Monday, April 27, 2015

Speak The Truth, Even If Your Voice Shakes

"Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes"

I might have shared this quote before but it explains how this week of teaching felt.

There is a returned missionary in our ward who just got back from Provo, Utah. He is so much fun because he randomly says things in English. I hope I can do the same with Spanish some day!

This life is like a race. If we run super fast for 80 meters in a 100-meter dash, but stop 20 meters short, we won’t get the prize.  We visited with a family who had been members for 35 years, but when they got promotions at their jobs they stopped going to church because they already "knew it all".  They sat there arguing with us about attending church, saying the church only sees us as statistics or numbers anyway.

As I listened to them I realized the only thing I could do was testify why I went to church.  Even though I was a little intimidated by the family who "knew everything", I told them the most important reason I go to church is because I need a constant remission of my faults, mistakes, and sins only made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  We obtain this cleansing when we partake of the sacrament--weekly repenting of our sins and renewing our covenants with God.

Though it was a little out of character for me, it felt right to tell them they had forgotten God, and at the current moment no longer had a remission of their sins. They did not “know everything” because they had forgotten the reason why this church exists. If they were to die at that moment, they would not be counted among those who fought to the end—they had stopped 20 meters short of the finish line.

My voice shook, my Spanish stumbled, but I felt a power beyond my own. The room was silent and their faces changed.  I spoke out of love for them but told them the truth.

I don’t tell you this to show how cool I think I am. I’m just a 19-year-old band boy :)  I tell you because I wish I had spoken the truth earlier in my life.  When opportunities came my way in school and other situations why didn’t I speak up for what I felt inside?

I’ve realized this is not the time in our world to be wishy-washy.  The opposing voices are too strong for that.  We don’t need to be louder, only more powerful. When we speak what we feel, we will be joined with the voices of heaven.

Thank you for your thoughts and kind support!  I’m glad to be here--even when I feel the need to speak the truth in broken Spanish with a shaking voice.

"We ought to live life sacrificing, singing, and dancing" -Plato

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips :P

Didn't know freezers could ice over #missionaryproblems

Monday, April 20, 2015

Slowly Getting Back to Missionary Normal

April 20, 2015


Transfer Day--no changes here, all four of us missionaries are staying.  Maybe this transfer we can actually be missionaries!  My sector is normalizing.  We finally had all three hours of church!  The city will take a while to clean up, but my life is returning back to missionary normal.

This experience has taught me to: 1. Listen to the Prophet’s counsel. Many people have to leave their houses in the middle of the night. If you didn’t have a emergency backpack, well, tough luck. 2. Material things don’t matter.  People lost everything, but it made them kinder to each other.  It’s like literally watching the pride cycle in the Book of Mormon!

On Tuesday the two zones got together to dig out one of the chapels downtown.  It’s incredible what you can do with 30 missionaries.  The zone leaders told us the next day we could buy rubber boots and they would reimburse us. Thanks for telling me now!! My tennis shoes would have appreciated knowing that 3 weeks ago :P

I’m happy to be in the driest, flooding mission in the world!  It might not be pretty or easy, but I love what it’s doing to me.

The family we were reactivating moved to Antofagasta (6 hours away) for a job opportunity.  We went over to their house to say goodbye.  They thanked us for our service, that their young little family can go to the temple next year to become an eternal family.  Well, it wasn’t a baptism, but I did help them see the light of the gospel again.  This was the returned missionary father who my first week here sat next to me at stake conference crying. He knew what he had been missing.  It’s been very fulfilling to work with them.

On Thursday there was a conference with Elder Oaks, one of our church leaders, for all of Chile.  The two zones got together in a chapel to watch the live broadcast...but there was no signal.  So someone at the actual conference used their cell phone to let us hear in Copiapó. For two hours I listened to an unrecognizable, muffled voice with occasional laughter through a cell phone.

But we got together the next day to see it, and after two hours they finally got a connection working. Yeah!  Elder Oaks said this year our church is going to focus a lot more on the importance of the Sabbath day, one of the biggest problems here in South America.  In a broader perspective, this whole church and life in general, he said, is based on commitments we make with each other and God.  If our investigators can’t learn how to keep the commitments we as missionaries ask them to do (read the Book of Mormon, go to church, pray) how can they be ready to make an eternal promise with Heavenly Father to always follow him?

I’m thankful I have the liberty to choose; no one can force us to be good or bad.  We create our own lives. I hope mine is worth making! :P

Have a great week. We have a promising week with appointments just around the river bend.  Love you all!

April 13, 2015 (Last Week)

Hola familia y amigos

The rains came down and the floods came up.  But now the floods are drying away so the normal routine of life begins.

Except on Tuesday and Thursday we went to Piopóte, the part of the city that was hit the worst.  One of the member´s mom lives over there so the bishop asked if we could take the 25 min trek over to dig out her house.  I’ve never seen so much mud in my life!!  Trudging through the knee-deep mud, sunken cars, and trash, we made it to the house.  For 4 hours we slopped the mud from the bedrooms and kitchen to the patio where we added it to the stinking pool of trash and mud on the streets.  It was such a relief to finally touch cement floor after we had finished.

I had to get a shot from a truck just outside the swamp (don’t worry mom, it was a legit medical truck).  They asked me all these questions in Spanish I didn’t know how to answer.  They ending up giving me the shot anyway with everyone staring at me like, who is this weird white kid?  It was one of those, yep, this would be easier in English moments. But its part of the adventure!!

Finally we were able to go out and do normal missionary work. The bad thing is a lot of people are leaving the city due to contamination in the air, especially for the little kids.  Our pool of people to teach has shrunken dramatically.  Ahhhh....well, we keep moving forward.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

Before the Church Dig Out

Notice how deep the trenches are!

Dirt and more Dirt!

These pants will need some soaking!

Cleaned up

Our Kitchen :)

Friday, April 10, 2015

My Version of the Disney Jungle Cruise

Monday April 6, 2015


Hope you enjoyed your Easter! Mine was probably a little different than yours, unless you spent it in rivers of mud and dust clouds--then it would be very similar to mine.

We weren't able to do normal missionary work again this whole week due to the flooding, which now is now a stinky layer of mud covering all of downtown, and dust up where we are (explaining the gangsta mask pic).  That would be all fine and and dandy if the mud didn’t mix with the overflowing sewer waters making for a very stinky Copiapò.  It sure has been an adventure! Might need to buy new shoes after this haha :P

On Wednesday we went to downtown to help a lady dig out her house, a 4-hour process.  Standing in the bed of a truck being splashed by passing cars in the rivers once called streets, watching the water lap up on the muddy shores of people's porches, I couldn’t help feel like I was on Disney's Jungle Cruise! Don't judge me, anyone who knows me understands I just can't help loving Disneyland.

Speaking of Disneyland, we were allowed to go to member’s houses to watch general conference (a bi-annual meeting for our whole church on TV). We walked in the house and BAM, there it was--a giant poster of California Screamin ( a mickey mouse roller coaster) from California Adventure.  I freaked out.  I asked the man where he got it and all he said was, "I bought it cause it looked cool."

Even though watching conference in Spanish was a little harder than watching it in English, it was wonderful anyways. Found it interesting how many talks were focused on marriage and family.  And it got really interesting when the Spanish translator started DYING or something during the talk--coughing and gagging.  There was silence until a new voice came on 30 seconds later.  Hope that guy is ok.

I’m eternally grateful for a family who loves me.  I’m glad that in a world so messed up with values, I have my head on straight. I'm grateful for this chance to really develop into the person I want to be for the rest of my life--a disciple of Christ—which is the most important thing I can do with my life. I am also thankful for the opportunity to share this knowledge with others.  And most importantly, I am grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice he made for all of us.

Enjoy your Easter leftovers!  I will be eating ramen with mayo, ketchup and chlorinated water.  The mission is so weird it ROCKS! :P

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

My "Gangsta" mask
The Disney Picture!

The Jungle Cruise