach your investigator a 20 minute lesson on the second day--in Spanish.  This was a very humbling experience.  I looked like a 5 year old trying to explain the string theory.  Don’t be hard on yourself though. You are only on the first week.

5. Know that you have a long long ways to go before you are at the point of a functional missionary. Be happy and grateful with the progress you made today with the Lord’s help.

6. The spirit is constantly here. It is not overpowering all the time (sometimes it is) but it is mostly constant, always there to comfort you.

7. If I hadn’t pushed myself to do hard things in high school, I would probably be on the next plane home. Also, if I wasn’t morally clean, I would be already gone. Without some tough skin and a clean heart you won’t last out here. The only thing that keeps me going even when everything else has been stripped away is my testimony. Do hard things before you come, push yourself. Get clean and stay clean. Build and flourish your testimony. You will need it. Others will too.

Everyone says they "love the people.” I now see why. I finally have the chance to focus my entire existence on seeing how God and Christ see us.  I can and will introduce people to the best thing in the entire world. I can’t wait to see the light of the gospel burn in the eyes of a new concert or a less active member.

Not much time left. Sorry I couldn’t email you individually, but I read them all—thank you for your love and support.

Mom, got the letter, I loved it, hint hint.

This has been the hardest thing I have ever done but it is worth it. It is worth it because this is the Lords’ work and I feel that witness burning in my chest every day.  

I love you all so much.  I did cry a couple times, but mostly because I am so happy to be here. 

Con mucho Amor,
Elder Phillips

P.S. General Conference (televised Church this Sunday) will be in English. YEAH!!!!!! 

Costco Pizza Tuesday!


My Room

Mexico City Temple with the District

Me and My Companion

Mickey and Minnie Mexico Style