It has been a crazy week even though it has been really slow with the holidays. Our investigators don't want to meet with us during their break. It's ok...we will keep working hard. I still love it! I am just so tired. I am running myself ragged! I love it more than anything. Everyone knows that I love to be busy. Christmas was awesome, although there was like no one at church. It was really strange. I think I would rather work, because I got a little bored just sitting around all day. I have almost no time today. I loved all my presents that everyone sent to me. The one new thing we are doing is playing dodge ball on p-day! So much fun...but my arm is in so much pain! I am going to die...but it was really fun!
Got to go. Peace and blessings. I love you so much!
Wow! What a week I have had. I have loved the mission this week. Everyone knows that we have been working hard and our numbers show it! We have had so much success this week. It is really exciting and fun to know that you are making a large impact in the lives of others. I enjoy my mission and this area so much. The work is hard but it is rewarding. Elder Morris and I are trying to get lots of things going. We are close to having a great explosion. The branch is growing and improving immensely. We are trying to work with the youth and get them going. We would like to get our branch up to 70 people...we are getting close. When I got here, we only had 11 people coming to the branch (and that included the 2 missionaries)! We have been working and praying to get our numbers up.
We just started our new transfers this week. We got a van to help us with all our meetings. We named our van Hazel...so funny, Elder Morris made it up! It is way better than the Corolla...the chick car! I didn't like it...I'm not gonna lie! We got a new roommate. He is a good guy. I need to try to find a way to communicate to him at his level. I am still the District Leader here for my second to last transfer. It is weird to say that...but I guess this is coming to an end soon, even though I don't want it to.
This week we had a Branch Christmas party. We were playing musical chairs and Elder Morris ate it so hard! It was so funny. We got teased so bad. White people just can't handle the hispanic parties! I came in second place...I guess that I have been in this culture long enough to play with them! It was fun...we just ate and talked....it sounds like a Phillips reunion! I am not going to lie...the hispanics do it better than us...we have a lot to learn still. I also got volunteered to play Santa. The things we do as missionaries! I tried my best...it was fun.
On a more serious note, we had some of the best lessons that we have had on my mission this week. Some were new investigators and some were people that we have taught for a while. They were so spiritual and I am sure that they are bringing people closer to baptism. It is awesome to see them grow and flourish as they learn more about Christ. It makes me realize that I have some things I need to change in my own life...I am a work in progress.
What a magical week I have had! It has been so much fun to bring people to Jesus Christ this week. I have had a few experiences this week that are unforgetable. There is a lot going on in our little part of the Lord's vineyard! We got to go to the temple twice...which is unheard of in our mission. It was so great to go to the temple and have a zone meeting. We got to hang out with people in the zone that we never get to see. I also got to see Elder Dawe for the last time before he goes home. It is really sad to see people that I have been serving with my whole mission go home. This was such a fun day, even though we got stuck in a terrible traffic jam!
The next trip to the temple was with a member that you see in the picture. It was awesome, this was her first time to the temple and it was quite the adventure. A man escorted us...so that we could keep the mission rules. The two ladies are twins and such good friends! They love the missionaries and always feed us and take care of us. They help us role play with Elder Morris so that he can practice giving the discussions. One of the twins is a little miracle. I had the pleasure of helping her come unto Christ by helping her understand that there is more than baptism. Her sister had recently gone to the temple and she had seen the blessings that her sister had received. We have been teaching her what she needs to do and what she can't do and what blessings she could have if she went to the temple. She took the temple preparation class and we have seen her overcome such struggles. We have seen such a difference in her. She has become such a happy person. What a magical experience to see her face in the temple! After the temple, we realized that she had left her lights on in her car the whole time we were in the temple! Her car wouldn't start! We sat there for a long time. We said a silent prayer and God stepped in! Right after our prayer, someone showed up from the English ward and jumped the car and got us going. They followed us home in case we had more problems. It was so cool to see the love that God has for us.
Sunday rolled around and we were in charge of Sacrament meeting. I had prepared a talk but didn't have a lot of time to work on it. My companion said that he was going to talk for 7-10 minutes...but ended up talking less than 5 minutes! I guess I am a better bull-crapper in Spanish than in English. I had prepared for 20 minutes and ended up talking for 30 minutes. By the end of my talk, the Branch President was signaling me to wrap it up! I think I have developed to be more like my dad than I thought! There was a really funny thing that Elder Morris said in his talk! I know that I shouldn't tease him about his Spanish...but instead of saying "I miss my family!" he said, "I am weird to my family!" He said it like 4 times during his talk! I don't blame him, because they are similar worlds in Spanish and it was his first talk in Spanish. He did really well and got lots of compliments! After he said it 3 times the Branch President had this funny smirk on his face...it was pretty funny! He is learning so fast. It is awesome. He is teaching more and more. He puts up with me so well and we have so much fun. He helps me relax...which is good! He helps me with the load. I try to tell him nicely what to do, but he gets bothered..just like anyone would. But, we apologize when we get frustrated. I love him so much. He just forgives and we get better. He is an amazing kid!
What a great week! The area is growing and there are evidences that we are getting more people and more leaders in the area. We have a good amount of investigators and a couple that are getting ready for baptism.
Well, what a crazy week! I can not believe that it is December. It is weird over here right now because it is still really warm. I am having such a great time. We are walking more and more of our huge area and have a plan to get bus passes this week, which will be good. I am just loving this area and cannot believe that Christmas is approaching. It is surreal how fast time is going by. Next week is transfers and by the time I write next week, I will only have 2 transfers left.
We are making progress with a few people. We are working hard and I really love the work. Everyone got sick this week. It was awful! Even one of the missionaries in the apartment had to go to the hospital. We had to leave church to give them our car. This weird throat thing is going around. I was only sick for one day and I am almost completely over it now.
I have no idea what will happen during transfers next week, but it is almost a guarantee that Elder Morris and I will stay together to finish his training. He is improving so much and just doing great! He is understanding more and more and getting more involved with the ward and everything. It is weird that Elder Morris' first transfer is ending...it seems like he just got here the other day. We are even closer than ever. We have so much fun walking and talking and testifying and teaching all day long! We are excited for a few of our investigators that are really seeming to get it. They know that the Book of Mormon is true and that the gospel is restored. It is awesome! A few cool things have happened. First, we were told that a less active member that we were visiting is going to go to the temple. We might get to go to the temple with them, which would be really awesome! It is just fantastic to be a missionary! Next, we got to go to Providence for a Zone meeting. During the zone meeting, 5 elders were celebrating their 99 days left on the mission! It is a tradition that at 99 days left we go have lunch at the restaurant called Ninety-nine! Instead of celebrating, we mourned because no one wants to go home yet! It was fun and I was able to take a few pictures. I never thought that I would celebrate going home...it still feels like I am in the middle of my mission! Lastly, we were excited to go to church this week and see how many people would be there. We had quite a few new people tell us that they were coming this week. As the time approached for church to start, there are only 15 people there! We were really sad because we seem to having so much success and feel that people are really progressing. Then slowly by slowly, the church just filled up! We had a few investigators and a few less active members come! We are working so hard and it is fun to see results! To see the branch grow is such a good thing!
I love you all so much! Peace and Blessings! Have a magical week!
Wow! What a week! Let's just say that this Thanksgiving was something that I will never forget! We had like 3 different Thanksgiving dinners. I thought that I was going to escape that this year, but I didn't...we just had the dinners on different days. Here is the rundown:
The first one was a party with ESL class we help with. We have also taught a couple of them the gospel. It was mostly Dominican and Puerto Rican food. It was really good. They are so surprised that we like their food and stuff. It was fun to talk and eat!
The second one was a big party at a friends house with all the Puerto Ricans in town! There was turkey, but no one likes turkey in the Spanish culture. It is too dry and I agree! Ha Ha! So we also had a big pork leg and it was sooo good! It was really fun! There was music and we played dominos. It was pretty much like everything else in the hispanic culture...another reason to party! Ha Ha!
The third one was yesterday. We got invited by a nice family, that we love, to go and have Thanksgiving dinner. It was a typical Thanksgiving dinner...which was really nice. We also went to a birthday party of a little girl. We are teaching her family. Luckily, we didn't have to eat at the party!
I love the Spanish culture so much. There is always lots of food!
We are working very closely with a couple of investigators. There are two that are getting closer to baptism. We will have 2 more months of good hard work to get them prepared. The recent converts that I have and that I thought would strengthen the branch could be moving to New York. The work keeps moving forward and I love it!
Yesterday at church it was a mad house. I had to do so much. I helped with the Sacrament, conducted the music, and am helping to plan a service project for the branch. There are not very many priesthood holders, so they keep us pretty busy in this small branch.
I am excited that we get to go to the temple for Christmas in December. I love this time of year!
This is me trying to contact a little boy...but he didn't talk back! Ha Ha!
Oh man, that is so cool that my dad did an IRONMAN! He is such a stud. I am super jealous. We will do one soon before you get too old and decrepit to do another one! Ha Ha! I am very happy for you and have been bragging about you all week!
This week was fantastic, filled with all sots of ups and downs and hills and valleys. I just love the mission. It is just the best thing I have ever done. My position as district Leader continues to be rewarding and keeps me very focused on all things that we should do toward our main goal which is to help people come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. A little family said to us, "I took it as a sign from God that you have an important message because you have come back and tried so many times." It is great and really inspirational to be a part of it. We are teaching lessons to new investigators and they are coming to church. God is really spoiling us here. There was about 40 people in our branch this week and probable 15 of those people we are bringing with us. It is really awesome. The branch is taking us seriously because we are working hard and trying to build up the branch. I know that I am sounding "cheesy" but the mission is just great and Elder Morris is like one of my best friends. He is very coachable and we just get along perfectly. We are into the same kind of things and we have fun talking to each other. I love teaching him because he makes it easy. He is a great great kid.
It kinda hit me how soon I go home...it is weird. Everyone is starting to do the math and tell me how much time I have left. I don't like it. I feel like I am just getting used to the mission and feeling comfortable with what I am doing. It is becoming part of my life. It seems normal to work from 8 am to 9 pm, 6.5 days a week...I will probably never work that hard again...but it seems normal now.
This week, we found some new investigators that are serious about baptism. We don't know when it is going to happen but they seem like they are serious and that they could be baptized before I go. We are just having great success and God is blessing us in the so called worst area for Spanish in the mission. That is just how it goes. Sometimes people need a certain type of missionary.
We have been invited to four different Thanksgiving dinners! I did that last year and I don't want to do that again! It was aweful...I felt so sick! We will chill with a great family!
In front of the Chihuly sculpture at a local restaurant.
Thanks for the Thanksgiving package!
WOW! I feel like there is not enough time to breathe anymore. It is just crazy how busy we are. My companion is awesome and he says, "I feel like you are dragging me along all day long!" I love it so much! It is great to work with someone who likes to work hard, too. He is always tired and stuff! Ha Ha! I am trying to do my best to inspire the other people around me to work hard too. It is pretty awesome. I just love my position as a District Leader and Trainer. I feel like I can help so many people...it is really really fun!
The branch that we are in is giving me more and more responsibility and the people are trusting me more. It is great! The Stake President came to our branch yesterday. We had a quite a few people at church. We had guest speakers and musical numbers. It was great! We get used to things like that in Utah, but not here. It was nice to have the Stake President speak Spanish. He is a great man with 10 kids. He is someone I aspire to be like some day. He is a great example and still has time for individuals. It is so cool. He goes out with the missionaries and is friends with the missionaries. I respect him and love him. He is working hard for the stake and guiding our little branch.
Recently, people have been talking to me about going home...I hate talking about it because I love this so much and don't want it to end at all. It will be terrible. I feel like I am just getting started and I feel like I want to keep going and do it forever. Maybe go home for a while and then come back. It is the best thing I have ever done in my life and the most fun too! I am with the best people that make me happy. I used to make fun of cheesy missionaries and now I am actually one of them!
This week we had a zone meeting in Worcester. All the missionaries kept asking me, "What did you do to make these people love you so much?" The people in Worcester gave me so much special treatment. It made me feel so good! It was fantastic! It makes me not want to come home even more! Ha Ha!
My new companion is just fantastic! He is like a sponge and we tease and have fun together. He has such a love for the gospel and for the people already. He was just so surprised about how much members and investigators trust us and love us. Anyway...I am fine and happy and having success. We are just doing what the Lord wants us to do and doing it how he wants. We are making good relationships with people. I know Elder Morris will be a good missionary. I see his desires and how he wants to help people. We have a couple of new investigators and we had 5 or 6 less actives come to church last week. That doesn't seem like a lot in a crowd of 500, but in a crowd of 50 it makes a real difference! It is fun to see results!
Elder Barnhurst and I saying goodbye to his friends.
My week has been awesome and pretty crazy at the same time with so many changes. I got my new companion, Elder Morris from Park City, Utah. He knows Spanish pretty well because his dad is the Bishop in a Spanish ward in Park City. He is really cool and takes correction really really well and is doing great. This week was nuts for him. I forgot about all the changes that one must go through when you first get out on the mission, but he has a really good attitude about it. It is awesome just to be part of his learning. I am so impressed with the new Spanish program for missionaries in the MTC. He is an awesome kid and reminds me so much of Greg Mangum. I just love him. He asks me questions and reminds me of why I love my mission so much and why it means so much to me. I am just loving my mission!
We are getting more investigators and we have had great lessons this week, but I am not sure how close they are to baptism. We will see how that goes, but I sure love it and what I have to do as a missionary.
We had Stake Conference this weekend. It was awesome. The Stake Presidency here in the Providence Stake are studs! They are just tearing it up in this part of the world. I also got to get to know the ward in Providence. It is huge with so many kids! I think the Spanish ward here is bigger than in Chelsea! It is awesome. The church is growing so fast and I have a larger role in this branch. It is fun to be apart of it! We are teaching so much that Elder Morris is getting spoiled!
Saying good-bye to Elder Barnhurst was pretty hard. He cried while saying goodbye to some of his friends. I will miss him a lot, but I am excited with the new changes that are coming my way.
What a roller coaster week with ups and downs. We even had snow which is not very common here this time of year. It has been good and hard, but worth it. First, I will give the news about transfers. The only change is with my companion, Elder Barnhurst. Elder Barnhurst is going home and the trunky bugger has been counting down forever! Ha Ha! I will be getting a "greenie" in his place from Park City, Utah. The changes will be good because I was feeling like I was just on a plateau for a while. I will continue to be diligent and help others follow the mission plan.
Next, I will talk about the snow storm that hit us and shut down the mission, except for me. I think my companion was going to kill me when the mission told us we couldn't drive but we went out anyway (walking) in the cool freezing rain! It was good fun, anyway I have been out in worse weather. The mission got shut down because Boston and any where close by didn't have any power. In New London, we only got rain and a couple of inches of snow, but 30 minutes north got 1 1/2 feet of snow! It didn't really stop us or put a damper on things...we just continued.
We had a Halloween party at the church and had some investigators come, which was really good. Elder Barnhurst and I switched name tags ...we came dressed as one another! Ha Ha! A couple of members gave us a ton of candy...so we gave it out to all the kids. They loved us! We hung out and socialized with the members. It was really fun!
The last story is about our baptism this week. We had these golden investigators that were scheduled for baptism. Well, we all know that Satan is really good at what he does, so he put a few roadblocks in the way. After their baptismal interviews, the decision was made that a couple of the family members were not quite ready for baptism because they still had a few issues that needed to be resolved. The family was very upset about this. In fact, they called me and yelled at me and said that we are just men and can't tell them when someone can and can't get baptized. I mean they were really upset! Oh my gosh! This happened Wednesday and the baptisms were scheduled for Saturday. A baptism requires a lot of preparation. We have to plan the program which includes music and talks. Anyway, we just continued to prepare for the baptism and had the district fast and pray for them. We had an appointment scheduled with the family on Friday to try to explain the doctrine to them. We were prepared to get yelled at again, but guess what? We started out with a prayer and they understood and accepted that some family members needed more time. The family members that were ready for baptism went a head and got baptized! It turned out wonderful and they were so happy! I have such a testimony of fasting and praying! I was so content and no one could ruin my week after that! After the baptism, my companion was just done. He turned the switch and he was done with his mission! I have just tried to keep plugging along. I love him so much and he is one of my best friends!
Oh my gosh it was such a great week! We got to do a couple of exchanges with other missionaries which was really fun. As a District Leader, when I go with other elders, I really try to see problems that I can do my best to help them with. I love being a District Leader...it is a lot more work but the things that come with it is a whole lot better. I feel like I am making a difference. Our District is so tight. We just love each other and want to help one another. We have a lot of fun and try to have spiritual experiences as well.
The leaves are changing here and it is just breathtaking! Last year, I didn't get to really experience it because I was in the city of Boston. It is totally different in New London and it is just fantastic. I just love the work and have come to really love my companion. He is getting way "trunky" because he goes home in next week! He is really nice and gives me many public compliments. He is great!
I have such a strong testimony that I should be here and that there are people that I can touch and help here that were prepared for me. One such family has been receiving the lessons for years and has finally set a date for baptism. I am really excited! He is an amazing guy but he needs to make a few changes, so we will see what happens.
On one of our exchanges, we went and had a typical dish from the Dominican Republic. It was a good sea food dish that is fantastic with all the seafood you can imagine. It is a delicacy and it was so good...but the English speaking missionary I was with ...well lets just say it didn't sit too well with him! Ha Ha! It reminded me of when I first got here and I was trying to get used to all the different food! It was really hard on my body! It brought back some good memories!
We are preparing for the baptism of 2 people this week and we will also be having some parties to say goodbye to Elder Barnhurst. Next week is transfers again so we will see what happens. I don't think I will move because there is so many things going on around here.
I received a the nicest letter from a family in Worchester, MA last week. I thought it might be fun to share it on the blog...
Dear Phillips Family,
Thank you so much for raising such a wonderful son--we really enjoyed having him in our home on several occasions. He has been such an influence for good for my children--especially for my oldest boy, who is preparing to leave in the next year for his mission.
We feel as though your son really enjoyed and loved this area (not an easy one) and that makes all the difference.
Oh, man...I loved hearing about all my buddies all over the world. I have noticed that other missions seem to be baptizing more than our mission, but I love my mission and am so grateful to be a part of it and doing the Lords work. There are a lot of hard hearts in New England but we are just working and going forward.
This was a solid week and we had some great activities planned. Thursday was a great day. We had to go out to Providence again. It is sure a great city. It is a lot like Boston but a lot smaller. The hispanic culture is just bursting there just like Boston and it is amazing to see it.
This week was a little slower and I had time to start feeling better and to let my back heal. We had a lot of rain which slowed us down but we were diligent. Friday, we did a lot of walking which is a little strange for us because we usually find people to teach. We did find a few new investigators that show a lot of promise. Saturday, we had a great activity that was so much fun. It was a great success. There were more nonmembers at church than there were members. There were people from lots of different cultures, but most were Dominicans. This is a culture that I have fallen in love with. They are great people. The ward mission leader did a dance that is typical in Peru. He was a champion dancer in Peru, but he said he was really out of shape. If he only knew me before the mission, he would really know what out of shape is!
We are preparing our investigators for baptism the problem is that the District Leader has to interview them, but he can't be the one that is teaching them. The District Leader that is going to do the interview does not speak Spanish, so they will need a translator! WOW, lots of work, but worth the effort because it is a baptism.
Elder Barnhurst and I have gotten to be the best of friends. I love him so much and we have gotten really close. It is just fantastic. It makes the work so much better when we are on the same page and doing the Lord's work.
Thanks for the package, I love it to death and cherish it! Thanks! I am so excited that I have been accepted into BYU when I return home! Thanks so much! I love you with all my heart everyone!
This week has been interesting to say the least. I got a letter from a former elder that I lived with that told me that he read my journal...........Wow! I was really upset. I felt completely violated because I vent and put a lot of personal things in my journal. I thought we were all more mature than that, but I guess not! Then he proceeded to give my a lot of advice. Well, that was my latest drama. So, whatever! It is what it is and you just roll with it.
We had a lot of changes recently. We got a new elder in our apartment. He is a great guy. He is from California and he is a swimmer and water polo player...so we have lots in common. His companion had to go home for some surgery but plans to come back.
I have been sick the past couple of days. It is really lame and just kills what we are trying to do. I don't like it. I had to skip my studies and sleep in. The other elders know when I do that that I am really really sick. I have the reputation of being the workaholic hardcore missionary. I like that reputation and plan to do it to the end.
We have been doing a lot of service outdoors this week. Everyone seems to be getting ready for winter. We are still clearing trees and cleaning up from the hurricane. The problem is that I am not as strong as I was when I was playing football and I hurt my back trying to lift a log. It is pretty sore. I know that I need to be more careful, but when you are doing the Lord's work you don't have time to be sick or injured.
I love the mission more and more every day. It is really a great quest to find my soul and help others find their soul as well. Our investigators are getting ready to be baptized. I am really excited. We only have a few weeks left and lots of things to do for them. I just love it. Now we need to go find some more investigators.
Oh, it was an early Christmas present again for me...my last General Conference on the mission! In preparation for conference we had a really nice district meeting and we all prepared a little thought on one of our favorite talks. It was really nice. Everyone gave really good insight about what they thought and felt and what they think it is telling them personally and as a church as a whole. It really got me thinking about how I should listen to General Conference. I really enjoyed listening to conference. It felt like they were talking to me and that God loves me and answers my prayers. We have been promised that if we go into General Conference with a question, that it will be answered during one of the talks. This was true for me. I had questions that I wanted answered and I received some really good insight for my new assignment as the District Leader that brought me so much joy and love.
I heard a good description of the spirit at one of my meetings this week. There was an Asian investigator in Boston and in her broken English she said that the spirit feels like someone was loving her and that she was feeling a hug of the spirit! That is exactly how I feel at times when I am feeling the spirit, it is just great!
This week I had my first leadership meeting. It was very inspirational. We live so far from everyone that we had to sleep over in Providence. I got to go on exchanges with an elder in my district for the meeting. It was fantastic. We had a good ole time and got along really well. I would really like to work there because it is just full to the brim with Spanish people. It is a lot like Boston, just smaller. Anyway, after the meeting we got to go to Foxboro to see the New England Patriots football stadium! It was sweet! I took lots of pics of Gillette Stadium. It is honestly in the middle of no where...about 45 minutes south of anything close to Boston! It is close to the border of Rhode Island. I guess that is why they call it the New England Patriots instead of the Boston Patriots.
We are getting really close to a few baptisms which is really exciting. We are working away and getting prepared for that. I am very excited. Anyways, we are finding new people to teach and help come to Christ. I am doing my best to love and help my companion. He said something that made me feel really good the other day, he said "Thanks for helping me work hard for the last part of my mission!" That was really cool to hear that from him.
Oh, man! What a cool/weird week with a good amount of service and lots of fun things. The first thing that I will say is that we are just doing great and the numbers are in our favor. It is going really well and we are teaching more and more. My new responsibilities are great. I am in charge of 8 missionaries. It is really fun and I get to talk a lot more and try to help the people around me. It is fun and I love it so much. I get to give advice to the younger missionaries in my district and it makes being a missionary a lot more rewarding knowing that I can have a positive influence on so many great elders. I just love it now.
Today is a crazy p-day because we are cleaning the whole day. It is deep clean day...which is great! We don't get much of a break today because we have a few appointments.
This weekend is General Conference which is going to be amazing because we get to hear the prophet. We have a lot of investigators that will be coming to hear him talk as well. I really hope they will have a good experience like I know I will have.
Everything is so much better now! We have so many more people that we are teaching and serving which makes the work so much more fun. I love helping the missionaries too. I had my first District meeting that I directed. We got to know each other and did lots of funny questions to make the district more unified. It was fantastic and everyone seemed to like it and of course I made brownies for my district. I gotta take are of my guys! I love them. At church on Sunday we had a record number of people in attendance...more than 50 people came. That is the most that have come in a long time! It was really great and made me happy!
This week we went to see some Dominicans and helped them kill chickens! It is really interesting how different our culture is from theirs! Anyway, we killed the chickens and pulled out the feathers. I didn't cut or clean it because it is like an art to do that, but I got to kill one and pull the feathers out! It was really COOL! One funny story...when we get the roosters and kill them they poo a lot...this one guy that we were with karate chopped one and all this crap flew on to the sister missionary! Funniest thing in the whole world!
As you watch General Conference this weekend, watch with a question that you would like answered in your mind. I know as you watch, that your question will be answered through the power of the Holy Ghost. I am excited to watch and I hope that you are all as well.
I love you with all my heart and every fiber of my being! I hope you all have a magical day!
I love you so much! Thanks for your prayers and your support that you have all given me.
The mission is just going great and we are really getting things moving in this area. I love it to death! I am so excited! So many new changes that we have had since the week and a half since I have emailed you.
First of all, it is transfer week and we are all staying here. We have gotten pretty close and we are excited to be here again. I am pretty content. I am very happy to still be here. This could be the last stop on the mission for me and that has kinda hit me pretty strong recently.
Second, we had a small miracle and I had not mentioned it before because I didn't think it was going to happen, but we had a baptism last week with a cute little girl. Her and her family are from the Dominican Republic. She has been through so much at such a young age. She has a strong testimony and is really accountable at the age of nine years old. She knows what she needs to do and how to do it. It is really impressive. I think she is a great little girl and she asked me to baptize her. It was a pleasure. Baptisms are getting a lot less stressful for me and they are really just a time of joy!
The third big news is that I have been asked to be a District Leader! I am so excited and that is why I will probably be staying here a while longer. I didn't think I would be a District Leader in my mission but it is really great! I am so excited! I have been thinking and praying so much about how I want to teach the missionaries and what and how I should to it because there is a ton of room for improvement. I am really happy and excited!
We found some new people that seem really interested in hearing the gospel and they should be getting baptized, so we are really excited about that.
This is my companions last transfer. He will be going home in 6 weeks. It is hard for missionaries to stay focused when they are this close to going home, but I will work hard to help him focus. My companion is scared and excited to go home and talks about it quite often.
All is well and I am excited for the new changes and the new challenge! Have a magical day!
This week Elder Barnhurst was asked to baptize an eight year old girl who is in a family that he is really close to. It was a really special occasion for all of the people involved, especially Elder Barnhurst. We did a lot of preparations for the baptism, like programs and interviews. The life of a missionary is not really what I thought it would be. I thought it would be teaching and testifying all day to people. This is what I really like to do but we do so many more things like service...which is totally great! Yesterday was the baptism and it was wonderful. Most of the family came, which was a little hard because most of the family are not members. It was a great opportunity to do all the things the Lord wanted us to do and to help others come unto Christ. It was a really great day.
Early on in the week we had a lot of rain and all of our appointments fell through. So we walked in the rain for most of 2 days. Elder Barnhurst got the flu and to tell you the truth, I didn't feel that great either. Since we weren't feeling that well, we did a lot of resting which was good and bad. You know me...I hate just sitting, I thrive on being busy. I got a couple of other Elders to come over and switch with me so that I could go on some appointments. I went with an English speaking elder which was fun because I got to talk to different people. It was kind of weird to not just look for hispanics. While I was home resting, I had time to just meditate and analyze and think about what I am doing my mission and my purpose, which I think is to help other people. I have never had time to just sit and think about it before. I am either just dead tired and asleep or working out in my down time. I have never really had any time to myself, because I am always with my companion. It was nice to be alone while he was sleeping and resting. I am so grateful for the time I had to meditate on the things most important in my life.
Okay, so a little more about the work in New London...there are a few inactives that we work with and nonmembers that have been worked with a ton by a lot of different missionaries. They seem like "golden" investigators but then they don't want to change to do what God wants them to do. It is really frustrating. So I have taken a different approach in the area and decided to look for new investigators to teach. Everyone deserves a change to have the gospel and to make a positive change in their lives. So we have found more investigators and we are starting to get more referrals from the other English speaking elders. It is exciting. For a long time, we have given referrals to them because we often find people to teach who are not Spanish speakers. It is cool to see the English speaking elders start to give us referrals back! It is good to see the whole district grow together!
Not too much has changed. We are finding more people to teach and looking for ways to help the hispanic community that are in this area. Apparently our work is paying off because I have been told that we have more investigators than there has been in quite some time. I am just doing what I have always done. The problem we face is getting investigators to come to church. Many of the hispanic investigators work on Sunday because they get paid more to work on Sunday. It is interesting that the Hispanics say that life in the US is just working all the time because everything is expensive. I don't think that most of them realized that life in the US is hard, just in a different way. There are many, many who have found great lives in the US, which is great. We know lots that are members of the church.
I am still working to be nicer to the the elders around me. I am trying to be the "good older missionary" instead of the "bully older missionary." I am trying to not get impatient and to correct with love. I am helping my companion with his spanish skills. I think it takes a lifetime to perfect those skills, but it is interesting that my brain seems to think more in Spanish than in English now. Maybe by the time I get home, I will forget how to speak in English!
We listened to a man that was recently baptized. He was a self referral from Salt Lake City. He went to Temple Square and just could not get enough of learning about the church. It was wonderful. He has already been to the temple and wants to keep progressing in the gospel. He is a motivational speaker so his job is to get people excited about starting a small business. He has awesome public speaking skills and spiritually this man is amazing! He definitely motivated us to follow the teachings of Christ.
We also had an experience with a man that we met that we were trying to get to know and teach. I decided to make some phone calls to set up some appointments. When I called this man, he told us that he was having heart problems and had surgery. He told us that none of his friends had come to visit him but his new friends, the missionaries went to visit. He accepted a blessing and is reading the Book of Mormon. It was awesome. I love being a tool that the Lord uses. It means to me that the Lord knows I am trying and doing my best...so great!
Hello, my name is Elder Phillips and I am a hurricane and earthquake survivor!
So we had a little bit of an adventure last weekend. It is really strange to prepare for something when we don't receive the news, except from the members and a Senior Missionary Couple. In reality, everything was fine. It turned out to be fun and games for 6 quarantined missionaries in a church all alone. We had fun playing games, talking and eating junk food. We could only bring food that didn't need to be refrigerated or cooked...so that pretty much left junk food! All week we had heard different things about the bad storm that would be hitting on Sunday. Some people were really scared and some not at all. Friday night, we got word from the mission office that we were to go to a church 20 miles inland to be sure we were safe. We prepared by getting lots of water and lots of junk food. We watched church movies and played games. Then on Sunday an alarm goes off and wakes us all up. By this time the power is gone at the church, which was no big deal because we were prepared. We had our own Sacrament meeting, complete with 2 elders giving talks they had already prepared. It was very spiritual to see the severe wind outside and to feel the calming peace of the spirit inside. Then we played games and studied the scriptures. We were locked up for 24 hours and then got approval to leave. It was more like a good missionary party than anything. The damage was a lot less that I imagined. A few big trees and branches were blown down in New London. Lots of people still don't have power. We didn't loose power in our apartment and no damage was done.
I am well and happy. The area is doing fantastic and we are finally finding some good investigators to teach, so that is good and exciting. We are doing really well and have already taught more than Elder Barnhurst did in his whole last transfer, which is great! We had dinner at Outback Steakhouse Wednesday to say goodbye to a senior couple that loves Elder Barnhurst. That was delicious. I am coming to realize that a lot of things have changed since I have been gone. Thursday was ridiculous! I had been doing good with loosing weight then Thursday we had 3 dinner appointments! First we had a deep fried fish pancake dinner...it was really good. It is Puerto Rican. Next, we had fried chicken with a ton of rice. Lastly, we went to this family's home and they gave us this huge dinner and told us that it was made just for us. Two huge steaks each, a salad and fried sweet plantains, beans and a huge mound of rice. It was good, but not very enjoyable. Sometimes I don't enjoy food very much.... oh, well....you got to love it!
I am really enjoying my time here in New London, Connecticut. I am not as busy as I am used to but we go on a lot of walks and talk to everyone we meet. We are trying to find some service opportunities so we are visiting the food pantries. We are trying to find opportunities to serve the hispanic people. We are also trying to get to know the members and find out how we can help them. I can tell that I will get close with all the members because there are not many to get to know. We started to teach a Book of Mormon class to some people in the ward and I am enjoying that.
On Saturday we went to a birthday party for a member that loves the missionaries. She says that we are her only friends. She is awesome and I love her to death. They are from Puerto Rico so I am learning lots of that kind of spanish which is fun. We had a lot of good food, cake and played great games.
My companion has a goal to learn Spanish before he goes home, which is in three months. I am trying to help him learn and he is learning quickly. I am proud of him and his commitment.
We had a zone conference this past week and it was one of the best ones that I have been to. The topic of the conference was the atonement of Jesus Christ. I just loved it and have been doing a lot of studying since the conference and learning how I can apply it to my life. It is really helping me with my missionary work, too.
We are working really hard to get appointments to teach and to get some new investigators. I feel as though I can really make a difference here even if there are no baptisms. I am truly trying to set up the area for the next set of elders after me.
I ate cows tail this week, yes it is true!! It was really good, surprisingly. I know you think I am crazy, but it truly was like a delicacy!
As you know there have been issues with some of my companions. I will not go into details because it is not necessary, but lets say that my prayers have been answered with lots of them. What I have done my whole mission has worked again. I try to be a good example and try to correct behavior with love. I feel a bit of resistance at first, but things get better as everyone starts to see the blessings of working hard. Now that is fun to see!
Well, what a week I have had and with so many changes that are good, bad and exciting. I needed a change to help me get a jump start on working harder on my mission. I felt like it was my time to leave Worcester, but it was very difficult saying goodbye. There were lots of hugs and tears when I left. I am grateful that I was so loved and that everyone treated me so well in my last area.
So, lets just say that everything I was told about my new area, New London, was correct. It is gorgeous here but there have been some lazy missionaries. I am very excited to get involved and get the things done that the Lord wants me to do. The first few days here, I have spent cleaning our apartment because it was gross! I have cleaned for what seems like hours and we have talked a lot about what we want to accomplish in this area and what I can do to help out. I have met with the Branch President and he confirmed that the missionaries have had trouble in this area with obedience. He told me to make sure that I always follow the mission rules because there are a lot of temptations in this area. I felt a lot of love from the Branch President and assured him that I am a rule follower. He is from Peru and the branch is very diverse. There are people from all over South America and the islands, like the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. We have 4 prospective baptisms and it seems like we will have success here. The Spanish branch is small. We had about 40 people attend last Sunday. New London is on the coast but we live a couple miles from the beach. We share a car with the other Elders in our apartment so we walk quite a bit. We also have bikes, but we don't use them much because we make more contacts when we can walk and talk with people along the way. We need to work on getting more appointments.
My companion, Elder Barnhurst, has only 3 months left on his mission, his swam a little in High School and he is really chill and goes with the flow. He was really worried about having me for a companion because he heard a rumor that I am hard core and a very, very hard worker! Ha Ha! He got that right and I will stick with that. He was relieved that I wasn't too bad and I think we should have fun together. The other elders in the apartment are awkward and lazy but I am doing my best to gently prod them along. It is a good thing that I have changed a ton on my mission...or I would be up in there face! I am just doing my best to help them in the best way I can. My companion goes running with me, so that is good. Hopefully, I will loose some good pounds.
I love you all and as Lori Hernandez would say, "Have a magical day!"
Well, I am getting transferred! It has been a good long while and it is necessary. I was definitely getting complacent here where I fit in so well. It has been really hard saying goodbye, especially to the families that are closest to my heart. Lori Hernandez has not been baptized yet, but her and her family are probably the reason that I was sent to this area. I feel like I was one of the only missionaries that could have really helped them. I guess you never know, but I feel very close to them and wish that I could have seen them be baptized.
I have love Worcester, but I am leaving and going to New London, Connecticut. It should be really fun. I have not heard good things about this area. Apparently, this is where bad missionaries are sent. I know that I am not a bad missionary, but I think it will have some challenges. I think I am expected to turn the area around and get some good baptisms because they haven't had any success in a long time. I am excited for a new challenge. I will be living in an apartment with 4 elders. It is a little branch and it is all spanish. I am excited to get to know the people there and see how it is. It will be a new adventure.
A huge bummer, is that my new investigator that has been so hungry for the gospel is getting baptized tomorrow and I am leaving tomorrow so I won't be there. She was amazing and I got to teach her all the lessons and prepare her. She continues to astound me and all the members are loving her. She will have such a great life and is so happy. She is trying to get her husband involved. Gosh! She is already a missionary! She is just on fire and wants more and more. She is fantastic and she will always be a good memory.
I bore my testimony in church on Sunday and had a great experience. I even teared up. I then spent my time saying goodbye and writing addresses down. I seem to have been saying goodbye ever since. It has been difficult saying goodbye to my favorite families.