Monday, June 22, 2015

Feliz Dia Papa!


To get the most important thing out of the way, Happy Father's Day!!  Whenever I show my family picture to people here, everyone says, "Wow, your mom is very pretty. And you look exactly like your dad!"

In our sacrament meeting, a lady from Mexico talked about an experience she had during an open house tour of one of our temples. As she walked through the room with a giant mirror where the brides get ready, and later in the room where the marriage ceremony takes place—a room where we believe we are sealed to our families for time and all eternity, she began to weep.  She made the decision right there to fight for this sacred privilege--in a world that could care less what she did with her life.  Her final words impacted me: "Your kids deserve the right to have an eternal family."

This Father’s Day I am thankful for a kind, smart, sacrificing and Christ-like father.  Little do my parents realize how long I spend on my knees thanking God for the privilege of having them as my guides, my source of happiness, my friends.  I try to live my life in such a way to honor these rare gifts I have been given.

As far as the week went, due to the Copa America it’s been kind of a tough week for lessons--with canceled appointments and caterpillar days.  People get depressed when Chile looses in soccer and they get drunk when they win. Which is kind of a lose lose situation for missionaries haha. It also doesn’t help that today is National Strike Day and people aren’t going to work.

We were invited to the ward activity to watch the soccer game.  I thought Americans were crazy about football.  NOT EVEN CLOSE.  There were tears, gasps, screaming--with every eye glued to the screen. If you know anything about me, you might imagine how I looked.  Honestly it was fun to get into it the spirit of it, but I will never be able to care as much as they do.   GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!  At least I can say I played it a few  years as a child--go AYSO!

But we have been working with a new family, an older couple in their mid 50s (sorry, for me that is old) with their two kids.  What struck me about them was how much they much have changed in these 20 years.  The dad is covered in tattoos and used to be involved with drugs.  Now they have a family, a nice house and want to learn about God.  We taught the mother how to pray, giving the first prayer in her life. She was shocked how it felt, like finally being able to feel something after years of static and silence.

Have a great week dying in the summer heat.  :P

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

Yes, I live on the moon :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Copa America and the Question of the Week


A week before I left on my mission I was deathly ill from the flu, lying in my bed watching The Lord of the Rings.  Well, on Tuesday this week, the sequel happened.  The difference was there was no TV to watch, no warm showers to melt away the aches, and no pampering mom to make me food.  Good thing it was only for two days :P

From now until July 4th it is the American Soccer Cup.  So.... people have been pretty busy with soccer madness. Vive Chile!  Our mission president has allowed us to watch the Chile games with investigators. My companion is to soccer as I am to Disneyland, so he is very excited.

Since the missionary work has been a little on the slow side, we decided to do an activity with the branch called "La obra es dulce (the work is sweet)." We are making appointments with all the members to visit them, share a spiritual thought about missionary work, make cookies, and with them take the treats to their neighbors and friends to see if we can show them a quick video about Jesus and teach them.  The moms seem excited, the dads not so much. We will see how it goes!

Missionaries teach, but we also learn a TON about the gospel, life, and ourselves.  I tend to ponder about things on my 40 minute walks to the church, and lately I have been thinking about the responses people give us when we try to talk to them or teach them.

A super common response they give to us is, “No, I’m good. I think all religions go to the same place because we all believe in the same God, just in different words.”

I used to agree with people, that we do in fact all believe in the same God, but I was wrong.  Maybe all the people who believe in God believe in a superior being, but most of the time that’s where the similarities end.

The God we believe in is a loving Heavenly Father with a body of flesh and bone, only perfected.  He is all knowing; a God of perfect love and justice who has always been the same and will never change.  He loves all of his children, but doesn’t control us or many things in this world because he has given us the ability to choose the path we want to take.  He has also shown us the way back to him through His son, Jesus Christ--who established His church, gave men the authority to act in his name, and through his sacrifice provided a way for us to be perfected and live with our Father again.

He is a god of truth, of innovation, of timing, and one who does everything to help us grow, even if it sometimes means difficult challenges, tears, temporary darkness, and pain.

But many people believe in an easy God, one without a purpose or rules. What does it serve God to put us here on this earth just to let everyone come back and live in heaven? If that were the case, wouldn’t it have been easier just to put all of humanity straight into heaven and skip this whole earth thing?

It’s one of the hardest questions to answer: Who really is God to me, and how do I envision him? In my own life, I want to do the things I need to do so that when the day does come and I am face to face with Him once again, I will recognize and know Him.

And in the meantime I’ll be the gringo who tries to rip people away from their television sets to teach them about the true Heavenly Father we all have.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

PS: I saw the new Jurassic World trailer and about died of happiness....

Lunch at my Mamitas

The view below

I live on the moon

Alto Hospicio--the city on the hill

Vive Chile!

Alto Hospicio Zone

A baptism we helped with.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Homeless in Chile

Oh, que semana (what a week)!

Wow, so we were living in the house of a member of the church, a nice older couple who make desserts and fried food for a hobby (yum!!)  But our mission president called and needed us to move to an apartment with 4 other elders while our apartment is getting the windows and doors fixed. Currently I am sleeping in a freezing hallway on a broken bunk bed, sharing one bathroom with 5 other elders, and trying to train a new elder in an apartment that is a 30-minute walk from our area. The adventure continues.

About a year ago there was a giant earthquake in this area, so all of the church branches in the city meet in one building.  And the church is growing here--they just made another branch!  So now we have church at 4 pm.  Our sector (area) has also started covering part of the new branch--it takes about 90 minutes to walk from one side to the other.

And we had a wonderful week!  The branch members are great here, which helped all of the stars to align and our baptism was a success! I just met our new convert on Wednesday before his baptism, since I am new to the area--he is a nice and humble man.  A nice lady also showed up to the baptism and then came the next day to church.  Her aunt is a member and she told us, "I just had a feeling to go to church last week. I heard about the baptism so I decided to come.  I felt something move inside of me, moving me to tears when I saw the simple, beautiful service." So during the Sunday classes, we gave her the first lesson and we have a lesson tonight with her at the branch president’s house!  Yeah!

Being a trainer of another missionary is a little overwhelming, especially when he speaks the language well, knows the area better than you, and has different habits from his other trainer.  But he is very excited to learn, and says he likes being with me--always a good sign.

But he didn’t get the greatest first impression of me.  On our first day together we were visiting people, and after my 17 hours of travel, fried food, and lots of walking, my body wasn’t very happy with me.  On our way back to the house, I stopped, excused myself, walked over to a light post in the dirt, and hurled everything my body has ever consumed.  I sat back up, excused myself again and kept walking.  He was very quiet and I felt very awkward.  Best trainer ever!!!

The people of this city struggle with many challenges, and it is home to a large mountain of trash littered with drug paraphernalia and stray dogs looking for food. In contrast, I can see the city below us, which is on the ocean and gorgeous to the eye. But I am reminded wonderful things can happen anywhere, even here in Alto Hospicio, “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” There are lots of great hearts here :P

Have a wonderful week!

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

A Great Day!
Iquique--the beautiful city below.

My Mamita in Copiapo and her family :)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hello Alto Hospicio!


Well, it was a crazy past two days and the craziness continues.

As we were walking to another appointment last Saturday night, the phone rang: "Call from the mission assistants”.  NOOO!  So, Elder P. is staying in Copiapo and is training a new missionary.  And I am now in the northern part of the mission closer to Peru in a city overlooking another huge city called Iquique, in a place called Alto Hospicio.   I’m also finishing the training of a new missionary, Elder M., from Paraguay. AHHHHHHH.  He’s really cool and excited to be here.

The 17 hour bus ride was definitely a journey--especially since our bus broke down, I got the seat by the stinky bathroom, and the homeless looking guy laying down behind me talked in his sleep, or to himself, I’m not sure...

But I made it!!  And....we don’t have anywhere to live at the moment.  About 3 weeks ago the missionaries’ apartment was robbed, so we are waiting for them to fix the doors and put barbed wire above the wall.  Currently we are living in the small spare room of a member’s house.

Its a little more...interesting here...lots of people wandering the streets and for the first time I have streets in my sector that we aren’t allowed to go on.  This is a real mission haha.

The good news is we have a BAPTISM this Saturday, and I am a little nervous because I am in charge of planning it as the more senior missionary.  Yikes!  And because of the big earthquake here a year ago, 5 branches meet in the same building. We luckily got a 3:30 pm time slot at the church, which is about an hour's walk away from our house.

Life sure takes turns we never expect. But life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.

I’ll try to add more spiritual things next week but my head is spinning at the moment so...I’ll leave you with this:  The church is true.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

Nothing I can add to this :)
I will miss this guy--he helped us a lot in Copiapo

Alto Hospicio is above, Uquique is below