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 compaƱeras 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