Sunday, September 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Chile!


A party was in town with it being Chile’s Independence Day celebration this last week. Since it’s impossible to do normal missionary work when the world is celebrating with barbecues, parades, etc., we went and enjoyed ourselves a bit at some of the member’s homes.  We played the board game the Settlers of Catan with a few members and ate an unusually large amount of barbecued meat.  VIVA CHILE!

Saturday we had an all day activity at the church where we enjoyed MORE meat and traditional Chilean dances.  It was fun to see some real Chilean culture.

On another note, I was talking to a member about how her family history work is going, and she shared with me a very powerful story about her grandmother.

She had been searching for information about her grandma for years with no luck. One day, to fix her broken glasses, she went to an optometrist and was looking at the photos on the walls while she waited.  One picture caught her attention because it looked very familiar.  She asked the doctor if he knew about anyone with a such and such last name and he said yes.

His store was a family business for many years and once there was an immigrant lady who worked there and became practically a part of their family.  The member broke down in tears because the only thing she knew of her grandmother was that she immigrated to Chile.  With more investigation she was able to find this lost branch of her family tree.  She said as she typed in her new family information on the computer to start their temple work, she felt a group of people standing behind her so strongly that she felt like she was being pressed into her computer.  She had a very clear impression there were many family members waiting for her to begin for them the sacred work we do in the temples, a work that we believe gives everyone the opportunity to accept or not to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was strongly touched by her story and sad I didn’t do more family history work before I left on my mission.

Have a great week!

Elder Phillips
Happy Birthday Chile!

Viva Chile!

This I Have Seen Before :)


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Hola Familia y Amigos

Monday, September 14, 2015

Hola familia y amigos (si todavĂ­a los tengo jajaja),

Today I took a big risk. We needed a haircut and the only hair salon was a hair school with people who are practicing.  But it was cheaper so I took the chance, and it worked out! (kind of) I was going to have a gospel discussion with the stylist but I thought it might be better if I let her shaking hands concentrate on not slicing my head open.

This week has been interesting as the whole country is preparing for their independence day (aka let’s celebrate).  The new people we have been teaching have also added a little spice to the week.

The young women's president has a friend living with her who we are teaching, a self proclaimed hippie--she likes suffering and believes in a 4th dimension with energy that is directing our lives.  As missionaries we are told to "teach people, not lessons" and this has certainly been helpful advice as we teach her.  Sometimes I get a little lost in our discussions, but she did come to church on Sunday.

We have also been led to people, namely less actives.  It never ceases to amaze me that 1 in 6 people I talk with on the street are Mormons.  We helped a guy with his couch and he invited us inside to talk with him and his girlfriend. After 30 minutes he said, “OH! I think I was baptized in your church when I was little, I don’t remember." They also came to church this week.

One of our plans fell through and we left off of our schedule one evening. As we were walking down the dark, shadowy passageways between the apartment buildings at night, a lady was walking with her two kids and stopped to talk to us (a less active). Turns out she walked a different way to get to her house and found us!  We went to her apartment and shared a message with her husband, a Jehovah Witness, who at the end said, "Yeah, I'll read your book because you guys actually took the time to listen to what I think and not just tell me I'm wrong."

Funny and sad moment at the same time:  It was rough not having water for 4 days so we finally went to the water place for a 2nd time to ask what was going on. Everything was in order according to them; I pleaded with them to have someone look in our house, which they did.  They went into the bathroom and with the turn of a faucet the sound of rushing water was heard.  WHAT?!?  Turns out my companion had been confused with the shower and ended up turning off all the water in the house without realizing it.  I didn’t know if to yell or cry, so I fell down and laughed.


Elder Phillips

Editors’s Note:  many have expressed concern about Austin, the missionaries, and the people of Chile after hearing reports last Wednesday of an 8.3 earthquake in Chile.  It hit south of Austin’s mission, but reports from the church say all the missionaries in Chile are fine.  Luckily Chile is prepared for earthquakes—they have early warning systems and plans in place in the event of a big earthquake and possible tsunamis.  They evacuated people from the coastal areas, but since then all has returned to normal in most areas. There have been a small number of casualties and some damage (aftershocks are still occurring) but much less than what you would expect from such a big earthquake.  Our prayers are with those who were closer to the epicenter of the quake.  Here is the report from Austin’s mission president for their mission, which is in the Northern part of Chile and doesn't include Santiago:

“All of the missionaries continue to be fine. The tsunami alert was lifted early this morning and those that had to be evacuated have all returned to their areas. The earthquake was far enough away that many of the missionaries did not even feel it, some in the southern cities of our mission felt it more strongly. The cities in the mission were not really affected except for a few items falling from store shelves and some coastal damage to beaches, piers, boats, etc., from small tsunami waves. Everything is pretty much back to normal, the missionaries are happily working, sharing the good news of the gospel.”

Chile's Independence Day is coming

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Tree of Life Vision and the Lost Verses

Hola a Todos!

I must not be as cool as Nephi because we didn’t catch much meat this week—literally or figuratively. (If you are confused by my reference, read my last email haha)  Maybe I was stepping too loudly because every living thing I talked to scurried from my presence or lived in another part of the city.  And the meat I did have turned a little stale due to a poor environment.

We even went a little hungry this week due to a lack of food for a few days, and a water pipe broke so we haven't had water for three days.  But it is all good, just part of the life of a missionary :)

Reading the Tree of Life vision found in the Book of Mormon, I realized something is missing in that story.  So, in the vision there are the people holding to the iron rod (the word of God) making their way to the tree laden with delicious fruit (the love of God), those who are lost in the swirling mists of darkness (temptations of the adversary), and those in the great and spacious building (the world).

My question is, how do those lost and/or prideful souls find such a small and narrow road back to the iron rod? Do they just find it by themselves?  I think there must be some lost verses about pairs of young men and women running around with lanterns into the mists of darkness and the large building, teaching people where they can find this rod--the missionaries!!  Everyday I walk through a darkening world--telling people about a delicious fruit available to all at the tree. All they need to do is a couple of things and then they can taste it too!!

And my struggle is that people don’t realize they are lost until they see they are found.

One of those found brothers, who was just baptized two weeks ago, blessed the sacrament this week.  During a family home evening we had with him and his family, he asked me if I would give him my missionary tag when I left. I told him no, we aren’t allowed to do that.   He answered, "How will I be able to remember you then?"  It was a special moment for me.

In exactly one year from now (according to current plans) I will be on a plane leaving this land called Chile.  That will be an exciting day—but only if I do what is needed now, and there is so much more to do.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

Ps: (Trunky moment) Walking past an electronic store, a group of missionaries on their p-day happened upon a Star Wars 7 trailer and stood there watching with such unconcealed joy that everyone around them stared, confused by such an interesting gathering lol

Pss: And for all of you BYU fans, here is a shout out to my man Elder Tanner Mangum.  I hear he saved the game on the last play and is having his 15 minutes of fame.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer human being, who also happened to be a great missionary in my mission just a few months ago!  #lifeafterthemission

Mom's Note:  Austin will be excited to know that Elder Mangum had another miracle finish this week!

Elder Mangum
My Zone


Thursday, September 3, 2015

When the Bow Breaks

Hey family and friends,

This week I went to the main city in the mission (Antofagasta) to pick up my new companion--fresh to the mission.  Sitting there in the mission office with all the newbies eating pizza, I couldn't help think back to 10 months ago, straight off the plane from the missionary training center, when I was the one who didn't understand anything.  How time flies.

My new companion is from Argentina and it took me a while to get used to his accent since he talks so differently than the Chileans. In the morning he asked me how to use the toaster since he had only seen them on TV. A different life for sure.

Thinking everything would be great and dandy this week, we went out with my plans for the day--ready to teach the investigators who are getting ready for baptism.  And…rock hard rejection.  The son of our recent convert who was going to get baptized this week told us he made his decision to not meet with us anymore.  Then another lady we were teaching told us she doesn't need anything else in her life and doesn't know why we are serving missions since it’s a "big waste of your time". And to round out the week we ran into a lot of people who were either higher than the clouds on drugs or drunk.

So now I feel like Nephi from the Book of Mormon when he broke his bow and couldn’t obtain food in the wilderness for his starving family--all his best-laid plans disintegrating right before his eyes.

What do we do in life when nothing works out like we want even when we felt inspired to go on the path we are on?  Well, Nephi took his losses, looked at what was around him, and made do with mediocre materials--having faith that it would work out.  So, I'm not as cool as Nephi but we are trying to do what we can haha.  I'll tell you if I get any meat this week :)

My friends the Jehovah’s Witnesses are usually out with us in the morning doing their work.  We were walking to a less active's house when I saw a couple of them coming from the other end of the street.  Oh, I DON'T THINK SO! You are NOT getting to that house first.   So we scurried and made it just in time. Missionary humor.

Sunday was a wonderful highlight, seeing our recent convert blessing the sacrament and the dad of the recent convert family passing it with us.  It was very special seeing him give those sacred emblems to his whole family sitting there strong and united in the gospel.

It’s good to see the fruits (or meat) of your labors :P

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Finally made it to the beach :)

Huge temptation to get in the water, but we followed the rules and didn't :)

Party display!

Beautiful Sister in the ward
Group shot

I need a bigger desk