Monday, February 24, 2014

Great week was topped with a visit from apostle Jeffrey R. Holland!

Dear Friends and Family,

This week has been a very busy one.  We met with a lot of people!  Out of the investigators we have right now, one has a baptismal date.  He is a good kid.  His faith is building.  We love him.  Another one is a sister.  She is 50 some years old.  She is a very nice lady.  In the past she has been Buddhist, but she decided to meet with missionaries because they knocked on her door looking for her less-active son.  She is very nice, but she does not want us to pressure her about baptism.  We have some other new ones coming out and I'll talk about some more next week.

Mostly I wanted to talk about our visit from the apostle Jeffrey R. Holland.  He came and spoke in Wan Chai chapel.  It was so awesome.  He is speaking to the missionaries alone tomorrow, so I am very excited for that.  He is now covering the Asian Area for the church so we are all very excited.  In his talk, he spoke about our dispensation.  He said this was the greatest dispensation of all time.  It is the dispensation that will prepare the church for the second coming of Christ.  We will give the church to him.  He talked about the ancient Church and even the Church in Joseph Smith's time: they were all called to run away.  When trouble came, they were to go to a promised land.  A land away from their enemies.  He said this quote specially regarding our dispensation: "We will no longer run.  We will no longer flee.  But we will turn, confront, and conquer Babylon." 

He said that it must be done.  It is interesting that in this time period, there really is no place to run. This is the time when we will stand against Babylon.  Clear as the moon, fair as the sun...  If we are hiding, it is time to come out.  I've never felt more positive in my life that this is the most important thing I could ever be doing with my life right now.  I am so grateful to be doing it.  I know that this gospel is true.  This cause is greater than any other in the world.  Thank you all for your love and support. 

Elder Phillips

PS. Mom, I got the package.  The chips and salsa were so delicious. The chocolates were also very good.  There was also some hygiene crap in there like floss and vitamins, but I threw those away so don't worry :) 

Monday, February 17, 2014

New area and learning sign Chinese?

Dear Friends and Family,

This past Thursday, I was transferred to a new area called Aberdeen.  It is on Hong Kong Island, the southwestern portion.  It is a great place.  It is not as busy as the North side of the island, so that is pretty nice.  We take a short boat ride to get to our area because we live on an island called Aap Leih Jau. 

My new companion is Elder Mikesell.  He is a great guy!  I already knew him because he served with me in New Territories.  He left sooner than I did, and he is district leader her in Aberdeen.  We live with one other companionship which is Elder Walter (from my MTC group) and Elder Au. 

Yesterday in the Aberdeen Ward, we had four baptisms.  I was just glad to see it!  There are three companionships in the ward.  Two elder and one sister companionship.  Our companionship was teaching a deaf lady named Sister Chan.  So I am learning sign language.  It is Chinese Sign Language mind you, not ASL.  She got baptized yesterday and it was so great.  She has two little kids.  She has such great faith.

I'm super excited to be in Aberdeen.  I hope I can stay here a long time.  Great things have happened, and will continue to happen!  That's all for this week.  Next week will be my first full week in Aberdeen, so I will provide you with more details at that time!  Love you all!

Elder Phillips

Monday, February 10, 2014

Answered Prays and Inspired Moments :)

 P-day - Hong Kong's Highest Mountain

Dear Friends and Family,

It was a very busy week this past week.  We had a lot of ups this week.  Yesterday at church we saw our two main investigators: Gary and Uncle Fighter.  They are both middle aged men.  Gary rides a wheelchair.  They are both doing pretty well right now.  We also saw two people from the mainland of China.  They were on vacation in Hong Kong.  The wife spoke pretty good Cantonese, but the husband only speaks Mandarin.  We saw them on the street a few times.  They don't have a Hong Kong phone number, so we couldn't contact them.  They said they would come to church.  (In my mind it just sounded like the classic fong story)  So I forgot about that couple.  But then they actually came to church!  But they went back to their hometown in mainland China last night.  Which means we will most likely never see them again, but a great seed has been planted! 

A big story that sticks out this week is our encounter with a girl from Thailand.  She speaks Mandarin, not Cantonese.  She speaks very poor English, so we had to communicate in English.  It was pretty hard.  But here is the story she told us:  She is studying in Mainland.  She came to Hong Kong for vacation.  While she was here she had a dream.  In the dream she saw a door with a green light.  The door was open and a cross was floating amidst the door frame.  There were also two young men beckoning her to enter the door.  After that dream, she was walking through the MTR (subway) and saw two young men holding a Book of Mormon in their hands.  She could not contact them because they were getting on the train and it was crowded.  But she said a prayer in her mind to God saying: If you are real, God, then I will see these men again.  Then she saw Elder Falk and I in the park and came up to us saying she wanted to know how God understands her.  We taught her twice, but she also went back to mainland China to continue studying.  

Another funny thing that happened just two nights ago was at our ward activity.  After dinner, they thought it would be funny to send the white missionaries up to the stage to sing Cantonese pop songs.  The game is that the audience has to guess what we are singing.  We had earphones in and tried to sing along to it.  They totally just used us for their entertainment, but I'm not complaining, it was fun.  Love you all!  Have a great Valentines Day!  I won't, because I'm on my mission!  :)

(Excerpt from letter to parents)

...We got a lot of work done this week.  Tears were shed.  Transfer calls are tomorrow.  I could be leaving... we will see.  I'm a bit attached to this area, but I know change must come eventually.  We looked into old records of Butterfly.  This area has struggled (as far as missionary work) and now it's alive and healthy. Every missionaries efforts  have added up :) I think I understand now why Pres. Hawks put a baby missionary in Butterfly.  It might be because I knew nothing of what a classic easy area looks like in Hong Kong, so when I got to Butterfly I had no preconceived notions that it was hard. 

Had a lot of divine encounters this week.  Split second timing running into people.  That always happens on the mission.   For example,  We decided to sit down for a moment and call some investigators for an activity that night, and as we sat I felt like we should text Anson (a previous contact from the week before).  As we started the text he walks around the corner and we talk to him.  He didn't schedule or agree to see us again, so it wasn't the consequence we hoped for.  But I think God gave us that appointment so we know he is still mindful of us.  I can feel comforted with what I've done because I know God has led me. 

It's been a good week.  love you Mom & Dad!

Elder Phillips

Buddhist Monastery

Monday, February 3, 2014

Chinese New Year Traditions

red pocket money!

Dear Friends and Family,

This past week was the beginning of Chinese New Year.  Happy Chinese New Year!  It started on January 31st and it's still going on.  People get fully back to regular life on February 9th or so.  The craziest days are the first few.  It's nice to see the people in Hong Kong cut loose a little bit.  

We did Deep Clean in our Apartment on February 1st.  We do it at this time because proselyting can be pretty unproductive on the first and second day of Chinese New Year.  We used the whole day to clean.  My fingers are super sore from scrubbing things to death!  We completely rearranged the apartment to so it's really a fresh new start.  

Yesterday we had just an hour long church.  In all I received $170 in Red Pocket Money.  For those who don't know, Red Pocket Money is a tradition where people (typically married people) hand out red envelopes filled with money to others.  What a great holiday, right?  Missionaries cannot spend the money, though.  We must give it to the Missionary Fund in our ward.  One lady was very clever, though.  She knew that in previous years, missionaries could not spend the money she gave to them, so this year she comes up to us and says in Chinese: "You don't have to give this away, it's coupons for Mcdonalds."  Funny stuff!

Elder Falk and I went on splits this past Friday.  We taught two people.  I taught a guy named Anson and he taught a man named Gary.  I thought Anson was super golden, it was a great lesson.  He felt the Spirit for sure, and he acknowledged that he did.  He is going back to school (his holiday is about over) so will be hard to schedule time to follow up.  School in Hong Kong is rough.  If I ever thought I had it hard in America, I thought wrong.  Anyway it's been a good week.  Happy Chinese New Year to everybody!

Elder Phillips

kids in the ward wearing their Chinese New Year attire!

On the way home from a Flower Market.(Flowers are a big deal around New Years here)