Tuesday, June 16, 2015

this is the last update of my mission...

Elder Peacock and Elder Phillips

Brother Mak's baptism!

Dear Friends and Family,

As you all probably know, this is the last update of my mission.  Looking back on my mission, I am filled with a wonderful feeling--love.  All of the things that have happened while serving, have been a metamorphosis for me.  My mission hasn't always been filled with love.  There were times when I felt anger, frustration, jealousy, unsatisfactory, not good enough, weak, sorrow and the lot.  But I learned how to turn to the Lord in these times.  When I turned to him he always provided me a way to escape.  Then I look back and realized all those negative things were just temporary.  They passed before my eyes and melted away from my heart.  But the positive things have stayed and created an eternal impression in my mind.  An impression of love, glory, brotherhood, compassion, mercy, endurance, patience and more.  

The things that have happened here are sacred to me.  All of the friendships and people I met will not come to an end.  I absolutely was not perfect in my two years of service as a full time missionary, but I feel like I gave God my all.  I feel that He is proud of me, just as my earthly parents are proud of me.  I fully intend on continuing to make them proud through the rest of my life.  

Love you all,
Elder Phillips

Monday, June 1, 2015

...Christ has removed the sting of death...

Chan Kam Yan's baptism day

Dear Friends and Family,

Today I want to take some time to talk about one of my previous recent converts.  His name is Chan Kam Yan.  He was baptized while I was in Pok Fu Lam.  He is the sweetest guy I know, completely without guile.  Sadly, about a year after his baptism (this past week) he passed away.  He was 50 years old or so.  It was hard for me to come to grips with the fact that I will not see him again until I make it to the other side, but it is a good thing I know of a surety that Jesus Christ has removed the sting of death from the world.  This is not the end of Chan Kam Yan just as surely as the Crucifixion was not the end of Jesus Christ.  It is not the end of our friendship, either.  As I've said before, the gospel of Jesus Christ overcomes all.

I remember back to Chan Kam Yan's baptism.  After he was baptized he came and sat next to me.  The congregation was singing a hymn and I was interpreting it into sign language for him.  I then looked into his eyes and I could see something stirring deep inside his soul.  I knew at that moment that he had been touched by and filled with the Spirit of God.  

Yesterday in church all the missionaries gave talks and we did a musical number.  We sang the fourth verse and did sign language to the words.  There was one deaf investigator in attendance with her daughter.  The words were: 

"And should we die before our journey's through.  Happy Day!  All is well.  We then are free from toil and sorrow, too.  With the just, we shall dwell.  But if our lives are spared again, to see the saints their rest obtain.  Oh how we'll make this chorus swell. All is well!  All is well."  

Chan Kam Yan has obtained his rest, while my life has been spared again to tell everyone the great things God has done for us.  The last time I saw Chan Kam Yan I told him I may not get to see him again because I will have to fly back to America.  He made the sign which means "cry," symbolizing he was crying at me leaving.  Then he smiled like he usually does.  And my last memory is of him smiling because he had the peaceful assurance that All is indeed well.  I love this man.  I will see him again.

I love you all!

Elder Phillips

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I love my mother!

Elder Peacock and Elder Phillips found the DQ

with Edmond

Dear Family and Friends,

It has been a really great week.  Happy Mother's Day!  I got to Skype my mom and dad today and it was a great experience.  I won't drone on too long about my mom, but suffice it to say she is a wonderful mother!  I feel that she is never sad for herself, whenever I have seen her worried, distressed, or in tears it is always for others (maybe especially her children).  It is because she truly cares for us and is anxious for our welfare. I'm glad I have somebody like that watching my back!  

Macau is the area I'm serving in now.  It is a city just an hour boat ride away from Hong Kong.  I love it here very much!  We are having good success thanks to the Lord.  We are Zone Leaders now so we have a lot of added pressure and things to think about, but it is all for good.  Even in our weakness, the Lord expects great things out of us.  I think he does it this way so he can give us the opportunity to grow and receive his grace.  I have definitely felt that grace again as we've taken on this new responsibility.

I don't have much to say today except that I love my mother!  And I love you all as well. 

Elder Phillips

Thursday, April 30, 2015

...a joy and a love that transcends human nature.

Nick's baptism
Deaf friends at the BBQ

Dear Friends and Family,

Yesterday,  Nick was baptized.  The baptism of this man is a witness that Jesus is the Christ.  It is a miracle.  Before, I had thought that he had little or no interest in getting baptized, but in the past month he has had an immense change in himself.  He has been touched by the Spirit of God.  I think he felt the love from those who cared about him, and that helped him recognize the love God has for him.  Whenever I think about it or talk about it, I always feel a joy and a love that transcends human nature. I look back at my life and see that there were times I was distant from The Gospel, and most everyone has times where they wander, but I testify that this is the only true path to God.  God freely gives us agency, but the only path to liberty and lasting happiness is obedience to God's commandments. 

Last Saturday, we had a BBQ organized by the deaf members of Yuen Long.  Deaf members, nonmembers, and others attended the BBQ last Saturday.  I will send you a picture of those deaf people in just a moment.  These are the people who I have dedicated my life and heart to.  Everything God has enabled me to do has not been just for my benefit, but for the benefit of others.  I did not learn sign language, God learned it for me.  I did not learn Cantonese either, God gave it to me.  If all of the things that have happened on my mission are not miracles, then I don't know what a miracle is.  I know that there is a power acting here that is beyond my own.  That power is God.  Nobody can tell me there is a gray area here.  Nobody can tell me this is all in my head, because I've seen and tasted the fruits that have come from faith.  

I just want to say thank you for all your love and support.  I feel so happy to be here.  I hope that all of your lives can be filled with happiness as well.  Love you!

Elder Phillips

Grace, a recent convert
Benji, a Filipino member

More pictures of Nick's baptism

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

We cannot be whole ourselves without loving others and loving God.

Dear Friends and Family,

I hope everybody had a great Easter.  I hope all is going well for you all.  Things are good here in Yuen Long.  Two investigators will be getting baptized in the next coming month, so it is going to be a hectic time.  Nick is supposed to get baptized on April 26th.  Pang is to be baptized on May 10th.  Pang  is a super nice, humble deaf man. His body is crippled and he has other hardships, but he is an amazing guy.  I love him.  Nick is not deaf and he is a really cool guy as well.  He is 23.  

I watched general conference this past weekend and I had some amazing experiences while watching it.  There is too much stuff to write it all.  One thing I have learned for myself is that If I cannot be motivated for my own sake to do things, then I should do it for God's sake or for another's sake.  Sometimes I think I should be able to conquer this temptation on my own.  I think I should do it for my own sake, but I've realized it is not always enough.  Why did God send a help meet to Adam in the first place?  Why does God offer us grace?  It is because we are not enough on our own.  It is one of the greatest lessons of my life.  I cannot do it by myself.  I've probably given my parents a lot of grief in the past because of this attitude I've had, and I'm certain I've given God grief for it as well.  But I've realized that there is a reason why we have other people to help us.  Also we need to serve them.  We cannot be whole ourselves without loving others and loving God.  We are dependent, completely dependent, on God and others.  God did not send me here to look perfect or receive honor and glory of others, he sent me here to repent and strive to help others do the same.  No matter how independent I think I am, I am completely not okay when I am on my own.  

Which leads me to the next thing I learned from Conference: marriage.  Just kidding I'm not going to talk about that.  Anyway Love you all.  Keep carrying on.

Elder Phillips

It has been a really good week!  Things are going pretty well.  Nick passed his baptismal interview and is getting baptized this Sunday.  It has been a miracle seeing him change.  When we found him on the street he was such a different person.  It is cool to see how the gospel softens people's hearts.  

We have been teaching a couple other deaf people so that has been great.  In other news, my recent convert named Grace Li (baptized in Pok Fu Lam) has decided to start attending Yuen Long because it is closer to her home. She also happens to be great friends with Pang.  Actually she referred Pang!  It is going to really strengthen the deaf members. 

This past Friday Bishop Shum called and asked me to give a talk on Sunday (yesterday).  I prepared a bit on Saturday but our schedule doesn't give us much time for preparing talks!  Luckily it turned out really well.  The topic was on missionary work.  I shared some experiences I had sharing the gospel with my friends at home.

I love you all.  I hope all is going well.  

Elder Phillips

Monday, April 6, 2015

"Praise people for what they have become.."

1st photo -Elder Phillips, Sister Chan, Pang and Elder Shipp
2nd photo - Elder Phillips and Nick 

Dear Friends and Family,

It was a great week. Yuen had a baptism yesterday which was really cool, and we have awesome people that we're teaching. The ward is doing well!  We had stake conference this past weekend and one thing really stuck with me.  The Stake President said we should praise people for what they have become.  I know for sure that being a missionary has changed my life.  I feel that God is proud of me, and that is a feeling I've wished for for a long time.  

Last week we had a talk with a young man who comes to English class, but has never been interested in meeting with us.  We bumped into him on the street and he opened up a bit.  We had a long discussion about God.  He wondered why there is evil in this world.  Why is there disease and war?  If there is a God, why doesn't he get rid of those things?  We told him that through the Atonement of Christ, all things are made right.  Furthermore we explained that God has given people the ability to choose for themselves what they will do in this world.  Because of that, inevitably some people will choose evil and will harm others.  But we asked him a simple question. What method could God use to get rid of all these things?  He could make us all slaves and give us no power to harm others, or he could teach us the right way and push for all of us to follow him and as a result there would be no wars among us.  He said the second option sounded better.  Then he asked: So why doesn't he come down to the Earth and teach us then? 
I said: He did.  

Love you all,
Found these guys hanging out at church

Monday, March 9, 2015

There are always miracles happening.

Dear Friends and Family,

This past week was transfers week. I stayed in Yuen Long (I am pretty sure I will end my mission here) but I got a new companion! His name is Elder Shipp.  I will send a picture of him to you all! He is a great guy.

This past week Elder Ballard came to Hong Kong and met with all the missionaries.  He was so great.  He said a lot of things our mission needed to hear.  There were a lot of things I needed to hear that day, and I'm grateful God gives us revelation so we can hear what he wants to tell us.  One main thing that Elder Ballard admonished us to do was to be more bold!  Being bold is not just standing against something else, but to stand for what is right and true.  God will win in the end.  It doesn't matter how many times people think we have lost, because if we stand with God we have never lost.  The truth will prevail in the end. 

Know that I love you all and think of you often.

Elder Phillips

Hello Friends and Family,

It was a really awesome week this week!  This past Wednesday we went to teach a deaf woman found by Elder Hafen.  We met her at a McDonalds and as we entered the McDonalds we saw that their was another pair of deaf people in the corner.  We went over and talked to them and we actually scheduled one of them to meet again!  What a miracle.  After we finished the lesson we got up to leave and saw a group of 5 or 6 deaf people sitting at a table together.  We went up and talked to them and it was pretty funny.  
They didn't like us as much at first, but by the end of the conversation I think we won them over a little. 

Outside of that, we've just been doing a lot of finding which has also been good.  We've met a lot of new people.  They don't always have interest to meet again, but I think that when we sincerely share what we know with them they always walk away feeling better than before.  

There are always miracles happening.  Sometimes I've imagined who I would be if I didn't believe in God.  All I know is I would be a shadow of what I now am... My very breath is a testimony of his reality.  I love you all.  

Love, Elder Phillips

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I've learned not to doubt what God can do.

February 9th, 
Dear Friends and Family,

I hope you are all doing swell.  This past week was pretty awesome for us.  We encountered 6 or so different deaf people this week.  It was a miracle!  A few of them were pretty interested in our message and we actually will meet one this Wednesday.  It is pretty amazing what can happen in missionary work.  I've learned not to doubt what God can do. 

We had zone conference this past week and there were so many things that impacted me that day.  I think one thing is that maybe as people we look at ourselves too harshly.  Some people are prideful, thinking they are the best, and maybe they should look at themselves more harshly, but I feel like for the most part people aren't like that.  Many people see themselves as failures.  Whether that is true or not, God does not see us that way.  He sees us as most parents would see a downtrodden child.  Not with harshness, not happy that this wayward child finally got what's coming to him, and not with any ado in beginning to heal us.  Love you all. 

Elder Phillips

February 16th,
Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a good week.  This past week we met with a deaf investigator named Mr Lee.  He also introduced his wife, who is hard of hearing, to us.  They were both very kind and interested in the gospel.  Mr Lee was able to come to church yesterday.

Chinese New Year is coming up.  It is by far the biggest holiday in China.  There are a lot of cool traditions that have to do with this holiday.  One of them is "red packet money." I'm sure you have all heard of it!  It is where older (usually married) people give red packets filled with money to some of the younger (usually non-married) people.  It's a pretty cool tradition if you ask me, I mean who doesn't like some extra money?

Other than that, the two most important things that are a part of the New Year are family and food.  Family visits are expected around the New Year and are very important.  In fact in Chinese there is an extensive set of vocabulary used to address specific relatives.  It gets very specific.  In English you might just say grandma, grandpa, cousin, aunt, or uncle.  But in Chinese it is much more specific. For example, rather than calling your aunt "aunt" you could call them a-yi, gu-ma, gu-je, yi-ma, kau-mou, and more.  They all mean aunt, but they give insight into whether or not the aunt is paternal or maternal.  It also tells how old they are in relation to your parents, and more.  So you never call them by their full names, you just call them aunt, uncle, grandma or whatever.  There is no confusion since there are so many specific terms for each person. 

Anyway love you all.  Wish you the best!

Elder Phillips

Monday, February 2, 2015

Prayer and faith goes a long way.

Dear Friends and Family,

It has been a long time since I've written an update!  It has certainly been a great time in Yuen Long so far.  We have a few deaf potential investigators which is super exciting.  Mostly they were found by other missionaries who then turned them over to us.  We are very blessed.  

Here is one awesome story about one of those turn overs.  Elder Hafen (my old friend from Hong Kong island zone) called us and said they found some deaf people that wanted to meet.  Elder Hafen is a Mandarin missionary.  Back when we found Roger (an awesome guy from Mainland) the Mandarins always came to our church building to teach him.  Because of that Elder Hafen got to learn sign language a bit because he always saw our deaf investigators at the church.  Anyway, now he is serving in another part of Hong Kong and always seems to run into deaf people.  So Elder Tung and I went out to his area to meet these deaf people.  We met them at the Metro stop in Sha Tin, and then went to a nearby Mcdonalds.  We ate and talked.  Then we started talking about the Book of Mormon.  it was a simple lesson, but I went away from there feeling so good.  In that lesson I think my sign language was the best it has ever been.  There was definitely divine help.  It was so humbling and amazing to really communicate with such good people.  We will meet them again later. The story might sound plain, or simple, but I came out of that McDonalds feeling as good as I've ever felt in my life.  

Elder Phillips

Jan. 25th
The week was sweet.  We met a bunch of new deaf people. It's been amazing to see all the miracles that have happened. When I came here I just kept praying that something would actually happen with deaf work, and it has!  Prayer and faith goes a long way.  

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Love is an incredibly powerful thing...

Dear Friends and Family,

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I certainly did!  It was basically a regular missionary day but we went to a BBQ activity that our ward was holding.  The activity was actually held in my first area (Tuen Muhn).  Going back to Tuen Muhn felt pretty weird.  It was a cool feeling, though.

Yuen Long is a cool place.  We met a lot of new people this week so that was awesome!  I don't know if I mentioned this already, but the sisters found a deaf lady on the street and gave her phone number to us.  Then we were able to schedule her!  This is the start of deaf work in Yuen Long for me and my companion. 

Love is an incredibly powerful thing.  It can penetrate all barriers, destroy any sort of negative feeling, and give you the strength to push on.  After this week of meeting new people on the streets, in the ward, and also talking over the phone with my family back home, I have realized again how vital love is.  Greatest of all is the love for our Savior.  I have realized you cannot fully love God while harboring thoughts of hatred toward another.  Love brings miracles. 

Elder Phillips