Monday, November 24, 2014

Two Weeks in One!

My Home Away From Home

Happy Thanksgiving and the New Normal

November 24, 2014


Things are looking up here in Vallenar.  I am finally adjusting to all the craziness.  It feels normal now to see flea covered dogs roaming all over the streets and to have people say Sipo instead of si for yes. (The Chileans add po to the ends of lots of words.)

As it is almost Thanksgiving, I want to say I am grateful to be doing this work. I have never felt so close to the Savior--since this is what he spent his life doing.  I can also understand and feel His sadness of trying to teach people who don’t have the desire to listen.

But there is hope!  Every Saturday we go to the Feria (farmers market) and set up a stand with pamphlets about Jose Smith, or something else.  We don’t have very many investigators, so we spend most of the time trying to find new people.  I was praying that someone would recognize who we are-- representatives of Christ.  Then a lady walked by, gave us a double look and walked over.  She said her 10-year-old son loves the missionaries but somehow during transfers 2 years ago they lost contact.  She asked us if we could come over (that never happens by the way).  We had our first lesson and taught her boy English.  Elder G. says they are ready to accept the gospel.  I think so too.

Spanish is still hard, but now it is fun!  I try to make it game to learn new words, writing them down in a planner and then later looking in the dictionary to see if they are actual words or just Chilean words. Most of them are Chilean.  I think I might have a problem when I come home and try to speak Spanish to a non-Chilean...

Have a great Thanksgiving! I am thankful for this perfect, logical, and complete gospel.  Being a member of this church just makes sense. And it makes me happier than anything.  Love you all!!

Everything IS awesome,
Elder Phillips

Water Balloons Are Better Than Rocks

November 17, 2014


Someone once told me my mission would be the hardest thing I ever do. They were right.  I knew it would be hard, but not in the ways I anticipated. Yes, Spanish is hard, but I could be speaking Russian.  My apartment doesn’t have hot water, but at least I have water.  The spiders are better...after I KILLED THEM WITH POISON AND HATRED...muhaha. Walking around for 12 hours in the sun, getting rejected a lot, getting hit by water balloons (at least they weren’t rocks!), and spending the whole day trying to figure out how to do this better is exhausting.

That stuff is hard, but the hardest thing is something my mission president explained our first day.  When we first come here, all the arrows of our attention are focused on us, all pointing to what we need.  What school am I going to? What do I need to be happy, etc.  These things aren’t bad to think about. However, the first day on your mission, you are thrown into a work where, to be successful, all of those arrows of attention need to be pointing outwards to others.  Sounds easy, right?  It is easy to focus on others when your life is simple and grand like back at my comfortable home.  Here, after spending all day in the sun with no dinner  (they don’t eat dinner here until 11pm!) and little sleep, I am expected to care about people who speak a different language and have other priorities more important to them than listening to our message and finding Christ.

This is the hardest adjustment of becoming a true disciple of Christ: to want to serve even when life is difficult.  I can’t say I am good (or even ok) at it yet, but I am trying and that is all God expects of us.

As I have read the emails of past missionaries, the first few months were always the hardest. Maybe it is because we haven’t mastered yet what it means to love others. But eventually, something happens and our arrows turn. We don't ever want this to end. We go down one more street, talk to one more person because it is no longer about what we want.

So I will keep going until my arrows aren’t pointed on me. Then, I will find the happiness everyone talks about.

Life is great, always an adventure. Thanks for your love and support.  Love you all SO much.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

My Kitchen

Me and My Trainer--Elder G

Our Mamita's house and the dog who follows us everywhere

Yes, we can wear sunglasses :)

My home town is FAMOUS!

Requisite Cool Elder Shot lol


Monday, November 10, 2014

Boy Meets World--My First Week in Chile


Well, I won’t sugarcoat this first week. It was challenging, as I knew it would be. My brothers told me it would be. I have never been so exhausted in my whole life. I almost fall asleep in every lesson we teach, mainly because I have no idea what is going on. It is quite funny. What an experience this is--it has been the craziest adventure I’ve ever embarked on.

No wonder people think Mormons are crazy. We send 18 year old white boys like me halfway across the world to live in unknown and sometimes iffy neighborhoods where we can’t speak the language very well at first, and expect us to go into people´s houses to tell them the most important information that has ever existed. It can be overwhelming at times. But mostly it has been just one wonderful ride.

I just need to mention this one more time just to get it off my chest and I promise to never complain about it again. SPIDERS. EVERYWHERE. THEY HIDE. THEY LIVE IN THE WALLS. POISONOUS. Some are as big as my palm and they are the poisonous ones. You can probably hear my screams from here. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Ok, I feel better. Well, not really, But I bought killing spray and sprayed everything I could. God sure has a sense of humor ;)

My trainer (from Mexico—speaks just a little English) is awesome, even though he doesn´t get why I don´t understand Spanish yet. So then I rant in English for a couple minutes, look at his confused face and then tell him that is how I feel during every lesson. I think he understands more now haha. We teach about 5 lessons every day. They people talk SOOOOOOOOO fast and drop all their s´s and add ¨po¨to the end of each sentence. Super hard to understand. But I see gringo missionaries who have only been here for 5 months who understand everything and can speak fluently, so it gives me hope. But I know the gift of tongues is real and I am grateful for the Spanish I do have.

Everything is so different here. The people´s houses are pretty humble and run down on the outside, but inside they have massive TVs and stereo systems. It is a very laid back culture and they have a different timetable. Sometimes that makes it difficult to keep appointments with them or to get them to come to church meetings. I have met some super awesome people and there are miracles here already. We were walking down the dusty paths from where we live on the hill down into the town, and a family came out and asked if we could teach their daughter English. Sure! We went in and they said we could come back later in the week for another English lesson. It will be great to hopefully teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ as well, besides the English.

The central part of the city in the valley is very modern. I can buy almost anything I need (even Nutella!). One thing I have noticed is soda is king here--people here drink a lot of soda. And interestingly, the music in the stores is in English. Most of the people have no idea what the songs are saying. Thankfully, the food is pretty normal--potatoes, rice, chicken, soup.

Another example of God’s sense of humor—I have always hated fish. I was thinking about this before we went to our mamitas (we have a person here that cooks us lunch, our main meal) house to eat. Fish. haha I ate it though!! So, yeah!

Sometimes I stop, look around, and wonder if this is all real. Am I really on my mission? Am I really in Chile? This whole thing has been quite surreal and a real adjustment. I am thankful I have my testimony deep in my heart. Whenever I think about giving up, and I am ranting to myself about this or that problem, I think about my Savior, Joseph Smith, and my family. This is too important to give up on. EVER. I will never leave this church, the church of Jesus Christ, because I know he will never give up on me. How could he? Why would I? Even if there are holes in my roof, spiders in my walls, and I can’t understand what anyone is saying.

A quote my good friend sent me in an email, ”Don’t think you can’t go on a mission because you don’t know enough. If you know the church is true, Jesus Christ is the Savior, and Joseph Smith was a prophet you know enough.”

That is my testimony and the testimony of countless others. I knew this would be hard. But I love the Lord too much. Please help the missionaries in your area. They are looking for people to teach. The members are ESSENTIAL to this work. Love you guys always.

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Not my town (I had camera issues) but a good representation

Antofagasta--where the mission office is--just a short 10 hour bus ride away :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Elder Phillips is in the house--with Spiders and Spanish Chilean Style!


It’s been a crazy past couple days. Not much time this week but I will tell you the important stuff. Made it safely with all of my luggage. Gave out two books of Mormon on the airplane! It was super fun to do it in Spanish. I am in Vallenar, the southernmost city in the mission. It has some green here.... AND TONS OF NASTY SPIDERS. I might die. I hate them so much haha.

My apartment is pretty old and run down but it has a working toilet and shower. My companion and trainer is Elder G. I prayed hard for a good trainer and I got one! This is his last transfer (he will go home in six weeks). He is from Mexico. He speaks some English, since he was an Assistant to the President (one of a few missionaries who work with and report directly to the Mission President—it is a leadership position over the other missionaries). He is very qualified to help me since I definitely need it!

I live on the top of a hill overlooking the main part of the town. Elder S. (his companion in the MTC) is working down in the city. It was a ten-hour bus ride down here from Antofagasta—very long!!

The Spanish here is crazy. It will take me a while to get it down. I know I can do this--I keep telling myself--it’s just a big adjustment. But I’m here, I’m safe, and I am teaching my first lesson tonight to an investigating family. Here we go!!! Did I mention I hate spiders.... haha… but seriously.

Everything is awesome--I feel the Lord helping me,

Elder Phillips

My Mission President and his wife--the Daltons

We arrived!

Antofagasta's famous landmark "La Portada is in the background.