Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Greatest Experience of the Week!

Dear Friends and Family,

Here is the greatest experience I had from last week.  This past Sunday, there was a fireside here on Hong Kong Island.  The BYU dance squad came out to Hong Kong to perform, but on Sunday night they held a devotional where certain people bore their testimonies.  Sister Chan, Mr.Wong, and Mr Yip all came. They are all deaf, so I got to translate.  The good thing was that the BYU dancers all spoke English, so there was a translator there who translated from English to Cantonese.  The Chinese translation gave me time to translate into sign language.  Luckily all the speakers spoke English because it is far easier for me to translate from my native tongue because I understand everything that is being said 100 %, and I also understand where they are going with their words.  Because I am not a native Speaker of Chinese, it is just naturally harder to understand and afterwards translate.  Anyways. they all had a great experience.  Sister Chan especially loved it.  So it was really fun.

Out investigators: John Lam is a former investigator. He is 15 right now. He brought his friend Cheng Chi Lam to meet with us. He said Cheng Chi Lam had some genuine interest. John Lam really likes Elder Martinez who taught him before. He said he wasn't sure about baptism because his parents are Buddhist and he also believes in it. We haven't been able to meet him yet this week. Ms Lam is a former investigator. She asked us to meet at McDonalds in Wa Fu. We did, but it was pretty noisy. We did our best to make the lesson personal and engaging, but it was hard. She came to trust us and see us as good people, despite what other churches say about us. We really hope she can come to church and see how great it is. Mr.Wong is not doing so well. We met him yesterday and he said he wanted to stop coming to church and stop coming to english class. When we asked when to meet again, he said he will decide himself when. However, today we got a text from Sister Chan saying John wanted to meet this coming Tuesday. In the lesson, Sister Chan bore an extremely powerful testimony. We exhorted John to pray because he had not been doing so. Hopefully he has had a bit of a change of heart. We will find out when we see him again. Mr Yip is doing well. He had some problems understanding some of the parts of the plan of salvation. The spirit world part seemed to confuse him a little bit, so we spent another lessons explaining and reviewing. We are confident that he understands very clearly now. We are excited to keep teaching the rest of the lessons to help him be baptized on June 22! Last we have Christy. We will meet her on Saturday. She was a turnover from the sisters. She loves reading scriptures. She has met with missionaries in the past. She is a single mother right now, but she seems much younger! We will teach her Restoration this Saturday.

Our Bishop is a great guy.  He's given us a lot to do, so we are very happy. He really loves missionary work. He says he does not want to rely on us to do finding. He wants the members to do it. He has not asked us to stop finding, but he wants us to take time to visit the members and give them specific assignments to invite a number of friends to a church activity. He wants to build up the church's image in the Pok Fu Lam Community by doing activities such as this and other various service activities. We are just trying to do everything he says and help his plans come to fruition. 

Love you all,
彼長老 (my Chinese title)
彼永斌 (my full name in Chinese) It is pronounced: Bei (rising) Wing (Low Rising) Ban (High tone).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I want to tell you about some things I've discovered...

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy Mother's Day!  I love my mom!  In church the primary kids sang a mother's day song.  For the last verse they sang and did sign language along with it.  It was very touching.  I want to tell you about our investigators right now so here you go.

Deaf Investigators first: Mr Yip is doing very well! We showed him the restoration video and the visual really helped him understand the First Vision. He says he believes it. He is reading the Book of Mormon slowly but surely. He has kept faithful in going to church. He is excited for his baptism next month! Mr. Wong is doing well. He could not make it to church this past Sunday, but he is meeting with us this Wednesday. He turned down the first invitation for baptism on account of being nervous. He said he wanted one year to prepare! We are not too worried. We really have faith that he can be baptized in the month of July. We really want him to come to know Christ better. He has very little knowledge of Christ, and I suppose all people in a way have the same problem. But we are doing our best to help him develop faith in Jesus Christ. We also met with Hu this past week. We feared that it was over after his text saying: "I cannot join because I'm not used to your church." But he sent us a text on Saturday morning saying: "Sorry I forgot about class last night!" After which we were able to schedule him to meet in Wan Chai, where he lives. He is getting married in the end of May in mainland. He will not be back until June. From what he told us, his family is very opposed to the church. But he met with us again. We are hoping and praying that he has a testimony enough to know we are good people. We contacted two referrals who were new deaf people. One is a lady named Sister Man. The other is a man named Mr Fok. They are both very old. Sister Man has real interest. Mr Fok does not have as much. We will see Sister Man again this week.  

Other Investigators: Our new investigator this week was Cathy. She was a walk-in to the Church a week from yesterday. She is doing a project for her graduate degree on other religions. She is a theology major. We were concerned at first that her interest was primarily to "interview" us. It turns out she tried to! When we met she brought out a list of questions prepared. We lead her questions into the Restoration and actually had a fantastic lesson. She does not yet believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or that we have continuing revelation. But she said she would pray about it. We thought that lesson was the end, but last night she contacted us asking about temples and family history work. She herself wanted to know if everyone can do family history work through the Church website, or if just members can participate in that. She said she will come to church this coming Sunday. We are expecting the best! Another investigator we met with is Bryan. He is a very sincere young man. His school is Catholic. We taught him about prayer. He really loved how we pray, and he said a great prayer. We are also hoping for the best there! We met with a former named Brother Wong. He sees our church's commandments as restricting. He is willing to meet, but he says keeping commitments and commandments is no good for him.  This past week we did not see the Tse Family, but we are hoping they just went to mainland for vacation or something.

All around I want to tell you about some things I've discovered. Communication has nothing to do with speech.  I've learned a lot from Sister Chan, I've realized that I haven't communicated so well with a friend in a long time, and she cannot speak.  In her time as an investigator, her only concern was having someone that cared enough to learn sign language and speak with her.  My belief is that if you care about the person and what they are saying, you will understand them.  If you have a true desire to understand what they are saying, then at length you will.  Communication problems come not from a Language Barrier, it comes from a lack of care from one party or both.  It is true with Chinese as well.  People need to feel needed.  If there is no charity, then all is for naught.  People should never be viewed as temporary or as obstacles to ourselves.  They should be treated as eternal, because they are eternal sons and daughters of God.  I know that to be true. 

Elder Phillips

Monday, May 5, 2014

Great things are happening...

Aberdeen area missionaries before ward split. Elder Phillips companion in this picture is Elder Mikesell. 
(this photo was sent to Elder Phillips parents by a thoughtful ward member in the area)

你好 (hello) Friends and Family,
A great change happened in my mission this past week.  I will start from last Sunday (a week earlier from yesterday). 

We were in sacrament meeting, and they announce over the pulpit that Aberdeen Ward would be splitting.  Now there are two wards: Aberdeen and Pok Fu Lam.  Originally Elder Mikesell and I were supposed to go to Aberdeen Ward.  The problem that arose was that all of our deaf members (and as a consequence deaf investigators) would go to Pok Fu Lam Ward.  After realizing this, I felt a sick feeling inside me.  We went home to do studies and I prayed to know what to do. My answer was to text our Mission President, President Hawks.  So I did.  He said that Elder Mikesell and I should continue to teach deaf investigators, but wait for further instruction until after we met with the Pok Fu Lam Bishop: Bishop Chan.  We did.  So this past Thursday night, we get a call from President Hawks.  He said effective immediately: Elder Groberg and I would be serving in Pok Fu Lam Ward doing sing language and Cantonese work.  Elder Mikesell and Elder Walter will serve in Aberdeen.   There are still a lot of things in process. I'll update more next week.
I want to tell you about Sister Chan.  She is the recent convert and deaf lady I talk about a lot.  She is the best member missionary I have ever seen.  She has given us a dozen or so referrals, and wants us to teach deaf people so badly.  She has a powerful testimony of the gospel. After seeing this one deaf Sister in Hong Kong, I know now that these people cannot be ignored by me.  They deserve to be heard. The deaf work is going well.  We have one guy with a baptismal date and another guy who is considering baptism. We hope to continue meeting more and more deaf friends and teaching them about the gospel.  We have a great vision for this, something great has started here.
I hope that sign language missionaries will always be around in Hong Kong.  A few missionaries have learned sign language in the past, but I want it to become so big that it never leaves.  I hope I can stay here for a very long time. As for my sign language, it kind of just came overnight.  One day I could just understand what Sister Chan was saying. My signing still needs lots of work, it's just good enough to teach the gospel and hold basic conversations.

Other than that, we met a new deaf man named Hu.  He is 22 years old and he is a super nice guy.  He doesn't have a ton of gospel interest as of now, but he will be coming to English Class.  We are teaching a guy named John, who is a friend of our other deaf investigator Mr Yip.  That is all I have to say for now.  I will update you on the status of Pok Fu Lam Ward next week.

彼長老 (my Chinese title)
彼永斌 (my full name in chinese) It is pronounced: Bei (rising) Wing (Low Rising) Ban (High tone).