Monday, September 5, 2016

The Last Word

September 5, 2016

El Fin Se Acera...The End Is Coming

A few months ago in Chanaral, my previous area, we visited a part member family (known to all of you from past posts as the fisherman).  For a whole transfer we had tried to meet him without success--with my new companion wondering why we kept walking to the end of the city every other day to just hear that this guy wasn’t home.  In our weekly planning we disagreed about if we should drop him from our list, but something within me said, "Keep trying with him."  A couple of days later we found him working in his backyard with his friends, and for some reason I felt uncomfortable--and trying not to bother them that much I almost said we would come back another day.  At that point my fearless companion stepped in and asked them if they would come into the house to share a scripture (this is why we have companions--teamwork in action!).   The next lesson he asked us how he could be baptized. We set the wedding and baptismal date for the 2rd and 3rd of September.

We had the wonderful privilege of traveling to Chanaral for his baptism on Saturday, and what an amazing experience it was!  When we saw him and his family enter in the chapel we actually screamed with happiness.  Elder A. baptized him and afterwards I asked him how he felt about his baptism.

He stared at me and said, "I don’t know how to describe it but it was as if every step I took down into the water I entered more and more into God’s love until I was filled.  When Elder A. put me under the water I felt that God was really cleansing me, changing me into a new man."

Wow, time and time again on my mission I’ve seen that it’s really not me who does this work--yes I walk, teach, and baptize, but I didn’t cause these people to change inside, I didn’t cause that burning feeling within their heart.  What could it be but the very power of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?  What a great testimony to me of the reality of God and His love for his children.

As we prepared to leave, our fisherman came up to me with tears welling in his eyes:

"Elder Phillips. I know not many people opened their doors to you. But to those who did, you made all the difference, like you have for me."

Am I happy about my mission? Am I happy I came? Was it worth it? Did I do enough good? Would I do it again given the chance? What could I have done better? Am I better?

I suppose all of these questions swirl around in the mind of every missionary as they end their mission.

During my personal study, one other question came into my head: "Lord, art thou pleased with the mission I served for thee?"  God likes to answer me with questions and this time He whispered to my heart, "Elder Phillips, did you gain a testimony of my Son?"

I thought about all my experiences through the course of these two years.

"Yes, Lord. Jesus Christ really is the Savior, the Son of God.  I know He went to that sacred garden many years ago to pay a ransom for my sins--paying with his perfect blood those things I can’t change without him."

"Well, son. Then what else matters?"

What a profound statement and spiritual experience.  It caused me to reflect on the words of my favorite children’s hymn:

This Is My Beloved Son

Jesus entered Jordan's waters
When His work had just begun.
God the Father spoke from heaven:
"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Nephites gazing into heaven
Saw their white-robed Savior come.
And they heard the Father witness:
"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Joseph saw two glorious beings
Shining brighter than the sun.
God again presented Jesus:
"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

As I read the scriptures daily--
Words of Christ, the Holy One--
In my heart I'll hear God tell me:
"This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

And as a missionary for life my cry to the world:

This is my beloved Savior. Hear Him!!

That’s what missionary work is all about.  He speaks to all but not all are listening, but when at that point in their life they ache to hear, we will be there to tell them that there is hope in this world, there is light, there is peace, there are prophets who walk the earth, there is a God who wants to talk to them, there is a Savior who paid for them, there are other testaments of Christ, there is a spirit who will testify of this truth, there is a way to get rid of the sins and guilt, and if we are faithful, there is a happy ending.

Thank you to all who have helped me in this hard journey.  It’s been wonderful and I’m excited to see all of you again, but it is hard to leave people you’ve grown to love.

But as we all know, and I truly believe,

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

These dusty shoes are coming home!

Ward Missionary Activity 

Street signs of the areas I have served 

Baptism Day!

More Friends


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Two Years To Two Weeks

August 29, 2016

Hola familia!!!

The mission is weird because you can be 6 months in or 23 months in and you can’t tell the difference. Some may think it is like a climatic thriller but I would better compare it to long history book--lots of migration, settlement, wars of opinions, and the occasional victory!  There are many dull days, but it does have its moments that make it all worth it.

I wouldn’t know I’m ending except that EVERYONE here (mainly my companion) reminds me everyday haha.  But I made a goal my first night in the CCM (missionary training center) that I would work till the end, and I plan to do just that.

This week was good.  Never thought I would make it to this point, but I ate fish head soup and it didn’t gross me out! It must have had magical powers because after lunch we were all knocked out for a good half hour. haha

We are a little concerned for our investigator whose baptism is planned for the 10th, hope it works out!  It would be an awesome way to send me off.  The mission this month had 94 baptisms, more than we’ve had in 5 years so that was exciting!  I’m sure we will be celebrating that in leadership training this week.

On Saturdays we are doing the impossible: teaching the Old Testament in Spanish to a group of active seminary teens.  If they learn anything it will be a miracle!

Well, if you want to write me it needs to be by this Sunday night the 4th—Monday, September 5th will be my last regular pday. The following week I will be traveling to the mission home in Antofagasta—the first leg on my way home!

Have a great week!

Everything is awesome,

Elder Phillips

The District
Formal Group Shot

My Apartment Kitchen
Study Area
Poor dog was accidentally locked in the churchyard--we let him out and he was fine.