Monday, July 29, 2013

One week left at the MTC!

Dear Friends and Family,

I now only have one week left at the MTC!  What a blessing.  Some fun things happened this week, so here they are.

My teacher had a birthday.  We found out about it because one of the sisters in my district is a total creeper and had her friend at home look up our teacher on facebook.  So we found out it was his birthday so we threw a surprise party.  We got him some silly gifts and wrote a message on the board.
We also had Christmas in July on July 25th.  I drew Elder Walter for my Secret Santa so I made him a gift.  We have this grammar book with some suggestive and interesting lines in it, so I compiled the weird lines into a dramatic play.  It is all in Cantonese so Elder Walter will be able to learn and be entertained at the same time.  Pretty sweet!  Since my parents are famous writers now, maybe I will send the manuscript to them and they can edit it and put it up on the blog so everyone can see.

Today I got to serve at the temple.  The temple is closed here for refurbishments and some redesigning.  But I got to go in and help clean.  Well I got the good job.  I and another elder in my district found out that they ask two people to be "security guards."  Which means you sit in a chair and make sure no hooligans come in.  So we got there and said that we could handle the burden of security, while the rest of our district got to go clean lockers!  There were a few exciting moments, though.  At one point, a man came in without a temple recommend and nobody told me he was coming.  He said there was a temporary recommend at the desk somewhere and luckily we found it and he got through.  The next thing was when an insect flew through the door.  My first thought was this:  In the House of the Lord?!  NO WAY!  Nobody is getting an insect blown into their mouth or eye when they're trying to peaceably worship.  So I go to squash it, and then I realize that I couldn't kill a life in what I consider the holiest place on Earth.  So I had this conflict within me.  I decided to just ignore it and now some poor temple worker probably swallowed it and choked to death.  So if that happened, would it be more morally correct for me to end one life with certainty than have the possibility of two lives ending in a such a tragic manner?  This is what was going through my head.  These are the hard choices.  But I couldn't kill it.  Some other stuff happened involving burglars, protesters, and a small riot outside the temple but that's not nearly as important as the previous two items mentioned so I'll move on.

I've just been studying my guts out for Hong Kong.  I've been meeting with an elder who speaks Cantonese and lives in my dorm.  I talk to him in Cantonese as much as I can, his name is  Elder Leo whose parents are Hong Kong natives!  He is a really funny guy. 

I met a new missionary who is going to Milwaukee Wisconsin!  His name is Elder Robinson so Mom, Dad and anyone else in WI. give Elder Robinson a warm welcome!   
That's pretty much all I have for now but I got some golden pictures this week, you are going to love them!
One of the pictures is with Elder Schmitz from my ward in Wisconsin.  He lives in my building and we talk all the time.  He is speaking Thai
The picture of the group with that beautiful Asian man in the middle is the one we took when that Asian man went on vacation just yesterday and we won't seem him until he visits us in Hong Kong.  He was a great teacher.  His name is Fuhng Hingdaih.  I love him so much.  I was distraught when he left us.
Another picture is one of Hong Kong money.  One guy in our zone had his parents send him some so we all got to look at them.  Pretty neat.

The other picture is that party we threw for our other teacher Gu Hingdaih.  We love him too.  It was a wonderful moment.  I am about to forward an email with that picture on it.  We have three teachers by the way.  Fuhng Hingdaih, Gu Hingdaih, and Gwok Hingdaih.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 7 in the MTC and the walls are closing in :) Elder Phillips is ready to get to Hong Kong...two weeks left!

Hello Again Everybody!

     This week has been pretty swell.  We are always meeting new people from Hong Kong here and they're always so excited that we are going to speak their language and serve a mission there.  In just two weeks I will be getting ready to fly out to Hong Kong.  The time is passing very quickly.  I'm nervous about not being able to understand people when I get there, but I'm sure it'll be fine.  Here's my complaint of the week to the MTC.  I went to get a turkey and swiss sandwich at the sack lunch line today, and you want to know what they had?  They had ham and cheddar.  What a disgrace.  I ate the sandwich grudgingly and repented in my own soul for betraying the turkey and swiss sandwich.  Then I dedicated myself to never eat another ham and cheddar sandwich again.  Does it sound like I'm going crazy?  I sure am :)

     I'm mostly joking about that, the MTC is a wonderful place.  It's like Disneyland (famously called the happiest place on Earth).  It's like Disneyland because you go for a short time period and spend most of the time waiting in lines.  Plus there's all these rules.  Why can't I jump out of a ride at Disneyland?  Maybe the ride was boring me and I just wanted to stretch my legs for bit.  Why can't I go to bed at 10:31 at the MTC?  Maybe it's because the destroying angel passes by all the buildings of the MTC past 10:30 pm and if you're out and about you get smitten by him.  I do like it here though.  But my farewell song is still going to be Ye Elders of Israel so I can sing this line:    "Oh Babylon Oh Babylon we bid thee farewell!  We're going to the Mountains of Ephraim to dwell!"  Lot of jokes today.

     Here's the best thing that happened this week at the MTC.  I watched a recorded talk by David A. Bednar called:  "The Character of Christ."  It was a great talk.  The thing that I took away was that while the natural man will always turn inward when he faces trials, Christ turned outward and still served other people even when he went through the greatest pain and suffering the world has ever seen.  That's how I want to be.  This mission is for the people I will help in Hong Kong.  I didn't put my mission papers in thinking: "This is such a great opportunity to learn a new language so I can make more money later in life!"  Or this: "Maybe if I go on a mission the Lord will give me blessings for my future life so that I'll be able to marry a supermodel that makes me turkey and swiss sandwiches all the time!"  I hope it's clear to everybody why i chose to do this.  It's because I am converted to Jesus Christ and his gospel, and I know it is the path that everybody needs.  No time for a scripture or hymn this time but next time I will do it!  Hope nobody is offended by this.  Hope nobody that's high up on the MTC chain of command will read this.  Love you all!
Elder Phillips
Bei Jeung Louh

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 6 in the MTC, Over halfway through training.

Week 6 is over and I only have three left in the MTC.  It's weird that once I'm out of the MTC 1/12 of my mission will already be over.  That seems way too fast.  But I'm excited to get to Hong Kong and not be able to understand anybody.  It's going to be great.  Here's some fun news:  I got my full Chinese name!  So my full name is Bei (rising tone) Wihng (low rising tone) Ban (high flat tone).  Bei is my surname.  It doesn't mean anything really it is just a name.  It's interesting how the surname goes first in Chinese.  My first name is Wihng which means eternal so it's a pretty cool name.  My middle name is Ban which means intelligent, gentle, or refined.  I wish I could put the Characters up so you could see.

So this week was pretty fast like usual.  I've been thinking about when I'll be in Hong Kong doing missionary work and I keep hoping that the Lord will guide me.  I think it was Joseph Smith who said that missionary work without revelation is pointless. 

I have been singing in the MTC choir and our director is a pretty funny guy.  He told us a great story about a song we were singing though.  We were singing the hymn: Nearer, my God to Thee.  It's already one of my favorites hymns.  Not because it was featured in the movie Titanic, but because I've always loved the words.  So I finally heard where the words came from.  It's about Jacob who was the grandson of Abraham in the Old Testament.  He got the birthright from his older brother and his brother planned to kill him, so their mother warned Jacob to leave until the brother had calmed down.  So the story is in Genesis 27-28 but I'll try to summarize it.  Jacob went out into the wilderness when the sun was down.  (Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down).  He laid down and pulled a stone to his head to rest.  (Darkness be over me, my rest a stone).  But he had a dream that angels lowered a ladder to him that lead to heaven.  (Angels to beckon me, steps unto heav'n).  Then he woke up and realized the place he had slept was a holy place because of the dream he'd had, so he built an altar to praise God and called it Beth-el which means literally house of God.  (Then with my waking thoughts, bright with thy Praise.  Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I'll raise).  The song is just about why God gives us pain and suffering.  Why we have sorrow.  (So by my woes to be, nearer my God to thee). It's a huge theme in the Bible and Book of Mormon.  There is not one story where the good guy doesn't suffer because of something that was not their fault.  The thing is that when our minds and souls are stretched to the deepest, darkest hell they are later lifted to a greater and brighter joy than we've experienced before.  Everyone must go through this process.  Jesus went through it.  He suffered the pains, guilt, loneliness, and weaknesses of every single person.  But when he had suffered all those things, he after was received the greatest glory in heaven.  I'm sure we all feel like we are getting crapped on for no reason sometimes. I sure do.  But this song really touched me.  We sing it at the devotional on Tuesday.

I'm just getting so excited to get to Hong Kong.  I feel like I've become much more grateful for things since I've been out here.  I bet going to Hong Kong will only make me more grateful for what I have.  I have a lot of thoughts go through my head here and not a lot of experiences, so sorry if these seems like a journal entry.  I will surely have a lot more to share once I'm teaching people in Hong Kong, but for now I hope this is enough.

Elder Phillips
Bei Jeung Louh

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Week 5 update from the MTC

(Elder Phillips other update finally came just a few minutes ago, don't know why it took so long, but here it is)

Hello Friends and Family!
So week five is finished.  Fourth of July was pretty sweet at the MTC. We watched 17 miracles.  For those who haven't seen it, this movie is about pioneers.  It's a great story about pioneers crossing the plains to the West who experienced awful trials but with every trial experienced a wonderful miracle.  To think about the past is pretty humbling.  It's interesting how the Church started as just a few thousand people and now has grown to be international.  Joseph Smith was not kidding when he said this work will penetrate every continent and sound in every ear! 
Fun fact!  The word ketchup in English came from the Chinese railroad workers of the 19th century.  The word in Chinese pinyahm is "ke-jap."  Which literally means tomato-juice.  Here is a 4th of July story I heard.  John Taylor was about to get up in front of a crowd and preach, but he heard that there was a mob gathering in the crowd that was going to pull him out and tar-and-feather him.  So he get's up on the stage anyway and he says to the crowd something close to this: "I've heard that there are some of you here that are planning to tar-and-feather me.  I can't help but think: is this what your sires (meaning forefathers) fought, bled, died, and killed for?  So that you could tar-and-feather somebody for preaching their religion?"  So he did not get tarred and feathered that day and many of the mob actually listened to him speak for three hours.  Our country has progressed in a lot of good ways since that time period and I'm glad I won't be tarred and feathered for being a missionary!
yesterday met some people from Hong Kong!  They  were great!  I tried to speak Cantonese to them and we actually had decent conversation but I still have a long way I can tell.  Our teacher the other day got serious with us!  He says he's going to start speaking Cantonese much faster similar to the Hong Kong people.  He also says he will not help us by speaking English.  I'm pretty excited for it.  I heard a line on fourth of July from the hymn: "Battle Hymn of the Republic."  It said: "As he died to make men holy let us live to make men free.  Our God is marching on."  This line really hit me.  There could be no better purpose than to help others be free.  I think the gospel is the first step to that.  I'm hoping the rest of China will open up to missionaries soon.  Jesus Christ has already done the heavy lifting, why can't we just tell people about it? 
 Here's a line from a hymn that I really like.
"How firm a foundation ye saints of the lord.  Is laid for your faith in his excellent word.  What more can he say than to you he hath said?  Who unto the savior for refuge have fled."
That line basically describes my life at the MTC.  I cannot complain, and when I feel inadequate or like maybe I'm being asked too much of, I think of this line.  What more can he say than to me he's said?  He's already given me a great testimony of this truth, and the scriptures, and the truthfulness that this gospel was restored by Joseph Smith.  I can never forget that foundation I've laid on faith.  And how many times that faith has been rewarded by God and increased.  Faith is the most powerful thing I've discovered.  Those who ask God in faith, will never be rejected.  Love you all.
Elder Phillips
Bei Jeung Louh

Week 5 in the MTC

(The following update is a condensed version of the letter Elder Phillips wrote to his mom & dad this week, he normally sends another update to forward on to friends and family. He must have run out of time this week to write both, so this is taken from the letter to his parents.)

Week 5 in the MTC

Cantonese is going pretty great.  Our teacher just had a pow-wow with us.  He said he was sorry that he's been slacking a bit on teaching and that now he is going to speak Cantonese much quicker and he'll never use English to help us. (He hasn't really been slacking, I think he is just warning us things are going to get tougher :)

To answer your question about mission President and Sister Hawks,  they have been in Hong Kong for one year. I've talked to some of my teachers who are returned missionaries from Hong Kong and they say he and his wife are very very nice.  I'm excited to meet them. 

It's pretty funny though as I'm preparing lessons to teach "investigators," I realize that I can prepare all I want but God knows what I need to say and sometimes he won't give me that until I'm actually teaching.  We try to ask good questions to the investigators so lessons can go in much different directions than we expected.  But we can always tie it back to Christ and leave them with the Spirit and a commitment!   Jp and Andrea emailed me and they gave me some great advice on a frustrating issue. It made me laugh. I will forward you their emails they were pretty inspiring.  I got the message dad sent from Dear  and it made me happy! I love to get emails and notes from you all!

I hope your guys fourth of July was good!  We watched 17 miracles here on 4th of July.  Those poor pioneers.  The fireworks we watched reminded me of the Chinese fireworks and Chinese New Year.  It will be a crazy day when we are out there.  I met at the temple yesterday some people from Hong Kong and I talked with them in Cantonese as best I could.  They also spoke English well so we could communicate but it was pretty sweet.  They weren't LDS or anything so these are much like the people I will see in Hong Kong.  Most of them were actually investigators somebody told me.

I hope Dad's trip is going well.  Be sure to share this email with him.  I love you Dad!  Let me know if you have any advice for me.  I love you both so much.  I had a weird thought yesterday when talking to the Hong Kong people.  I looked at them, and in our church we believe all are able to become like God,  we missionaries are all so young, and It's strange to think that the investigators first step to inheriting all that God has is hearing a missionary like me tell them about our message.  It's a little bit intimidating of a task.  But I'm definitely excited to share the message of Jesus Christ!  I hope China becomes a great place one day.  It already is a great place, but I have the feeling that the people of China will accept the gospel readily.  One day the church's growth will explode because of the missionary work in China.  I hope I can do my part now.  Anyways I love you!

Elder Phillips

Bei Jeung Louh

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week four in the MTC

So I finished week four at the MTC.

On Tuesday we had a devotional from Janice Kapp Perry, the famous Mormon musician who wrote a lot of primary songs I think.  She had a great devotional we sang some songs together and she had an uplifting message.  The best part was when she told us how she and her husband met.  They were in a music class together and she played the clarinet.  They were about to perform for their finals and he was sitting next to her.  So the first line he ever said to her was this.  He nudged her and she was irritated because she was next to go up and perform.  But he said: "I was just thinking.  Those lips look like they were made for something a lot greater than just playing the clarinet."  And then as she was telling us this story he gets off his seat and kisses her in front of a crowd of missionaries.  It was pretty sweet.

We had a devotional last night.  The guy's name was Robert P. Swensen.  He has been involved in missionary work for forty years and he told us things he's learned from it.  My favorite part was when he said this.  "This is your mission.  It is your season to receive greater happiness and blessings than ever before.  Take hold of your season.  Don't let anybody else or anything control your mission."  When he said this I was reminded of my mission call.  And I knew at that moment that God personally wants me to go to Hong Kong and serve the people there.  I'm already so excited to be there.  One of my teachers is from Hong Kong and we ask him about it all the time.  I also met a couple of missionaries from Hong Kong and I will post the picture I have with one of them if this computer will let me.  His name is Elder Li and he's hilarious.  He's serving in Canada.

I've started to learn the value of my testimony.  It's the only thing I have that is truly unique about me (That line was also from the devotional last night).  My personal conversion story is so important when I am telling other people about this message.  We watched the church film legacy right now.  And there were THREE kissing scenes.  It was just too much.  Just kidding.  Yeah we all love the church films because they are so glorious in their badness that it makes them great to watch.  They closed the Provo temple for cleaning.  So sadly I won't get to go for a while, but it's okay.  I'm teaching four "investigators" this week.  We teach in only Cantonese so it's always a bit scary but we've been doing well.  It's as close as you can get to the real thing so I will take it! 

Above is a link to a story of two Cantonese speakers who are sisters.  I haven't watched it in English yet so I can try to understand the whole thing in Cantonese but essentially they tell the story of their conversion.  Their parents aren't members I think and I'm pretty sure they threatened to make them move out but eventually they told them to keep going to church! Watch it with english subtitles. 

Anyways I love you all.  Until next time.
Elder Phillips
Bei Jeung Louh

P.S. (warning...stop reading if you don't want to be grossed out :) Here's a funny missionary story. There is an elder in my residence who was using the bathroom.  He went number 2 in the toilet and dropped his keys in the toilet.  But the story get's better.  The toilet was automatic so he couldn't get off the seat or his keys would be flushed.  So he just sat there telling his companion what happened and I was just lucky enough to witness it.  I think he had to fish it out with his hands.  Fun stuff.

New Pictures :

 Above with my old roommate at BYU Henry Guajardo!

One of my buddies from BYU named Elder Swainston.
                                       Our district at the temple with the HK flag again.

This is with an elder from Hong Kong named Elder Li!