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

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Letter #42 07/02/2013

Family and Friends!

It's cambios week! We found out about cambios last night, and Hermana Hansen (my oro) is going to Treinta y Tres, which is about 400 kilometers north of us. I'm sad to see her go, but I know she'll do great things there. She just finished the 12 week training program and she's going to go finish training one of the hermanas whose trainer is finishing her mission. That's the only change in our house of four. I'm pretty excited for the new hermana to come. Hermana Peña is from Colombia (woohoo!) and she was in the MTC with me. I've always wanted to be able to work closer with her and  now I get to!

I'm finding new energy this week as I got an opportunity to talk to my trainer again, Hermana Vargas. The begining of our companionship when I first got into the field was pretty rough. I have learned so much from her example and over time she has become one of my favorite people in the world. I didn't appreciate her as much as I should have when we were companions and I judged her very harshly at first. Now I want to become the kind of missionary that she is. The hermanas that I'm with are great but it's been really emotionally draining for me. Now I think I'm getting back on track as I'v recommitted to being 100% devoted to and absorbed in the work. There's no other way to do it.

Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips