Monday, December 30, 2013

Pictures: Sisters in Zion

Letter #66 12/30/2013 "La Cucaracha‏"

Dear Friends and Family,

This morning my personal study was interrupted by shrieks of terror emenating from the bathroom. While Hermana West was in the shower, a cockroach creeped onto her loufa and from her loufa onto her body. This is life here in Sarandí del Yí. I've killed about 8 spiders in as many days. Don't worry though-- I got the biggest one and put it in a jar so I can show you when I get home. I know you wanted to see it...

Better news: BAUTISMO!!! María Gopar was baptized and confirmed on Sunday, right after the church meetings ended. The reason I haven't talked about her before is because I barely knew her. She is the good friend (almost "adopted" daughter) of our mission leader's family. She had already been taught everything and then went on vacation for a week the day after I got here. I only got to meet her for one lesson and at her baptismal interview. Fortunately I'll be here to teach her all the retention lessons, so we'll be best friends in no time. She's 19 and amazing. I sang "I Stand All Amazed" at her baptismal service.

IT IS SO HOT. Fortunately we have a fan, and the sacrament meeting room has air conditioning. It's the first chapel I've seen outside Montevideo that has controled temperatures.

I'll tell you a little about the animals here. We have a cat. Kind of. It's against the rules to have pets, but this tiny kitten appeared in our back yard one day and I feel too bad to throw it out into the street. It's too young to have any chance at all of survival. So we let it be in the back yard for now while we try and find someone to take it in. In case you were wondering--. no one wants cats. :(
There are frogs here. I very rarely have seen live frogs here. In my first area they were everywhere, but they only came out at night and got run over by cars. In the morning they would be dead all over the road (I know, it's disgusting). But here they're everywhere. Small ones. Big ones. Ugly ones. They get in our house and hide under the microwave, under the suitcases, and in the space in the ceiling above my desk. Frogs everywhere.
There is an insect here called Chicharra that sings when it gets really hot-- which is all the time. I say that they sing, but that's just what people say they do. It's a high-pitched trilling noise that gets louder the hotter it gets. Some days it's deafening.

My watch broke, which has been a huge annoyance. Not only do I not know the time, but now have a brilliant white tanline on my wrist where my watch used to live. It has found a temporary home in my bag until I can figure out how to fix it.

Sorry this letter hasn't been very spiritual thus far. We continue to both see success and challenges in inviting people to come unto Christ. I have learned a lot about patience and mercy already from being in this area. I have been working on a talk called "12 Keys to Building Faith unto Power." Ít suggests working on one of the 12 keys every week during the mission. Since I only have about that much left I thought I should get to work on it. The first three are 1 - Stop complaining and murmuring. 2 - Commit to 100% obedience and 3 - Prayer, which are the three I've been working on the past three weeks. It's not easy. Faith is a spiritual gift, and as such can only be obtained by asking our Father in Heaven. Today I read, "I have yet to discover a scripture that suggests that the Lord will give us what we desire even if we do not ask for it." Did you know that the phrase "Ask, and ye shall receive" is state 233 times in the standard works? It must be important.

It was so good to see the family at Christmas. I hope you know how much I love you and pray for you.

Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter # 65 12/23/2013 Sarandí del Yí‏

Dearest Friends and Family,
I write to you once again from the Tres Cruzes mall in Montevideo. Things have been crazy for the past week. This is what happened:

Tuesday - Packing, saying goodbye to people, more packing, shopping, more packing.

Wednesday - Transfers. We had to get up extra early so I could finish packing. We also had the Christmas conference. Every zone in our mission prepared a musical number, and then all the valientes (that's what we call the people going home in their last transfer) bore their testimonies. They were only allotted up to 2 minutes, but missionaries talk a lot so they took about 6-8 minutes each. Between all that and the choir and the talks by President and Hermana Newsome, we were there for 3 hours in the conference. But then we had a delicious Christmas dinner to make up for it, plus I got a photo with all my mission buddies who were in the MTC with me. Then we got on the bus and traveled until dark to the city of Durazno to stay the night at a member's house because it was too late to travel to the area.

Thursday - Got up at 4 to catch the bus to Sarandí del Yí, had weekly planning, then went out to work. Placed a baptismal date! Lucía! Woohoo! Also met a progressing investigator, María, who will be baptized on the 29th! Woohoo!

Friday -. Normal day. We had the ward end-of-year dinner, so I got to meet a lot more members. While we were leaving, Hermana West (who lives in our house with us) was making a grand exit, waving her hat in the air and telling everyone to go to church on Sunday. She turned to leave and made the most spectacular fall I think I've ever seen. She skinned her knee on the concrete, but insisted she was fine. Poor thing-- as always I think your pride gets injured more than whatever is bleeding... We then ran home because we were late, and made me wait until after planning to clean and dress her knee. Good thing I have a first aid kit!

Saturday - Got up at 4 again to catch the bus back to Durazno for our District meeting. We'll have to do that every week, so I guess I'll get used to it. After the district meeting we barely caught our bus to Montevideo, because I'm in the choir. The stake in Montevideo put on a big concert in the temple parking lot and it was really cool. Rumor has it they are going to make a DVD of it, but I'll give you updates when I know for sure. We stayed in the temple hostel, after the event was over at 11:30.

Sunday - Woke up at 4 again because the sisters in our room at the hostel had to travel back to their areas. We stayed because we're too far away to go and come back. We went to church in the chapel near the temple and almost fell asleep during the Sacrament. It's been a while since that happened! After church the mission gave us lunch and we went out to work again for a few hours. We found this awesome guy who accepted to be baptized. Unfortunately he's from Canelones, so I'll have to pass the info over to a different zone. He's awesome. If we hadn't had to come to Montevideo, maybe he never would have been found. We had another performance that night and went to bed again at 11:45.

Monday - Woke up at 6 to clean our room, finally left the hostel. We traveled to Tres Cruzes and now I'm emailing you all. Now we have to go to the doctor because my companion has a checkup today, then we'll be traveling for the rest of the day. Hopefully we'll make it home before midnight...

I am very tired, but never to tired to count my blessings! I am so grateful for this mission, for my life, for the opportunity to sing-- although I much rather would have been in my area, we have a lot of work to do. I am so thankful for my companion, for the other hermanas, for President Newsome, for EVERYTHING!

I love you all and hope you are well.

Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Picture: Missionaries of San Carlos

Missionaries of San Carlos on our last day together:

Letter # 64 12/17/2013 Ola de Calor‏

Dear Friends and Family,
Thank you for the pictures!!!! You all look so good! But Christopher-- what's going on with the mustache?
Well, transfers happened, and I'm leaving San Carlos. NOOOO!! But it's ok, really it is. I'm going to Sarandí del Yí, Durazno, with Hermana Peña from Colombia. Mom, if you want to try to get in contact with families or individuals you knew in Bogotá, you can just send me the info and she can ask her family. You never know...
These transfers are strange for me because my whole mission (minus 6 months or so) I've been training or my companions have been relatively new missionaries. Hermana Peña was in the MTC with me, so we have almost the same amount of time on the mission. I also lived with her when we were in a house of 4 in La Paz. I'll let you know more about the area and the branch/ward when I get there.
I'm pretty excited for the Christmas conference we'll have tomorrow. The choir will be performing, and I'm singing in a quartet. We have a surprising amount of musical talent in our mission. I'll try to get someone to record it so you can see it when I get home-- I can't send videos by email because the file is too big.
Speaking of videos-- I can watch videos so, Michelle, if you want to send me a video of Ethan's songs, I can watch them!
We went to La Barra today, which is a tourist spot on the beach near San Carlos. It's super pretty. A member in our ward is building a house out there so she offered to be our guide. There are crabs EVERYWHERE! If someday I can take my family to Uruguay, we're going there. We could only spend a little while there, because I have to pack and clean and visit all the members. I've never been so NOT excited to leave an area. It's a new adventure, and of course I will embrace it, but I feel so at home in San Carlos, and I feel like for the first time I have a strong relationship with the members here. I love them so much. And their food is DELICIOUS! Plus we have a firm baptism set for the 28th of December that I'll miss. Keep Inés Pereira in your prayers! She needs to stop smoking. And now I'm off to the countryside, closer to the interior, so things will at least be a lot cheaper!
Love you all so much! Take care!
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, December 9, 2013

Letter # 63 12/09/2013 ¿Te Extrañas?‏

Dear Friends and Family,
I think I miss you all more today than I ever have.
Some great things are happening, but I don't have much time to write about it all.
1 - I am in a choir that is going to perform for the mission christmas devotional. Fun! I almost forgot (almost) how much I love and miss singing. It's been a great and rewarding experience.
2 - Changes are coming up and I'll probably get transfered out of San Carlos. Here's hoping I don't have to leave! I love it here!
3 - It's raining today. What a relief! I love it when it rains on PDAY because we don't have to be out WALKING in it.
4 - One of the other sisters in the mission lent me her copy of the General Conference report-- GOLDEN! I'm taking advantage of every opportunity to read as much as possible before I have to give it back.
In other news, the church down here is so different! Hermana Linnell and I were walking the other day and we stopped a nice-looking middle-aged lady. Before we could even tell her we were missionaries, she pulled down her shirt to reveal her garment sleeve, saying, "No no no!! I'm already one of you!!" We were a little taken aback. Without even breaking her stride, she walked rapidly away. Haven't seen her before, nor since that experience.
The sad thing is that's not the first time that's happened to me...
Love you forever!
Hermana Phillips

Pictures: Christmas and Baptism

 The baptism photo is with Elda, our recent convert. <3

We were in a mall this week that was all decorated for Christmas, and they had a bunch of christmas trees decorated with-- Ladybugs. What?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Letter # 62 12/02/2013 Día de Gracias‏

Dear Family and Friends,
I had a pretty good Thanksgiving-- of course it's not the same without family and pumpkin pie, but I did get to celebrate. We had a conference for all the sister missionaries and at the end they surprised us with a turkey dinner! It was so good! The senior couple that was in charge of it is amazing. They go home in a few weeks, so they wanted to do something really nice to say goodbye, I guess. I love them! God must really love, me, because He made sure I got Thanksgiving TWICE in a part of the world where they don't even celebrate it.
So this is what I'm thankful for this month (and in general):
- A mission president and mission president's wife who love and care about me and are 100% converted to serving the Lord in all things.
- A companion who is patient with my shortcomings and also cheerfully obeys the laws of the gospel and the rules of the mission.
- A bishop who is super patient with our Spanish and helps us out with our house.
- A ward mission leader who is dedicated and also has a lot of great ideas.
- That our first Sunday of the month class on missionary work went well. We taught the entire ward how to commit their friends to going to activities/listen to the missionaries and how to bear simple testimony in a missionary lesson. We did practices, and they are now pros.
- San Carlos.
- My wonderful friends and the righteous lives that they live, the lights that they are to others (including me) and their faith in Jesus Christ.
- My amazing mom. There isn't enough space here to talk about her, and I don't want to start crying.
- My amazing dad. See above.
- My amazing sister Michelle and her family.
- My amazing sister Lisa.
- My amazing sister Desiree and her family.
- My amazing little sister Jackie.
- My filtered waterbottle, without which I would surely die.
- The 6 people we placed baptismal dates with this week. Maybe they won't make their goals, maybe they will, but they will all remember that they once felt the Spirit and were inspired to act.
- Mormon Messages. Seriously, I love them.
- Being Mormon. It is the BEST.
- Temples.
- A camera to capture the precious moments and memories.
I could go on.
What are you thankful for?
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, November 25, 2013

Letter # 61 11/25/2013 Tres Cruces‏

Dear Friends and Family,
I write to you from Montevideo. Today Hermana Linnell had to sign her residency so we're in the terminal waiting for our bus. Two hours here, two hours back. Tomorrow we have a conference here, so we'll have to return-- two hours there, two hours back. So I'll at least have some time to catch up on my journal. I'll need the time, because a lot has happened.
Elda Ricardi got baptized on Saturday!!!!!! I love her so much! Like Hermana Linnell keeps saying, the angels did a really good job preparing her, because we feel like we didn't really do anything. That's how it is when you're teaching someone prepared. When people open their hearts to let the Spirit in there's really not much else to do. Keeping commitments becomes no problem. Now we'll be working to retain her in the church and help her daughter come back to church as well. (If you want to pray for her too, her name is Eva Cardozo)
We are currently teaching a golden family: Federico, Cecilia, Nicolas Federico, and Belén. Amazing little family. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have found a family to teach. The only obstacle seems to be finding them all together. They work a lot.
Yesterday it was SO HOT. You'll probably read that phrase a lot in the next couple of months. I need to start wearing my hat again, even though I look a little funny; it's better to look a little funny than to pass out of heat exhaustion. Mom-- every time I put sunscreen on my ears I remember you, because at home when we would go on hikes I always forgot. Almost without warning you would grab me and put sunscreen on my ears. I guess that's a weird thing to remember, but it's the little things that make me think of home.
We have talked to an unusually large number of people who are devout members of other churches, in recent days. Not that that's bad-- I'm happy to talk to people of other religions. It's just frustrating when the conversation turns into them inviting me to their church. That must be how they feel, I imagine. We stopped some ladies in the street the other day, and I wanted to give them one of our pass-along cards with Jesus on it. The first one took it, but the second one practically leaped back and said-- very offended-- "No, I don't accept images of God. Jesus asked us not to worship graven images." I felt bad for offending her, and even though I explained that it wasn't to worship, but to remember our message, she refused. So I gave her the pass-along card with the nice-looking family on it instead. Later that day we passed by an evangelical church that was holding its worship service with all the doors open: there were the three ladies, preaching into microphones. Awkward.
I love you so much and hope you are doing well.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter # 60 11/18/2013 Ayuno de el Pedir‏

Dear Friends and Family,
As I'm sure many of you have noticed, God does not often answer prayers in the way we would hope or expect. We are taught that God answers prayers according to His will, in His way, and on His timing. This past week as I explained this principle in a lesson with a less-active family, the mom suddenly turned to me and asked, "So... what's the point of praying, if God's just going to do what He wants anyway?"
I was a little taken off-guard. However, I remember thinking exactly the same thing a few years ago. If our will can't possibly change the will of the Lord, why would we even try? My personal study this week has been inspired by this question.
In my head I often compare life to a school. School is hard, and sometimes we feel like we can't solve the problems presented. There's always someone with better grades than us, and sometimes we feel like we're graded unfairly. But in this school, one thing is of ultimate importance: our relationship with the teacher. (This comparison works a lot better in Spanish because "teacher" and "Master" are the same word and it's easier to insert the Savior's role into the metaphor.)
If the teacher and the student never communicate, the student can sit through the entire semester and never understand mitosis or long division, etc. The teacher can teach all He wants and all He knows, but it will never benefit the student if he doesn't try to work with the teacher to figure it out.
That's prayer. No matter how many times I told my chemistry teacher that I didn't understand ions (still don't) or thought they were dumb and useless, it didn't change the fact that ions exist and that they are a fundamental part of understanding chemistry. My teacher couldn't change the principles of chemistry that hold the world together, although if he could I'm sure Mr. Gritton would have done so to ease my suffering.
In like manner, no matter how many times I ask the Lord to change something about my life, about myself, or about my investigators, He is not going to change His plan or alter the forces that keep the universe together. He will not change the things in our lives that will perfect us and help us fulfill our purpose for being there anyway. We have to pass the final, and this is the homework that will prepare us.
As much as I hated school, it is a metaphor for life.
I still believe in miracles through prayer, but sometimes I think we think about it the wrong way. This week I have been "fasting" from asking for things in my prayers. Only thanking. I have felt the love of God more, and seen my faith grow exponentially.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, November 11, 2013

Letter # 59 11/11/2013 Bebés Alrededor del Mundo‏

Dear Family and Friends,
I may have already mentioned this, but even so it never ceases to amaze me how different people's lives are-- how different we all are.

My sweet newest nephew was born a few weeks ago, and he will grow up in a loving, caring, gospel-centered home where his parents will teach him about Jesus Christ. I have every reason to believe that Luke will grow up to be a worthy priesthood holder and enjoy the blessings of raising his own family, which he will do after the pattern he learned from righteous parents.
Yesterday we tried to visit an investigator's family, who just welcomed a tiny baby into their home, a little boy named Santino. They are very poor, and are not married. When we arrived the dad greeted us and asked us to come back later. He said his wife was sleeping, and he couldn't talk to us then because he was "a little drunk." Later that day we got to see the baby, and he radiated with the same baby innocence that all babies have.
As I reflected on the experience later, the Spirit penetrated my heart and taught me a very important truth. Although Santino's parents obviously love him very much, the only thing they have to rely on are the natural instincts of care-giving and mother- and father-hood. I understood a little bit more about why my function as a missionary is so vital. Families need the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is only by applying the basic principles of that wonderful, perfect plan that we can achieve joy and happiness in this life; otherwise we are left to our own devices, our own vices, and the deceptions of the devil and humanity's flawed philosophies.
There are so many people who "are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it," nor are they willing to listen to two North-American girls in skirts.  People are suspicious of religion and religious representatives. The importance of member missionary work is incalculable. What they are not willing to listen to from missionaries suddenly becomes easier to hear from a loving friend, a neighbor, teacher, or whatever other important role we play. We ALL have people within our sphere of influence who could be blessed by our invitation to hear the glorious truth of the restored Gospel.
I had a nightmare last night that I was in the airport coming home my mission. My dream-self was panicking, wishing for more time. I woke up and thought how silly that was. When you're a missionary, you're set apart from the world and given a special calling. When you're released you are placed back into the world with more greater knowledge, greater understanding, and greater conviction than you could possibly have gained on your own. You only become a different kind of missionary, released into the world to continue to do good and serve the Lord. To paraphrase Elder Holland, after such a life-changing experience, how could anyone just go back to fishing? Although the mission experience is sacred and singular, it is not meant to be isolated or confined to 18 months or 2 years.
The more I am here the more I understand the continued call to "bring the world His truth." It is so much more than we can comprehend.
Thank you for your support and your prayers.
Love you forever!
Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Letter # 58 11/05/2013 Salud, Dinero, Amor. Check.‏

Dear Family and Friends,
We found out about transfers, and I'll be staying here with Hermana Linnell for another change! The elders that also serve in the ward here are being whitewashed out and another companionship of sisters will be replacing them. One of them is an oro, and her trainer, Hermana Sandoval, is only a few changes younger than me in the mission. It's weird for me to think that most of the missionaries are now much younger than me in the mission. Is this how it is to grow old?
Belén and Milagros were not baptized on Saturday. We're working on a few problems that came up the day before the baptism; I happened to not be there that day because we were doing an intercambio, and everything went wrong while I was gone. The hermana I switched areas with felt so bad-- she kept apologizing and even started crying. She said that she felt like she had undone all of our hard work, but I truthfully told her that if I had adequately prepared nothing would have gone wrong. Poor thing, she goes home tomorrow. I'm the one who should feel bad for ruining her last week in the mission.
We finally went to the zoo because during transfer week we have PDay on Tuesday instead of Monday. I forgot my camera cord, so pictures will have to wait. We almost got spit on by an enraged llama, though, if you can picture that one.
Thanks for the pictures of Luke! I LOVE HIM SO MUCH ALREADY! I can't wait to hold him.
My ONLY wish for Christmas is to see everyone on the other side of the computer screen. We're not allowed to call more than once (more than one house), so I can't Skype mom and dad, then Michelle and Dan, then Christopher and Desiree, then Lisa, and so forth. So that's my Christmas wish: To see ALL the family. My love for you all has grown so much while I've been away, and I miss you all. I hope to see you all soon.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, October 28, 2013

Letter #57 10/28/2013 "Lunes Cerrado Para Mantenimiento‏"

Dear Family and Friends,
It's been almost another transfer here in San Carlos, and I love it! Tomorrow we have a meeting in Montevideo for the trainers and oros, and I can't believe that Hermana Linnell has already been my companion for an entire 6 weeks. She's really awesome.
We went to the zoo today, but when we got there, we discovered that it is only closed on Mondays (our PDAY) for maintenance. Hence the subject line of this email. Hermana Linnell loves zoos, so even though this one is quite small, especially compared to what she's used to in San Diego, she was pretty disappointed. So I made her a flower crown to make up for it-- Hermana Phillips in her natural habitat.
So... I haven't received any baby pictures yet of my new nephew. Not to be a complainer, but I need to meet him. Ever since I found out Luke was born I have wanted nothing but to hold him. But since I can't do that, I NEED PICTURES!!
In other news, Belén and Milagros will be baptized this week! We're obviously really excited. They're really sweet girls. Now we just need to work on their parents. What is with this place and not getting married? I'm fairly certain that more than half the families we meet have unmarried parents. It's alright. We just can't baptize them-- yet.

What else happened this week?

I almost got eaten by a pack of dogs a few days ago. Encounters with dogs are a daily occurence-- for example, Hermana Linnell almost got a chunk bitten off her arm on the way to the computer place today. But on this particular occasion, about thirty to forty dogs ran at me from behind this lady's house, thirsty for my blood. We were just walking by! I had nothing to defend myself but the trusty Libro de Mormón I always have in my hand and as I was running I made a few swipes at the closest one. Then, here's the best part: the owner runs out from behind her house yelling in Spanish, "Don't run! The don't do anything!" She says this as I'm facing her shaggy mutt of a dog with matted hair, snarling and trying to get my ankles. I thought I was going to die. Thankfully, the Lord protects His missionaries, and I'm fine.
While we were visiting a less-active couple, the Silveiros, Hermano Silveiro wanted to have me listen to a song he wrote on the piano. So we did, and it turned into a talent show. His wife played the piano. She's pretty incredible. She's a pianist, but while she was on her mission in Argentina, she got run over by a bus-- and lived, of course, but broke her left hand in seven places, among other things. She had the surgeon repair her hand in such a way that her fingertips were permanently curved as to be able to touch the piano keys. She completely re-learned, accomodating for her left hand, and now plays beautifully. I sang and she played, and her husband recorded us doing "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" (the one by President Hinckley).
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, October 21, 2013

Letter #56 10/21/2013 "Pasen otro día, capaz..."‏

Dear Family and Friends,

I'm sending pictures!
We're pretty excited about some upcoming baptisms. I'll let you know about those when they happen-- I can't jynx it. But if you want to pray for my investigators, these are the ones who have baptismal dates in upcoming weeks:

2nd of November - Milagros (13)
9th of November - Belén (8)
9th of November - Tony (
Prayers on their behalf would be much appreciated. Our biggest challenge, as always, is getting people to church. We are also concerned about Milagros and Belén, because they are young girls and will have difficulty remaining active once we leave because their families are not members. We are having a lesson today with Belén and her mom so-- prayers for that!
There's not a lot to report today, so I'll talk about the ward. Our ward is pretty small-- the total attendance this week was 56. All of the auxiliary and priesthood quorum presidencies are shorthanded. There were no active young women when we got here, and there are 2 active young men. We had a fun Young Women's activity last Thursday and I taught them how to make origami flowers. Belén came, even though she's only 8. I never thought I'd have to be able to explain how to do origami in Spanish. Vocab like "crease" and "flatten" weren't things they taught us in the MTC. I found myself saying "hagalo así" (do it like this) a lot. It was small but it was the first activity that I have successfully thought of, organized, and pulled off by myself (with the support of my companion and other leaders of course). It gave me more confidence to do other activities.
I'm thinking of starting a ward choir. I've talked to a lot of our less-actives and even a lot of investigators that don't want much to do with us anymore, and I think there would be a fair turnout. If I can convince one of the less-actives who is a piano teacher to come be the pianist, we might sound fairly good, too. I'm nervous to try, but it looks like God wants this to happen, and as they said in conference, when you're on the Lord's errand, you CAN'T fail. So I hope to be reporting positive results on that.
I also hope to be seeing some beautiful baby and wedding photos pretty soon too!
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, October 14, 2013

Letter #55 10/14/2013 "Herviendo el Chancho‏"

Dear Family and Friends,
I am currently on an English Fast (I'm not allowed to speak English for the rest of the transfer cycle) but I'll make an exception for those who'd find it hard to understand
This week has been really good. We had an intercambio (division) with the Hermana Trainers this week, and we saw a lot of miracles-- literally. I think we met two people named Milagros (Spanish for "miracles") and one of them has a baptismal date. Usually people who are named Milagros have an interesting story behind their name: they either almost died as children and were miraculously saved, or were an unplanned pregnancy. The girl we taught actually was declared dead as a baby before she miraculously came back to life. Hence the name.
The work is really starting to pick up. I won't go too into detail because I don't want to jynx it. I love being a missionary, even with all it's many ups and downs. I love it with all my heart. We have been guided by the Spirit this week-- yesterday we got lost and it turned out really well. We "by chance" ran into about three people that had dropped off the radar and we'd been looking for for weeks. Then we found a fantastic lady named Cristina :) who has a baptismal date. I love that moment right after a miracle happens: as my companion and I walk away we look at each other, and we don't even have to say anthing but "WOW."
Also I looked out the window yester day, and what did I see? The bishop's family was boiling an entire pig's head. See the photo below. I talked to the grandma and she said that they are going to make cheese inside it. Gross. Uruguay's weirdness will never cease to amaze me.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, October 7, 2013

Letter #54 10/07/2013 "¡Pon tu hombro a la lid!‏"

Dear Friends and Family,
The weather is getting really hot again. The thing I'm mostly excited about is the prospect of having dry clothing. During the winter it takes days for clothes to dry (we don't have dryers) and I usually just gave up for lack of clean clothing and was wearing it damp. Gross. But now it's time for the sunscreen to come out because I don't want to look the same way I did last summer (red) or get skin cancer. Luckily, the Zone Leaders approved my hat. It's darling.

A quick update on our investigators:

The ones we couldn't find came back. Maria Pia was actually in the countryside with her grandma, so my companion was right-- I really do need to have more faith in people.
The ones we went to look for in the hospital (Yeni, pronounced "Sheni", and Javier) were actually having to travel back and forth from Maldonado (the big city closest) and working a lot. I hope we can start teaching them again, but it's complicated.

My favorite family is really struggling. The mom, Inès is a member and is my age, and has a 2 year old boy, Tiago. The dad, Darwin, is an investigator. They are having many difficulties. If everyone could *please* remember them in their prayers, I know that they would really appreciate it. As would I.
There is a ward member here named Elena Figueredo who is one of my favorite people in the world now. She served a mission in Argentina with very little family support. When she came home she began taking care of a little baby named Daniela full time. That little baby was (is) super special. When people say "special" here they mean disability or handicap. Elena has taken care of Daniela for over fifteen years, almost all of her life. Although Elena has never married, she finds so much joy in Daniela as the center of her universe, and is an inseperable part of their family. Recently, Daniela's father died suddenly of cancer, and their family is dealing with a lot of grief.
Elena loves being a missionary and comes with us almost every sunday, her only day off. She is a huge support to me, she's like my senior companion, which I really have needed recently. I don`t know why they keep giving me new missionaries to be my companions (although I'm not complaining because every companion I have had has blessed my life and opened my perspective and expanded my capacity to love deeply) because I have never been a very good leader. Anyway, this weekend I have been especially grateful to have a senior companion at least some of the time to rely on.
I haven't even started talking about General Conference yet. There were so many answers to prayer and I have two minutes to finish this email. I thought of so many people during the talks. I agree with mom, six months is NOT enough time to apply even a small fraction of what was taught.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Letter #53 09/24/2013

My Dear Family and Friends,
I'm sorry that I don't have very much time. I have to do some other really important things during my already limited time on the computer, so I'll start uploading some photos for you instead. I love you and continue to pray for you.
The transfer cycle just ended, and my beloved companion is leaving... for my first area, Ferroviario! I'm so excited for her. I'm very sad she's leaving.
I will be staying in San Carlos. I will be training. Here's to new adventures!
Hermana Phillips

Monday, September 23, 2013

LDS Church in Uruguay

The Church has many country specific websites. You can access the site for Uruguay here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter #52 09/16/13

Dear Family and Friends,
Last week I wrote about the "Santa Rosa" (tropical storm) that happened last week. Apparently Saint Rose heard me and decided to show her true colors. It's been raining for four days straight, and is forecasted to last for a few more days, with strong winds. My umbrella broke yesterday from the wind so I am mostly using it as a polka-dotted shield in front of me, because the rain here falls sideways. I finally heard the story about why it's called Santa Rosa: In the early days of the colonies in Uruguay, the Dutch or the English or French (the member lady who told me couldn't remember which, but it's one of the three) came to invade. The inhabitants along the coast prayed to Saint Rose to protect them. In response, she sent a huge storm that prevented the Dutch/English/French ships from landing. I understand-- in a storm like this I'd give up trying to invade Uruguay too. Fortunately, I'm preaching the gospel instead, and God is more powerful than any storm.
Saint Rose also seems to be against investigators coming to church. We have been teaching a great young couple who in our last lesson invited themselves to church without us even bringing up the subject. We passed by on Saturday night to see if they were still coming and Javier came out and greeted us with a broken wrist. We went inside the house to find Yeni, his girlfriend, lying in bed looking weak and yellowish. Apparently she had passed out shortly before we got there and were about to leave for the hospital. We said a prayer with them so everything would go well at the hospital, and that she would recuperate soon. I told them that if they felt better they were still welcome at church the next day, and Javier responded enthusiastically that they would do everything possible to come, which surprised me. They must have had something happen because they didn't show. We're going to visit them today to find out.
One of our strongest investigators (the one we found last week that was the miracle) dropped us on Sunday morning when we called to remind her about church.
I hate Satan.
Like my wonderful companion keeps saying, "Everything happens for a reason." I believe that too, it's just a little frustrating when we feel like we've done everything we can and we don't immediately see the results. I understand a little bit more about how Heavenly Father and Jesus must feel when I do something I should, or don't do something I know I should. I imagine Christ thinking to Himself, "I suffered and died and gave everything for you, so you could be preaching My gospel. Please start Personal Study at 8:00 instead of 8:02. It's the least you could do." I'm not saying that I'm a disobedient missionary; there will always be things to improve, but the experiences this week have made me see with more clarity the great love that God has for every one of His precious children, and how sad he feels when they disobey or don't understand the consequences of their actions.
Anyway, a little about the ward:
Our bishop is really cool. He has one eye and works in construction. He has three kids, and they just got another dog: a German shepherd. Since they live right behind us and we share the same yard, I feel like we just got a new dog too! I also feel safer than ever to have two worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders in front and behind us.
There is a great brother in the ward named Leo, who teaches Sunday school every other week. He is wheelchair-bound and has trouble speaking, but I have never met anyone before with a testimony of Jesus Christ that seems to radiate so powerfully out of every part of his being.
The sister who coordinates our lunches every day is named Maruja, and she's like another grandma to me-- mi abuelita. She's one of the oldest members in the ward and is hard of hearing, and I think that about 75% of the time she just guesses what we're saying, because some of her responses are really out of context. Love her to death, though.
Speaking of old ladies, Bishop Machado's mother lives with them, and I am now convinced that she's no longer completely sane. She gave my  companion quite the scare our second week. At first we didn't have curtains, but we used to get dressed in the back room of our house that just has one window that looks out onto the bishop's patio, but it's placed in such a way that you don't naturally look into it as you pass by. My companion was changing and I was in the kitchen when I suddenly hear a loud gasp, followed by "Oh! Hola!" followed by old-woman laughter. Luckily, the bishop's mom had just popped her head in the window at exactly the moment my comp finished changing. Don't worry, we have curtains now.
Anyway, Love you all, hope all is well.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, September 9, 2013

Letter #51 09/09/2013

Dear Friends and Family,
We woke up Friday night to rain pounding furiously on our roof of corrugated metal. It rained all day Saturday and was blowing like crazy. The elders told us it was a "Santa Rosa," which means it would be raining with strong winds for at least four days. Three days later there's hardly a cloud in the sky, and the weather warmed up so much people are starting to walk around in their shorts and tank-tops-- minus the missionaries, of course, and everyone thinks we're crazy. When I looked up "Uruguay" on the internet before the mission, it said that the country is "susceptible to frequent weather changes." An understatement if I ever heard one.
This last week was full of challenges, ending with a beautiful tender mercy and answer to prayer. We began the week with a really high number of new investigators (30), but by Friday we had dropped almost all of them, or they had dropped us. The Lord is full of tender mercies, however, which we knew, so Hermana Nelson wisely suggested that we fast this Sunday. The first person that we talked to after ending our fast was an incredibly prepared single mom of three kids who believes strongly in God and in family values, and who now has a baptismal date for the end of this month. Without us even bringing up the subject, she informed us she would be coming to church, and she would be bringing her kids (all above age 8) with her. An incredible experience-- it humbled me and filled me with gratitude. I am so happy here and learning so much about myself and about the Lord.
I've also been seeing my ordinarily pessimistic attitude gradually changing, mostly due to my wonderful companion. She is always so happy and enthusiastic, and so aware and grateful for her blessings. She makes me play her "gratitude game" with her, in which we basically take turns naming our blessings until you run out of blessings. Of course, we're still not finished.
I've been reading "Our Heritage" in my personal study, and loving it. It shares so many stories of the incredible sacrifices made by the early saints. It's basically about how no one had food or clothes or money or a home, and had to travel thousands of miles. It's very humbling. I looked up from reading yesterday and looked around my house. I realized that there was literally nothing there that I could see that those early saints, much less those early missionaries had. When the sun is really hot and my feet hurt, I think, "At least I'm not walking barefoot over the sharp, frozen wilderness of Iowa to escape a Mormon-hating mob." It gives me a little comfort, and also motivation. That is not just the heritage of the church-- that is MY heritage. I come from a long line of noble disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ. Because they sacrificed so much, I am able to preach the gospel and become the means through which people can learn about the Savior's Atonement.
Mom, a few weeks ago you asked me to send you something for Grandma's birthday. I guess that's it-- a giant "THANK YOU." There are no words that can express how grateful I feel to my Father in Heaven for placing me in a family that loves me, keeps it's covenants, and is strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I was 15, I got my patriarchal blessing. In it, it states that "There are those who are very close to (me) who have been great examples of faith, endurance, and stability." Every day I begin to realize how true that is. My family is the greatest blessing the Lord has given me, apart from my testimony of Him.
Grandma, I love you. I love your love of the Lord, and I love your testimony of Him. Thank you for the countless hugs and kisses you gave to me as a little girl, a struggling teenager, and a confused young adult. Thank you for your faith in me and our family. Thank you for the numberless pounds of mashed potatoes. Thank you for the opportunity to make testimony gloves with you. Thank you for supporting me in my mission. Thank you for countless hours of fun with cousins that I had in your back yard and at the crater. All those blessings (and so many more that I can't even count because I only get an hour on the computer) were possible because of your personal righteousness and your faithfulness to your covenants. Thank you. You are a huge part of my heritage.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, September 2, 2013

Letter #50 09/02/2013

These past two weeks have been completely oposite of each other, but each has been really amazing. This week we had an intercambio with Hermana Neufer and Hermana Figueroa, who are two of the Traveling Sisters of our mission. Also I completed a year on Friday! And, for the first time in my mission we completed *almost* all our weekly goals. We actually went over on most of them. I normally try not to stress out about numbers, because they are simply not the most important thing, but in this case I'll use them to illustrate the hand of God. He really heard my prayers and after each one followed a tender mercy designed to increase my faith and my love for Him. I truly do love my Heavenly Father and my Savior; every day I find that love growing more and more.

Along with that thought, last week was particularly hard for Hermana Nelson and I, as far as the numbers were concerned. It was probably the lowest of my mission. Even so, that Sunday night after verification talking to a disappointed district leader, I felt the best I ever had at the end of any week out of the past 52. I had tried my best that day and the days before to bear pure testimony of Jesus Christ, felt the Spirit so strongly and been guided by it, and I felt that my faith had grown and my love for God had expanded in ways that before I hadn't considered. Hermana Nelson felt the same. We spent some time talking and came up with the following True Key Indicators by which we now evaluate our work every day, along with the normal ones:

1- Have I testified of Jesus Christ?
2- Have I helped someone in need?
3- Am I exhausted but happy?
4- Have I felt the Spirit today?
5- Do I love the members, the people I teach, my companion and the Lord more today than I did yesterday?

This week I can honestly answer "yes" to each of those True Key Indicators. A phrase from a blessing I received in the mission has also become a theme for our companionship and our work: "You will know that you are being successful by the feelings you will have." That is so true.
Here are a couple of experiences from our time here in San Carlos:
Two Sundays ago we decided to spend the last precious hour of our week singing to the patients. The scriptures keep urging us to "raise our voices" and we wanted to try something we've never done before. We only got to be with one family, and we couldn't sing because their precious two-year-old boy was sleeping, recovering from surgery. As we stood in the doorway, the mom told us we couldn't sing, but if we had a message to share to please come in and share it-- which we gladly did. It was the mom, who was evangelical, and her parents, who are catholics. Her father was actually a deacon for the catholic church. I'm not 100% positive what that means, but it sounds impressive. I shared Alma 7:11-13 which talks about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and bore my testimony of Him. My companion went next. By the time we were done, every person in the room (except the sleeping baby) had born testimony of the Savior. The Spirit in that room was so strong, and I was so grateful for the opportunity to hear the testimoies of others from different denominations about the same person.
We've been visiting a young family-- Darwin (investigator), Inès (member) and their baby, Santiago ("Slash"). They are struggling financially, and have been struggling just to eat for about two weeks now. We talked to the bishop about them but I wasn't sure he was very interested in our investigators. Last week Hermana Nelson and I had a special fast for them. On Saturday, we visited Inés, and she looked much better, saying that the bishop had stopped by that day. As we sang the opening song, "There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today," I saw something out of the corner of my eye out the open doorway. When I turned my head, there was Bishop Machado, his wife, and 6-year-old daughter, laden down with grocery bags full of things for a young family. Hermana Nelson and I couldn't finish the hymn because there were tears running down our faces. They looked just like angels. Inès was beaming as well. I love this work with all my heart.
I know that a lot of you, family and friends, are struggling with huge trials right now. I know that sometimes it feels like we are blocked at every turn, that we have no way out, or that the world is coming down on top of us. Please know that I love you and I am praying for you. I love you so much and I know that Heavenly Father loves you so much infinitely more. He knows you. Watch and wait patiently for the tender mercies, which God bestows upon all who faithfully follow Him.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Letter #49 08/26/2013

Dear Friends and Family,
I love life so much right now, it's hard to contain. I forgot my camera or I would send you photos of the area, my companion and our house and our ward-- everything!
First, about the area:
We are whitewashing and opening a new area, which means we got here and had next to nothing to work with, but since the area was just split we took over teaching some of the elders' investigators. There is one amazing couple, Darwin and Inés. Inés is a member who has been inactive for years, and Darwin is her boyfriend. They have an adorable little boy named Santiago (more frequently called "Slash"-- so cute!) It's crazy that they're my age.They have an interesting story. Darwin is trying to stop smoking and doing drugs, and for a few years I think he was going to an evagelical church to help him stop, which he did manage to do. He went to Dios Universal, which was also in my other area. It looks more like a business than a church to me, because instead of walls in the front it has glass windows. Anyway he went to church five times a week to help him overcome his addictions. A few months ago he started attending a different evangelical church called Capanas del Cielo ("Bells of Heaven"). The people there do something special to get blessings they say, but to me I looks exactly like the devil's casino. You sell the biggest thing you have, your car, your motorcycle, TV, house-- everything-- and give the money to the church. You put yourself completely "in the hands of God." In return, God supposedly turns your life around and showers you with blessings and you live happily ever after. So that's what Darwin did, but a few days after his girlfriend's mom (who is an active member) got wind of what they'd done and went crazy, saying that how could they do something so foolish, etc. She also sent them a scripture from the bible that said that obedience is better than sacrifice. That's when the doubts started. Then Darwin lost his job. And that's when another member sent the missionaries to them. They really are a great couple. Prayers on their behalf are much needed.

My companion, Hermana Nelson is amazing. She motivates me so much! She just finished her training and I am loving every minute being in San Carlos working with her! The other day we went running, and I was doing great-- until I stepped off a curb. You'd think it'd be nothing, right? But as I stepped off the sidewalk onto the road I think I pulled or twisted or did something to my lower back. The pain got worse and worse for the rest of the morning and by the time we were done with comp study at 10 I couldn't even sit. I had to lay in my bed all day. That was two days ago. Yesterday my back hardly hurt at all and I could go out and work but today it's been acting up. Not sure what to do. My district leader (now nicknamed the "Hawaiian Medicine Man") let me use some of his DoTerra essential oils, which helped a lot.
I am really learning so much here and I love life and I love my area and I love my companion and I love GOD!
Yesterday we went to a hospital to sing to some of the patients there-- I wanted to try something new and the scriptures are always urging us to "lift up our voices." We found this incredible family-- one evangelical and two catholics. The grandpa was a deacon in the catholic church. We shared a scripture about the Atonement from the Book of Mormon, and the spirit was incredible. By the end, every person in the room had borne pure testimony of Jesus Christ, and I felt like He was standing there with us. We said a prayer, they gave us their heartfelt gratitude, and we left. It was one time I have felt almost worthy to wear the name of Jesus Christ next to my heart.
The experiences I've had in this area have made me reevaluate what really are the "Key Indicators" we should pay attention to.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, August 19, 2013

Letter #48 08/19/2013


In district meeting our district leader talked about a parable. It's called "Kill the Cow." Trust me, it sounds even weirder in Spanish, but it's a true principle. I'll tell you the story.

A young man was finishing his training with his wise mentor. For the final lesson to his diligent student, the wise man took him to the house of a very poor family. The wise man took his student to the barn and where they found the poor family's only cow, upon which they depended heavily. The wise man said to his student that for the final lesson, they had to kill the cow. The young man was very confused, but in the end he did as his mentor instructed. The wise man and the young man parted ways.

Two years later, the man came back to the poor family's house. However, instead of finding the humble home there was in its place a much better house. Surely the family moved, the man thought, and he knocked on the door to inquire what had become of the poor family that had lived there previously. The owner of the house, however, told the man that they were the same family that had lived there for years, it was just that two years ago someone had killed their cow, their only source of income. As a result, they had had to find other ways to provide, and those other ways turned out to be much better than just getting by on their one cow. They were now quite well off, thanks to whoever killed their cow.
This story has helped me a lot to recognize a lot of habits in my life, a lot of perceptions about myself and about the people around me that have worked in the past and that are good (and probably would continue to work) but that are also impeding my personal progress. So here's my challenge for you: find out what your cow is and kill it. You'll be so happy you did!

I tried sharing this parable in a lesson once. Goodbye Spirit...
Anyway, love you all, hope you have a great week!
Hermana Phillips

Third Area: San Carlos

San Carlos is on the southern coast, east of Montevideo. 

With a population of 27,000, San Carlos is the second largest city in the Maldonado Department. It was founded in 1763 by the Spanish governor to discourage Portuguese settlments in the area.

Historical sites include the oldest Catholic Church in Uruguay, Iglesia San Carlos Borromeo, built in 1763.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Letter #47 08/14/2013

Dear Friends and Family,
I got transferred! My new area is San Carlos B, and it is near the coast, north of Montevideo. We leave tomorrow morning. I will miss La Paz; I realized yesterday how much I love my investigators here, even though none of them got baptized. Sometimes you reap, and sometimes you sow. I am grateful for the relationships that I have formed here. Yesterday when I was in a lesson with Lourdes (who I´ve been teaching since April and can´t bring myself to drop) I told her that I might be leaving. Here eyes filled with tears and I was so surprised when she suddenly got up from her chair and ran and hugged me. Such a fantastic lady; she is so sweet. I´ll miss her a lot and keep praying that someday she´ll be able to get baptized.
Our zone got together and played for our last Pday. They made me play fútbol. Latinos are crazy good at this sport. I told them that if we loose it´s their own fault for making me play. I am seriously the worst. However, serving a mission in South America I just kind of have to get over it.
I don't know what this new transfer will bring. My new companion´s name is Hermana Nelson. I sat behind her in my ASL class during my last semester at the U of U, so we already kind of know her. She was trained by my trainer, so we´re sisters! She´s blond and really likes talking to everybody. I wonder what the ward in San Carlos will be like. I doubt anything could beat Barrio La Paz, though. Our bishop promised to come bring us ice cream tonight to wish us luck. This transfer was kind of tough living in a house of four missionaries. It was fun, but after three transfers, it's enough.
A few days ago I accompanied my housemate, Hermana Peña to the doctor in Montevideo because she had to have surgery. We stayed in the mission home that night and we got to know our new mission president, Presidente Newsome, and his family. They came with their youngest son, Reed, who is thirteen. It was really weird to wake up and have breakfast with them. Presidente is apparently extremely wealthy, but you´d never be able to tell-- he´s so down-to-earth and humble. Hermana Newsome is so willing and anxious to learn Spanish. After dinner we asked her if there was anything we could do for her and she said, "Yes, you can give me a Spanish lesson!" Then she went and got a piece of paper and a pencil and we helped her write out her testimony and a simple prayer. She´s really awesome. Reed is a typical thirteen-year-old boy and eats a Cajun seasoning called "Slap Ya Mama" on everything. They have a teacup Yorkie named Lucy that is officially the first lap dog that I´ve ever liked.
My first companion in the field, Hermana Vargas, finished her mission last week. Crazy how time flies. My one-year mark is in 17 days.
I love the gospel!
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Friday, August 9, 2013

Letter #46 08/09/2013

Dear Family and Friends,

I am writing to you from President Newsome's office. My house companion is sitting in his big chair. I'll tell you how we got here:
We live in a house of four and one of the other Hermanas had to have surgery on her eye today. It's been a long and tiring process, having to go back and forth from the doctor's office four times in the past three weeks. It's an hour and a half bus ride one way. Fortunately, the Pugmires, who are the senior missionary couple here, have been helping us with transportation. (Hermana Pugmire is the mission nurse and Elder Pugmire is in charge of fixing things in the missionary's houses-- Mom and dad, you guys would be really awesome missionaries. Just saying...)
Anyway, I'm supposed to just say hi and let you all know that I'm alive. I didn't write on Monday because I was stuck in a waiting room at the eye clinic all Pday.

Love you forever! Thank you so much for all your support and words of comfort.
Love, Hermana Phillips

Monday, July 29, 2013

Letter #45 07/29/2013

Queridos Familia y Amigos,

Is there ever a week that isn't eventful?

On Thursday last week our mission president was released and went back to the US. Our new mission president, President Newsome, will be coming in the last week of August. In the meantime, a bishop from a local ward in Montevideo is serving as our mission president; President Etchegaray Sabate (good luck with that one) has served as a mission president in Argentina and as an area 70, so I trust we're in good hands. We got to meet him on Sunday, as he made a special trip to see our Zone. He came to our area in La Paz on Sunday so we could know him and to see if there was anything he could do for us. It is good to know that the Church will always take care of us.

As we finish this transfer, and I see my one-year mark looming in the not-to-distant future, I find myself recalculating and readjusting my perspective on my mission, my area, my companions, and my life. Many missionaries that I've met here served "mini-missions" before their full-time service; I wish I had known that was even an option. My decision to go on a mission would not have changed, but I would have been a lot more prepared. There is no way to transmit what it is like to be so tired in every aspect, so pressured and stressed, via photos and journal entries. There is no way to fully convey the disappointment of a missionary when all their investigators hang up on them on Sunday morning, not the elation of placing a baptismal date. It is all so much different than I thought it would be that until now I have been struggling and wondering if I'm doing it all wrong. As I keep telling the people I teach, it is Satan who puts those negative thoughts in your head-- don't listen to Satan! Through the personal frustration about lack of "success" in La Paz after three transfers, district and zone leaders trying not to sound disappointed over the phone during call-in reports, etc, I know that God cares about the one, that He is aware of His children, that we are numbered unto Him, and that we are graven in the palms of His hands.

Also, I'm getting bangs today. I hope it turns out! ;)

Also, Mormon Messages are awesome!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Letter #44 07/22/2013

Dear Friends and Family,

It's so cold! A few days ago we were walking around carrying our coats and complaining about our leggings. Now we're so bundled up I can hardly move!

This week has been awesome. The weeks when we have the most opposition and discouragement are often followed by big blessings. This week the blessings have come in the form of having 5 people committed to baptism next month, and progression with our *many* investigators who are not married. It's been tough not to have had a baptism since February, and I was really discouraged and distracted. It's one thing to have someone commit to being baptized, and another to help them actually arrive at that date.

Last night we went out to try and contact a few references, which is not that fun since on most of the streets here you can have #328 and #1221 right next to each other. You basically have to walk the entire length of the street to figure out that the address doesn't exist. There was one who was a less active that we've been trying to contact for a long time. Two different people from our ward had asked us to go find him, but he was never there, nor did his family have any interest in letting us in. We decided to stop by one last time before dropping the referral. We knocked on the door, and instead of the less-than-polite response we've had five times before, the mom (Jeni) asked us to come in. As we began to talk we discovered that while the missionaries had taught and baptized two of her sons (who are now inactive) she was never present in the lessons with them. As we talked more, she began to explain that she used to be very active in an evangelical church. Jeni has eight children that she is raising alone and their father now wants nothing to do with them. After the birth of her second handicapped child, she stopped going to her church and praying-- everything, for surely even if there was a God, that God had abandoned her. We asked her if she wants to see change in her life. She thought for a while and then said "Yes, that would be wonderful." We taught the simple doctrines of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We challenged to her to be baptized and she accepted a baptismal date for the 17th of August. She really is a remarkable lady and I hope that she will allow the Atonement to heal her and her family. Prayers on her behalf are much needed.

We recently had interviews with President Armstrong. His leaving is going to be really hard for me. Sometimes I feel like missionaries aren't necessarily called to a mission-- they are called to specific people. It also made me even more aware of how fast this precious time is flying. I am approaching my year mark. I'll be coming home at the end of February. As the mission handbook says, the time in which we have to serve the Lord with all our time and devoted efforts is extremely short.

Mom and dad, I was happy to hear about the good weekend you had with Ethan and Ryker and Jackie. That made me so happy to hear about Ethan teaching the Plan of Salvation! I'm so glad that you get to enjoy the temple so close! Mom-- one of my roommates is from Bogota, Colombia. I asked her if I got the names of some of your converts if she could help locate them, and she said she'd be happy to! Do you remember their names?

Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, July 15, 2013

Letter #43 07/15/2013

I felt like I should write to my home ward. If possible, Mom, could you have this one be read to our ward? Thanks.

But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
1 Nephi 1:20

Dear Family and Friends

Thank you so much for all the support, prayers, letters, emails, packages, and good thoughts that have been sent my way. I don't think that until now I have been as grateful as I should have been. I know that it is a sacrifice. I know that Heavenly Father has heard your prayers and honored your sacrifice, and that He, in His infinite mercy, is choosing to bless me and the people of Uruguay as a result. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.

Last week was an extremely difficult week for me. Where missionaries are the recipients of so many blessings, I believe that we are also subjects of great opposition-- and opposition is not something that is always immediately visible to the natural eye. Fortunately, the Lord looks upon the heart, and one of my favorite names of Christ is the Great Physician.

I know that the mission is the only place in the world where I could understand the Atonement at the depth of understanding that Heavenly Father has blessed me with through these experiences. I am so grateful to be surrounded by leaders who have firm and unwavering testimonies of Jesus Christ. It is through their faith and help that God has reached out to me this week. I testify of the power of priesthood blessings given by faithful and worthy priesthood holders.

I testify of the incredible strength and divine help that is found in the Gift of the Holy Ghost, a gift which I too often take for granted-- or even forget that I have. During times of difficulty (whatever form that difficulty may choose to manifest itself), I testify that we can find refuge in the Holy One of Israel, who will never fail us, who will never loose patience with our own repeated failures, who remembers His covenant people in everlasting mercy and grace. It is through His small, tender mercies that He manifests His mighty hand. The same hand which crafted the universe and keeps the cosmos in order is in every aspect and every corner of our lives, and if we look we will see that we have, in reality, have enough resources to keep going, the strengthe to press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.

My dear family and friends, I plead with you wherever you are that you turn to Heavenly Father in prayer, and search the scriptures diligently for His guidance and counsel. In short I plead with you to remember that Jesus Christ is your Savior, that He gave all of Himself for you, and that there is no such thing as not worthy enough, not smart enough, not experienced enough, not spiritual enough, too old, too young, nor too sinful to have access to the Atonement of the Son of God.

I love you forever,
Hermana Phillips