News Release

Senior Missionaries Serving in Japan: February 2024 

Elder and Sister Phillips at the Tokyo Temple with Elder and Sister Gill and Sister Cook.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

For Sister Christina Phillips and Elder Robby Phillips, the decision to serve a senior mission was made long ago. What they did not anticipate was receiving promptings to serve sooner than they had planned. As they attended a Stake Conference meeting, both Elder and Sister Phillips individually felt impressed that they should prepare to serve right away. They put in their notice to retire early and started on their mission paperwork. 

As Military Relations missionaries, the Phillips could have been called to serve in any base across the world. The 18-month assignment to Japan was a surprise, but they have loved being here, serving on both Camp Zama and Atsugi Naval Base. Along with serving members of the Zama Military Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder and Sister Phillips volunteer with the Red Cross, work closely with the Chaplains both on Atsugi and Zama, and help with newcomer briefings. They teach a military resilience course, as well as Temple Preparation classes for their branch members. Sister Phillips also teaches in Relief Society. The Phillips have had opportunities to help the young missionaries from time to time, teaching their friends, and occasionally they have been asked to speak at baptisms.  

There are many young families in the Zama Branch, with around 75-90 members attending each Sunday. The Phillips have taken on the role of “Branch Grandparents.” They try to get acquainted with all the members, do something to recognize birthdays, and attend events, such as sports, dance, and other performances that the youth are involved in. Elder Phillips explained, “Our ‘ministering list’ includes ... everyone!” 

Something that has surprised Elder and Sister Phillips about serving as senior missionaries is how undefined the assignment is. Each couple comes with their own talents, background, and abilities. Sister Phillips, whose background is in counseling, found that her previous career has been helpful in her service. Elder Phillips, who describes himself as a former “band nerd,” has used his talents to repair instruments and help the band director with training the lower brass section. Both have experienced what they refer to as “The power of the badge.” Wearing a missionary badge has opened many windows of opportunities for them to serve. 

In March, Elder and Sister Phillips will return to their home in Tennessee. Of their time as missionaries, they say, “It’s the best thing we’ve ever done together!” In fact, they plan to serve another mission after they spend a year at home with their family. An assignment they would enjoy is to do promotional presentations for other seniors considering serving a mission. Some of the counsel they would give: 

Make a goal to serve early on – be determined. 

Talk to others who have served. 

Learn who can answer your questions. 

Don’t worry about your family – the Lord will bless them. 

It has been said that one of the best ways for grandparents to serve their family is to go on a mission, “If you love them, leave them.” Elder and Sister Phillips have 19 grandchildren. The example they are setting for the next generation is immeasurable – the ripple effects of their service can have an eternal impact for good. 

*See Elder Ronald A. Rasband's October 2023 General Conference talk, "How Great Will Be Your Joy."

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