Monday, December 31, 2012

Letter #16 12/31/12

Querida Familia,
¡Les amo! Yesterday I completed 4 months on the mission and 2 months in the field. I'm so tired! I looked back in my journal this morning-- 2 months ago I was a different person. 4 months ago I don't even recognize myself.

Mom told me to write about some of the bad/hard things about the mission, but I won't. I'm actually finding that the hard, the bad, and the ugly are starting to matter to me less and less. The good, the beautiful, and the worth-it are much more at the forefront my mind. It's true that I still struggle (and probably always will struggle) with mood swings, etc., but the Lord for some reason has chosen to bless me more than I could have imagined.

I was thinking about Ammon the other day, about how when he was passed out on the floor and one of the Lamanites raised his sword to kill him. Ammon couldn't do anything (literally) to defend himself. No sooner had this man raised his sword than he was smitten by the Lord and was killed instantly. It was because of the promise, or covenant, that the Lord had made with Ammon's father, King Mosiah,that protected him, as well as the strength of Mosiah's faith. What a blessing it is in my mission to have that same foundation of faith and covenants in my family. We are far away, but I feel like my family, seen and unseen, are always protecting me. I am incredibly blessed by the faith of my family.

We honor our covenants because more than just our own lives depend on them.

I love you.

Hermana Phillips

Monday, December 24, 2012

Letter # 15 12/24/12

Dear Family,
My Christmas card will be sent soon, sorry it's so late. I wish I could send you a Navidad Uruguayo. I wish I could send you the sound of the bells of the cathedral, the smell of thousands of jasmine bushes, and the sound of firecrackers at 3am. I love Uruguay! I love Florida!

We'll be spending Christmas with the family of our Branch President and his wife. They're wonderful and I'm looking forward to the New Year as well. Things have been crazy here lately-- We've been asked so often when the world is going to end and whether or not aliens are going to come. The 21st passed and we're still here. On the 19th we met an old man in the street and invited him to come to church. He said no, because the world was going to end before then. We said, "If you're still around on the 23rd, will you come to church?" He laughed and said sure, but we haven't seen him since! ;)

Most important: I will be skyping home tomorrow at 10 am. I have no idea how to use skype, and I'm sure neither does mom, so we need to work as  a team to make this work. If not I'll have to call. I love you and wish you all the best.

Hermana Phillips

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pictures: Florida Baptisms

Letter #14 12/17/12

Dear Family,
Sounds like it's been an exciting week! Sorry this email has to be short, but there have been some technical difficulties this PDay and I have less time than usual.
I'm not sure what to report that would be interesting to you guys-- I can't get my head out of the key indicators. I've been asked to sing in our Rama's primary program and as part of the program for the District Christmas activity. Also our zone is in charge of the musical number for our mission Christmas activity. Our zone got together today to practice and afterward we had an asado (barbeque). We have a great zone!
One of the things that surprised me most coming on the mission is how awkward missionaries are. It seems to be just the nature of being a missionary-- you get to witness awesome miracles and be an instrument in the hands of the Lord, and also you get to endure some of the longest awkward moments of your life. I could list examples, but I'll spare you. It's difficult to explain awkwardness here, because there's simply no word for it in Spanish.
I have to go, but I love you so much! The baptisms last Saturday were amazing, see the pictures.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter #13 12/10/12

I have completed my first six weeks in the mission! This week has been amazing. We've been blessed with so much success. This coming Saturday Hermana Vargas and I are looking forward to three baptisms: Gabriela, Magalì, and Franco. Gabriela I told you about in the last email, and remember Adriana? Magalì is her 9 year old granddaughter and Franco her 8 year old son. Franco doesn't actually count as "our" baptism, technically, but we're teaching the two together.

Yesterday at church a non-member showed up at church because her friend, the primary president, had invited her. She (Lucia) loved church, and then we went to go visit her that afternoon. We invited her to be baptized on the 29th and she agreed, and then when we were about to leave we asked if there was anyone she knew that we could teach. She went and put on her shoes and went with us around the corner (with her Book of Mormon, Hymn Book and Gospel Principles manual in hand) to visit a woman who had recently lost her son. The woman we went to visit wasn't there, but the entire experience really impacted me. We have 5 baptisms planned for the next six weeks and we've found even more people to teach in just this week. The amazing thing is that I don't even feel like I'm doing anything but walking in the hot sun, and these people just seem to be in our way. It's hard work, yes, and I'm ALWAYS tired, but there are so many additional unseen forces at work in the lives of these people.

It is SO hot here. Hermana Vargas and I bought wide-brimmed hats to protect us from the sun, and I use sunscreen (usually) and I get pretty red. I can literally feel the road moving under my feet when we walk. The world is melting! So much for Uruguay being temperate year-round. I don't know the temperature in Farenheight, but it's hot. It was hard to adjust to, at first-- my second week I almost passed out while proselyting-- but the Lord has strengthened me in so many ways.

Congratulations, Sarah!!!!

My time is up.

Love you all so much!

Hermana Phillips

Monday, December 3, 2012

Letter # 12 12/03/12

Dear Family,

Things are going great! We're working hard to find new people to teach, as always, and we have a baptism planned for the 15th of this month: Gabriela. She is just wonderful. It's really easy for me to forget that she's not actually a member yet, she looks and acts like a Relief Society president. She was a previous investigator, and she was taking the lessons from the previous missionaries in the area a little over a year ago. She didn't get baptized because she felt like the missionaries were putting a lot of pressure on her and she didn't feel ready. The thing is that with things like baptism-- or rather almost all important things is that you almost never feel ready. That's what faith is, right? But I'm happy to go as slow or as fast as the Spirit directs, and things have been going well. Gabriela told us a metaphor that I love: she's like the ant that goes first and investigates the area, and later the other ants (her family) will follow. We hope so!

I feel as much joy when I see less-actives and recent converts in Sacrament Meeting as I do when my investigators come. It's the same happiness, knowing that someone I love is doing the right thing for themselves. My second week here, we found a woman named Adriana (about 45 years old) outside of a house with her friend. We sang a "Grande eres tu" ("How Great Thou Art") and she invited us into her home across the street. We found out during the visit that she had been baptized at the age of 16 but had started working on Sundays and stopped going to church. Since then she has had some really powerful spiritual experiences and a lot of opposition. She has other children, but lives alone with her 9 year old son. We talked about the Book of Mormon, and replaced hers, which she had lost, with one of our proselyting copies. She offered the closing prayer and began to cry. After "amen" she knelt at our feet and embraced us, crying. I realized then what we must represent to her, how the Lord had put us there to be His representatives and rescue her when the time was right. She is the sweetest lady I've ever met, and has had such adversity and a lot of sorrow, but she has the most beautiful smile that she wears all the time. Now she comes to church with her son and her granddaughter (9 and 8 years old) and participates enthusiastically in the Gospel Principles class. She's preparing to go to the temple. How would her life be different now if we had not been there? She would still be lost and wandering. How great the wisdom and the love of our Savior, and how mindful is He of His flock. We can easily allow people to fall through the cracks, but to Him we are never lost.

There are so many less-actives here, and I'm called to help them as much as I am called to find those who never have known the gospel.

I love you. Remember your covenants, pray every day, read your scriptures and go to church. If we do these things, the Lord can guide us.

I love you all!
Hermana Phillips

Monday, November 26, 2012

Letter #11 11/26/12

Dear Family,

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm so happy to hear that everyone was together to celebrate! I can picture it so well in my mind that I feel like I was there :) We celebrated Thanksgiving here as well, go figure. There is a senior couple (The Hills; they actually have family in Heber, they tell me, but I don't know if they're related to the Hills in our ward...) serving in our area and they invited our district over to have Thanksgiving dinner. It was wonderful. Elder Hill gave a small talk before the dinner explaining the origins of the holiday for all the Latins, but it got a little awkward as he started talking about how the United States is the best country in the world, etc... Not that I don't feel that way too, but I keep my patriotism mostly to myself when I'm in a group of 11 Latin Americans. Elder Hill asked our Zone Leader, Elder Labrador, to offer the prayer over the food because only an American citizen could appreciate the freedom we have in the States. But the food was really good (I almost started crying when Hermana Hill brought out the pumpkin pie), and we love the Hills. We're planning to have a Noche de Hogar with them this Friday for all the single less active sisters and investigators in the ward. There are many.

I don't know if you've heard of mate, but the culture of Uruguay revolves around it. It's a kind of herbal tea, and everyone here loves it. You pour the dried herbs into a special cup, add hot water, and sip the tea from a special straw that drains the leaves. It's not against the Word of Wisdom, at least not explicitly, but missionaries aren't allowed to drink it. If it was, there would be massive apostasy in Uruguay and absolutely no one would listen to us. People literally take it everywhere. They walk down the street with mate cups and thermoses, drive scooters with it in hand, etc. It's kind of crazy. I'm a little suspicious of it, but it makes proselyting a little easier in the evening: everyone sits outside on benches and drinks mate with their friends, so it's easier to find people to talk to. It also makes up for siesta time, when there is literally NO ONE in the street.

There are a LOT of people here who suffer from mental illness. Everyone we talk to seems to know at least one person who has depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. A lot of people are under really heavy medication for all sorts of things. I'd like to know a little more about these illnesses in order to help people, but in the past my primary resource to find out would be the internet, which is unavailiable to me now. Can anyone help me out?

That's all I have time for. Love you so much! Thank you so much for raising me right and for being wonderful examples.

Siempre, su hija,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, November 19, 2012

Letter #10 11/19/12

Dear Family,

My P Day is now on Monday! Sorry for not explaining that before. Things in Florida are going well. Last week we went to Montevideo for Zone Conference and went to the temple. We only go to the temple once a year, so this was a really special occasion. My companion hasn't gone her entire mission (9 months) and we're praying that this trip will last her another 9 and me another 12. We'll see.

We have 6 new investigators this week! We're not completely sure about how well all of them will progress, but it's always worth a shot. I just have to be a good missionary and teach the doctrine so they can use their agency. Otherwise it's on me. I am starting to understand the simple doctrines of the gospel in ways different and more profound than I ever have. Consider this: today we read 3 Nephi 11 in companion study. The first things that Christ does when he appears to the Nephites is introduce who He is, what He has done, and invites them to come unto Him. Next, He explains very clearly how this must be done. Remember your baptismal covenants, and partake of the sacrament worthily. Repentance is key. The reason we have a mile long list of inactives is because most of the probably did not repent properly before baptism.

Anyway, today is P Day and the elders in our district invited us to go play futbòl with them and possibly make tacos. We don't know if we're going to go. Why is it the only sport I'm good at is one of the only ones I can't do on the mission? Swimming...

Our Rama (Branch) is just the best. We have the best ever mission leader, Hermano Alanìs. I didn't serve a mission when he was younger, but if he had it would have been awesome. Sunday morning he texted us saying (translation): Buenos dias, Hermanas! I am full of gratitude to be able to serve with you in the work of our Father in Heaven, who has bless us with so much success and progress.

Amazing. Our Relief Society presidency is also amazing.

Yesterday we were blessed to bring our only (now) progressing investigator to church, Hermano Alberto Dotta. He is around 45 and lives at home with his parents. He is remarkably intelligent and has a unique view of the world. When we first started teaching him he explained his view of God as more of an energy or all powerful force. He asks really thoughtful questions that I have a hard time answering in Spanish :) but we try our best. He has confided in us that he has also been see a psychiatrist (or something, my comprehension of Spanish is still pretty low) because he has some problems being around a lot of people. Thus, we (I) were a little concerned about his first time in church. But really, the gospel and the church are incredible. He felt as comfortable as I could hope. Some of the doctrine in Priesthood meeting was a little over his head at this point, but we have a wonderful teacher for Gospel Principles. She teaches the beautiful truths of the gospel like someone lit a fire under her chair. The topic was Our Need for A Savior, and Alberto gave the closing prayer. He asked God: help me to know thee. It was a moment I hope I never forget. We have his baptismal date set out pretty far: the 22nd of December, but we're hoping to move it closer if he starts progressing faster. No reason to delay if he wants to be baptized!

My time is up. I love you! I pray for you! I promise I'll write to you but if you could send me stamps, that would be great. I can't buy any here, obviously, and also I can't figure out the postal system...

I love you!!!!!

Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

First Area: Florida

Florida is in the bottom half of the country.

Main Square, celebrating the Declaration of Independence in 1825.
In the background you can see the Catholic Cathedral.

Pictures: Arrival in the Mission

New missionaries with President and Sister Armstrong.

Christina and her trainer, Hermana Vargas are going to Florida!

Letter # 8 11/05/12

Wow. My first week in Uruguay is going well. It's weird to think I've been away from home this long. I have very little perception of time out here. Right now I'm sitting in an internet hub at a bus station in the middle of bustling Montevideo, two hours away by omnibus from our area in Florida. We had to come today for medical checkups. They took my blood, etc, basic checkup stuff. Since we only have 30 minutes for email, I'll be sending you a longer letter via the church pouch with more detailed stories-- we already have some. We are only allowed to receive emails from immediate family members, so if someone could help spread this word around that would be great: everyone can send emails to the mission home at where they will be printed and given to me open-letter style. My name needs to be in the subject line (Hermana Christina Phillips).

We are working for a baptism on Saturday! I haven't been present for all the lessons with Mauro, but we'll be teaching him every day until his baptism. A note here: in the States it's rude to interrupt, but here, you can't communicate at all if you don't. Uruguayos talk and talk and talk and talk... about things unrelated to the topic. I loose interest and Hermana Vargas looses patience. She truly has a gift for interrupting.

The people are so loving, unless we tell them that there's only one true church. That makes some people kind of mad.

There are a lot of inactive members here. Retention is a big problem.
The previous mission president really pushed the number of baptisms, but according to Hermana Vargas that caused a lot of missionaries to baptize before people were ready, and also baptize a lot of youths and children without their parents. Of the 86,000+ miembros en Urugay, we don't have any idea where 20,000 are. Our ward missionaries are really great, though, so I look forward to getting their help with that.

I love you. I miss you. It's really hot. I'm happy to be preaching the Gospel! What else is there? I love you.
Hermana Phillips

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Letter # 7 10/24/12

Dear Family,

Thanks for your emails! It means a lot to me.

First things first: This morning from 10am to 12 noon we had a devotional with Elder Bednar. I sat almost exactly front and center in our little sacrament meeting room. It was such an awesome feeling to sit less than 6 feet away from an apostle of the Lord and hear him teach us-- and it really was teaching, not just a talk. It was wonderful! He got up and said that we had probably come there today to hear him speak, but that's not how he wanted our meeting to go. Instead we were going to be actively involved and asking questions. We had actually been warned this might happen (apparently Elder Bednar does this a lot) and so we were prepared with questions. We only had time for four questions. My old companion, Hermana Harris went first:

"What can we actively be doing to develop patience?" An excellent question, especially since Hermana Harris always has to be actively doing something no matter what. She has so many nervous or bored ticks that it used to drive me crazy. Elder Bednar counseled her to get a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon, read it, and mark every instance of patience and its practice therein. Afterward, write up a one page summary of what patience is.

"Sometimes I don't feel the Spirit when I'm teaching, even though I have a testimony of the doctrine." Another excellent question. Elder Bednar said that we shouldn't have to have the Spirit be telling us every step of the way that what we say or do was "meant" to be said or done. Be a good boy, be a good girl, keep your covenants and press forward with faith. More often the Spirit works wonders without us even realizing. We shouldn't have to realize it to have faith.

Then I got to stand up and ask an Apostle of the Lord a question. I had been pondering this question for at least a few days (time kind of blurrs together here) and I felt sure that this is what I needed to ask. I raised my hand and Elder Bednar called on me by name (he has really remarkable eyesight for 60+) and I asked "What is the role of temperance in missionary work, and how can we develop it?" If you know me at all, it should be obvious why I asked this question. There is such a high expectation for spiritual growth and so many intense spiritual experiences, I have been having a really hard time with the difference between the highs and the lows. Everything about serving a mission hightens your awareness of... well, of everything and this can be a little overwhelming. So I asked about temperance.

I don't have time to adequately describe the answer, but suffice it to say that Elder Bednar took 30 minutes answering. Most of it was teaching us how to ask and answer a question in a way that is clear, precise and inspired. I had been praying for the gift of temperance and moderation and stability for weeks. Everything today leading up to my question and everything about the very manner in which it was answered was a very detailed answer in and of itself. I'm still sorting through everything. This is how the Lord works. He never lectures, he teaches through experience. 

In other news, my compaion and I are getting along great. The language is still a problem-- whenever I ask native speakers to repeat what they said, they 1- don't repeat the same words but explain it in a different way and 2- don't talk any slower. So that's been a little aggravating. I've also decided that my ability with music is more of a hinderance here. People love it when I sing, but singing with other people has become a really painful experience. I'm praying to be able to ignore. Part of it's cultural-- people simply aren't taught how to sing and part of it I'm convinced is that there must be something wrong with a lot of peoples' ears. 

I'll be leaving the CCM on Tuesday next week! So excited! All the mission presidents from this area of South America were also here attending a conference, and so I got to meet Presidente and Hermana Armstrong! They seem like such nice and genuine people!

Also, since the age change for missionaries, the numbers have changed: Elder Bednar said that they used to receive 800 applictions per week. Since the announcement, the numbers have increased to almost 2,000 per week. WOW.

Love you, but I have to go. I'll be sending pictures soon!


Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Letter # 6 10/18/12

Dear Family,

What a week! Our little District Moróni of only four missionaries was officially disbanded, and we've integrated into other districts with our new Latin companions. Mi nueva compañera se llamado Hermana Spitale, from Cordoba, Argentina. I am the only English-speaker in my class all day, every day and I'm starting to realize just how much I don't understand. Luckily, I've had all of these classes before. As I have been here for 7 weeks and my compañera only one, I am the senior companion. This change has also made me realize how much I used to rely on Hermana Harris, who was the senior companion last transfer. At first I was really afraid that there would be a huge language barrier between me and Hermana Spitale-- and I was right. But we also have the companionship of the Holy Ghost with us constantly. He is the best translator you could hope for!

Speaking is MUCH easier for me than understanding. At least when I speak I can make hand gestures and form words that kind of sound like what they're supposed to be, but I'm not used to having to focus so much when people talk. I'm getting better, though; earlier today we had a workshop for the Latin missionaries totally in Spanish, and I think I got about 70%. At least the general idea.

Next Wednesday, Elder Bednar, Elder Oaks and one of the other members of the Quorrum are coming to the CCM! No one seems to know who the third one is, but of course this devocional is sure to be fantastic!

About last Monday, when we taught Fortunata. You know me: I set my expectations really high, always. And almost always the Lord decides to teach me something different. When Nefi asked for the strength to burst the bonds with which he was bound, the Lord answered by loosening them instead. He answered in a way that reminded Nefi that it was by the Lord's power that these things are done. When we were fasting and praying beforehand I always felt hesitant to ask that Fortunata would be baptized I wanted to commit her to baptizm during the lesson, but I simply couldn't, for one reason or another. We taught her for 45 minutes and I never had the opportunity. Instead she agreed to read from the Book of Mormon and pray about it-- something that she has never committed to before. I'm still praying-- I'm always praying. My entire day is one long prayer.

Proselitismo is AMAZING. We go out for about 3-4 hours on Saturday and find references for the "real" missionaries. This last Staturday we hit dead ends everywhere, not to mention getting out there an hour later than usual. We were sitting near a bus stop hoping to talk to some people (at least at a bus stop no one can run away from us) but we weren't having much success. I said a silent prayer saying, "Heavenly Father, we want to serve, but I don't know if I can do this. Please, just give me a chance to prove to myself that I can be a missionary. Please send me someone to teach." Ten seconds later, a woman walked up and I started converstaion. She was our first contact of the day. Three more followed within 30 minutes. The message was pretty clear: "Maybe you're right: maybe you can't do this. But I can."

I'm really short on time today, so that has to be all!

Les amo para siempre!
Su Hija y Hermana,
Hermana Phillips

Letter # 5 10/4/12

Thanks for your email! I wasn't able to hear the YW broadcast, but we'll be streaming General Conference and the Relief Society meeting here at the CCM. I'm so glad you were able to go and have a good experience, though!

I love being a missionary! I know I'm only in the CCM right now, and it's been really challenging, I know I can do hard things and I know that God is with me. Everyone here is in my life for a reason, from my Mission President to the girls down the hall. My district is really important to me as well-- all four of us. We have grown really close during these 5 weeks, and I feel like they are part of my family. I actually keep having dreams that I come home and the elders are my brothers-in-law, though they never seem to be married to my sisters.

I'm so tired all the time now. Today is the first day I haven't been tired much at all, but I think it's because I didn't sleep at all well last night and now I'm running on adrenaline. It's been a real test to see how much I can do without falling over. I just feel the Spirit all the time and I think that´s what´s draining me. Hopefully I can build up some endurance before I actually get to the field.

I love hearing about home. Finally got the first letter you sent me. Maybe I'm imagining it, but I swear the envelope smells just like home. Funny story though: It took 20 days to get here with a $1.05 stamp, but it only took five days for a letter to get here for my companion with a single forever stamp. Your guess on that one is as good as mine.

Dad, I think you're trying to send me pictures of your trip to China, but I can´t access the site it's linking me to. I'd really like to see them though. I currently can't figure out why I can't send pictures. It may be because the server is just really bogged down with a dozen missionaries trying to email furiously all at once. I'm sitting in the computer lab and it sounds like a thousand tiny horses galloping on the desktops. You could cut the intensity with a knife.

I'll tell you a little bit about my district.

Elder Pyper is the district leader. His dad is an officer in the Air Force and his mom is from South Korea, where his dad served his mission. Thus, he knows a lot of Korean and it was a surprise when he got called to South America. He moved around a lot, but he is most recently from Oklahoma. He went to BYU for a year before the mission. He's a really great guy.

Elder Francis is like a younger brother. He has struggled a lot since he got here. Last night he actually told us that he asked President if he could go home on the first day-- I'm SO glad he didn't. Before the mission he had a great memory and he never had to try in school at all. Coming here, it's like the Lord suddenly took away his ability to memorize or remember things in general. I wish I could do something to help, but I think the Lord is really trying to teach him something with this trial. He has such a good heart and I know he'll be better for it.

My compañera, Hermana Harris. She is awesome. She likes Star Trek and basically every other nerdy thing our family is into, so we get along great on that level. Her mother is from Mexico and her dad is from Seattle and both speak Spanish. She understands a lot, but never learned grammar. I can't understand anything people say but I know a lot of grammar and vocab now, so we complement each other great.

Can you get one of my sisters to send me an email this week? I love hearing from you, Mom. I love hearing about the garden. I miss you and I love you so much, but I only allow that to throw me farther into this work. I talk about my family a lot when I'm teaching, especially your example and what things have been important to me growing up. I love you so much. I love you I love you I love you.

Siempre, Su Hija,
Hermana Phillips

Letter #4

Dear Mom,
I can´t wait until I can write to you completely in Spanish! I´m really close, lately things have just been clicking for our district, but I still only have 30 minutes to write to you and it takes too long to translate. I´ll work on a letter this week all in Spanish. Our writing time got moved to today because we were at the temple yesterday. I was really grateful to be able to do it in english-- last time it was in Spanish and I had a hard time. Like my district leader says, "I go to the temple to receive personal revelation, not practice Spanish." I look forward to being able to do it all in Spanish, no problem, though. 

I love it here, except for the fact that I´ve already been sick twice. I hope this whole getting sick every two weeks isn´t becoming a trend for my whole mission. Yes Mom, I´ve been eating well and drinking lot´s of water, and going to bed on time and taking my vitamins every day, but this morning I woke up with another horrible cough. It´s probably the fact that there are about 150 people living in the same 3 floors, sharing bathrooms and eating areas.

I love hearing about home. I pray for you a lot and I´m glad to hear you´re doing well. How are Desiree and Christopher? Lisa? Grandma and Grandpa? I´d email, but I don´t have any addresses.
I am memorizing the 1st Vision now, as well as the missionary purpose. What else?

I'll tell you about Presidente Openshaw. I have never met anyone more knowledgeable about the scriptures than the CCM presidente. We have a devotional with him about every three days (at least) and he always starts it with, "Does anybody have any questions?" When we ask, the next step is always, "That´s an excellent question. Let's turn to (scripture reference) to find out." He seems to have mastered the skill of knowing and applying any and all scriptures. I want to be like that. In my patriarchal blessing, I am counseled to be knowledgeable about the Savior and the scriptures, for in them holds the key on a daily basis of how I can obtain the gifts of the spirit-- and I will tell you that learning a language is definitely going to be a gift of the spirit for me. I prayed about this in the temple yesterday, asking what I needed to do to obtain this gift. The Lord said that the only available offering I have is my heart on the altar. I then prayed to know what this meant, and the Spirit taught me that I need to open up "that [my] heart may be like unto the house of Emma-- a refuge for those who have nowhere else to go." Temples are awesome.

I´m sending pictures. Soon.

I love you. I´m sorry my emails are always so scattered and random. But I love you.

Hermana Phillips

Friday, September 21, 2012

Letter #3

My Dear Family!

First of all, please tell the man from Swiss Days thank you from me for his generosity. (One of the vendors who parked in our yard made a generous donation to Christina's mission) It really means so much to me, and I know the Lord will bless him for being an answer to prayer. The Lord loves His missionaries, and He answers their prayers-- and I pray for us as a family a lot.

It's transfer week at the CCM and my district is the only one here until tomorrow morning. That means it's only me, Hermana Harris, and Elders Pyper and Francis. Everyone else has left for their respective missions. Hermana Harris and I are remaining companions though, at least for the time being. We walked into class this morning and our teacher, Hermana Arcos, looked at us thoughtfully. She said, "Yo pienso ustedes estan listos tener las compañeras latinas. Yo voy hablar con Hermana Openshaw." or something like that-- my Spanish grammar is still pretty terrible. Normally, English-speaking missionaries don´t get Latin companions until week 6. It´s the beginning of week 4, so I´m a little nervous.

In other news, Hermana Harris and I got to babysit 9 hispanic kids today. It was pretty awesome. They´re the children of two of the teachers here who are leaving. The staff here had a farewell lunch today for them and their families, and afterward they all wanted to go to the temple, so Hermana Openshaw (la esposa del Presidente) volunteered us as babysitters. It's P-day, and it's transfer week, so we didn´t really have anything else to do. The elders are taking their shift with the kids now. Speaking of which, I should probably make sure everyone´s still alive down there... I´m sure they´re fine :)

As far as Spanish goes, I´m getting pretty good at speaking it-- it´s being able to understand the natives when they speak that´s challenging. Nigh impossible. I can catch a few words and usually the gist of what´s said, but I mostly smile and nod a lot. Today at the temple, the veil workers forgot we speak English and they didn´t have the cards for us. The hermana helping me was mumbling so badly, and she would just say entire sentances, even when I showed I was struggling repeating two words in a row. Then she´d get mad at me :(

I´m still trying to figure out how to email pictures on these computers. It might take a while, so I apologize. The elders don´t know either.

We´re getting all new carpet in the building, and we´re also switching rooms. One more reason to pack light. You never stay in the same place for more than 3 weeks.

I´m so glad I have the companion I have. She´s really patient and we are able to communicate about things that bother us. I guess we´re both just really focused on a common goal that everything else seems to fall away. 

My teacher, Hermana Arcos is amazing. She has an awe-inspiring amount of faith. In Estudio Asesorado yesterday, she gave me so many helpful suggestions on how to make my personal study more effective. Now I read the scriptures completely differently. I´ve started a notebook that I´m calling the "Field Guide." In all my scripture study I look for something that is an answer to a question one of my "investigators" or any future investigator might have, write the reference and the impression. Missionary work is kind of like combat medicine. In D&C it counsels us not to plan beforehand what ye shall say, but instead to listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and it shall be given thee in the very moment what ye shall say. A combat medic doesn´t plan beforehand exactly what stitches they are going to sew up and ignore the ones they didn´t plan for. Instead they are prepared for anything. Hopefully that´s what this new way of scripture study will do for me.

If you remember, could you please pray for a woman named Gladis? Hermana Harris and I contacted her on the street during our first Proselitismo last Saturday and we can´t get her out of our minds. I don´t know if we´ll be the ones to visit her next, but I really felt that she is ready to hear the gospel. She explained to us that she thinks it´s good to have Christ in your life, but she feels like every church is the same, and they all teach the same thing. My companion recited the first vision and we taught about Joseph Smith, then I bore my testimony that it was true and about how important it is for me to be sealed to my family and to be with you forever. She looked at me like she knew that I knew it. It was a little scary to suddenly realize what kind of situation the Lord has put me it-- I am a teacher. I've never really talked to someone who hadn't heard it all already. Anyway, please pray for her, and whatever missionaries will teach her.

I love you so much, and I pray for you all the time.

Hermana Phillips

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anybody Home?

Dear Family,

Pouch mail instructions: the church provides pouch mail ervice to your mission. Items sent by pouch mail use the US postal servis from your location to church headquarters, where they are forwarded to the missionary by a private courioer along with other church mail. Pouch mail leaves church hq every friday. Only postcards or one-page correspondences (no envelopes) written on one wide of the page may be sent through the pouch. Notebook or other light-weight paper will not process throught the USPS machines. Photographs are not acceptable. 

Letter Folding instructions: lay the letter blank side down. Fold the bottom of the letter about one third of the way up the page and crease. Fold the top of the letter to the bottom of the first fold and crease. Secure the long side with two ppeices of tape and one inch in from each end, but do not seal the ends. In the top left corner write your name and complete return address. Affix first class postage in the top right corner. In the middle write the missionary address as follows:

Sister Christina Marie Phillips
Uruguay Montevideo Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City UT 84130-0150

This is one option. The other is to send mail to this address (I would recommend this):

Centro Capacitacion Misional
El Tupe 4950
Ciudad Evita B 1778
Buenos Aires, Argentina

The CCM cannot receive packages.

Phew, now that that´s over...

I am SOOO glad to hear from you! I was so terrified that something awful had happened after I didn´t here from you, but I knew it was more likely that my email had just gone to the junk mail folder. All is well now, and I am so relieved. I´m sorry to hear about the car! That´s really frustrating. Give Ethan and Ryker and everyone a hug and a kiss from me. I love you! SOOO MUCH.

I didn´t know how much of a rebel I was until I suddenly have so many rules to follow. Don´t get me wrong-- I love structure. But I also like doing my own thing. It is all for my good, I know, it just gets under my skin sometimes. Also, I always used to hear returned sister missionaries talk about how annoying it is to have to work with all these 19 year old boys, but I am actually really enjoying good friendships with all of the elders here. The only really annoying one is 25.

There is so much dulce de leche here! It´s kind of ridiculous. It´s like the elders are having a contest to see  how much they can eat in one sitting. After dinner they´ll pile it on bananas and each one will eat about 11/2 cups of dulce. It´s facinating to watch.

I am learning Spanish faster than I ever thought possible. I won't try to write in spanish at the moment because I'm pressed for time, though. It really helps that both of my roommates are from Chile and there are very few English-speakers here. Get this: There is an Elder Phillips here. He's from Britain.

I love my companion! She is a great artist; right now she is working on a piece depicting the first vision. What I've seen of the concept drawings look really cool. I'll have to take a picture when she's finished to send it to you. She incorporates a lot of symbols, most of which she doesn't realize until after the fact :)

We are teaching two new Investigadores Progresivos now. One is played by our morning teacher, Hermana Arcos, and the other is played by our evening teacher, Hermano Morinico. During the first lesson/contact, H'Morinico didn't even let us in the door. At the next appointment he kept falling asleep during our lesson. I thought he was just playing a role, but Hermana Arcos told us today that he really has trouble staying awake. It's borderline narcolepsy. So that's fun.

We are learning to find out and administer to the needs of the people we teach. I never thought it would be so hard; I can barely do it in English, let alone Spanish. That's my struggle. Applying everything I know to the people. I don't feel like I even need to study the gospel so much as I need to spend time praying and meditating on what my "investigators" NEED to hear and how I can help them apply it. TIME. There never seems to be enough of it. LEARN FAST OR DIE.

I love you, so so much, and I pray for you all the time. Do everything you can to keep the Spirit in your lives. We had a talk today about stress management-- I think I feel more stressed after those kinds of talks-- but I realized that when I am stressed I pray more often for the companionship of the Spirit, but I fewer things to invite Him into my life.

I love you.

Hermana Phillips

I'm Here

Dear Family,

Well, I made it here, after a long flight. I'm in the middle of getting settled, and they're having me write a quick email to you to make sure everything works. I hope all is well. 

I gave out my first Book of Mormon this morning! I had written my testimony and inserted a pass-along card inside, and I was looking for someone to give it to since I left on Wednesday. On the flight to Buenos Aires, I sat next to an woman from Argentina. She explained that she lived in the US with her husband, and she used to visit her family in Argentina every year before her mother died. That was four years ago, and she hasn't been back since. She said that that's the way she has been trying to deal with the grief, to deny it. She's going back now to try and face it. We had a really meaningful conversation, in which I learned that she is Catholic, and how she feels about life. She said "I can't understand how people can live without hope. What's the point if there's no hope?" When we landed, I took out the Book of Mormon and showed it to her, asking if she had ever seen it before. She said no, and I told her that it was the book I read especially when I'm having a hard time, and I thought it was meant for her. She accepted it gladly.

The interesting thing is, my testimony written in the front was unlike the testimony I usually give. It was all about finding peace and happiness, instead of testifying of truth. Every word seemed to be directed to her, even though I hadn't met her yet. Amazing!

That's all I have time for, but know that I love you.

Also, the MTC is on the Buenos Aires temple grounds! It will be dedicated on Sept 9, and I'll be one of the first people to go through!

Hermana Phillips