Sunday, April 24, 2016

Deserted Desert Beaches

April 18, 2016

Hola familia y amigos,

My mom has told me I have a defect/strength: when I really want something, I am very persistent about it—I don’t give up until I get it.  That wonderful ability kicked in a little this week when no one signed up for our Saturday lunch with the members.

We have a less active boy who is coming back to church and since there aren’t any other jovenes (youth) we called another less active family with a boy the same age.  I asked the mom when we could come over. They are very busy and are only in the house together at lunchtime. Perfect!  So in a way I invited us over for lunch to have the two less active boys meet.  It worked and we were able to hit three birds with one stone: youth interaction, sharing with the family, and lunch!

My companion has just three more weeks in his mission life so I’m trying to keep him from the edge before he jumps off.  lol  And even though we had lots of lessons fall through this week, a really cool thing happened.

Walking around at 4:00 pm with no one on the streets we passed by a door right as it opened, and a woman popped out.  "Oh! Are you looking for me?” "Ummmm, yes."  “Well come back tomorrow."  We came back and her mom opened the door.  She didn’t seem that interested at first but suddenly her demeanor changed and she let us in.  Her son isn’t baptized in any church so she wanted to have him come and learn how to be baptized. Ok!

Sunday morning the mom, dad, and son came to church by themselves! Feeling worried for them possibly feeling uncomfortable in a new place, it was a huge miracle that the dad works with one of the members in the branch, and the investigator of the sister missionaries who is going to get baptized in two weeks is one of the son’s best friends. Small world.

So good things are happening. Oh, and we were the only ones on the beach today since the water is contaminated. Good thing we can’t swim anyway!! haha

Everything is awesome and getting awesomer,

Elder Phillips

The Zone


Our New Friend

Just Me And The Whole Beach

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Surprises From Areas Past

April 11, 2016

Hola familia y amigos!

It seems like whenever I move to a new area the germs take advantage of my weakened state and ATTACK. In other words, I got the flu this last week.  But I am thankfully feeling better.

In the small branch of 40 people we have almost 30 who are over 60 years old. We brought a less active boy to church and he was the only youth there!  So we’ve been thinking of ways to bring the young blood back to church.  We have a couple of ideas for activities: a fall carnival party in May, and game nights playing minute to win it and jeopardy (if you don’t know the answer you have to dance.) I would totally go back to church with that kind of line up! :P

We teach lots of lessons here, but usually after just one lesson they disappear or don’t open the door.  I asked my companion if something was wrong with my face or if I smelled bad.  Lol He said it is a cultural thing to be polite or nice when they aren’t truly interested.  So they reject us in a nice way.

On Wednesday we had interviews--which means the other elders in the little towns 2 hours away come on a bus to meet with us.  I talked with an elder who happened to be in my sector in Copiapo a year ago.  Asking him about the area, he told me about a baptism they had.  I didn’t recognize the name but as he began to describe the family’s house my mind went back to a hot sunny afternoon a year ago with Elder P. when we were out contacting less active members.  We knocked on a door and a woman opened the door and told us to come in.  We realized there wasn’t a man in the house so we had to leave (missionary rule), but as we left we talked briefly with her daughter who came down the stairs, invited her to church and left. I left the area the next week.  That daughter was the lady this elder was telling me about!  He showed me a picture of her at her baptism smiling from ear to ear.

"You never know the impact your mission can have on people", said our mission president. How true that is!

Everything is awesome,
Elder Phillips

Photos:  Pday lunch (completos) and a visit to a neighborhood zoo, etc.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Long Bus Rides and Trash Collecting

April 4, 2016


Well it was a whirlwind week, first traveling for 17 hours in a bus, then going right back for another 8 hour ride at 2 am for training, then going back to our town for 8 hours in a bus that got to our apartment at 3 am the following day. Good thing we had general conference over the weekend to catch our breaths.

The town I’m in has about 12,000 people and is still being repaired from the huge mud flood that ravaged through the main part of downtown.  It happened about a year ago but it is still very fresh in their collective minds. I'll take more pics as the weeks go on. Most people walk around with sadness in their step and dirt in their teeth.

We have a couple of people to work with but I’ve noticed that many people are preoccupied about their jobs and therefore very unstable with our appointments. The church here is a small branch of 40 people--lots of older folks.  Only 5 people showed up to watch general conference on TV in the chapel, and there are no other missionary elders here so I watched it in Spanish--which was fine, except when I could see that Elder Holland was getting fierce and I could only hear the pretty laid back translator.  I’ll make sure to listen to it this week for sure!

A memorable event this week was knocking on doors asking for trash since the trash collectors are on strike.  With the help of a member we collected the trash from a whole block and gave them a pass along card to watch a church video with us later this week.  The people were very thankful because there are flies EVERYWHERE.  But when we got to the trash dump outside the city I almost threw up as the truck waded through black clouds of flies, vultures and the stench of death.  Now I understand what outer darkness could be like.

Here’s to a cleaner week #germafob4life

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips
Hi from Chanaral with Elder S.
Running into old friends #1
Friends #2
Friends #3
Friends #4
Chapel in Chanaral
Scenic view of Chanaral
My New Companion Elder S.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Transfer Musings...A Time To Reflect

Hola a todos,

This week our ward had a baptism of a 15-year-old girl, a friend of a member family.  The young womens leader spoke about how every week the young women would pray for new girls to find the church to help them grow and how she was an answer to their prayers.  It helps when the ward is united in this great cause to help other people.

Drumroll please…..I’m getting transferred to ChaƱaral!  if you remember a year ago there was a huge flood here in northern Chile, and ChaƱaral was the city that was hit the hardest.  I hope they’ve been able to fix it up but I do know that they have no large supermarkets and I will also be traveling to some of the smallest branches (a small congregation) in the mission (like 12 people) for exchanges with other missionaries.  So today I went to the Chilean equivalent of Wal-Mart to buy peanut butter, ranch--anything that will be difficult to find down there. Gringo power!!!

My companion is staying here in Arica and he is going to train a newbie (which he is very nervous about).  We have some good people who are very close to making the covenant of baptism.

It’s hard saying goodbye to the people you put in your planner each day to visit, knowing that you will probably never see them again in this life.  It’s also hard to leave this area without having a baptism, but I don’t underestimate the power of growing seeds.  Some people just take longer to blossom.

As I shared my last testimony with the ward, my mind reflected on two themes of my mission experience beyond bringing others to Christ:  First, that the time during a mission isn’t a perfecting stage of your life but it is a great time to see what weaknesses you need to work on the rest of your life; and two, it is an opportunity to experience the stark reality of everything we teach in this gospel. The restored gospel is not just some idea for me anymore but an assuring reality.

Well, wish me luck in what some call the ugliest area of the mission!   Pero, sabe que? Es donde los milagros pasan. :P  (Translation:  But you know what?  It is where miracles happen ☺)

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

Pictures:  People I Will Miss

Our District

Proof that Missionaries Have Fun

Prayers Are Answered
The Good Bishop And His Family
Elder S. Will Be A Good Trainer

Our Apartment