Monday, September 30, 2013

Elder Phillips sent some pictures :)

Dear Friends and Family,

Sorry everyone, this is going to be short.  I keep getting rushed for time. 

We had companion exchanges this week.  My companion went with my old buddy from the MTC named Elder Walter.  A guy named Elder Wong came with me.  He was born in Canada, but his dad spake Cantonese to him growing up so his language skills are basically perfect.  We decided to go night finding, it can get a little sketchy in Hong Kong.  We ran into a guy that was less active for three years apparently.  I asked him why he stopped coming to church.  He had some crazy answer,  it was pretty weird.  We still taught him and got his contact info, it was not in our records.  Maybe we will see him again, I don't know.  He wasn't a crazy guy or anything, he just had a lot of crazy ideas.  Not sure if I want to meet him again or not :)

Other than that, transfers are next week.  I think I will be staying here in Wuh Dihp, but you never know what will happen.  I can't believe it has already been nine weeks, almost. 

Some people have asked me if they think I will come back to Hong Kong, so I'll write it to everyone.  I would like to come back and live here temporarily, but I would not want to live here permanently.  We talk to a lot of old people in our area because a lot of people in the outskirts of Hong Kong are old people.  And they are the only ones who don't have to work or go to school.  It's kinda sad, a lot of them are basically just forgotten by their family. So I think they go a little nuts.  They just walk around Hong Kong all day.  Then they sleep.

I've seen some pretty pathetic sights, like this old couple were watching a guy in the park fix something for two hours.  We walked by and we walked back two hours later and they were still there. They have nothing to do!  

That's all I got for today, it turned out to be longer than I thought because I haven't gotten kicked off yet.  Awesome!  Love you.

Elder Phillips

Dear Mom and Dad
(excerpt from letter)
I got Lexi's package.  Can you tell her for me, I am too short on time.  Tell her I love her and those mint Oreos were so great.  But the best were their letters!! I will write them next week. 

Thanks for fasting for me!  Our ward here is doing a fast too.  Sweet I can't wait to send my next letter to you all when Corey's family vist.  It sounds like you guys get to feed the missionaries a ton.  I bet they're grateful!  The other day, a member from my companion's old area came and found us and took us to eat.  Turns out I knew their son because he is serving a mission in Provo, and when I was in the MTC I met him at the temple and talked with him since he is from Hong Kong.  But they gave us dinner and also bought us a ton of groceries.  Anyway got to go!

Elder Phillips

Here are some pictures, the first one is a view from our window, we live on the 31st floor of a building. Check out the Red cropped them on the streets of Hong Kong...ha :) 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mid Autumn Festival...very fun day!

Dear Friends and Family,

I apologize for last week's letter.  We got jipped by this guy at the library who only gave us one hour instead of two.  So the letter ended pretty abruptly. 

This past week was pretty great.  In China they celebrate this holiday called Mid Autumn Festival.  A family from the ward invited us over to eat.  It was a very fun day!  Oh and by the way, the second story I was supposed to tell that I didn't was just about this  crazy guy that followed us around after we said hi to him.  He followed us around and called my companion fat for like twenty minutes.  Some people...  But no matter how much we get stepped on, there's always someone who got stepped on more.  He got spit on and despite doing the greatest service to mankind. He was ignored, rejected, and killed for his cause.  So I don't have it so bad.

The week was a little rough pertaining to missionary work.  A lot of appointments fell through.  The ward is starting to fast for us.  This ward hasn't had a baptism for a long time, apparently.  It's hard work here in Hong Kong, the work progresses here very slowly. 

This past week was also mission tour!  An Area Seventy came and trained us along with his wife and our mission president and his wife.  We were trained the entire day and it was pretty great.  It's nice to get together with other missionaries once in a while, because they know what you're going through! 

We also had a typhoon.  People in Hong Kong  made the typhoon sound so intimidating, rumouring to last 24 hours and to be the biggest typhoon in Hong Kong in 30 years, but we all slept through it and by morning it was gone.  Anyway that's all for today.  Love you!

Elder Phillips

Mom Dad JP and Andrea,
(excerpt from email)

It's exciting for me to hear that you guys are all together!  First I'll try to answer JP's questions from his email.  JP, we study language for one hour a day.  During that time I do Cantonese sounds and tones to improve my accent and pronunciation and what not.  I also study flashcards, make new flashcards, look things up in the dictionary that I've heard but didn't understand, and I read this grammar book that's really helpful.  When I do personal study, I read the romanization of Chinese characters and sometimes just the characters.  I don't know if you had this on your mission, but we have a Book of Mormon that has the Chinese Characters, romanization, and English all next to each other.  I also will get up an hour early to study whatever Chinese stuff I'm lacking in.  The most useful thing though is going to church because I write down stuff I hear that I don't understand and ask a native after church to help me out with it.  If I end up training, I think I'll make my trainee speak Cantonese much more.  My companion says he's never seen somebody pick it up faster than I have.  I shouldn't get prideful though, because I feel like an idiot talking to native speakers all the time.

Yeah the typhoon was nothing.  The only damage it caused was extra leaves in all the public pools.  Pretty lame, I was hoping for something bigger.  It's funny my companion and I were secretly hoping the typhoon would come before church so that we wouldn't have to go to church. ha :)  I bet JP and Andrea can attest to the fact that the Sabbath is not a day of rest if you're a missionary!  But church still happened and it turned out all right. 

This week was Mid Autumn Festival!  How was mid autumn festival in China town JP?  It was crazy here!  A family had us eat and afterwards they took us and walked down this pier.  The beach was decked with people!  If I didn't know better I would have thought it was some weird hippie gathering.  I ate some traditional Chinese food this past week, so that has been fun.  This lady in our ward gave us this herb called Chrysanthemum and we made it into tea.  It wasn't too bad! 

I have to tell you about the people here in Hong Kong.   People suffocate themselves with their work or school.  We had an investigator that slept for four hours every night, and he is just a student.  A less active we meet with works for 80 some hours a week.  But the sad thing is that they choose to be busy with just work and school.  Plenty of members are able to go to church on Sunday and not work and still be fine.  I think that that's all there is for them: work. 

This week on Mid Autumn Festival my companion and I tried our hand at tai chi.  We see a lot of old people doing it and we decided to go there for our exercise and ask to join them.  They let us, so we just try to copy what they do.  If any of you have seen the Cartoon Avatar: the Last Airbender, it looks like what the water benders do when they bend water.  I really like that show.

I have to go, but I hope you guys have a great time in Wisconsin!  Love you!

Elder Phillips

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tired...but Happy :)

Dear Friends and Family,

I'm pretty tired this week.  A lot of good things happened though. We got to go to the temple for one!   So that was really good.  I didn't think I would get that many opportunities to go here, but I can go once every 9 weeks or so.  

The area is doing great. We have built it up a lot with the Lord's help.  We have quite a few investigators too.  We've met a lot of nicer people, and that's a real relief.  We are getting  a few baptismal dates set and we are really praying for the baptisms to happen.  This area really needs them.  It hasn't had a baptism in a very long time, but hopefully that will change soon.  

This coming up week is Mid Autumn Festival.  It's a big holiday here and people get with their families and eat moon cakes.  We are eating with a family from our ward so I may have some awesome food story to tell you next week.  

Mom & Dad,  I'm pretty jealous that you get to hangout with Jp and his family!  You should ask JP all about his mission so that afterwards you can tell me about it.  When does Corey and his family come to visit? 

The weather is getting less hot.  Some people say it gets cold here but I don't think it'll be that bad.  

To answer your question; my Cantonese is coming along really good.  People are shocked with how fast I'm getting it.  I still can't understand people perfectly but if I had to train somebody I could do it.  I've definitely felt so much help with the language.  But now that I know more Cantonese I can realize when people are insulting me and it stings a little bit.  On September 11th this random guy talked to us and asked if we were Americans and then added, I hate Americans, it was kinda sad... 

I'm super excited for the rest of my mission and then to return home.  I'm not missing it yet, but there's a lot of things I took for granted that I wish I hadn't.  You and Dad were great parents.  I bet you're great missionaries too!  

I will let you know when Lexi's  package makes it

Love you all!
Elder Phillips

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Trying to converse in Cantonese...let's just say it can be humbling :)

Dear Friends and Family,

I'm doing great this week.  My companion and I went to a spot we usually don't go to for finding people to talk to.  I discovered why we never go there, because we hiked up this huge hill amongst a ton of Buddhist monasteries and only ran into 4 or so people while we were there.  The monasteries were really cool.  In one of them we heard monks singing/chanting some of their religion's hymns as we passed by.  Very neat.  

My companion has a really bad knee problem sadly.  I feel so bad for him, but he endures it well.  He can't get surgery because the surgery will require him to be in a wheelchair for a year.  So his only options are do an online mission at the MTC or stay in Hong Kong.  Understandably, he chooses to stay in Hong Kong.  

Some people really praise my language skills and some just laugh and make fun.  So I just have zero pride now.  The other day finding we ran into one of our less actives and he talked to us for a while.  He just made fun of our Cantonese. Another guy we talked to did the same thing!  Even a lady at Circle K harassed us a bit.  So I just get humbled every day.  But it's all for the best.  This week has been good.  As far as missionary work goes, we did great.  Just got to keep it up.  

One day this week I was feeling pretty down.  Just feeling wimpy and inadequate to speak this language and what not.  But in our personal time at night I decided to watch the Joseph Smith movie.  I watched all the trials and struggles others were put through in order to help this gospel go forward.  And one quote hit me really hard.  It's a quote by Joseph Smith who himself suffered a lot of persecution and trials, it goes like this: "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?"  After I heard that I felt peaceful.  I felt something tell me that I was going to be fine.  I'm glad to be out here.