Monday, November 24, 2014

Two Weeks in One!

My Home Away From Home

Happy Thanksgiving and the New Normal

November 24, 2014

Hola!

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

Hola!

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

Lunch!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

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


Hola!

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.