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.
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!!