Sunday, August 25, 2013

Elder Phillips learns what Yam chah is...

Hello Friends and Family,

This week has been pretty great.  Here is a story about how I almost broke the Word of Wisdom.  For those who don't know most Latter Day Saints don't  smoke, drink alcohol, drink coffee/tea, or do any type of illegal drugs.  I won't explain it all, so please don't think that I've just explained in full the Word of Wisdom.  Anyway, we went out to yam chah the other day. Yam chah is a Chinese tradition where people get together at a time between breakfast and lunch and sit down and drink tea and stuff themselves with food.  Yam Chah literally means drink tea, so it's expected that the tea plays a pretty big role in yam chah.  So we went to yam chah with a potential investigator and a church member.  The church member left to go back home and get something.  So we were left alone with our potential investigator.  We explained to him that we can't drink most types of tea because we have a code of health in our church that teaches not to.  He understood, but we told him we can drink fa chah which is flower tea.  Flower tea is totally adhering to the Word of Wisdom so we told him he could order that and we could drink it.  So he orders it and the waitress puts two tea pots on our table.  One is full of the tea, the other is hot tea water.  My companion and I quickly filled our cups with hot tea water just in case the tea was not okay, but the potential investigator still insisted.  So he took the tea pot and topped our hot water off with the tea, and urged us to drink.  We were just about to, and our member comes in and says Elders!  Wait!  This is not okay!  And he dumps our tea cups out into an empty bowl on the table.

Pretty great!  We didn't eat anything to strange at yam chah.  But I was eating a dessert and realized at the end there is a thin film of paper on the bottom of the pastry, so I'd been eating paper along with the dessert.  Oops!  We've found a new investigator.  His name is Aaron!  I don't know if I've mentioned him yet, but he is 17 and a very nice kid.   We took him to see a baptism on Sunday though and afterwards he said: "I don't want to do that!"  It was pretty funny.  In the baptism the girl had really long hair so it floated to the top when the guy was trying to submerge her.  They had to redo it like three times.  But maybe he will change his mind later.  so that's Aaron!

One guy we meet with once a week is a guy named Celvin.  He is this 17 year old guy who has absolutely zero interest in the gospel.  But he likes the missionaries so he comes to Games Night at the Church and I play chess with him.  He was beating my companion too badly so I started playing with him.  But since I started playing he has not beat me yet!  So he's going to keep trying.  He likes to speak English and he has the best English I've heard in Hong Kong.  I think he watches a lot of American TV  because he adopted somewhat of a gangster type of accent.  If I didn't know him better I would have thought he was American.  But he's a very smart guy.  Hopefully he will develop some interest one day.  Until then I'll just keep playing him in Chess.

That's about all I have time for.  Love you all!

Elder Phillips

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hong Kong week two!! The two Elders in Wuh Dihp are working hard :)

Dear Friends and Family,

I lost tracks of how many weeks I've been out, I'll leave it up to my mom to count them from now on.  Hong Kong is a great place.  Everything is cheaper except living expenses. Luckily I don't have to worry about that.  :)  I've found that Anti-Mormonism is pretty common here.  And the people in Hong Kong will believe some crazy rumours about the church for some reason.  Most people haven't heard of the Church, but the ones who have have heard about it because they attended Christian schools where they taught them the Mormon church is "chehgaau" or "evil church."

 It's pretty great to be a missionary.  It's definitely hard, but I just try to focus on the positive things.  THe biggest challenge is the language barrier.   Hopefully  I can very quickly understand everything the ward members are saying.  I bore my testimony yesterday in church.  And they were very impressed.  One thing I said when I was up there is a Chinese proverb which goes like this : po fu chahm jau.  It means break kettle sink ship, literally.  The story behind it is that a Chinese general was about to go into battle with his army.  The enemy army outnumbered them.  But the general did this.  He said:  Spend this day eating yourself full and getting rest.  His troops did so and the next day they crossed the river into battle.  Right after they crossed however, the general commanded them to sink their ships and get rid of everything they had except for their weapons and each other.  So they did and were left with nothing.  They went to battle and fought and won, because there was no other option but death.  I compared that to my mission, and said that I was not going to turn back.  My teacher at the MTC taught us that proverb and I took it to heart.  I am in this for the next two years no matter what.

We spend a lot of our days finding.  And it's very tiring and often discouraging because of the rejection we get.  But there are always blessings.  We met two new people who are potentially great investigators.  We didn't meet them through finding but they basically just fell into our hands through luck (divine providence).  It was great!

 We ate dinner with the Yau family last night and they gave me a lot of advice for Cantonese and they were super nice.  We eat Mcdonalds a lot because it is fast and cheap.  We can't always go home for dinner because it wastes so much time, so it's usually mcdonalds.  A big mac meal here is under three dollars!  Pretty sweet!  I am out of time but I love you all!  Thank you!
Elder Phillips

(excerpts from letter to parents)

Dear Mom & Dad

This week has been good!  It's good to be a missionary but I'm starting to realize the gravity of everything on my plate.  We are the only missionaries in Wuh Dihp  there are some discouraging things,  but I just want to prove to our ward members  here that we are good missionaries.  It's going good though.  My Cantonese is getting even better.   I am always tired here.  But always pretty happy.

I've realized how hard Hong Kong is.  I bet JP felt this in New York too, but especially in Hong Kong all of our work is street contacting.   Finding is hard and we have to do a lot of it because Wuh Dihp's investigator pool has been shrinking for a long time.  But I'm sure the Lord will bless us soon.  I'm sure he already has.

 We ate dinner with a family from the ward last night and they were really nice.  I could understand them almost always.  The one thing I get messed up on is when I focus really hard on what they are saying so I understand the individual word they say but as the sentence goes on I forget the word that they said because I'm too focused on what they are presently saying.  So it's a sometimes a puzzle figuring out what they're saying
 My companion said something really funny the other day.  He said: "Missionaries that go to North America have these amazing relationships with their converts for the rest of their lives.  Missionaries that go to South America and Africa have amazing miracle stories of baptizing hundreds of people.  Missionaries that go to Europe come back culturally enriched with a great, romantic language.  Missionaries that go to Asia just get humbled."  I thought it was really funny.   Some of the stuff we're up against is ridiculous.  But I know we can do it.  My goal is to be close to fluent in Cantonese by the end of my training.  So I have 12 weeks.  It seems like a lofty goal but I know the Lord is blessing the missionaries.  And I know I have a good aptitude to learn languages.  So I'm going to do it.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hello Mom & Dad and Everyone :)

Sorry that I can't write two separate letters but I have too much to say in a short time.  When I arrived I wasn't too tired but the last few days have been more tiring.  Our apartment only has A/C when we sleep so it's very hot in the day.  

 My first area is the outermost area of Hong Kong.  It is called the New Territories.  My area is Wuh Dihp, which means Butterfly.  It has a reputation as the hardest area, and my trainer has only been out here for four months. He still doesn't understand all of what they say.  And we are the only two missionaries in Wuh Dihp.  Either God has forsaken Wuh Dihp, or he has a lot of faith in the two of us :) My companion  is a great guy, his name is Elder Woodburn.  Today I got separated from him because he got on the subway and somebody got between us and I ended up stuck at the station until the next stop.  Sad, but he just waited for me at the next stop. 

 Right now I am at the apple store.  We have taught a couple people so far.  One of them is an old guy who wants to get baptized so badly but he doesn't follow the word of wisdom totally yet.  We do a lot of less active work in Wuh Dihp so our other lesson was with a less active teenage guy named Victor.  He is super nice.  I found out that a lot of people in Hong Kong can be pretty mean.  But there is a rumour that people from mainland China are all really nice and all super open to learning about the church.  I didn't believe it until yesterday when we were out finding.  We were rejected so many times by the citizens of Hong Kong, but we met two ladies from Shen Zin which is a city in mainland very close to Hong Kong.  They were lost and needed a bus to Shen Zin. Luckily I understood their Mandarin because of the class I took in 9th grade.  They asked where the bus stop is. They also spoke a little bit of English so we could communicate.  We gave them locations to our church building and a restoration pamphlet.  They have our phone number but calling from mainland to Hong Kong is a long distance call so it's pretty pointless.  But they were the nicest people I've met since I've been here. 

I have some pretty big mood swings.  Sometimes I feel like I'm not a good missionary.  Sometimes I feel like I can communicate with the people perfectly.   My companion is very impressed with my Cantonese.  Our apartment is on the 31st floor of a building.  It's small but pretty nice.  The new territories are a lot less crowded.

 I went to church and understood quite a bit so it was nice.  It's great to be here though.  Hopefully soon I can eat some real Chinese food.  There is a McDonalds close to the church so if I ever miss home I'll just go there.  They play taylor swift and justin bieber there so it's pretty much the same as the U.S. there.  Anyway love you!  You are probably asleep when you get this but I'm doing great.  

Elder Phillips

                      Elder Phillips with President and Sister Hawks on the day he arrived in Hong Kong.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Elder Phillips is on his way to Hong Kong!!!

Elder Phillips is in flight to Hong Kong at this moment!!! He did not have a chance to write an update on Monday, but is hoping to have time once he arrives in China. He did get to call home from the SLC airport! He sounded good and really excited to get to Hong Kong :) He spoke at bit of Cantonese over the phone, and his mom thought he did AWESOME!! But keep in mind his mom knows no Cantonese :)  Anyways, check back soon, he should have a new update by Monday in China...which is what day in the U.S.???  :)