Tuesday, June 16, 2015

this is the last update of my mission...

Elder Peacock and Elder Phillips

Brother Mak's baptism!

Dear Friends and Family,

As you all probably know, this is the last update of my mission.  Looking back on my mission, I am filled with a wonderful feeling--love.  All of the things that have happened while serving, have been a metamorphosis for me.  My mission hasn't always been filled with love.  There were times when I felt anger, frustration, jealousy, unsatisfactory, not good enough, weak, sorrow and the lot.  But I learned how to turn to the Lord in these times.  When I turned to him he always provided me a way to escape.  Then I look back and realized all those negative things were just temporary.  They passed before my eyes and melted away from my heart.  But the positive things have stayed and created an eternal impression in my mind.  An impression of love, glory, brotherhood, compassion, mercy, endurance, patience and more.  

The things that have happened here are sacred to me.  All of the friendships and people I met will not come to an end.  I absolutely was not perfect in my two years of service as a full time missionary, but I feel like I gave God my all.  I feel that He is proud of me, just as my earthly parents are proud of me.  I fully intend on continuing to make them proud through the rest of my life.  

Love you all,
Elder Phillips

Monday, June 1, 2015

...Christ has removed the sting of death...

Chan Kam Yan's baptism day

Dear Friends and Family,

Today I want to take some time to talk about one of my previous recent converts.  His name is Chan Kam Yan.  He was baptized while I was in Pok Fu Lam.  He is the sweetest guy I know, completely without guile.  Sadly, about a year after his baptism (this past week) he passed away.  He was 50 years old or so.  It was hard for me to come to grips with the fact that I will not see him again until I make it to the other side, but it is a good thing I know of a surety that Jesus Christ has removed the sting of death from the world.  This is not the end of Chan Kam Yan just as surely as the Crucifixion was not the end of Jesus Christ.  It is not the end of our friendship, either.  As I've said before, the gospel of Jesus Christ overcomes all.

I remember back to Chan Kam Yan's baptism.  After he was baptized he came and sat next to me.  The congregation was singing a hymn and I was interpreting it into sign language for him.  I then looked into his eyes and I could see something stirring deep inside his soul.  I knew at that moment that he had been touched by and filled with the Spirit of God.  

Yesterday in church all the missionaries gave talks and we did a musical number.  We sang the fourth verse and did sign language to the words.  There was one deaf investigator in attendance with her daughter.  The words were: 

"And should we die before our journey's through.  Happy Day!  All is well.  We then are free from toil and sorrow, too.  With the just, we shall dwell.  But if our lives are spared again, to see the saints their rest obtain.  Oh how we'll make this chorus swell. All is well!  All is well."  

Chan Kam Yan has obtained his rest, while my life has been spared again to tell everyone the great things God has done for us.  The last time I saw Chan Kam Yan I told him I may not get to see him again because I will have to fly back to America.  He made the sign which means "cry," symbolizing he was crying at me leaving.  Then he smiled like he usually does.  And my last memory is of him smiling because he had the peaceful assurance that All is indeed well.  I love this man.  I will see him again.

I love you all!

Elder Phillips

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I love my mother!

Elder Peacock and Elder Phillips found the DQ

with Edmond

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been a really great week.  Happy Mother's Day!  I got to Skype my mom and dad today and it was a great experience.  I won't drone on too long about my mom, but suffice it to say she is a wonderful mother!  I feel that she is never sad for herself, whenever I have seen her worried, distressed, or in tears it is always for others (maybe especially her children).  It is because she truly cares for us and is anxious for our welfare. I'm glad I have somebody like that watching my back!  

Macau is the area I'm serving in now.  It is a city just an hour boat ride away from Hong Kong.  I love it here very much!  We are having good success thanks to the Lord.  We are Zone Leaders now so we have a lot of added pressure and things to think about, but it is all for good.  Even in our weakness, the Lord expects great things out of us.  I think he does it this way so he can give us the opportunity to grow and receive his grace.  I have definitely felt that grace again as we've taken on this new responsibility.

I don't have much to say today except that I love my mother!  And I love you all as well. 

Elder Phillips

Thursday, April 30, 2015

...a joy and a love that transcends human nature.

Nick's baptism
Deaf friends at the BBQ

Dear Friends and Family,

Yesterday,  Nick was baptized.  The baptism of this man is a witness that Jesus is the Christ.  It is a miracle.  Before, I had thought that he had little or no interest in getting baptized, but in the past month he has had an immense change in himself.  He has been touched by the Spirit of God.  I think he felt the love from those who cared about him, and that helped him recognize the love God has for him.  Whenever I think about it or talk about it, I always feel a joy and a love that transcends human nature. I look back at my life and see that there were times I was distant from The Gospel, and most everyone has times where they wander, but I testify that this is the only true path to God.  God freely gives us agency, but the only path to liberty and lasting happiness is obedience to God's commandments. 

Last Saturday, we had a BBQ organized by the deaf members of Yuen Long.  Deaf members, nonmembers, and others attended the BBQ last Saturday.  I will send you a picture of those deaf people in just a moment.  These are the people who I have dedicated my life and heart to.  Everything God has enabled me to do has not been just for my benefit, but for the benefit of others.  I did not learn sign language, God learned it for me.  I did not learn Cantonese either, God gave it to me.  If all of the things that have happened on my mission are not miracles, then I don't know what a miracle is.  I know that there is a power acting here that is beyond my own.  That power is God.  Nobody can tell me there is a gray area here.  Nobody can tell me this is all in my head, because I've seen and tasted the fruits that have come from faith.  

I just want to say thank you for all your love and support.  I feel so happy to be here.  I hope that all of your lives can be filled with happiness as well.  Love you!

Elder Phillips

Grace, a recent convert
Benji, a Filipino member

More pictures of Nick's baptism

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We cannot be whole ourselves without loving others and loving God.

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope everybody had a great Easter.  I hope all is going well for you all.  Things are good here in Yuen Long.  Two investigators will be getting baptized in the next coming month, so it is going to be a hectic time.  Nick is supposed to get baptized on April 26th.  Pang is to be baptized on May 10th.  Pang  is a super nice, humble deaf man. His body is crippled and he has other hardships, but he is an amazing guy.  I love him.  Nick is not deaf and he is a really cool guy as well.  He is 23.  

I watched general conference this past weekend and I had some amazing experiences while watching it.  There is too much stuff to write it all.  One thing I have learned for myself is that If I cannot be motivated for my own sake to do things, then I should do it for God's sake or for another's sake.  Sometimes I think I should be able to conquer this temptation on my own.  I think I should do it for my own sake, but I've realized it is not always enough.  Why did God send a help meet to Adam in the first place?  Why does God offer us grace?  It is because we are not enough on our own.  It is one of the greatest lessons of my life.  I cannot do it by myself.  I've probably given my parents a lot of grief in the past because of this attitude I've had, and I'm certain I've given God grief for it as well.  But I've realized that there is a reason why we have other people to help us.  Also we need to serve them.  We cannot be whole ourselves without loving others and loving God.  We are dependent, completely dependent, on God and others.  God did not send me here to look perfect or receive honor and glory of others, he sent me here to repent and strive to help others do the same.  No matter how independent I think I am, I am completely not okay when I am on my own.  

Which leads me to the next thing I learned from Conference: marriage.  Just kidding I'm not going to talk about that.  Anyway Love you all.  Keep carrying on.

Elder Phillips

It has been a really good week!  Things are going pretty well.  Nick passed his baptismal interview and is getting baptized this Sunday.  It has been a miracle seeing him change.  When we found him on the street he was such a different person.  It is cool to see how the gospel softens people's hearts.  

We have been teaching a couple other deaf people so that has been great.  In other news, my recent convert named Grace Li (baptized in Pok Fu Lam) has decided to start attending Yuen Long because it is closer to her home. She also happens to be great friends with Pang.  Actually she referred Pang!  It is going to really strengthen the deaf members. 

This past Friday Bishop Shum called and asked me to give a talk on Sunday (yesterday).  I prepared a bit on Saturday but our schedule doesn't give us much time for preparing talks!  Luckily it turned out really well.  The topic was on missionary work.  I shared some experiences I had sharing the gospel with my friends at home.

I love you all.  I hope all is going well.  

Elder Phillips

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Praise people for what they have become.."

1st photo -Elder Phillips, Sister Chan, Pang and Elder Shipp
2nd photo - Elder Phillips and Nick 

Dear Friends and Family,

It was a great week. Yuen had a baptism yesterday which was really cool, and we have awesome people that we're teaching. The ward is doing well!  We had stake conference this past weekend and one thing really stuck with me.  The Stake President said we should praise people for what they have become.  I know for sure that being a missionary has changed my life.  I feel that God is proud of me, and that is a feeling I've wished for for a long time.  

Last week we had a talk with a young man who comes to English class, but has never been interested in meeting with us.  We bumped into him on the street and he opened up a bit.  We had a long discussion about God.  He wondered why there is evil in this world.  Why is there disease and war?  If there is a God, why doesn't he get rid of those things?  We told him that through the Atonement of Christ, all things are made right.  Furthermore we explained that God has given people the ability to choose for themselves what they will do in this world.  Because of that, inevitably some people will choose evil and will harm others.  But we asked him a simple question. What method could God use to get rid of all these things?  He could make us all slaves and give us no power to harm others, or he could teach us the right way and push for all of us to follow him and as a result there would be no wars among us.  He said the second option sounded better.  Then he asked: So why doesn't he come down to the Earth and teach us then? 
I said: He did.  

Love you all,
Found these guys hanging out at church

Monday, March 9, 2015

There are always miracles happening.

Dear Friends and Family,

This past week was transfers week. I stayed in Yuen Long (I am pretty sure I will end my mission here) but I got a new companion! His name is Elder Shipp.  I will send a picture of him to you all! He is a great guy.

This past week Elder Ballard came to Hong Kong and met with all the missionaries.  He was so great.  He said a lot of things our mission needed to hear.  There were a lot of things I needed to hear that day, and I'm grateful God gives us revelation so we can hear what he wants to tell us.  One main thing that Elder Ballard admonished us to do was to be more bold!  Being bold is not just standing against something else, but to stand for what is right and true.  God will win in the end.  It doesn't matter how many times people think we have lost, because if we stand with God we have never lost.  The truth will prevail in the end. 

Know that I love you all and think of you often.

Elder Phillips

Hello Friends and Family,

It was a really awesome week this week!  This past Wednesday we went to teach a deaf woman found by Elder Hafen.  We met her at a McDonalds and as we entered the McDonalds we saw that their was another pair of deaf people in the corner.  We went over and talked to them and we actually scheduled one of them to meet again!  What a miracle.  After we finished the lesson we got up to leave and saw a group of 5 or 6 deaf people sitting at a table together.  We went up and talked to them and it was pretty funny.  
They didn't like us as much at first, but by the end of the conversation I think we won them over a little. 

Outside of that, we've just been doing a lot of finding which has also been good.  We've met a lot of new people.  They don't always have interest to meet again, but I think that when we sincerely share what we know with them they always walk away feeling better than before.  

There are always miracles happening.  Sometimes I've imagined who I would be if I didn't believe in God.  All I know is I would be a shadow of what I now am... My very breath is a testimony of his reality.  I love you all.  

Love, Elder Phillips