Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Ups Far Outweighed The Downs

November 22, 2015


My last Sunday at the branch in Alto Hospicio was special because we had more people there than in all my 6 months. We filled two whole rows with investigators and less actives we were working with. It was beautiful sight.

Saying goodbye to the family we baptized was a very powerful moment for me. We talked a little bit about their experience entering the gospel.  The husband began to cry, thanking me for bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to their home. We all cried together.  They promised to send me photos of when they get sealed in the temple.  And to think 4 months ago he didn’t want anything to do with us. The Spirit changes people.

Well, my first week in my new city (Arica—a nice city in the most northern part of Chile just below Peru) was interesting with lots of ups and downs.  Arica has palm trees, less dogs, and our apartment has four missionaries in it.  My new companion is from Temuco, Chile, and he is a convert with lots of energy—which is exciting.  We don’t have anyone to teach, but that can be changed.  The members here are so wonderful—they gave me a warm welcome with gifts. And the mamita who cooks for us is a great cook and I love feeding her chickens every day :P

On Friday night we all began 14-hour bus ride for a conference meeting with Elder Cook (an Apostle) who was visiting in our mission.  I was excited to see missionaries I hadn’t seen for a whole year, like Elder F. from Copiapo during the flood, and Elder A. my old companion.  Another Elder told who was in my first area after me told me devastating news about golden girl—that she had gone inactive.  It broke my heart. But later I found out from more recent sources that she is coming back to church!!!!!  Emotional ups and downs.

About 11:45 pm the bus broke down in the middle of the desert--a bus full of missionaries.  The Phillips family curse remains! I knew it was my fault haha They transferred us to another bus. Then another until we got to a city to wait. At 4 am another bus came but didn’t have room to take all of us.  We had to decide who would go and who would miss the conference.  I felt really bad getting on the bus, but my companion had a special musical number to sing at the conference so we had to get there.

We arrived in Antofagasta, and ran to catch a taxi to the church building. Because we were late, we missed the mission picture and shaking hands with Elder Cook. We were all a little bummed, but we were able to hear him speak. God made it up to me because it was one of the most powerful moments in my mission, and I received an answer to a lifelong prayer.  Elder Cook talked about us being church builders, how we need to be lively, inspire the young men to go on missions, and build the kingdom of God.  It made me think of my last night in Alto Hospicio when the second counselor thanked me for helping make the branch stronger during my time there.

At the conclusion of his talk, Elder Cook bore a testimony that strongly impacted my soul. He said," In a recent conference at Stanford the students questioned the reality of modern day prophets. They mentioned that the General Authorities rarely give details of our spiritual revelations. Be assured we still have them even if we can’t express them fully for their sacred nature.  But I have decided to share my testimony a little differently today."

The testimony he shared was a life changing 10 minutes.  I know he is a special witness of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ leads and directs His Church through His prophets.  His testimony was worth the 30 hours on the bus and the discovery of no food when we got home due to the electricity going out and everything spoiling in our refrigerator. The ups far outweighed the downs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

On the bus to the conference
Reunion Continues
30 hours on a bus = punchy missionaries

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Climb Every Mountain...Really!

November 9, 2015


This morning at 4 am I climbed a mountain in the middle of a dark, cold desert.  Near the top it got really steep and I kind of freaked since there was nowhere to find a firm footing—the sandy dirt is really loose because there aren’t any plants.  It also didn’t help that my companion was reciting Elder Holland's General Conference talk to me about the two boys hiking who almost died.  But as I followed in the footprints made by those in front of me, it became much easier to find a foothold.  In this stressful situation, my mind made a religious comparison (that’s what happens when you are a missionary haha).  We all must climb the mountain, but we aren’t the first ones to do so.  Jesus came not only to show the way, but to create the necessary footings needed to overcome the sometimes steep cliffs and uncertain terrains of mortal life.  Many try to do it alone and soon find themselves caught in shifting sands or on precarious cliffs.  Life is better with God.

I’ve been here in my area for 6 months and with transfers next week, there’s a good chance I’m leaving, so I’ve been saying goodbye to everyone.  Hope I go now, or it will get very awkward...

It is a little sad because all the people we are working with will be baptized after I leave. However, I did have a nice surprise this week in the other branch—there is a lady who my first week here went to our baptism and we invited her to a family home evening with the branch president. She lived outside of our sector, therefore the other missionaries carried on with her lessons.  And she got baptized this week!!  Sometimes I can get discouraged thinking nothing I do seems to help anyone, but it’s moments like this one that reveal the truth ¨By small and simple thing, great things come to pass¨.

We will see what this next week will bring!

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Climbing that Mountain

Reminds me of the moon

At the Top

So Happy For Her!

Bendiciones and a Chilean Halloween

November 2, 2015


Today has been a roller coaster of emotions.  It started hearing the sound of a ringing cellphone with the caller ID "Mission President". That does not go well with eggs and toast.  Good thing it turned out to be nothing, just to ask us what happened the day before with church.  It was in a new church building and no one had keys so we started 30 minutes late.  Whoops!

Then while eating at a Subway in town, another missionary and I were talking and he told me how he wasn’t feeling so well about the mission, and was thinking about throwing in the towel.  Then on the bus home, we saw two less active members who when we saw them starting crying because their grandchild had died of health complications the week before.  It made me think of my other investigators this week who got kicked out of their house because they can't find a job, others who can’t get married because they don’t have money, and some members who help us and barely have enough to feed their kids.  Another member told us that her husband abandoned her and she has to walk an hour to church because she has no money to call a taxi.

I don’t tell you all this to make you depressed, even though it gets to me on a daily basis.  I hear all of these and many more stories of people in real situations and think "I get mad if someone takes a couple of my french fries at lunch or when I step in dog poop and have to clean it off".

How can I forget all the blessings in my life?  Money isn’t happiness, but I have a stable home, never have to worry about my next meal, AND I have the gospel of Jesus Christ freely in my life.  I have it all!  But still I fall in the trap of thinking I deserve more. I think it’s one of the reasons I’m here in the mission, to live the harsh realities of others that happen everyday.  They are like sledgehammers to the icy portions of my heart.

Halloween was interesting since it is relatively new here.  The other churches say it’s a devil holiday so they hide in their houses until the demons pass by haha.  We went over to a family’s house who lived in America, so they know what Halloween is like.  Then all the lights in the city cut out for 30 minutes.  It must have been the demons.

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips


Our Halloween Decoration--edible!

Yes, Sometimes I am :)

Love these missionaries!

Truth Seekers: Adventures for Eternity

October 26, 2015

Hola friends and amigos,

This week was quite an adventure.  I think it would be important to note that my companion and I and all other missionaries have been officially condemned.  Why do I say that?  The other day while trying to talk with a lady in her store another lady came in, saw our name tags and began talking about how we shouldn’t worship on Sunday because it’s not the real Sabbath day.

"Well, ma’am, we believe that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by Christ's apostles in remembrance of his glorious resurrection," we explained.

"One day Christ will come and say to, hmm…let's see, Elder Phillips and Elder C., that you are damned because you didn’t do what the Bible said!!!"

Situations like this (which happen often) always lead me to one thought: We must be seekers of truth.

 Truth is the reality of things how they were, are, and will be.  We can’t change truth but we can discover it. If truth exists, God exists--since he is the author of truth.  If God exists, he wants us to know these truths.  The LDS church was founded by truth seekers.  Joseph Smith could have settled with not understanding everything, but his soul begged for something more.  Most of the people I talk to sit on the questions of their soul their whole life saying "who knows?" and then go on living a mediocre existence.  "There's more! You just need to look for it!" I plead.

That has probably been the most exciting part of my mission, finding precious truths and sharing them.  The fact that God isn’t just a distant energy floating in space but is a literal glorified being who created us before this world puts everything in my mind in order.  That I can progress in this life and the next to be like my Father in heaven gives me purpose and direction.  And there are so many other truths still left to explore.

We have a baptismal date for an awesome couple we are working with--the 14th. They have come to church 2 times and like it.  All the credit is due to members who are picking them up for church and coming to lessons with us.  Go members!  Be more like them in your wards haha.

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips