Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Best Birthday Present, Goodbyes and Hellos

January 20, 2015
A bit of green!

Me with Elder Mangum

Hola world!  Or the few wonderful people who actually read this :)

Well, since this is the most important thing and the reason why I came out here, it should go first.  We have a BAPTISM this Saturday!!!  Our golden girl got permission to be baptized! I really think she is awesome and she truly feels the truthfulness of this church.  It has been incredible.  We really haven’t had to do anything, just show up to the lessons and teach them to her!

So it will be a WONDERFUL birthday present  ( Editor's note--Elder Phillip's birthday was January 23) for me and a good going away present for my companion who is going home on Monday.

Actually, most of the elders in my district are transferring or going home.  I am going to have a new companion. And the other elder in our ward is going to train a newbie. It is hard staying with sooo many people going home.  It makes me feel like I am going home, but I still have a long way to go :)

Our mission president came this week for a visit, and I had a chance to work with the missionary assistants to the president.  One of them, Elder Mangum, is planning to play football for BYU next year.  Yes, he is a little bigger than me. lol (see picture above)

While we are on a mission, we need to focus completely on missionary work—no outside distractions.  So keeping that in mind, there I was, walking down the street to visit a less active member (we have many), and BAM, there is a giant movie screen playing GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.  I am thinking to myself, oh no. I would really like to sit here and watch it; I don’t even care that it is in Spanish.  I look over at my companion, who is covering his eyes and trying to walk through all the people watching the movie.  We make it though the crowd and he says to me, ¨Stinkin Satan.  I really wanted to watch that stupid movie. ¨   He definitely is a good example for me :)

One of my best friends, Lauren Smith, got her mission call to ITALY! So cool! She will be great.  Italy is a beautiful country.  Life here is much more simple--not too many people are here for the beautiful scenery. But I didn’t go on my mission to be a tourist. I came to help people find joy in their lives, even in a place with lots of stray dogs, dusty roads and spiders.  We are all God’s children and he loves us.  Still, I can dream of visiting Italy someday :)

I love that when I get discouraged, something good always happens.  The other day, I was feeling down because we talk to so many people who don’t come to church for various reasons—they have been offended by someone, they have difficulties in their lives, or they just have different priorities.  Then I passed by our church and there is one of our active elderly lady members.  Even though she is like 80 years old, has Parkinson’s disease, and is sick in bed most days, there she was, alone in the burning sun sweeping the patio of the church--because it was her turn to clean this week.  What an inspiration.  She knows that true joy and peace comes from serving God and others, regardless of our circumstances.

Next time I talk to you, I will be 19, have a new companion, and a baptism.  Woo hoo!

Love you all.  Keep climbing your mountains :)

Everything (AND I MEAN EVERYTHING) is awesome,

Elder Phillips :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

12 Grapes in 12 Seconds and 100 Days


Not that I’m counting or anything, but yesterday was my 100 day mark on the mission!  Yeah, I know there are still SOO many days left, but I just like the number 100. It’s so...exact haha.

New Year’s Eve was pretty boring and safe-we stayed inside our apartment. There are lots of traditions here--like burning homemade figures of people.  It’s a symbolic way to burn away the bad times of the last year.  It looked like the end of the world to me.

At 11 (which I pretended was 12 since that is when missionaries go to bed here) I ate 12 grapes in 12 seconds--another tradition.  I almost threw up because I was laughing so hard when I realized my companion was already asleep.  So there I was with a mouth full of grapes, standing alone in my apartment with fires and drunken people outside. It was interesting to say the least.  Happy New Year!

Every week we teach English classes.  One comment about English from a student:  Why is "w" called double-"u" and not double-"v" like in Spanish.  As their guide into the world of English, I look pretty dumb when they point out things like that.  Come on English!  I trusted you! haha :)

The family we are working with likes going to the beach EVERY no church for them at the moment.  But we did find a 15-year-old girl (I thought she was 25) who wants to be baptized.  Honestly, she is incredible.  She goes to church every week for three hours.  She has already read First Nephi (in the Book of Mormon) AND is doing her PERSONAL PROGRESS (a goal program for teenage girls in the LDS church).  She is an INVESTIGATOR, not even a member yet.  Wow!

She especially impressed me during our activity at the church when we decorated the chapel as the Celestial Kingdom--with toilet paper.  Yay for poor missionaries!  As we had our Bishop explain about what life will be like in heaven, she kept leaning forward, her mind focused on everything he was saying.  She whispered to me, "I want that.  I want to live with my family and be happy forever.  What do I need to do?"  Seriously, a chosen one.  Sadly, she has to wait until she is 18 or her mom says ok.  :(

Other than that, we continue to do a lot of walking.  But I keep pushing forward every day.  Sometimes the mission feels like an endless mountain trail.  That’s why I love The Sound of Music’s “Climb Every Mountain” or "The Climb" from Hannah Montana if you hate Broadway (por que?).  The gospel doesn’t eliminate our mountains; but it gives us the strength to keep going.

So whatever your mountain is, keep climbing…and enjoy the view.

From the cheesiest missionary you know,
Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips :)

Climbing that Mountain One Step at a Time

Happy New Year!

A Completo--Hot Dog, Guacamole, Mayo

Our Celestial Kingdom

A Nice Family

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year 2015! The Year of Elder Phillips, the Missionary

December 29, 2014

It was a Chilean Christmas down here in Vallenar.  Most people celebrate the holiday at midnight (Christmas Eve) till 5 in the morning.  But a family was kind enough to move their dinner to 9 pm for us.  Meat, meat, meat, rice, tomatoes, running to the bathroom because I am going to throw up, more rice, Santa hats, presents, going back to our apartment at 10:30, and not sleeping because all the kids are screaming about their gifts at 3 am.  Overall, it was a blast. :)

Talking to the family on Skype was weird.  This sounds dumb, but sometimes I forget I am on my mission.  There is so much written about the crazy things you can do on your mission--baptizing people in the rivers or causing mountains to move, but actually daily missionary life is pretty...ordinary.  Its just normal life with a shirt and tie, a lot more walking, less sleep, and an overwhelming presence of knowing that God is always with me.  There are moments of AHHHHH and WHAT IS THAT and THIS IS AMAZING, but most days its: walk, SLAM, walk, teach, walk, eat, walk, laugh about something, go to bed, repeat.

My brothers gave me some inspired advice (as always). Bryan told me to have more fun with the members, gaining their trust and respect.  Matt said that the second I loose faith that people can change is the second I need to go home. Forceful, but true.

I won’t lie and say I always love the people. But if I don’t believe we can all become better than we are now, I just lost faith in the Atonement.  And it’s not us as missionaries changing people.  All we do is slowly help turn their gaze to the one man who in glory stands with his arms outstretched, waiting to receive all of us.  And if they don’t accept it now, at least I did my part.

Now that I am not drowning in the language, I can get a few words out before they shove my head back under the water.  Many times I think, "This would be so easy in English!"  Then I think (in Spanish), "Of course dummy!  And it would be 20 times harder in Japanese!"  The two languages in my head are literally battling each other... haha

Enjoy your New Year's Eve!  I have to be in the apartment by 9, so have extra fun for me :)

Here’s to changing the world one heart at a time!  I see great things ahead in the year 2015, the year of Elder Phillips as a missionary.

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Christmas Eve Skype!

Merry Christmas!

Presents :)

I'll Be Home For Christmas, If Only In My Dreams

December 23, 2014

You would think that Christmas time would be an easy time for missionary work, but this week was pretty slow.  A unique challenge we face here is that people work for “turns”, which means they work for seven days (many times out of town) and then come home and rest/sleep for 7 days.  A lot of them are working right now and there is even school on Christmas! So sad.

On another note--lol, singing is awesome.  We talked to an old lady who said her daughter would be interested in hearing from us, so we walked over to her house. We thought it would be nice to sing her a Christmas hymn and invite her to our branch activity.  

She came to the door and we started singing Silent Night (or in Spanish, Night of Light).  After one verse I looked up and saw that she was crying.  She just kept crying.  We asked her what she was feeling and she told us she felt something very powerful.

We will see what comes of it, but songs definitely have power (especially when I don’t have the words yet to talk in Spanish).

Other than that, I made Christmas sugar cookies and decorated them, burning my hand in the process with our ghetto oven haha.  But it made me feel very festive.
All the missionaries are SUPER excited to talk to their families. Well, maybe my companion is less so because he is GOING HOME IN FOUR WEEKS-very exciting for him! The truth is that it is hard to be away from my family during my favorite time of the year.  Heavenly Father knows that, so he has been giving me lots of gifts--like an overwhelming feeling of peace, a loaf of bread from a stranger, and a reconfirmation that he actually is my father in heaven.

If I miss my family, imagine how much Heavenly Father misses all of us.  He doesn’t get one even one Christmas with us!  It must be hard for him.

Merry Christmas to all!  God bless us everyone!!!! :P

´´I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.´´  And that will have to do for now :)

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips :P

I Made Christmas Sugar Cookies!