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