Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Letter # 37 05/27/2013

Dear Friends and Family,

It's been yet another interesting week. I got sick again. This time it was food poisoning, I'm fairly certain. I was completely wiped out and unable to work on Sunday after lunch, but I think it's resolved. Our ward mission leader and one of the other brethren from the ward came over and gave me a priesthood blessing and I immediately began to improve.
My poor companion-- she's been so patient with me and this crazy week. As I explained, Hermana Spradlin is brand new from the MTC in Argentina, but she's going to the other mission in Uruguay. She studied Spanish for 8 years before the mission so she speaks as well as, if not better than, I do. So in the MTC she was in an advanced group that was only there for 4 weeks. The other mission won't have their transfer day until the 6th of June, but there was no reason to leave her in the MTC when she was ready to be in the field. So, the arrangements were made and since my other trainee had to go home for knee surgery Hermana Spradlin is with me for a few weeks and then she'll be going to her mission. I can't imagine having such a crazy beginning to my mission. I thought my first 12 weeks were rough, but they really were nothing compared to what some of these new missionaries are having to go through. There are SO many changes happening in missions all over the world.
Speaking of other missions, can someone send me Sarah's address? I'd really like to be able to write to her. Also if she's sending out mass emails like I am I'd like to be one of the recipients!
Also-- I finally received the package you sent me! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I don't know what I'm going to do with so many sticky notes but I will definitely find a use for them! Thank you for the chocolate, for the cards, the PENS (!), and for sending my flag! The goldfish got a little bit damp from the humidity here and traveling for a month but still edible and worth it! The Symphony bar tastes just like Christmas and home. I don't know why, but chocolate tastes so different here. I love you so much!
Here at the threshold of my 9 months and having a lot of time to think while being so sick lately, I have been reevaluating a lot of things and making new resolutions. One of my resolutions is to start enjoying the moment. I've been stuck on autopilot lately because change is always hard for me emotionally, and I haven't really been enjoying the miracles that I am living and witnessing every day. I am praying to find more joy in the journey, as President Uchtdorf is always talking about. Life is meant to be enjoyed.
I love you so much!!!
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Letter # 36 05/21/13

Queridos Familia y Amigos,
This week has been another crazy one of changes. Yesterday we found out about changes (even though we already knew because President already told me) which is why I didn't write yesterday. In our ward there were 6 missionaries-- 6! Now there are four because the elders got taken out. Now me and my companion will be taking over their area (another whitewash!) which is a relief because I was getting frustrated only getting to work in half an area. Also we didn't have ANYONE to teach which is the worst.

So my corto plazo (part-time missionary, Hermana Laurito) arrived on Monday last week, and she is AMAZING. She came on a corto plazo to try it out to see if she wants to serve a mission. Hna Laurito is the answer to a lot of prayers. I went from a difficult trainer/trainee companionship to a triple companionship to a corto plazo in the space of about a month, but she made it really worth it. She's very laid back and helps me stay sane. There is a phrase in my patriarchal blessings that counsels me to accept light and truth in whatever form it may be because "there will be people that will be inspired to come into (my) life at the very time (I) need something with help and with encouragement." That promise has never been fulfilled so specifically before now.

She came with a cold though, and all four of us caught it. I think it was because we had to wake up really early one morning to go to a conference in Montevideo, and it was really cold, and our immune systems must have been really weak. All I know is that by the end of the conference that day we were all feeling ill. It got so bad that on Friday afternoon we all came home early, and on Saturday we didn't go out at all. I also didn't feel well enough to go out and work on Sunday, and the other Hermanas went out for a few hours and had to come back because they were dying in the street. President got wind of what was going on, and because our area is only 45 minutes from the mission home he and his daughter, Stacy, got in the car and brought us a care package with vitamin C tablets, dark chocolate, benadryl, medicinal tea and four bags filled with corn (it's like a rice bag you put in the microwave but corn stays warm longer). There was such a heavy, anxious spirit in the house, but when they got there I just knew that everything would be OK. He gave us all blessings and when he left we were all feeling so much better. Today I feel 100% better.

One of the changes from last week is this: The new missionary that I was going to train this change tore a tendon in her knee at the MTC while playing fùtbol and she had to go back to the United States for surgery. Hermana Laurito was going to stay for the rest of the change as a result, but on Sunday President Armstrong called again and informed me that there was an hermana missionary in the MTC that was going to the other mission (Uruguay Montevideo WEST) but for some reason or another they can't take her until the 6th of June. She's in an advanced group in the MTC and there was no good reason to keep her there so they're sending her to me for two weeks. After that, Hermana Laurito will come back and finish out the transfer with me. I'm going to go pick up my new companion tomorrow morning super early. Here we go again! :D

I love you all so much! Take care and remember that the Lord LOVES YOU!

Love always,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, May 13, 2013

Letter # 35 05/13/13

Dearest Family and Friends,
Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement. I just wrote an awesome email, and then the internet decided not to work, and everything got erased. I don't have time to write it all again, so here's a recap:

There are more changes in our area. After getting off Skype with Mom, Dad and Jackie on Mother's Day the mission president called to tell me that a part-time missionary would be joining us today. She arrived today (Florencia Laurito) and she is my companion. Hermana Calderòn is taking over training my oro, Hermana Hansen so I can start training another new missionary next week.

Vamos arriba!

I love you all, and pray for you often.

Love always,
Hermana Phillips

Monday, May 6, 2013

Letter # 34 05/06/13

Dear Friends and Family,
I love you all so much! I'm so sorry I have very few minutes to write today. We had to travel to Montevideo to get my visa signed. I guess I'd rather sacrifice a PDay than go to prison...
I am so happy to hear about marriages, babies, boyfriends, missions, jobs-- so many exciting life changes! It's weird to think that that's all going on while I'm here. My birthday came almost without me realizing-- I almost forgot about it actually. My companions and the elders threw me a last-minute surprise party-- that I ended up finding out about because one of the members spilled the beans. I was really impressed. It's hard to keep secrets in a companionship! Missionaries are awesome.
Things are still hectic and crazy but good and getting better. Hopefully next week we'll get a real PDay to rest from the craziness. I love the mission, but I've never been so tired in all my life. It's been raining off and on for the past week or so. As Hermana Calderon says, the dreary days of winter have begun. I need to get some rain boots, otherwise this winter is going to be miserable. Already my scriptures have gotten wet even though I keep them wrapped up in plastic bags.
Thank you all so much for your emails and for your encouragment. It really means SO much to me and I hope you all know that I love you and I pray for you all.

I LOVE YOU!!!!!!
Hermana Phillips

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Picture: Companions

Me, my oro, Hermana Hansen, and Hermana Calderòn.
The sign we're making means "smile" or "capo" (which means "awesome")

Letter # 33 04/29/13

Queridos Amigos y Familia,
Well, there have been a lot of changes since I last wrote. I didn't realize things were so bad with Dad-- or could have been so bad? I'm still not sure what's going on but I'll continue to pray.
We got another companion. One of the other hermana missionaries got really sick and had to go home for surgery, so they split up another companionship and we ended up in a tripod. So now I'm training in a tripod while opening up a new area in a white wash. I'm tired. There are pros and cons; the new hermana, Hermana Calderòn (from Lima, Peru) is super energetic (and when I say energetic I mean energetic like throwing flubber against the wall) and she's great to have around because I'm kind of serious. Hermana Hansen speaks very little Spanish and Hermana Calderòn speaks next to no English, so I often have to keep track of two conversations at once going on in two different languages. There have been a few personal/communication issues between Hermana Hansen and I, we have had a lot of problems resolved and I feel much more ready to face and enjoy the rest of this transfer. The problems mainly included the fact that although we have many of the same interests and the same determination to serve the Lord, we have very different forms of expressing that. I am introverted. Hermana Hansen is extremely extroverted. We had a long talk the other night and cleared up a few misunderstandings and bruised pride. I regret that this has been one of her first experiences in the mission but we both learned a lot. There is more responsibility on my shoulders than I am used to having, and that has affected how I interact with my companions. I'm working on it, and the Lord is helping me deal with the stress.
We had an awesome experience with one of our investigators, Claudia, last week. We found her on our first day in the area and she has been reading the Book of Mormon. She is a faithful member of a different church (evangelical) but they don't believe that baptism is necessary for salvation. I don't know how you can read the bible and think that baptism isn't necessary, but that aside she has a lot of faith in Jesus Christ. I think she started listening to us because she loved how sincere and tenderfooted my companion is. She keeps listening because she feels the spirit. The elders also serving in our ward were going to have a baptism last Saturday, and Claudia had committed to attending. The baptism fell through, but Hermana Hansen had the brilliant idea to take her on a tour of the meetinghouse, instead. The spirit was so strong during the tour. The youth in our ward were having mutual at the same time, and Claudia has a teenage daughter and I think she was really impressed with the church's youth program. We ended the tour with an explanation of the Sacrament in the chapel, and she committed to baptism! Now to help her arrive at her baptismal date, May 18th. Prayers on her behalf are much needed. I can only imagine how much her baptism would help my Oro, Hermana Hansen-- me too, but your first baptism of the mission is something you probably never forget.
La Paz is the best area in the best mission EVER! We are seeing so many miracles every day and I am so grateful for the prayers on our behalf. The Lord is pouring out blessings over us.
With all my love, yours always,
Hermana Phillips