Sunday, June 30, 2013

Week 3 at the MTC

Week 3

Dear Friends and Family,
     Just when I thought the MTC wouldn't throw any more curve balls at me, I was proven wrong!  They are training a hundred something new mission presidents here as well so the missionaries can no longer eat in the regular cafeteria.  Now we eat in the gym for the next week or so.  The Church did a worldwide broadcast last night and as you know I got to sing in the choir!  You can find me at 3:13 if you go to and watch the recording of the choir singing.  Sadly my face is being mostly covered my some guy with glasses.  I was in a few shots though because I was on border line where elders and sisters are seperated. 
     The broadcast was fantastic, though.  It's awesome that the church is continuously improving missionary work and that 70,000 missionaries are in the field right now!  Sundays are always great at the MTC. 
     Some sisters in our district met a missionary who was from Hong Kong, and she told them all about how important the Hong Kong mission is.  I thought about it, and ironically I bought a t-shirt with the Hong Kong flag on it that called Hong Kong "the gateway to the orient."  The church's foothold in China is Hong Kong!  I can't wait for the announcement that China is opened to missionaries.  God loves Chinese people, that's why there are so many of them. 
     Cantonese is going great.  We were told that we were not going to learn characters at the MTC, but as of last night I don't see how we can't learn them if we are to use social media to contact people in Hong Kong.  I've developed some really good study habits so I think we are all learning as fast as our brains will let us.  One funny thing that happened this week was in our residence when this group of elders across the hall were chanting some dumb song over and over again.  We were getting tired of it, so one of the elders in my branch put on a white nametag (which means at the MTC that you're an authority figure of some kind) and he walked over to them and as they were singing he asks with a completely serious face: "Is there a problem here?"  They were all dead silent right away.  And as our elder was walking away he had a huge smirk on his face and we all lost it. 
     Another fun thing is that one sister in our class re-wrote the song "I'll make a man out of you" (Mulan) with Cantonese mixed with English lyrics and we sang it for our teacher.  It was a good moment.  Apparently he did the same exact thing when he was at the MTC!  They might as well replace Called to Serve with "I'll make a man out of you" as the missionary anthem. 
     Anyway here is a scripture that was partly used in the broadcast yesterday, but I love it so much because it illustrates so much how missionary work is a work of God.  It is a work of miracles.  It is not for us, but for God's children who he loves.  I know it's long but bear with it. Here it is.
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?  For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.  And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.  And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you with great power and great glory at that last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?  Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?  Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain."
- Moroni 7: 27-29, 35-38
How can I add anything to that?  This gospel is true.  It is one of miracles, the same miracles Jesus performed on Earth are happening today.  I've seen them throughout my life and continue to see them.  Love you all!  Until Next Time!

This picture is of Elder Phillips and Elder Peterson who is a friend from Red Wing Ward in MN.!!

Week 2 at MTC!

Week 2

I am in the middle of week two here at the MTC.  Time is starting to fly.  We get to exercise every day to work off all that fat we gain from the cafeteria so it is wonderful!  I play soccer most days with a couple of my companions.  Missionaries get pretty competitive sometimes I don't even want to play!  All that built up testosterone from sitting in class all day will do the trick.  We get to go to the temple every Monday and I just went today so there are definitely perks to being at the MTC. 
A big realization I've had here is that I'm no different than any investigator.  People might think missionaries are all spiritual giants all the time, but for me I know that's not the case.  I've had the biggest questions about my faith since I've been out here.  I've also had the greatest answers to prayers.  So it goes both ways.  But I know I cannot hope to convert anybody.  What I can do is pretty pathetic.  But God can change hearts.  I've seen that here now more than ever because he's changed mine.  I always thought I had a great testimony of the gospel before I came out here, but it has now grown in ways I never thought of. 
So last night we watched the movie: The Testaments.  For those who don't know it's a church movie and it has a great message: but let me just say the actors did not win any Oscars for their performance.  But the funny part was that as movie-deprived missionaries this film had us on an emotional roller coaster.  Everybody laughs at the goofy romantic parts (short kissing scenes) but we only laugh to disguise the fact that we all just died inside a little bit. 
So here's my thought for the week it is from Romans 8 like last week but it is so awesome. 
"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come.  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:38-39
Bei Jeung Louh
Elder Phillips

With my first mission companion Elder Halvorsen from Washington!

Week One at the MTC!!

Week 1

So the MTC.  It's a love-hate type of relationship so far.  They threw me into the deep end right away by learning Cantonese from day one.  My teacher only speaks Cantonese to us.  It has some very frustrating moments but I have made good strides in the language. I know God has helped me in that way.  I've probably learned more Cantonese in the first few days here than all my three years of Spanish.  So my English is deteriorating as you can probably tell, but it is just fine!  I'm singing in the choir and for anyone wanting to know their is a worldwide church broadcast where I and thousands (literally) of other missionaries will be singing.  Maybe if you watch it you will see me.  If you're lucky.  Kidding. 
The first few days were honestly pretty rough, but we got a nice break on Sunday and today is my Personal Day so it feels slightly like a weekend.  But we get back to class at six thirty tonight so maybe not so much.  I haven't gotten a full 8 hours of sleep at all since I've been here.  But I've really come to appreciate when I get to exercise or even church time.  Everybody thinks I speak Mandarin here, because the Chinese characters for mandarin and cantonese are basically the same.  Somehow I get one of the most difficult languages in the MTC and we get out in some tiny classroom for nine weeks!  It's all good though I'm mostly joking. 
There were some doubtful thoughts about if I wanted to do this for two years the first two days I was here.  But I was sitting in class one day and I felt the Holy Ghost tell me that God loved me, and I could feel that love.  And it made me want so badly to try to get somebody in Hong Kong to feel that love.  So I know what I am doing is right.  I feel happy, but extremely busy.  Which I am just fine with.  These won't be too long, but I'll send them every week on Monday and leave you with a different scripture that applies to my situation.  Love you all! 
"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the suffering of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8: 17-18