Monday, January 26, 2015

Brad Wilcox, the Temple, and Farewell to Emily Du

This can only be a short blog since I have one hour until I have to get ready for church. We have just finished such a sweet weekend at the temple, along with Brad Wilcox last weekend. I need to record it before it’s lost.

Brother Brad Wilcox

On Fast Sunday two weeks ago we had such a beautiful testimony meeting. Toward the end an older guy that was sitting at the back of the chapel came forward to bear his testimony. Immediately I recognized it was Brad Wilcox from America. He told us that he and his wife had been assigned to be over the Student Abroad program in Spain and he was here in London so our BYU Program Director Jim Faulkner could train him. He was here in London for the next two weeks with his wife. He bore a beautiful testimony.

After the meeting I was out with some of our older YSA in the foyer when he came out. I called to him and said, “Brother Wilcox you need to know that your talk “His Grace is Sufficient” is required reading for anyone who comes to our Institute Class on Tuesday night.” Then I thanked him for the deep spiritual impact that talk had on every student (and adult!) who read it. He sat down with us and began to just chat

I introduced him to the 3 girls I was sitting with, all 28-year-olds. These girls are beautiful, educated and articulate. And very discouraged. That’s where our conversation led; what we can do to hold on to our young adults when they age out of YSA. We have a number of unmarried kids that fade away when they get to about 29 and older. It just seems to them that there’s not much of a place for them in the church.

He assured us that the brethren are VERY aware of what’s happening and although the wheels turn slowly, it was being considered and addressed. Brother Wilcox’s love and concern was very evident. He was just a big love-bug, such a darling man. He made our girls feel treasured. It was a very sweet exchange and gave us all hope that their plight was not going unnoticed.

The next weekend was full of Brother Wilcox and music from the YSA. Our bishop had asked Jim to talk in Sacrament Meeting about holding on, doubting our doubts before our faith. When Jim heard that Bishop had asked Brother Wilcox to also talk Jim told Bishop Rick to give him his time, as well.

What a beautiful Sacrament is was. Brother Wilcox gave such a powerful talk on the Prophet Joseph Smith and bore a mighty testimony of him. It really touched the kids in the audience. I then had one of our girls (who is leaving this week for the states. I have grown to love this girl. Her name is Lizzy House. She’s a textile fabric designer who is beautifully quirky and so talented. She’s a total hippy, but totally authentic and converted. I’m truly going to miss her!) Anyway, she also sings and I had her do “Feel the Fire”. The words were absolutely aligned with Bro. Wilcox’s message. No one moved. The spirit just filled the chapel. It was beautiful.

Between our meetings and a Multi-stake Fireside later that night we had a Munch and Mingle so the kids wouldn’t have to go home to eat. Then Brother Wilcox gave a fireside to 500 youth and YSA from all over the UK. It was packed! I’ve never seen that many kids in one place on our mission. I had Robin and Katie do “Abide With Me”. It was beautiful but not as good as Tanner and Meg. (It made me miss them.) Once again Bro. Wilcox delivered a powerful lesson on the why of keeping commandments. He is such a MASTER TEACHER!!! On top of that you can just feel the love oozing out of him for the kids. His wife is right there with him. It was an amazing Sabbath day. Jim and I were filled with gratitude that we got to be a part of it. (The benefit of being at Hyde Park Chapel in London England!!!)

Emily Du, Helen Chen and the Temple!

This weekend we had a temple assignment to do baptisms on Friday night. Jim and I decided that we would offer to spend the night and have anyone who wanted to stay over go do an endowment session the next morning.

Friday afternoon we had a going away luncheon for our precious Emily Du. Emily was baptized only a couple weeks before we arrived so we have been able to watch her this year as she has gone through the process of digging her roots and strengthening her testimony of the gospel. She has been in London doing a Master Program that she just finished and now is returning to China. 

I’ve been deeply touched as I’ve watched her do EVERYTHING in her power to strengthen her testimony against the obstacles she will face at home. Her mother, who has been a marvelous support to Emily, is a member of the Communist Party. It’s not going to be an easy thing for Emily to live the gospel there. I can’t tell you how much I adore this young woman. I have sat back and marveled watching her bloom. She has been one of our stalwart Institute goers on Tuesday nights and one of the best missionaries in Britannia. She is always bringing friends to church and teaching with the Elders and Sisters. She is one of our brightest lights. I adore her! I cry every time I think about her leaving us.

She was able to come for a couple hours to our flat before we had to leave to catch the tube and then a train for the temple. Emily was so excited for the temple because she had temple cards for her Grandfather. She was driven to get their work done before she returned to China.

When we got to Victoria Station where everyone was meeting to ride to the temple (about an hour) I was shocked to see a huge crowd of kids waiting to go. (We ended up with 45 at the temple) We even had Chillie, a new convert, going for her first time to do baptisms. It was marvelous. When we arrived at the temple I think we really stressed out our poor temple workers with the number of kids. 

Three of our Chinese had brought family names to be done It was a deeply moving experience to watch as their ancestors were baptized. It was especially moving when our very own Dixon batized Emily's grandfather and was able to do it in Chinese. Poor Emily lost it.  I was on one side, Sister White on the other as she sobbed over now having others, beside herself, in the gospel of Christ. 

There were about 6 kids, besides Jim and I that stayed over. We stayed up way too late, but it was sweet. We were able to get to really know some kids we hadn't had a chance to before.

We took Emily's, Helen's and Maggie's family file cards and kept them with us overnight. The next morning Jim and Helen got up early and went and did Initiatories so that when we did our endowment session with the others we were able to finish the temple work for these people. Emily was able to take her grandpa home,fully endowed with all his ordinances in place. It was a beautiful experience.

Our going away party for Emily where her dear, dear friend Diana (sitting next to Emily in the white shirt) made this truly amazing video for Emily to take home to China with all of us saying our farewells. Such a bittersweet night with an outpouring of love from our whole ward!

It's now Jan. 27th. Emily left a week ago today. 

This past Sunday Jan. 25 (Shelby's birthday) was a day of miracles. Jim has written all about in the following blog. It's the kind of day that makes our hearts burst in gratitude for the privilege of serving here in Britannia.

Danielle Peiyan Xiu
Giving loves and saying goodbye to Danielle with our beloved Helen!
As part of the celebration Sunday night there was a farewell to another of our precious Chinese. Danielle was actually baptized in another stake, but has been with us for several months. In that time she also has become a part of our hearts. She is so valiant, such an amazing missionary and the best friend to me that I could ever ask for. Do you see why there is so much trauma around these kids leaving us? It breaks my heart! In reality the chances of ever seeing them again in this life are slim. But I truly have assurance that we will meet again. So until we meet again....God be with them!

This letter just came today from Danielle who just arrived in China. It is such a perfect example of why you just have to love them so much!

Dear Sister & Elder Phillips !!!!!

How are you doing !!!!! hope everything goes great !!!!
I am back home today and start to miss you two !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well, everything goes great when I back home, the sky is so clear today in
beijing hahahahahha, I know Heavenly Father loves me so much !!!! He is
happy I am back.

Well, this Monday After I checked in the airport, I went to the pray room,
I did pray and read so long time. I love being alone talk with my Heavenly
Father. when I started to praying, I cant stop tearing, full of gratitude
joys, excitements and loves. I am so thankful my dear Heavenly Father, his
plan made me experience enormously in the UK. I am so thankful !!!!! I am
so thankful HE introduced you two to me and as you are soososos GREAT
couple !!!!!!

I learned so much from your strong faith, superb stories and your
wonderful, amazing testimonies !!!!!!  I am so missing your classes now!!!
(hold on, it is tomorrow, well cant attend but will pray for you !!!!!)

My lovely Sister Phillips, Thanks so much  for your wonderful cookies, i
kept one for my mum, she loves it so much ! and she ask me to say great
thanks to you !!!!!

I promise you will stay strong and keep doing all the commandment, hahah
definitely will report to you when I am back to see you !!!!!

Forever Love you my Sister& Elder Phillips, take care of yourselves !!!!!!

With Love,

Emily's First Day at Church with her Mom

At the party Sunday night Dixon came up to me and said he'd just received an email from Emily. He reported that she had found a branch in her city, small with only about 25 people in it. Her mom had consented to go with Emily. Emily was so nervous but her comment was "I heard the same words there that I had heard in Britannia. The church is true everywhere." Emily was able to bear her testimony and when a woman gave the closing prayer she gave thanks for the new "returned missionary" that had joined their branch. (We trained her well!) Emily set her straight. On the way home from church her mom wanted to stop and get some food items for dinner. Emily shared her belief of keeping the Sabbath day holy and about not buying on Sunday. Her mom decided to skip shopping. Later Emily asked her mom if she thought she'd ever join the church. When Dixon shared this with all of us at the party we started to cry. Her mom said "I'm not ready now, but it's only a matter of time." CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!!!! This woman has been so precious in supporting her daughter through this past year. Yet here she is being influenced and supported herself, right into the church. We all knew what this would mean to Emily. Such rejoicing!!!

Marita (the girl from Latvia who gave me her keyboard) brought a cake on Thursday to celebrate Elder Phillips birthday. Marita only knows how to do one thing for us; SERVE!!!! She's been a member for only a few months. We adore her!


  1. They all take such great care of you guys. I have so much love for all those kids in your ward and I have never even met them. What a blessing you all are to each other.

  2. You need a warning on your blog that it shouldn't be read at work or tears may flow. Hope you don't mind me following your adventures with the great YSAs in Hyde Park. Happy 1 year anniversary to your arrival - I remember fondly the very late Sunday evening dinner where we talked and talked. Best wishes for this coming year.