Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear Family and Friends,

 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Best wishes to all.  Drink some egg nog, gain some weight, and have some fun!  

 We went Christmas Caroling this past week.  We visited some member’s homes and sang Christmas Carols.  Some neighbors were not too pleased with us, but we didn't care.  

 We picked up a new investigator this week.  He is 16, and a nice kid.  He really liked us, and he has interest to learn more. He has a very colorful past.  He was a triad at one point, and he has broken a commandment or two.  But we talked to him about repentance.  He told us that he quit the triads because his late grandma appeared to him in a dream and told him to stop affiliating with that stuff. He definitely has potential to change.  

 This week, I will celebrate Christmas by going to an activity at our Stake Center.  It's 7 hours long and it's all about Christmas.  It should be good!  We are also going to a picnic activity with our ward.  Today we will celebrate a little bit by getting together as a zone and watching the 2013 slide show of our Mission!  I will also celebrate by buying stuff.  The malls are crowded here on Christmas!  Just like America.  Basically it's like I never even left home. :)  


Elder Phillips

 Dear Friends and Family, 

This past week was just great!  On Christmas Day, we went to the Stake Center and our apartment worked at a station where people had to shoot balls in a hoop to win.  It was kind of like a carnival.  Very fun.  We also got to talk to a lot of people who might not listen in a different circumstance because it was Christmas Day.

On the 26th, we went on a ward picnic.  We did a bit of hiking and BBQ.  We had investigators and less active members come, and I think they had a good time. 

On a bit of a sadder note, we ran into an old investigator on the street who stopped contact with us.  He is an older guy.  Elder Woodburn and Elder Fong (the missionaries previously in Wuh Dihp) found him on the street.  They said at that time he looked like a homeless guy, but as they continued to meet he cleaned up a bit.  Then he dropped us.  Elder Falk and I ran into him yesterday, and we recognized each other.  He was friendly at first, so we tried to get him to come back to church, but he just kept asking for money.  Eventually we just told him we had to go to church because he only wanted us to give him money. 

This morning, we attended seminary.  The young men in Butterfly Ward are pretty funny.  They have a hard time staying awake in seminary, but I did too when I went through it.  Teenagers are just the same everywhere, I suppose.  After Seminary, we were walking home, and we ran into our investigator who has a baptismal date but ignores our calls.  We called out to him and he was on his way to school, he completely ignored us.  He looked like he hadn't slept in days.  Just weeks before, he was hugging us and telling us how sorry he was for being so busy, now he is back to ignoring us.  (Ha, that last sentence just sounded like some teenage girl getting played by the captain of the football team in high school) but that is what it's like much of the time for missionaries. 

It's not all bad though.  We had two new investigators come to church this past Sunday.  Their names are Miss Jaak and Penny Jaak.  Penny is Miss Jaak's nine year old son.  Miss Jaak said she really doesn't have interest in church, but we think she wants her son to participate in the church because it is a good influence and will give him good standards.  He really seemed to enjoy church!  We will see what happens there! 

On another positive note, New Years is coming up.  My New Year Resolutions are the same as last year: Getting a six pack, working on my extended eye contact with strangers, and of course taking more long romantic walks on the beach. Haha, hope no one takes that seriously! Love you!

Elder Phillips

Visiting and Old Folks Home

In our college T-shirts. The Elder in white shirt is so faded, but he attends in Texas.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Messages from home...Sweet!!!

I want to thank everyone who sent me letters or packages.  I will email you personally also, but thank you very much!!

Mom & Dad,  All the gifts you sent were great!! Grandpa and Grandma Larson also sent me that church history book which is really awesome!  It's called the Joseph Smith Papers.

(Portion of recent correspondence between Elder Phillips and another set of grandparents,  Nani & Papa Phillips  - his dad's parents)

Dear Elder Zachary,

Hope you have a wonderful Christmas.  I know there must be many hard days, but they help us all to grow stronger and they make the good days even sweeter.  We are so proud of you and the strength you have.  We were talking to a counselor in our Stake presidency, your old neighbor, Brother Nuttall.  He is friends with Elder David A. Bednar, who has the assignment over the Missionary Committee. He said, as the names of each prospective missionary comes up on the computer screen, they are inspired to select the mission he will serve in.....

You are in Hong Kong because it is the best place for YOU and will be a blessing throughout the rest of your life. So, on your worst days, gird up your loins, put on the whole armor of God, march out there and serve the people of Hong Kong, even those who don't know how much they need gospel in their lives...You and all the other missionaries are beacons of light in an ever darkening world. So, keep shining with your good example, powerful teaching, good works of service, and love for those you serve.  We love you!!

Nani and Papa

(Elder Phillips response)

Dear Nani and Papa,

I really appreciate the gift!  I also really appreciate your email.  I remember Brother Nuttall!  That's really cool.  That's interesting that Elder Bednar said that... I definitely know the call I have is of God.  I really love Hong Kong.  Thanks so much for your great examples in my life.  Thanks for raising my Dad.  I'm sure he was a pain in the butt, but he has been a great Dad to me, so I know you must have taught him a lot. 

Elder Phillips

Dear Friends and Family,

One thing that happened last week is that the Church floor flooded! Somebody left a hose on in the utility room and we came in the next day to a flooded floor! We mopped it all out and wiped it up. 

A couple P Days ago we went on a hike.  It is called Ching Saan. There is a Buddhist Monastery at the top which is one of the oldest in Hong Kong.  There, Bruce Lee filmed the opening scene to his movie: Enter the Dragon.  I have some pictures of the event that I will send. 

A funny thing that happened is when I saw another missionary's investigators at a church fireside, I invited them to attend our ward's game night.  I was mostly kidding,  but they actually showed up!  They are brother and sister, named Andy and Christina.

Hong Kong celebrates Christmas!  It isn't as big here as it is in the U.S., but a lot of people here love Christmas.  Christmas is really popular on the island. Out in Tuen Muhn it will still be pretty cool, though. 

A great family in the Butterfly Ward moved this past week.  It is the Kidd Family.  Brother Kidd is an American who served in Hong Kong 10 years ago.  He married a Chinese woman named Angel, and they have two "mixie" kids here in Hong Kong.  Anyway, they decided to move to the International Branch at Hong Kong island. Brother Kidd's Cantonese is probably close to perfect, but I'm sure he'd like to go to church speaking English. The Kidd family are great people, we are sad the moved, but I wish them the best. 

That's all for now. Love you all!!

Elder Phillips

Monday, December 9, 2013

Short update this week...mailing/email address included

(Excerpt from letter to parents)

I don't have much time left to write for weekly update today, I'm sorry. 

I got  G & G Surlin's and Aunt Rebecca's package, I will be sure to let them know.

Transfers are tomorrow, so hopefully Elder Falk and I will still be comps!  There is a good chance we will be.

I won't get  to Skype  for Christmas, but I will get to phone call!  

That's cool about Pati and Kent helping out with Volleyball!! 

Things are good here! Sorry so short I'll write more next time.

Love you!
Elder Phillips

(Mom, I bought a cardigan.  It's pretty sweet!)

Mailing address:
Elder Zachry Aaron Phillips
China Hong Kong Mission
18 Dorset Crescent
Kowloon City
Hong Kong

or email:

Elder Phillips would love to hear from you :)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ward Pot Luck...much more than a meal :)

Dear Friends and Family,

For Thanksgiving in Hong Kong I got to celebrate by eating a meal with our entire zone of missionaries.   Our responsibility was to make mashed potatoes for 26 people.  We made a lot more than was needed, but better safe than sorry.  They turned out really well.

We had a ward Pot Luck this week.  Two of our investigators came and we taught them each after.  It was a great event!!

I'm excited for Christmas!  A lot of people celebrate it here.  We ate at the Au family's house again and they have a Christmas tree and everything.  The members here are already starting to give us Christmas presents.  They know how much Christmas means to us, so it's a really nice thing to see them caring so much and offering us presents (usually food! no complaints).

I thought about not sharing this story, but I decided I will.  We met a white guy on the street the other day.  He is about 50 and all tatted up; he informed us he hates all religion.  He spoke to us in English, because after 15 years of living in Hong Kong, he still does not know a lick of Chinese.  He told us how arrogant we are for thinking our ideas are better than Chinese philosophy. He told us how delusional we were.  He told us how we knew nothing about our own religion, particularly Joseph Smith.  He cussed at us, yelled, told us our religion would be illegal in 20 years (because he doesn't believe in freedom of belief either) and slandered us with his thoughts on our religion. 

Our response consisted of this:  If you want to study a religion or belief objectively, you cannot learn about it from the source who is trying to convince you with all their might and wit that the belief is false, evil, and wrong.  He had obviously done so, as all of his ideas are ones I've heard before from South Park, the Internet, or other people who are against this church. 

Hard as we tried to tell him the source of our was no use...everything we said was lost on this man.  Although we remained calm, I walked away fuming in my heart.  
Later I encountered a scripture that helped me a lot.  It is in the Bible, John 15.  It reads:

18. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.

19. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

20. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

21. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.

22. If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.

I lost my anger.  Contention is of the devil.  And I will give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

Love you all,

Elder Phillips