Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I am now in Yuen Long...

New Companion Elder Tung
Dear Friends and Family,

Merry Christmas!  I moved.  I am now in Yuen Long.  In Hong Kong there are two wards with Sign Language translation.  1. Yuen Long 2. Pok Fu Lam.  I was switched to the other sign language ward, so you can all guess why I ended up in Yuen Long.  Leaving Pok Fu Lam was the hardest thing I've done on my mission.  I was there for 10 months.  That place was my home.  I'll never forget the people I met, the things that happened, and everything else about Pok Fu Lam.  It was very hard to leave, but I was also very excited to come to Yuen Long. 

I attended church yesterday in Yuen Long and I don't want to sound vain or prideful at all but I felt like a hero coming in.  The bishop actaully asked my mission president that sign language missionaries would be sent to his ward so they could help them more.  People were just so glad that they had sign language missionaries.  The deaf members were ecstatic.  I knew two of them from before because they came and visited Pok Fu Lam Ward a while ago.  Brother Chung is one (he is just hard of hearing so he can actually speak and do sign languge but his wife is deaf).  When he saw me he hugged me and they invited us over next Saturday.  I'm glad they are excited we are here, because if we are to have success, it will be dependent on the ward members.  I've never found a deaf investigator on the street.  It is all from referrals or from other missionaries contacting them. 

All I have to say is that I am here for a reason.  Here on my mission, here in Hong Kong, here in Yuen Long.  It is all for a reason.  Whether or not we have success is of no great importance.  If we follow God and serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength we will already be successful in his eyes.  I will not be ruled by doubt, fright, or anxiety.  Jesus Christ whose yoke is light and buden easy, is my ruler.  Merry Christmas to all.  Watch some Christmas movies for me.

Elder Phillips

I'll never forget the people I met, the things that happened, and everything else about Pok Fu Lam.  

Monday, December 15, 2014

I think all of this proves that God will provide a way.

Grace's Baptism!! (more pictures below)

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a good week.  Yesterday, Grace was baptized.  She is a great lady.  She is very humble.  Her testimony and desire are very strong.  Her baptismal service was a great event.  Everyone in the ward felt so close together.  Our relief society president is so boss.  She translates a lot because she knows sign language, but yesterday at the baptism she welcomed Grace to the ward.  It was really cool.  

A lot of crazy stuff happened this week.  We had companion exchanges and I went to Causeway Bay for a day.  It is so busy, so we went to a park to go finding.  I was with Elder Peacock who is from Ireland.  He is a swell guy.  It's so important to get a new perspective on things, because it is so easy to get yourself into a rut when dong missionary work.

Leadership is a very important thing in the mission, church, and entire world.  But many have a misconception of what that it.  I have learned that great leadership does not come from domination or asserting your will, but from bringing out the good in others. When one person tries to use force to get others to conform, that person kills so much good that could be brought about.

 I've also learned that in every argument, debate, or fight.  It is not exclusively the fault of one person.  Usually both parties have contributed to the contention.  So with that I have learned to sincerely apologize, and not expect one in return.  Whether or not the other party admits their fault is not my problem.  If I've forgiven others, and asked for their forgiveness then I am clean before God.  If the other party thinks they have nothing to change then they have their reward.  

I thank you all for your support, love, and prayers.  I know there is much more you do that I do not know about. Love you!

Elder Phillips

Dear Friends and Family,

I don't have a lot to write this week, I just want to wish you all the best!! In some parts of Hong Kong they are serious about putting up Christmas decorations!   

Grace was confirmed in yesterday's Sacrament meeting.  It is so interesting to have a sizable part of the ward be deaf.  Grace is doing great.  A really cool thing that happened yesterday was that 5 deaf less actives came to  church!  The deaf members here are hardcore about finding the deaf less actives.  That is a huge miracle right there.  

Move calls are tomorrow.  It is a bit scary.  I don't like the idea of leaving Pok Fu Lam, but if I must, then of course I will.  Learning and working in Sign Language has been the most unexpected but greatest part of my mission.  I think all of this proves that God will provide a way.  It does not matter that they can't hear.  The gospel still rings true to them as it does to all people, in all nations of the world.  Even to the ends of the universe.  The changes and things that happen in our lives can never overshadow the unchangeable fact that God is real.  He is our life and our light.  I know that he in a very real sense is with us, even unto the end of the earth. Love you all!  Merry Christmas!

Elder Phillips

Grace's baptism pictures!


Lunch Date

View from our apartment

Monday, December 1, 2014

The worth of our souls is great in God's eyes.

Engraved in this rock is the date that a group of Saints dedicated the land of Hong Kong!  That was all the way back in 1949!  Pretty sweet huh?

Dear Friends and Family,

Thanksgiving was very cool.  We brought ice cream for our zone because we were too lazy to make anything!  But the ice cream was very well appreciated.  It was really nice to have a thanksgiving meal and be with friends.  I saw some old friends including one missionary I met way back when I was in Butterfly.  She started her mission about the same time I did, but she will be finishing this month.  It was very shocking to me because I realized that I'm getting old.  

Another interesting event this past week was a wedding reception at our chapel.  We didn't really intend on going at first, but we found out two potential investigators would be intending.  One of them is the little brother of the bride.  I talked to him on the phone a week or so ago.  He is awesome and really wants to meet, so we figured it was a good time to meet him face to face. Anyway, we came for the tail end of the wedding.  There were a ton of people from Africa there because the groom is African.  He does not speak Chinese but his wife and him speak English to each other.  It was super cool because a lot of the Africans came up on the stage and played this awesome song.  

Among all the fun of this week, we got a lot of work done.  Grace is doing well.  She will be getting baptized this coming Sunday.  

I would not dare classify all deaf people into one category, but I have seen a trend among many deaf people.  They are just humble people.  They speak simpler.  They act like real people.  I would say in general that they are not as fake as others can be sometimes. That's why I like them so much.  It was funny.  President Hawks came to visit Pok Fu Lam Ward this past Sunday and Sister Chan kept telling him not to move Elder Groberg and I!  Seeing that I really mattered in the eyes of my friends makes me feel grateful to God.  The worth of our souls is great in God's eyes.  I want to see people that way.  

Though I never give a full account of what is happening here, I hope you can all have an idea of just how great these things are. They are not always fun or easy, but they are great.  I love you all.

Elder Phillips

View from the mountain hike we took.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

This Thanksgiving, I have chosen to be grateful for everything in my life...

Hong Kong Temple
Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope you all eat a lot and have a great time.  This Thanksgiving we will be celebrating as a zone by eating a meal together.  It's going to be cool.  Our responsibility is to bring dessert, so we decided to get ice cream.  

The mission has proved to be hard in ways that I never thought possible, but it's all part of the plan.  This Thanksgiving, I have chosen to be grateful for everything in my life.  I want to thank God in the good times and the bad times.  

Our investigator is doing very well.  Hopefully she will be baptized in December!  I will send some pictures if it happens.  She has received the commandments so easily.  As soon as she heard the Word of Wisdom she stopped drinking tea an coffee.  Tea may seem like an easy thing to give up in America, but in China tea is a huge part of their diet and culture.  They drink tea as if it is water.  So it is no small feat when a person is able to turn away from that.  

Every day is a new start for me.  I am so far from perfect, yet I have confidence that the Lord is changing me.  The holiday season will be very special for me.  Though I am far from many of those I love, I will not forget who I am.  Love you all.  Have a great Thanksgiving!

Elder Phillips

Cookie Baking Activity

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On this earth, I can't always have things my way...

Dear Friends and Family,

This past week was pretty cool.  The weather is cooling down a bit so that will be nice. We have two main investigators right now and they are doing very well.  They are Eric and Grace.  Grace is deaf, Eric is not.  They are both very good!  I will send you some pictures of them later. 

This past week nothing too special has happened.  But I think I understood one thing a bit more clearer in my life, and that is the will of God.  On this Earth, I can't always have things my way.  My ability and power is so weak.  I've experienced true freedom in my mission as I've surrendered to God's will.  Surrendering sounds like an easy action, but for me it is not.  It requires a lot of faith in God, that he will carry me if I drop.  It requires humility enough to realize I cannot do it all on my own.  It takes a lot to truly give yourself to God, but it is the only way.  Relying only on myself has led me to self-disappointment and discouragement. It can lead others to lose faith in what we work so hard to do, when we try to go it alone.

I want to be a reliable person.  Although, I alone cannot satisfy the needs of others, I want people to be able to depend on me keeping my promises, and even to expect it.  I hope I can get to a point where God has that same feeling towards me.

Elder Phillips

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

...all will be alright under His guidance.

Dear Friends and Family,

It turns out I am not moving!  It was pleasant news.  I love the area we are in a lot.  I also love these investigators a ton.  I'm hoping I will get to see the baptisms of a few of these people before the next transfers.  The next move date is December 18th, so I'm hoping Pok Fu Lam will have a couple more baptisms. :)

By the end of this move I will have been in Pok Fu Lam for 10 months.  Elder Groberg and I will have been together for 8 months.  I think keeping a companionship together that long is a record for our mission!  They said the reason for keeping us here is because we are doing such good work, that they figured why move us?  Hopefully Pok Fu Lam area is not destroyed by the end of this move. hehe just kidding.  

Missionaries make mistakes just like the rest of the world, and I am no exception.  I believe that God allows us to make these mistakes so that He can help us learn and correct our paths for the future.  I don't think we need to feel that everything will fall apart because of our mistakes. But rather we should feel that God has already planned for the fact that we'd make mistakes, and all will be alright under His guidance.  Perfection will not come in this life for us.  We should not expect things that are unreasonable, but we should demand of ourselves improvement. I love you all.  

Elder Phillips

Monday, October 20, 2014

It has been a great week in Pok Fu Lam.

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a great week in Pok Fu Lam.  I think the greatest miracle this week was about a guy named Eric. 

We found him on the street a while ago and exchanged phone numbers, however, we did not hear from him afterwards.  But just last Monday he sent us a text telling us about some problems he is having in his life and how he wants to change his life.  For some reason, he knew that coming to this church would help him change.  We have met him twice so far and he has a baptismal date.  He is such an awesome guy. 

Bishop Chan's son came home from his mission last week.  He has helped us out a lot already.  Our ward is small, so it can be hard for members to come to our lessons at times.  But Bishop Chan's son is so willing to help. 

We met a new deaf guy who is a body builder.  He came to church yesterday with the Li Family.  The deaf work is still going well.  We are all pretty curious to see what will happen with move calls because no other missionaries know sign language right now.  But Elder Groberg or I could easily teach somebody. 

It's going well out here.  I'm excited for Halloween. hehe.


Elder Phillips

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I've recognized the power to change comes entirely through love...

Elder Phillips and Elder Groberg serving in the Pok Fu Lam area.

Dear Friends and Family, 

I do not have a lot to write today.  I wanted to share some things I have learned from the past week (including General Conference).  I definitely cannot write out all the miracles that happen and all the great things I have experienced.  Even in my journal I don't think I could record everything.

I've recognized the power to change comes entirely through love.  I loved a talk given by Henry B. Eyering when he talked about helping correct others through love.  We must show love before we try to correct someone, and show an increase of someone after we do so.  I've also learned the most powerful corrections are not given from people, but from God.  When a person realizes for themselves that they need to change something, they will have far greater capability to carry out that change.  

I also loved the man who spoke Portuguese.  He mentioned how to make the best decisions.  We must consider our options with the end goal in mind.  I think many great decisions can be made if we have a vision of the end.  The same is with the mission.  I've had some goals my entire mission.  Even if they seem unachievable from the point I'm at now, I believe changing or lowering them would lead me to not being able to fulfill my full potential.  

I also loved that awesome Scandinavian man who said that a trial is not a punishment from God.  He said when a trial comes we should see it as an opportunity to prove ourselves to Him, and nothing else.  Evil rains upon the wicked and righteous of the world.  Is it not punishment enough for the wicked that they deny themselves the eternal support of a loving God?  They cannot overcome their troubles correctly or find true peace without relying on God.  If there is one thing I know now, it is that.  Any trial is sent from God to be a blessing to you, not a curse.  

The last thing I would share is to ask yourself: "Is it I?"  Elder Uchtdorf shared a great talk about that.  We cannot expect mercy from God if we are unjustly judging others.  I know this gospel is true.  I love you all.

Elder Phillip

Monday, September 29, 2014

It has been a stellar week...

Jason's  baptism pictures!

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a stellar week.  Jason Li got baptized yesterday.  It was an awesome event.  My companion Elder Groberg actually baptized him.  We met him about 6 weeks ago, he has made so much progress in that short amount of time.  I've seen him become happier, and that has been a great blessing. 

Here is a cool story.  Elder Groberg and I were teaching Chan Kam Yan, and at the end of a lesson a young man comes in the church and asks us for a Book of Mormon.  We had never seen him before, but we had him sit down with us as we finished up Chan Kam Yan's lesson.  After that, we started talking to him and found out he had met with missionaries a year before.  He had a Book of Mormon already, but he wanted another one to give to his friend. He knew that Book of Mormon could help his friend.  He himself also knows the Book of Mormon is true.  He agreed to baptism.  He does not live in our area, so we turned him over to the Aberdeen Elders.  His name is Aldous. 

I don't have much else to say, other than I know this work is true. There are times of joy and times of sadness in it, but at every time God is in it. 

Elder Phillips

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

...the love of Jesus Christ brings freedom.

pictures of Chan Kam Yan's Baptism.

Also Sister Chan's son (Sung Ho) was baptized.  

a picture at the Sport's Day event where I ran into a member from my old "Butterfly" ward.  

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a pretty good time in Pok Fu Lam lately.  This coming Sunday, we have a scheduled baptism, so next Monday I will let you know if it all works out!  His name is Jason and he is a very good kid.  He is 15.  

September has passed by too quickly.  A week back, Sister Chan's son got baptized.  His name is Sung Ho Wing.  He has always been a pretty loud and sometimes naughty kid, but he has changed a great deal.  I remember riding on the bus with him awhile back. We passed by a graveyard and he said: "We don't worship our graves, because we worship Jesus Christ."  I thought that was pretty awesome.  On another occasion, we were at a Sport's activity and he came up to me and said:  Jesus Came today!  I looked up at this cloud that had rays of light beaming out of it, and I knew what he meant.  I thought it was really sweet, to see such a strong belief. Even though he is only 8 years old, the gospel really has changed him for the better.

I think I've found one of my purposes in my mission and for the rest of my life.  That purpose is to be a voice of compassion to the poor in heart.  The world is full of harsh, cruel, and disturbing sounds and voices.  I think I was meant to be a voice of mildness and love, speaking things that are pleasing to God.  I know that it is not my love that will free these people, but it is the love of Jesus Christ that will free them.   "Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy."  

Monday, September 8, 2014

An awesome baptism and an inspiring visit from Elder Rasband!

Area update - Elder Phillips is still serving in the same area (Po Fu Lam Ward), I think I left everyone hanging for a couple weeks after he had mentioned that transfers were coming. They came and went and he remained in his area, sorry about the delay.

Sept. 1st
Dear Friends and Family,

Yesterday our investigator Brother Yan got baptized.  It was so awesome.  He is deaf, so we had another deaf member baptize him.  The deaf member used Sign Language to baptize him, so it was so cool.  I will send you some pictures of the baptism in a moment.

For the baptismal service, Pok Fu Lam and Aberdeen Ward combined.  Between the six missionaries 3 people got baptized.  I never expected that I would teach a deaf person and help them get baptized.  Life is full of suprises. 

There is not much more I can add to what happened this week.  Just look at the pictures and see the result of everything we have been striving for. 

Sept. 8th
Dear Friends and Family

Again I am so sorry that I cannot give you the pictures of the baptism.  We had a last minute missionary meeting today and I forgot my camera!  Let me tell you about that meeting though.

Elder Rasband (Senior President of the Seventy) came to visit Hong Kong this past week.  He attended Stake Conference as well as this Missionary meeting we just had today.  It was a great experience.  I feel like there is real improvement happening in Hong Kong as well as the entire world.  I feel like the Church is starting to truly hasten the work of salvation.  Barriers are being broken down.  Maybe it is all in my mind, but I think the members of the church worldwide are coming together.  These were my thoughts this weekend as we heard from Elder Rasband and other speakers.  

Here is a cool story from this week.  So a while ago a missionary wanted to learn sign language, so he asked me to ask Sister Chan (the deaf sister) to buy some sign language books.  The other night, sister Chan bought them and gave them to us to give to that missionary.  I intended to give them to him at the "all missionary" meeting today.  However, I ran into an old friend named Elder Hafen.  He is familiar with deaf work in Pok Fu Lam and we taught him some sign language.  Afterwards he went to Macau and recently he contacted a deaf couple in Macau.  Then they introduced all their deaf friends, and now there are about 15 deaf potentials in Macau.  So as I talked with Elder Hafen, I realized we have these awesome sign language books that he could learn from because nobody (missionaries) in Macau knows sign language! They currently are looking for people who could potentially translate.  The deaf wave has spread to Macau!  I won't say anything too soon because we don't know what will happen there.  But we are all very excited.  

That is all I have to say today.  Love you all!

Elder Phillips

Monday, August 18, 2014

I will share the gospel all of my life...

Hello Friends and Family,

This past week was a pretty cool week.  Our investigators with Baptismal Dates are doing really well.  Mr Chan and Mrs Lee are our two solid ones right now. 

Move calls are this coming week.  I hope I get to stay.  Learning and teaching in Sign language has been a highlight of my mission.  I'm far from perfect at it.  But I know the Lord calls us in our weakness and qualifies us for his work.  The case is the same with Chinese.  Surely I have only scraped the surface of it.   However, I know that the things I fall short on will be made up for by God.
We have been finding some new people with potential.  All around it has been pretty good. I will share the gospel all of my life.  I know when I get home that my purpose is still to invite others to come unto Christ.  It is the greatest responsibility the Church has, and the greatest responsibility I will have.
I started studying Chinese characters a couple weeks ago.  It has been going great.  I feel like I am learning a lot.  I am on the quest.  It is kind of like becoming a Jedi in Star Wars.
Mom, I hear you are in Arizona.  I hope everything goes well with Lexi!  Send me some pictures when you have a chance!  Tell everyone I love them!

Today we are going to Monkey Mountain.  Do you remember how much I hated Cosmo (Uncle Derek's monkey).  This time I might actually get mauled by a monkey!

Love you all!
Elder Phillips

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lion's Rock...famous among missionaries.

Lion's Rock

Dear Friends and Family,

We had good things happen this week!  The greatest thing is that our investigator Lee accepted a baptismal date.  I am really hoping to be able to see her get baptized, hopefully I won't move! hehe.  

We had a mission tour this past week.  Elder Randy D Fung and Elder Wong came and talked to us.  They gave some inspirational talks.  I think it is very important to have those meetings.  No matter how good of a missionary you are, you always need to be recharged.  

We got a call this week from the missionaries in Tolo Harbor.  They told us that the Lost Sheep Elder Groberg and I found is doing very well.  He is committed to come back to church and become active again!  It is pretty cool.  

Today we went on a hike called Lion's Rock.  It is famous among missionaries and we got some pretty cool pictures.  I will send them to you.  I'm still sweating from the hike.  Anyway love you all!

Elder Phillips