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