Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sanjay Nath. My Friend Forever! By Elder Phillips and Some Catching Up

Our journey together began over eight months ago. When I met him I had a very surreal experience that I had only once before with Tom Smith when he was also the same age as Sanjay. I knew spiritually that Father in Heaven expected me to make sure that both Tom and Sanjay accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I had the spirit whisper to me in the clearest of voices that I was to disregard their efforts to tell me to get lost. Tom and Sanjay were both valiant spirits of Heavenly Father that needed to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ so Father could unfold His plan for them. Tom, like Sanjay, accepted the Gospel and has served the Lord as a Bishop twice, a Stake President and now a Mission President. He found his sweetheart Becky and has 8 children that are the loves of their lives. I can’t wait to see what Father has in store for Sanjay because, like Tom, this is one of the great souls that Father has saved for the Final Dispensation.

Sanjay was taught originally by Elder Anderson and Elder Wou. They asked me to teach with them and that’s how our friendship began. I was able to be involved in most of the lessons that were shared with Sanjay. What a gift to start my mission with Elders like these and one of God's choice spirits, Sanjay. He made great progress with these Elders but was not ready to be baptized before they were transferred. I felt a huge obligation to them and the Lord to make sure that Sanjay stayed on the path of conversion. Elders came and went and Sanjay tried to walk away a number of times but the love of the Lord and the truth just kept touching his soul. 

His background is Hindu and he was brought up going to temple to worship and loves his Indian culture. He was raised in my old mission; Birmingham, England. His parents are good people and brought him up to be the kind of young man that will make a difference in this world. He is in his second year of medical school at Imperial College. This is one of the finest and may I add toughest colleges in London. Sanjay had to commit everything to his studies. This sometimes made it difficult to meet with the elders and I but he did anyway. This was one of his big tests. Should he just focus on his education or also make time to find God. Because of who he is he chose to make time to find out if the Gospel had been restored to the earth. This is no small test given the requirements of Medical School. He testified to us yesterday that taking that time for God gave him the peace and faith required to make it through his first year at school successfully. He has gained great confidence that if you put God first all else will be added unto you. His older brother couldn’t make it through his first year in medical school so there was added pressure for him to succeed and prove to his dad that he could go away to school and not blow it. Now that Sanjay has proven trustworthy his father is respecting him in a way every son looks for from their fathers.

I want to share the scary times that almost cost us Sanjay coming into the Church. After his first year of school he went home to Birmingham for the summer and chose not to be baptized before he left. I had prayed and fasted to know what we should do regarding baptizing him before he left or support his choice and wait until he returned. I felt strongly that if we baptized him and sent him home that he would fall in with his old friends and never forgive himself for breaking his covenants he made with the Lord. 

In faith I supported Sanjay in going home still unbaptized for the following reasons. He was very afraid of what his father would think about him coming to London and taking on this new religion wondering if he had been led astray. Sanjay was worried that his father would withhold his financial support for medical school and have him come home to Birmingham University to complete his studies so he wouldn’t fail like his brother. A committed father would always want what’s best for his son and without understanding what the Church is all about his father would possibly take action to protect his son from himself. This was the first big test of Sanjay’s faith. He made it through his first year but then had to make it through the summer with all his lifelong friends. That was no easy task and he did go back to his old life while in Birmingham along with returning to his first love, a girl he had been with since high school.

The challenges of the “summer vacation” got to him and he put the gospel on the shelf like we all do sometimes. By not living the commandments he was taught regarding the word of wisdom, doubts started to creep into his mind. Of course when we stop obeying what we know is true (Word of Wisdom) and stop reading the scriptures and praying, our faith is shaken and our peace is lost. So it was for Sanjay. He was in a place that did not promote his quest for truth and remained in a state of limbo until he came back to school.

He came by to see me one Thursday night when he had come back to set up his apartment for the next school year and just “felt” he had to come and see me. I had heard from the Elders that Sanjay had told them that he wasn’t going to continue but I knew what I knew and wouldn’t accept that as a possiblility. I was certain of what the Lord had told me and I knew Father would provide another opportunity for me to teach him again. When he walked in the Cultural Hall one Thursday night I was overcome with joy. I experienced what it must be like when we pass to the other side and greet loved ones that have passed on and you see them again for the first time. It was one of those moments of love in a relationship you can’t deny. I threw my arms around him and said I knew he would come back and was so glad to see him. 

Sister Phillips fed him and I loved him and made plans for beginning his teaching when he returned to school in a few weeks. I’m not sure if I just overwhelmed him with the spirit of love so he just went along with it or that he was glad to feel the spirit again. Either way we were on “the road again” or so I thought.

He went back to Birmingham to finish up his summer vacation and didn’t come back until late September when school began. I felt very impressed to invite him to a concert that was happening at the Hyde Park Chapel the first week of October to get him started again. He accepted my invitation to join us for the Paul Cardall Concert that produced the perfect environment for the Spirit and Paul Cardall to bear witness of the Savior and His Atonement. Sanjay was quiet all night and was obviously praying and pondering everything that was being said. The Spirit whispered to me that Sanjay was making a “Go-No Go” decision whether he would continue. I waited for the conclusion of the concert and turned to Sanjay and said, “You’ve come here tonight to decide if you’ll continue, right? What has the Lord told you through the Spirit?” He just said, “I can’t deny the Spirit I’ve felt and the Lord just won’t let me go.”

The reason for this new crisis of faith was brought on by his old girlfriend. The untold story of his summer was his reconnection with his first love that is his best friend. He’s known his girl since high school and felt this was the girl he was going to marry. He had concerns because her family’s religious roots are from the Punjab region of India and are Sikhs that broke off from Sanjay’s Hindu faith. Her parents wouldn’t be in favor of her marrying outside of their faith, period. I think Sanjay thought he had enough challenges with her parents accepting that she would marry a Hindu, much less a Mormon. I hope that the Sikhs belief in “One God” and in Scripture will give Sanjay a chance to introduce our God to her through the Book of Mormon.

Sanjay is facing this great test of loving God over anyone else on earth. He has great faith and will trust God to help him work out this girlfriend challenge and accept God’s will. Its awe inspiring to see him stand in faith, not knowing what will happen. He is willing to accept Fathers plan for him.  As shown in the picture taken Saturday, the 18th day of October Sanjay Nath is now an official member of the Church of Jesus Christ. I also was privileged to confirm him a member of the Church and bestow the Holy Ghost upon him on Sunday October 19, 2014.
Our beloved Sanjay Nath on the day of his baptism!
After the baptism of Sanjay (where we filled the room with 50 YSA who had come to support Sanjay) Bishop White and Jennie had our Britannia Ward Sisters and Elders, Sanjay, Sister Ohman and us come to their flat for dinner to celebrate! We love our Bishop Rick and Jennie!
We received this note from Sanjay the day after he was confirmed a member of the church.

Hello Sister Phillips. 

I hope you and Elder Phillips are keeping well. I just wanted to write you both a quick note to thank you both for everything over the past 8 months and longer. I still don't think it has fully sunk in for me that I have finally become a member. For a long time I knew that that's what I wanted (and needed) but there were times when I thought nothing would work out and life would be a whole lot easier if I just turned my back on the church. But, as you know, I couldn't And I'm so much happier because of it!

The baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost were both beautiful and I thank you so much for it. Sister Phillips what you said about this being only the first step are words that I will cling on to and remember forever. Elder Phillips your words during my confirmation almost made me cry. I was so happy that my friend who isn't part of the church was there to experience it and see why this means so much to me. I know the Gospel is true and I know my friend could see right then that the Church is something really special.

If it wasn't for the guidance and support you both gave me for so long I honestly don't know whether I would still be in London at medical school right now. I hope you don't mind me saying but I see you both as parental figures - I wouldn't say I'm a very trusting person but there was something about both of your natures that made me realise early on that the Phillips were different and I could share whatever with you.

The time will come when I will tell my parents and the rest of my family about joining the church, part of me thinks that they already know. But what I do know for sure is that they will be happy that I had the two of you to help me through it all.

There's so much more I want to say but I can't get the words out right now. Everyone kept asking me how I felt after joining and 'happy' is doing it a disservice. I don't know how long this feeling will last but even when times get bad I know the Saviour is always there and I will keep 'enduring to the end'

Hope to see you sometime this week,


Oh how we love this young man!

Catching Up

This is Mom. I wanted to add to Jim's post about a couple other things that are note-worthy that have happened this last couple weeks.

The biggest news is Ling Ling got the job at Disney Shanghai. It's a total miracle!!! Ling will never doubt the Lord knows her by name and cares about her welfare. How it all came about was just too crazy to think it happened by chance. Bless Joel's heart (the head engineer Jim met at Hyde Park). He went the extra mile in Ling's behalf and emailed the guy that hired in Shanghai recommending Ling for the job. She had to pass some proficiency tests on her English skills (not a problem for her!) and then was interviewed and hired yesterday. She starts next Monday! It's so fun to see how excited she is and she's the first to acknowledge this is a gift from God.

Holly Isherwood interviewed with Jim's company that bought DGI yesterday and it's looking good that they will hire her to be the head HR person for them for all of Europe. What a blessing that will be for her, as well. Having her back in church is such a blessing. She's a powerhouse and has so much to offer our ward. We love her. She's one of our girls!

Our YSA choir sings THIS SUNDAY for Stake Conference. We are doing "Lead Kindly Light" and "He Leadeth Me", two of my favorite pieces. We have Elder Adriano from Spain playing the violin part. He's certainly not Elizabeth Ashton, but he's doing a good job. It's still pretty ragged but we have an hour on Sunday morning to hopefully clean it all up. I'm praying for heavenly help!

A week and a half ago on Friday we got to go to the temple with all the Senior Missionaries in the London mission and Pres. and Sister Jordan. What a wonderful experience. It was amazing to stand in the circle together, all of us consecrated and set apart missionaries committed to and praying for the same things. There was magnificent power in that circle. It was a wonderful day!

The work is progressing. We feel like we have momentum and the work we've been doing is bearing fruit. Last Sunday I sat with Sanjay while Jim moved over to sit with Joye, Holly and Catherine. I started counting and there were 10 kids there that had not been there the month before because of our efforts. We love every one of them. I was overwhelmed and deeply humbled that we get to be part of this work. It truly is a miracle work!

Some exciting news! This past week Jim went with Holly Isherwood to the Employment Center to speak with Martin Gardner and the Baxters. Martin is the church employee who is in charge of all the employment centers in the UK. I guess it went very well because later that night Martin called and asked if Jim and I would consider coming this next week for 2 nights and 2 days to Birmingham to work with all the Employment missionaries that are gathering there for a conference. And can you guess where the meeting is taking place? You got it! 185 Penns Lane, Jim's old mission home from his first mission! We still haven't heard if we are getting permission to go but we're keeping our fingers crossed. This might be the only way we will ever get to go to Birmingham on our mission so we're hoping the Area President will give his permission for us to travel there. We will drive up with the Baxters. They are the new Employment Center couple who were stolen from the center to help in the mission office after Elder Giles passed away. We absolutely love the Baxters. What a fabulous addition they are to the mission. The Jordans would keep them in the office if the church would let them because they are so competent!

We are now back on our school schedule. I've taught 3 Institute classes this month. It's been wonderful to be back together. Lots of GREAT new kids. Jim is teaching Preach My Gospel on Thursday nights. The day before his opening class he was informed the church had come out with a new manual. Jim had to scramble to get the lesson together for the next day. It was a frustrating experience. He had kids that hardly spoke English, brand new converts who barely knew the doctrine and kids that have been life-long members of the church. He wasn't prepared for the complexity. The next week he simplified the lesson and had a great experience. It's going to be a challenge balancing the curriculum to meet the needs of such a varied group.

One last thing. We are busily preparing for a Chinese Convention being held here on Nov. 21-23. It's causing me to loose sleep. We are planning on a hundred Chinese YSA from all over the UK. Of course the cooking has fallen on me with the help of Dixon, a marvelous Chinese young man that is a fabulous cook. Last week it took us 4 hours to decide on a menu for 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners. Saturday night dinner is a formal, sit down dinner with 6 different food items!!! I'm having nightmares about how we are going to pull this off in the kitchen we have to work with. Then 2 days ago Jennie White informed us that she will be gone the weekend of the conference. She felt so bad. She is such a help. Having Jennie is like having 2 sets of hands. I'm devastated! We will get the non-Chinese YSA to help but it's still very daunting!!! Crazy stretching for someone who has only ever cooked to gather in the people she loves!

We are anxiously awaiting Seth's arrival. Praying earnestly for a beautiful birth and safe arrival of our 13th grandchild. Can't wait to meet him, even if it's over Goggle. So grateful for Ashlee's willingness to take my place and go be with Bri. So so sad I won't be there to share it with them. 

Tomorrow is Ty's 4th birthday. Oh how we adore our Ty Jacob. I can't believe it's been four years since he joined our family. I'll never forget seeing him that first time at the hospital. Unlike the other boys he was a monster! So big and SO HANDSOME!!! It was love at first sight. It's never changed. We adore our Ty with his perma-grin and his fearlessness. So grateful he's ours forever!!! Happy birthday sweet boy!!!

Well that should do it. I kind of cheated by just tacking on my catch up list to Jim's post, but it will have to do. Love to each one of you. You are all sorely missed. Mom


  1. Love you, Aunty, and so glad you're getting to go to Jim's mission home. What a gift. Praying for your hearts to be comforted even more tenderly as we head into the holidays with all the many ways it reminds us of family. XOXOXO

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  3. What an incredible story about Sanjay. Thanks for sharing that. It is crazy that Ty turns 4 today. Ashlee tried to tell this story in her Lake Powell blog post, but she couldn't remember all of the details. She has been asking me to update it, but I have been putting it off. With today being his birthday, I decided I needed to get it done. I wanted to included it here for you to read because it is such classic Ty: "Ty was trying to get Brandon to swim across the bay with him. B asked why he should do it to which Ty shrugged and responded, "I'll give ya 200 bucks." B agreed and they swam across the bay together. Later on after they got back, B said, "Ty, where is my $200 bucks". Ty came up and pretended to put money in B's hand. Ty then turned to run away and yelled "Ha, ha, I tricked you, it's just fake money!"

  4. YAY for true conversion! Such a neat story! You guys are seeing so many miracles!

    I can't believe Ty is FOUR! Insane! Time sure does fly except when you are pregnant and most likely going to be overdue...hahaha.

    I too am so grateful that Ashlee gets to come be with me after Seth's birth. You will be so missed though mom. I miss you guys more than you know.