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