Saturday, May 30, 2015

Caterpillar Days

Hola famila y amigos,

As missionaries we set daily goals to help us be more effective--goals such as how many lessons we will teach, referrals, new people to teach.  This week there were a couple of what I call "caterpillar days" where all your numbers for the day turn out to be 0 0 0 0 0 0 which if you draw a little legs and cute face it looks like a caterpillar! And feels like one too :) But as I am a third of the way done with my mission...yes it is true--I am able to handle those days when nothing happens, even when you are trying everything you can think of to have something happen.

Despite the menacing insects invading my agenda, we did have an interesting week.

On Tuesday, we went to lunch at our mamita’s house like we always do but as we entered the house, a 7 foot white man jumped out and attacked us with hugs. It turned out to be my first zone leader, Elder P., visiting the mission with his parents.  It was so good to talk to him and his parents about what he is doing with his life—like his girlfriend and all the fun things he is doing... But can I say TRUNKIE ATTACK?  After lunch my companion and I just sat there in our apartment stunned by it all. I got over it though. Some day I will be able to watch my mom and dad eat Chilean food and attempt to speak Spanish :P  BUT THAT DAY IS NOT TODAY and that’s ok!!!

We met with various people this week who all seem to have problem with drugs and alcohol. Their lives are completely controlled by these substances that everyone told me in high school "weren’t bad and had no lasting consequences".  I beg to differ. As they tell me, "I only was going to try it once but now I have to sleep every night in jail and demons haunt my house".  It makes me glad that I listened to my parents when they told me not to try things even once—it’s not worth it!

Yesterday we were looking for less active members to teach.  We knocked on a house but couldn’t really see inside since the power in the city had been cut off. A woman’s voice told us to come in. I couldn’t see much but I could tell she was very glad to see us.  We talked with her family and her a little bit before she explained that she was a very active member for many years but had fallen away.  A few days ago she was praying for a way to come back to church.  The next day a missionary in a taxi gave her a Book of Mormon and two day later we showed up at her door!

After 8 months, this is the first experience like that for me--where I really felt like an answer to someone’s prayer. And she was an answer to mine because 20 minutes before that, I prayed that we could find someone, anyone that would listen and let us sit down.  Yeah!!

Ward conference was good, 137 people! I sang a solo in the choir and fell asleep on the stand :)

Have a great week!  And don’t tell me anything about the new Beauty and the Beast movie with Emma Watson.  Talk about distractions haha

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

We are short or he is tall :)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Broken and Prepared Hearts


This week we had interviews with the Mission President, a somewhat rare occurrence since my mission is about the size of California.  This time I came with questions--one of them being, “How can I be happy even when things are so difficult sometimes?"  His answer was simple, but as he said it, it seemed as if the room brightened and I felt warm inside: "When you live your life in such a way that you certainly have the smiling approval of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, how is it possible to be sad? The way to have that satisfaction is to live a consecrated life, where you have no fear to give up whatever might be asked of you."

We’ve been seeing lots of miracles the more I try to not just follow rules and work hard, but also to try to want to do those things (a much harder task).

 As we were walking one day, we talked with a man washing his car, who after 30 seconds told us to come in to talk with him and his wife.  Their 30-year-old son had recently died of cancer and they were looking for answers in their lives.  Their TV in the living room didn’t work so we went into the room where their son died to watch on his TV a short video how Jesus has impacted our life called, "Because of Him".

Standing together watching the words, "The tomb has no victory, we will all live again" was just so powerful.  We passed by later with a member to teach the Plan of Salvation, to tell them that their son is in a place called the spirit world waiting for the resurrection—and that he is being taught the same things we were teaching them now.  The member talked about how they need to fight for their family so one day they can all be together.  The big, tough Chilean man broke down with so many tears that his glasses slipped off his nose.

It was a very tender moment.  I realized many people go through this life not thinking about what happens after we die. Not thinking until something happens to make them question everything. I’m glad to be one who can give real, hopeful answers to their breaking hearts.

Our investigator family had some progress this week.  After much struggle and a change in work schedule meaning we can only visit them twice a month, we finally committed them to read the Book of Mormon and pray.  They were scared to do it, maybe because they already know what their answer will be (that it's the word of God just like the Bible! :P)

My new companion is the bomb and we get along great.  He did mention I sometimes talk to myself....I've heard its a sign of intelligence. But there is a fine line between smart and crazy :)

Have a great week.  I might have to take an Advil after this because this cyber cafe where I send my emails is full of screaming children playing Call of Duty :O

Everything is awesome,
Elder Austin Phillips

Random Chilean Statue 


Monday, May 11, 2015

In Honor of Mother's Day


Not a usual week in the land of shifting dirt.  On Wednesday morning, Elder S. received a surprise call from the leaders for a special transfer that night.  We went around to all the people he knew so he could say goodbye and off he went.  My new companion, Elder P., arrived at 3 am on Thursday morning with the zone leaders.  They knocked on the door; I fell out of bed, opened the door, mumbled something, went back to bed, and woke up with a new companion on the bunk above me. It was a surreal arrival, but he´s great.  This will be his last area before he goes home.

Since I am still new to this area, we have done a lot of walking the last few days mapping things out and even got a little lost.  We went to one of the old investigators Elder S. taught and his sister´s boyfriend was there.  He’s a big guy from Columbia who had secretly been listening to the conversations whenever the old missionaries came over.  We taught him about baptism and he accepted.  He and his girlfriend came to church the next day and we have another appointment with him.  Awesome!

Well, I have to admit the food here is pretty repetitive--beans, noodles, boiled hotdogs, soup with rice, and bread.  I’m not complaining that I don’t have to eat eyeballs and such, but on Saturday the member feeding us lunch made a GIANT meat pizza!!!!  It was such a monumental event in our food situation that we all took selfies with it haha

As for the Mother´s Day call, it was great!  You kind of forget what your family’s voices sound like after 5 months.  It doesn’t feel like much time has passed since we talked at Christmas, but so much has happened.  It was bittersweet to hang up.  But I know we are sealed as a family for all eternity because of the blessings of the temple, so they never feel too far away :)

In honor of Mother’s Day, thank you to all of you who have been a mother in some way or another for me in my lifetime.  And thank you mom for your kindness and your ability to reach into my heart like no one else can.

The love of my family and friends makes every tear shed worth the price.  At least for me, it’s not easy being a missionary sometimes.  There are moments when it feels like you are the only one in the world--that the night will never end.  There´s stress, disappointment, constant exhaustion, and the occasional leaky eye.

But it was rarely easy for our Savior. He really knows what its like to be utterly abandoned and chewed out by people.  He was somehow able to find joy everyday despite opposition, so we can too.  Being a missionary has also shown me how to find the greatest joys in life, even when sometimes it takes some digging around to find them.

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Happy Mother's Day!

Giant Pizza=Happy Missionaries!

Teach the Children How to Clean the Kitchen, or This is What Happens :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Happy Star Wars day—may the fourth be with you!

A little disappointing this week as far as investigators go.  Our family who I love to death is having a hard time, and the 16 old daughter who we were getting ready for baptism decided to wait until she is 18 to make her decision.  And our other investigators...well, we don’t have any others right now.

But on the bright side some members have been giving us references, so we have lessons this week with some new people!!

We went to the feria, kind of like a giant garage sale stretching down many streets, to promote the church’s #BecauseHelives campaign. Sometimes as a missionary, I feel like a giant walking piece of honey that attracts all the lost and disoriented bees—which is fine, it just never happened to me before. Maybe it’s because I look happy and approachable—I smile a lot when I can’t understand words or think of the right ones to say lol.  I was able to talk to one regular lady who didn’t believe in Christ but thought it was intriguing that I could have enough faith in Him to come down here for 2 years.  And for entertainment two women got into a fistfight right in front of us.  I think they were arguing over the price of some shish kabobs.

We were excited for our ward activity on Friday, Si no sabe, ¡baile! (If you don’t know, dance) where you were asked a question and if you didn’t had to dance.  Unfortunately the activity wasn’t advertised well and not many people came—so I had to dance.  I REALLY was hoping that video would never see the light of day.... but members told me they put it on Facebook already. Que verg├╝enza.

In one of my reflection moments (you have a lot on your mission), I thought, "If someone came right now and did some Harry Potter magic, pulling out my thoughts, what would they be worth?"  Like the saying, “a penny for your thoughts”  Or would my thoughts be worth more than a penny? I hope so!  Everything in our life starts with what we think about--our view of the world, other people, even what we think of ourselves.  If our purpose on earth is to love and serve others like Christ did and we aren’t thinking happy things--how can we expect to be that kind of person?

And as a famous song says, "You’ve gotta have a dream if you want a dream to come true!" Many people here and all over the world lack purpose because they have nothing to fight for.  They don’t realize the fight between good and evil continues to wage on.  And if we stand on the wayside, that is where all the flying debris hits.

Have a great week!  I’m excited for Mother's Day (I get to skype with the family) :P

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips