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