Monday, December 29, 2014

Happy New Year!

Hey guys!

Sorry for the day late email. We had transfers on Monday this week and P-Day on Tuesday so the departing missionaries could be at home before the New Years.

Anyway this week was pretty awesome but very difficult too! It was amazing to be able to skype home on Christmas Eve here and be able to talk with everyone! This Christmas was awesome too! Laoag 3rd Ward is the best and have the best members. We're pretty spoiled here! But aside from all of that this Christmas was a very special one for me. I was able to feel the Lord's love on such a sacred day more than ever before. Of course it was hard to be away from family but I just felt like this is where I needed to be on that day which was a very very special feeling. I felt His love in my life and in return I was able to share that Love with the people we were able to associate ourselves with that day! It was pretty great!

Some pretty amazing things have been happening to some of the people we've been teaching. Some of my favorite people that I've been able to meet have been these investigators/ less active members and it's been a blessing to be able to teach them!

So the first one his name is Allen. He's 14 years old and his missionary lessons remind me A LOT about what my missionary experience was when I was receiving the lessons as well. It's been hard for him to come to church because his dad is away on business in Manilla and he has two baby sisters so he tries to take care of them with his mom while trying to get everything in order for school. On Thursday night I was able to go on splits with our second counselor. When we taught him he had A BUNCH of questions about Old Testament doctrine which I'm familiar with but some things that I didn't really understand fully myself. And trying to communicate those stories in Tagalog made it even harder. I had to rely on the spirit to tell me what to say. After he said, "Elder Oslund, after this lesson tonight I feel like the church is true." After I had to tell him that he needs to pray and read because that's the only way he'll know it's true. So he's been praying and reading every night and is going to make some sacrifices to come to church! It's been amazing to see the transformation he's gone through since I've been here!

The next one is a 12 year old named John. When I first came out his Dad, Cornelio, was in active and hadn't been to church in a year or so. After we taught him on a Saturday morning on my first week here he's been to church every week since. At first he had forgotten pretty much everything what the missionaries had taught him before so we had to start from the start. After we taught the Restoration he wanted his son and daughter to take the lessons as well. Their Mom is very Catholic and has a hard time trying to understand the purpose behind missionary work and the church. But since then Cornelio has been able to understand and remember the lessons, he's teaching his family about the gospel, and his son will be baptized along with his daughter who is turning 8 at the end of the month! Elder Risenmay and I were so excited because this is a MAJOR first step in inviting the gospel into their family. I love it when we're able to see just how much the gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed families. Especially in the Philippines. I feel like the only thing that will save the Philippines are homes based off of gospel principles of Jesus Christ. It just goes to show how important this work is here and in EVERY part of the world!!! :)

We've been trying to stress how the ONLY way people can find out if this church is true and that the Book of  Mormon is true is by. 1. Reading it. 2. Praying about it. It's very hard for people to actually DO these things. The ONLY way for them to know if it's true are by those two things. There isn't one thing that any missionary can say to convince them that it's true but they need to find out for themselves by demonstrating faith and acting on that faith by reading and prayer. Heavenly Father doesn't require much. All He requires is for us to seek Him and to ask Him if it's true. "If you will ask of me you shall receive; if you knock it shall be opened unto you."

I'm learning more and more how amazing the Atonement is in our lives. In these past three months alone I've grown so much because I've been able to use the Atonement in just about everything that I do on day to day basis. I can't even begin to describe some of the spiritual experiences I've had with prayer and being strengthened because of Christ's Atonement. It especially helped when we had a hard day just walking and no one wanting to hear our message. I read from 1 Nephi 11:25 and realized that it happened to the best example of missionary work that ever lived, and it was way way way harder for Him as well. So I prayed to be strengthened and right after I no longer felt those burdens but was able to go on with the work and have a great day after.

I love this work! It's the hardest thing I've ever done but there's nothing that I'd rather be doing, nor is there another thing that I SHOULD be doing except for this work. I love you guys and I hope you can feel strengthened from my prayers as well :) Love you!! Talk to you next week!

Elder Oslund


Monday, December 22, 2014

MALIGAYANG PASKO (Merry Christmas!)

Hey guys!! Maligayang Pasko!!!

This week has been an amazing week. Everyone here is pretty busy with Christmas coming up and things are getting pretty crazy in Laoag haha. They like to celebrate Christmas here in a very loud manner. There's parades all night and day, then home made fireworks all day and night. They just really love Christmas here, even though it doesn't really feel like it (to me at least) haha. It gets so rowdy on Christmas Eve that we need to be in our apartments at 5 o'clock and stay there for the rest of the night because they just flood the streets with parades and fireworks. Right now, all the little kids are out caroling which is pretty awesome except here in the Philippines, when people carol they carol for money so it gets pretty annoying at times haha. But we end up giving them candy or a pamphlet which still makes them happy :)

The language is getting SOOO much better. We went on splits on Saturday with a member and the ENTIRE 4 hours I was with him I was able to converse and lead all the lessons in Tagalog. After that I kind of thought to myself, "Did I just really do that??" There's no way I could have been able to do that after only learning the language for 3 months without A LOT of praying and A LOT of patience, and A LOT of studying. Heavenly Father DOES answer your prayers!!! This entire mission has been evidence that he hears our prayers and WANTS to answer them! 

We had a mission wide Christmas Conference this week and we were able to see our friends in the MTC which was awesome. But the big news was that our mission's "Standard of Excellence" went up A LOT. This past year our goal was to baptize 1,000 people in our mission, which we accomplished. This year our goal is to now baptize and confirm 2 people per companionship, per week. With a goal of 50 lessons per week from each companionship. So needless to say we will be VERY VERY busy this upcoming year. The thing that helps me realize is that the goals that we receive are inspired by the Lord through the mission president and area authority. When the mission received the goal of 1,000 people they thought it was impossible too, but they accomplished it. Right now we have the tools to reach those goals but we're just prayerfully asking for guidance as to HOW to use the tools that we have so we can be able to accomplish it. So a lot of this week has been coordinating with the ward mission leader, the bishop and stake president with ideas to have the goal be accomplished.

The best part of Christmas Conference was that we had an "Amazing Race" styled competition between all the zones in our mission. It actually felt exactly like the amazing race too haha. We ran ALL over Laoag and we were able to see things in Laoag that was amazing. The Philippines and Ilocos Norte is pretty amazing!! :)

Laoag 3rd ward is the greatest! Seriously! We're trying our best to have members help us out in missionary work and they have really been helping out a lot. We're spoiled being missionaries in the Philippines and especially in Laoag! They're the greatest people and I'm so grateful to serve them! We have basketball tournaments every Monday morning now between members and the Elders in our ward and Laoag 2nd ward. I feel bad because they LOVE basketball here and it's hands down the most popular sport and they're really good at it too, but they're just so short that we're able to get all of the rebounds and get really easy points on them. Our team has three 6'3" Elders, one 6'0" and one 6'5". Their tallest player is 5'8" haha. So it's kind of funny at times. 

After the healing with Sister Rhea's little girl they've really started to grow in the gospel. They now see the importance of having a worthy Melchezidek Priesthood holder in their house and Raymond is now trying is hardest to receive the blessings of the priesthood again. Miracles are happening!! :)

I was able to baptize an 8 year old little girl named Faith this past week. It was awesome! She's the coolest little kid and her mom is so sweet and nice to us missionaries. Her Dad is working abroad right now and hasn't been back in a while. It was so awesome to be able to be apart of such an amazing ordinance :)

I have so many funny stories to share to my family this week when I get to call home. I'm seriously way too excited to share them! It seems like everyday is a new adventure here in the Philippines haha.

But before I end this weeks email I just want to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS again!!! My favorite quote to hear right now is from President Monson he says "To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable and it becomes the spirit of Christ." It's not the easiest thing being away from family on Christmas. It is very very difficult to do this work. But the thing that continues to influence me to KEEP going and keep pushing and keep trying harder is the love I have for our Savior. He loved us so much that he came, lived and died for us to be happy. He called me to labor in the Philippines for two years to be able to spread the message of His life and His Atonement so that OTHER families and OTHER sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven can be happy. I am so grateful for our Savior. I KNOW THAT HE LIVES. I see the miracles he extends to His Sons and Daughters EVERY SINGLE DAY. My invitation to you all is to remember Him and what He has done for you this season. I am eternally grateful for Him and for His life. I am so grateful to be able to keep working here for this next two years because of the love He has given me in my own life. 

I love you all and hope everyone has a very MALIGAYANG PASKO :)))

Mahal Kita!

Elder Oslund

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Great Week to be a Missionary in the Philippines!

Hey Everyone!

This week was very very tough but it was so worth it in the end.

First off, Filipinos know how to celebrate birthdays haha. On Tuesday every single lesson we had pretty much turned into a dinner appointment to celebrate my 20th. Then when the ward found out that it was my birthday they said they should have announced it in sacrament because they throw big parties for the missionaries on their birthdays. Oh well, seyoung (That's a shame). But it was still hands down one of the most memorable days I've had. The entire day was just amazing. We tried pig intestines, dragon fruit, the president and his wife dropped us off cake and pizza. Elder Risenmay and I were spoiled the entire day haha

In the evening we had FHE with the Guillermo family where we ate...more, and had a really really fun time with them. The Guillermo family was the first family I met on my mission so it was really fun to celebrate with them. 

But the most memorable gift that day was when Elder Risenmay and I received a call from a part member, less active family before the FHE started. They said they needed us over as soon as possible. So we rushed over there soon after we ended our last teaching appointment for the night and they invited us in. Their younger daughter had a really awful fever for the last 2 weeks and they couldn't afford to take her to the doctor. When we went inside her room she was crying and screaming and just miserable. I felt horrible for the parents and for her of course. They said they needed us to give a priesthood blessing to her. So I was asked to give the blessing. When I put my hands on her head I felt how hot her head was and I was almost in tears with her, I couldn't imagine what she must have felt like going through that for two weeks. I gave the blessing as the spirit directed me and told her "to be healed". When we left their house she wasn't crying, she wasn't sweating as much but she still had the fever.

The next day we walked by their house to go to an appointment in the morning. We saw her Dad outside in their bakery and asked how she was doing. And I'll never forget his reaction, he was so full of joy and said, "She's all right now Elders!" with the biggest grin on his face. That made my birthday the most special birthday just to witness the power of the priesthood on your mission for the benefit of someone else. It was the best feeling I ever felt because I was just overjoyed for her well being. It was incredible.

The rest of the week wasn't as spiritually uplifting as that, in fact, it was probably the hardest week of my life. Every single person that we had planned to teach dropped us and we had no where to go and no one to teach. But the moment when we stopped and prayed for someone to find to teach, we knew exactly which way to go and within the next 10 minutes we were in a lesson teaching someone about the gospel. 

We were able to watch the Christmas Devotional this week and it really got me into the spirit of Christmas finally. Here in the Philippines, there's no lights, no Christmas trees, hardly any decorations, but it is still the most celebrated holiday. They start celebrating Christmas in September so it's been Christmas here for a while now haha.

But in that Devotional I realized just how much Christ gave for US. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) Christmas means so much more when you're in the service of others and helping others out. The message that we share as missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is about how families can be together forever, the importance of sharing, and serving one another. I'm so blessed to be apart of HIS work during this holiday season in the best country in the world :) 

I love you all and hope you all have a great week!!

Mahal kita!

Elder Oslund

Elder Oslund with his mission president and wife, Julius and Lourdes Barrientos
Elder Oslund with Elder Risenmay from Kentucky and President and Sister Barrientos outside the Mission Office in Laoag

Having fun with some members
Making new friends

Getting ready for Christmas
The Christmas spirit is  in the Philippines

A taste of home

At a meal with members

Some of the members in Laoag

More cow friends
Some rice fields in Laoag

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hello po!

Hey guys!!

Man these last few weeks have been a really hard struggle, but I can say that it's finally over, I'll tell you all about it later on :)

The Philippines is seriously the best place I have ever been to. Everyone here has the best personality, little kids come up to us when we're just walking down the street to give us high fives and make us feel like we're celebrities, seriously. Despite their living conditions they have the biggest smiles on their faces all the time and want others to feel at home here more than anything else. It's not too hard to find lessons here just because everyone is so welcoming, especially to foreigners speaking Tagalog.

So far the weirdest foods I ate have been balut (which is one of the best things I've ever ate) and a cooked fish head which wasn't too bad haha.

So, as most of you know I was assigned to my first area in Laoag 3B which is all in downtown Laoag and a little bit of bukids (rice fields) about 15 minutes away. Downtown is pretty insane. You can't really walk anywhere on a busy street without having the fear that you're gonna be ran over by a jeepney or a tricycle. But the church is right down the street from our apartment so we play basketball every morning and it's really convenient on P-days because we can just go to the market and the store just by hitching a ride on a tricycle.

The bukids are the best part of the area, we have to walk really far out of our way to get to them, and even though it's only 15 minutes away from downtown Laoag, on a clear night you can clearly see the outline of the Milkyway and countless stars. There's water buffaloes, goats, cows, pigs, rats, snakes, the works. It's one seriously pretty awesome here.

Man, I wouldn't know what I would do with out my trainer and mission president being patient with me these last 3 weeks. I'm seriously so grateful for them. 

My trainer is the best, I seriously wouldn't know what to do if he wasn't my trainer. We of course have our differences but we're helping each other out and we're becoming better missionaries because of those differences. 

As most of you know, I struggled for the last 3 weeks. But I grew so much because of those struggles. I realized just how much I am blessed in my own life back home, that I come from a loving family who supports me, and I come from a family who helped me out my entire life, and it was a hard adjustment to finally have to do EVERYTHING on your own. You realize just how much you take for granted when you leave your family and friends behind and come to a country like the Philippines. We got to Laoag and realized that the language we learned in the MTC is completely different from what they speak here, 50% speak Tagalog and 50% speak Ilocano. Trying to keep up with that stressed me out so much. Adjusting to a new climate, culture, food, water, and the people having different personalities added a lot more stress on me. Having bugs on you all day, everyday, as you sleep, and as you walk 7 miles a day in the Filipino winter (which is still 90 degrees) and having your shirt covered in dirt and drenched in sweat just added more stress. Studying for 5 hours a day in the middle of the day when your apartment doesn't have air conditioning was hard. Having to shower with cold water and pouring a bucket over you was a struggle. Washing your clothes by hand and a washing board is a struggle.  Each day I was mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually worn out.

 I was so worn out that I started to doubt myself. I asked myself these question for the last three weeks "Can I really do this for two years?" "Can I actually learn two languages instead of just one?" "How can I help these people if I can't even talk to them?" "WHY ARE MISSIONS SO HARD?"

This past Wednesday night I started to doubt myself a lot, but realized that because I have been so worn out that my prayers haven't been as meaningful. I had no other choice but to get down on my knees and pray. I prayed about all the trials and hardships that I've been having, every bit of doubt, fear, homesickness, everything. I prayed for two hours, just talking and trying to find a solution for my problems. And with all of my power I asked for charity and love for those that I'm around. Immediately when I got up from my prayer, I no longer thought of the miles we had to walk in the heat, I no longer thought about home, the water, the apartment, the trials of learning another language. That night was the best lesson we had all mission so far because I was able to rely on faith and the atonement to help me out instead of relying on myself to get through these hard times. 

I can go into so much more detail about the entire story but I might need to save that for my homecoming talk in a couple years :) 

I love you all and pray for you all the time! I hope everyone is doing great! Everything is perfect here in the Philippines :)

Mahal kita!

Elder Oslund

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dumating po kami sa Manila! (We arrived in Manila!)

Magadang Umaga! (Good morning!)

It's almost 11 o'clock here in Manila on Saturday morning. The flights were great. We arrived here in the Manila MTC at 11:30 last night. Just driving through all of Manila to get here was one of the coolest experiences ever. I'm already in love with the city here. We don't have too much time to write today it's just an email to tell everyone that we're okay. The Philippines so far is amazing. 

This weeks schedule is pretty awesome

We get to proselyte in Metro Manila area today from 2-6 PM

On Monday we visit the American Cemetery depending on how long it takes to do our Visa information.

On Tuesday we get to walk across the street and do a temple session in the Manila temple! 

Then on Wednesday we head out to Laoag!!

The drive from the airport here was awesome. I couldn't tell if they're the worst drivers or the best drivers, there's no traffic violations and there's hardly any lanes so it's super crazy on the roads. We turned a corner to get to the MTC and the temple was the first thing we saw, it was lit up and beautiful  and so great to see after flying for 20+ hours.

The weather is kind of like Nashville's weather which is great because it rains all the time but it's super humid which isn't really too big of a deal.

The Manila MTC is so nice too, it feels like we're staying in a hotel in the outskirts of Manila. We get our own bathrooms, sinks, showers, the floors and sinks are made out of marble, and we still get breakfast served to us. It kinda makes me wish we could have been here all along!!

My companion changed from Elder Briskin to Elder Mumm. Elder Briskin, Elder King and Elder Kelley are a trio now. I'm not sure how much time we're going to be in an actual companionship though just because we need to do more personal Visa things. The main purpose of staying here before the field is to do all of that now instead of the last 5 days on your mission which I'm completely fine with.

I seriously feel like I'm the most blessed missionary to be able to do all of these things before the mission field. I love speaking Tagalog and being here in the Philippines! I can't really describe how amazing it really is.

I'll talk to you all later this next week in Laoag!

Kita Kits! Mahal kita! (Love)

Elder Oslund

During a Layover in Tokyo

Japanese Toilets

In Manila

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kita-kits! (See you later!)

Magadang umaga mga tao! (Good morning people!)

My last full email home until we head out to the Philippines! The last 6 weeks have been the fastest weeks of my life but we're so ready to finally start fulfilling our purposes as missionaries and get started working in the Philippines!

This last week has been pretty special.

Last Sunday's Devotional I was able to give the opening prayer for Elder Russell M. Nelson's  wife and was able to meet her for a spare moment after her talk. Even talking to one of the 12 apostle's wife is such a unique and amazing opportunity. She came up with one of the best talks that I've heard in a long time, I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity to be apart of the program that night! The spirit was amazing and I don't think there was one missionary in that room that didn't walk out a better and more prepared missionary. It was AMAZING.

We were able to walk to the Marriott center to watch a Devotional there on Tuesday afternoon given by Elder David F. Evans. And that night we were supposed to hear from Elder Holland at the MTC but he couldn't make it so we heard from Elder Christoffel Golden. Both of those talks were great! The Devotionals we get here at the MTC are seriously one of a kind. Remember the first week where I was homesick and hated it here because classes were hard, I didn't know what the teachers were saying and learning a new language is actually difficult? It's actually going to be weird leaving here now because of how much I started to enjoy it. Most definitely the most spiritually uplifting and some of the biggest times of growth over the past 6 weeks I've ever had in my life!

On Wednesday we were able to host again which wasn't as fun as the last time, there were really no crying families this time which made it less fun. Is that mean to say? Haha. But after Elder Briskin and I had to teach "People and Your Purpose". For those of you who have been into the MTC, it's the time where the two missionaries come into that big room and start off the lesson to an investigator in front of a room full of new missionaries. Well of course we would get picked to do that. But there was a problem, we never once taught a lesson in English. The only lessons we've ever taught have been in Tagalog. So we walk in and I walk up to the first guy and I go "Kamus....How are you?" Then I get stage fright and I don't even say I'm Elder Oslund I just say I'm Tommy. Gosh that was the worst moment of my life haha. But we made it out alive. 

Thursday we were able to Skype TRC the same Filipino lady as last time. That went 100x better than People and Your Purpose. It's kind of weird that I'm more comfortable teaching a lesson in Tagalog than I am in English. But we taught her about how to receive revelation by going to church. She asked me about an experience I had about receiving revelation by going to church and I told here about the time I went to church asking Heavenly Father if going on a mission was the right choice for me. The answer was so blatantly obvious that I should go on a mission which then lead me to the position I am today :)

Friday we had In-field Orientation and it was actually a lot better than what I expected it to be. We were in the room from 8-5:30 but it was great. Definitely got me way more excited to finally go out into the Philippines :)

I know that when I get to my first area next week that it will be one of the hardest adjustments again in my life. Adjusting to the culture, weather, language, and just about everything will be another time where my faith will be tested. But I know that I can be able to endure those hard times on the field because I was able to endure the hard times and struggles at the beginning of the MTC. The Lord called me on this mission knowing that there's going to be hard times, but He knows and has faith in ME that this mission is the best mission possible for me. 

Alam ko po na mahirap ang Tagalog pero, na mahalaga ang trabaho ito. Sa pamamagitan ang ating Ama sa Langit, ginawin natin po ang lahat ng mga bagay. Nagpapasalamat po ako para sa pagkakataon ito upang itinuro ang ebanghelyo ni JesuCristo sa Pilipinas. Alam ko po na magiging mas masaya sa buhay natin sa pamamagitan JesuCristo :)

(I know it's hard in Tagalog but, this is an important work. Through our Heavenly Father, we can do all these things. I am grateful for this opportunity to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Philippines. I know we can be more happy in our lives through Christ :) )

Before I end this email I want to share you a scripture that Elder Briskin shared with me the other day about our work that we are going to be doing here next week for the next two years. I read it over and over again during personal study and each time I read it it became more and more personal to me. I'm adding in the words that we made to make it a PERSONAL scripture. This scripture touched my heart so much about the work we are going to be doing and the people that we got to be with during our time at the MTC. It's from Alma 17:11-14 &16-17

11. And the Lord said unto the missionaries: Go forth among the Filipinos, thy bretheren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

12. And it came to pass that the hearts of the missionaries, and also those who were with them, took COURAGE to go forth unto the Filipinos to declare unto them the word of God.

13. And it came to pass that when the missionaries had arrived in the borders of the Philippines, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for the missionaries supposed that great was the work that which they had undertaken.

14. And assuredly it was great, for the missionaries had undertaken to preach THE WORD OF GOD....

16. Therefore, this was the cause for which the missionaries had undertaken the work, that perhaps they might bring the Filipinos unto repentance; that perhaps they might bring them to know of the plan of redemption.

17. Therefore the missionaries separated themselves one from another, and went forth among the Filipinos, every man alone, according too the WORD AND POWER OF GOD WHICH WAS GIVEN UNTO HIM.

I love you all so much. I'm so grateful to be doing GOD'S WORK. Please do not worry about anything, I know that times will be hard at the beginning, but this mission was meant to be for me. I'm as prepared to serve in the Philippines as I'll ever be and I'm not afraid of speaking Tagalog or adjusting to the culture and weather because God gave me the commandment to go into the Philippines and establish His word there. And I know that "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)

So this is is it for me. I'll see you all in the Philippines!!! Pupuntan po namin sa Pilipinas! (We're going to the Philippines!)

Mahal Kita,

Elder Oslund

Elder Oslund's District at the Provo Temple

Elder Oslund and the Zone Leaders

Elder Oslund's Zone at the Provo Temple

At BYU Marriott Center for a Tuesday Devotional

Elder Oslund's Zone in Front of the Temple

Provo, Utah Temple

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kamusta po pamilya ko at mga kaibigan?

"How are you my family and friends?"

Just another week and a half here at the MTC! We got our flight plans yesterday and got me so excited haha.

We leave the MTC November 13th at 3:30AM. Fly to Seattle, then fly to Tokyo, and arrive in Manila at 9:50 PM on November 14th. So that day will be super long and exhausting but we'll have a lot of good study time while flying over the Pacific haha. And I'm happy that I'll be able to call home in between the layover from Seattle to Tokyo.

I think we stay in Manila for 5 days where we'll stay at the MTC there, go to the Manila temple one of those days and go on splits with some of the missionaries in Manila. Then fly to Laoag after those 5 days to our first area! So excited for that!

I had one of the greatest Halloweens ever yesterday! 

It started off just by studying and reading, but when we were about to do language study our teacher walks in to tell us a General Authority was coming to our class that day! So we were about to to teach Ang Panunumbalik (The Restoration) when Elder Brent H. Nielson came into our room and immediately the entire atmosphere of our class changed. It was one of the most amazing things how you just felt the spirit traveling with him as he came in. It was a pretty cool experience to get to talk with him and his wife about ourselves and about the Philippines. His wife talked about how amazing the people in the Philippines are and how much we're going to love being there. I really cannot wait to be able to get out there already and experience these things for myself! I really do consider myself the luckiest missionary ever to be able to dedicate two years in the Philippines and be able to communicate with them in their native tongue!

Yesterday was one of the most nerve racking experiences since I entered into the MTC though. After we got to meet Elder Nielson he sat down next to his wife and our teacher. (Our teacher is in charge of the entire language learning here in the MTC). And we started teaching the Restoration to each other. Well I started teaching and I just felt everyone's eyes on me, so I peeked out of the corner of my eye and I see Elder Nielson, his wife, my teacher, and another visitor just staring at me seeing how I'm teaching. So the entire time I'm just thinking to myself "Please don't make a mistake, please don't make a mistake" Turns out I probably made 1,000 mistakes that lesson but the only thing that mattered was that the spirit was there :)

Thursday we got to skype a member that is living in the Philippines and we were able to teach her about how the Book of Mormon and the Bible complete each other. It was probably one of the most amazing experiences. Turns out that the person we skyped actually lives in Laoag and her two kids live there too! I really did find out first hand how nice they are, if I struggled to find a word she would help me out and would always give me encouragement. It was awesome!

Wednesday we were able to be hosts for the new missionaries coming in. I think the person in charge of new missionaries said that 270 new missionaries came in and 150 of them are Sisters. It's pretty amazing to see the amount of sisters willing to put off 18 months of their lives to bring others JOY, HAPPINESS, & SALVATION :) 

Some of the best learning experiences came this week as well.

Our district set goals for each other that at the end of each day we share a scripture that we like and talk about it then another person shares a short testimony. One of my best friends here at the MTC, Elder Spencer, has been super homesick this entire time. I can't begin to tell you how many times I prayed for him that he would find the strength to be comforted that everything back home will be okay. I shared with him a scripture the first week that we were here. It's 2 Nephi 22 (Compare Isaiah 12). And I shared to him that this chapter is pretty much an outline of our purpose as missionaries and the strength and comfort the Savior can bring us while we're doing His work. He shared to the class that he's read this scripture at least once everyday ever since he got here and that it has helped him get through the tough times when he's thinking about home. This increased my testimony so much about how much you can influence another person's life by the words you say or the things that you share. When I shared that scripture I had no idea that it would help him out to endure through the MTC, I simply just shared it because I thought that chapter was a great chapter about our purpose as missionaries. But sharing that scripture probably helped him stay on his mission rather than going home. I can't even tell you how HAPPY I was when he shared that to the class!

I really can't describe the feelings of JOY I have throughout the day now. I can't even walk down the halls without having the biggest smile on my face. I feel like I'm walking on a cloud the entire day and nothing in the world can tear me down. It's probably the greatest feeling I've ever felt and we still get 23 more months of this feeling :)

It's seriously so amazing to think about how much God loves each and every one of us.The greatest example for me during this time in the MTC, and even before the MTC has been the example of the Savior. I've come to know that the way we can experience this TRUE HAPPINESS is if we align our lives by following the example of the Savior. Obviously we know that no one can be anywhere near as perfect as what He was, but if we do all we can to follow His example then we will experience more joy and happiness than we can ever imagine. :) Alma 22:15 says "I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy." It's been the best decision of my life to "give up all that I possess" so that "I may receive this great joy." And so that OTHER PEOPLE CAN EXPERIENCE IT TOO :)

Well, this is it for me for this week. I hope everyone has a great week and I'll talk to everyone again for MY LAST P-DAY IN THE MTC next week. Love you all :) Mahal ko kayo!


Elder Oslund

D&C 11:13

(Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Labing-siyam pang araw sa MTC (19 days left in the MTC)

Hey guys!

"19 days left in the MTC"

Thanks again for all the love you sent me this week! I love opening up my email and seeing 20 emails. It takes a while to respond to them but keep them coming :)

By the way, if you see grammar mistakes or misspelling at any time during my emails during these next two years its not my fault, Tagalog is making me do it haha. The sentence structure for Tagalog compared to English is completely different. You should see my journal after speaking Tagalog all day.. So many mistakes! Haha

So to start off we receive our flight plans to the Philippines this Friday! I don't want to guess what it's going to be like because I might be completely wrong. Just expect a very long and exhausting day of flying and layovers before we land in Manila! One thing I know for sure is that when we land in Manila we stay in the Manila MTC for 5 days just to get over jet-lag. 

I get released as District Leader this week but I'm called to be the Zone Leader for the remainder of the MTC. Some people don't like being leaders because it increases their work load, which is true, but I love it. You're able to develop such a stronger bond and love for the Elders and Sisters in your zone/district...I love it!. And the zone/district leader meetings we have every Sunday and Tuesday are amazing. You see the Christlike attributes you need to work on in order to become the missionary the Lord needs and expects you to become. 

Everything else in the MTC is going great though! The 2 districts ahead of us leave on Thursday which means were the next districts to leave! Each day in here seems like it takes forever but each week flies by. It's crazy to think we've almost been here for a month already.

We learned about 6 new verb conjugations this week. Some are harder than the others but overall they're pretty fun to learn. There's no way I could have learned all of these conjugations without the gift of tongues! Such a real and powerful git!

Anyways. Some amazing experiences happened through out the week.

So on Monday we taught Marlyn (an investigator my teacher imitates). That lesson was definitely a humbling experience. It did not go well at all. We didn't prepare the way we needed to in order to address her needs and concerns and was struggling to try to get the message across in Tagalog. 

After that lesson I just remember thinking I'm not going to be unprepared for another lesson again.

Then Tuesday comes around and  we had member TRC. Member TRC is just a home teaching program with members from around the Ogden/Provo area who volunteer to come to the MTC so missionaries can teach them. Most are returned missionaries from the Philippines but some are native Filipinos. Anyways, taking the lesson that I learned from the night before I wanted to prepare as best as possible for the two lessons we had to teach. The topic was "Revelation through prayer" or "Paghahayag sa pamamagitan ng panalangin" ;). I was reading out of the book of Mosiah when I realized that the passages I was reading wouldn't help the lessons we were about to teach. I prayed for guidance as to what scriptures we should share to whoever we would teach. So I grabbed in the middle of the scriptures and I turned straight to 2 Nephi 32:8. I read the scripture, prayed about it, and felt that it was good enough to share. I still felt I needed one more though so I prayed to be guided to receive one more scripture. This time I had to flip through the scriptures and I came across Alma 5:45-46. I read it, prayed about it and felt that scripture was the correct one to share.

Now I feel confident that the scriptures and the lessons Elder Briskin and I prepared would go well with the lessons we were teaching. Before we started teaching I told Elder Briskin to share the scripture in 2 Nephi when he feels prompted to do so. So we go into the lesson and we're teaching a native Filipino lady who moved from the Philippines to Ogden about two years ago. We're into the lesson and Elder Briskin felt prompted to share the scripture so he did that. Then I started talking and asking questions after and I shared the scripture in Alma 5. The next thing that happened was one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever experienced. It developed my testimony about the power of the spirit and the gift of tongues, and also revelation through personal study. So she gets done reading and I close my eyes to try and think what to say next in Tagalog. The next thing I know I'm asking a question in Tagalog that I didn't even know I knew how to say. After I'm done I look up and I just see that sweet old lady have tears in her eyes. Then she talks for about 5 minutes and I have no idea what she's saying but I can just feel the power from her words. By the time she's done talking shes in full on tears. 

She says the prayer in English so we can understand what she was saying and she said stuff about how this lesson changed her life and how thankful she is for the missionaries. The entire time I'm just as confused as Elder Briskin because I had no idea what I even said that would make her feel that way. After the lesson we walk out of the class and I'm trying to recall what I asked her so I asked Elder Briskin and he had no idea what I asked.

That experience developed my testimony so much about the power of this calling as a full-time missionary! It made me realize how important it is to prepare for lessons as best as possible and to try to receive personal revelation through prayer and scripture study. Although I had no idea I was going to teach this lady, I received revelation that those scriptures that we prepared were meant to teach her. And because of our preparation and our diligence in personal study we were able to change a life of someone before we even entered into the mission field. How amazing is that? :) 

I love being a missionary, I'm so grateful to be able to do this for two years. It's one of the greatest works you can do here on earth, to be able to help families be together for all eternity :)

I love you all so much!

Mahal ko kayo!

Elder Oslund

In Front of the Provo Temple

Me and Elder Tokanong. He's from a tiny island called Kitypas I think. He's one of the coolest person you will meet. He has to learn English before he learns Tagalog just because he has to understand what the teachers are teaching. He'll leave with us to the Philippines on November 13th.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pananampalataya Sa Diyos (Faith in God)

Hey Everyone!

I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, and has comforted me by writing through out the week, can't begin to tell you how much it has helped me during this time on my mission :)

So if you haven't caught on I'm going to send my emails while I'm on a mission with the title in a short Tagalog phrase. This week is "Faith in God". I believe that this is appropriate for my experiences throughout the week.

So as most of you caught on about my last email, I was pretty homesick and just incredibly stressed out about everything that was going on. After I sent my email last week I walked out of the computer area and was on the verge of bauling because of how much I was thinking about home and how much I just wanted to keep talking to my family and friends. My focus was no longer on the people of the Philippines but instead on worrying about home. I was so "homesick" that day that I didn't even want to go to the temple because I just did not want to do anything. So I prayed. And the impression shortly came after that I NEEDED to go to the temple. What was I thinking about that anyways? The temple is the PERFECT place to go when you're feeling stressed out about something, worried, anxious, homesick...anything at all. So as I went to the temple and finished the session I just sat in a chair and pondered and tried to recall WHY I decided to go on a mission. The reminder soon came to me that the reason I went on a mission is because I felt the Savior's love and mercy and I felt His forgiveness in my own life. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ I was able to completely turn my life back around and be happier than I have ever been. And the reason why I went on a mission is because I felt that if the Atonement can help heal, strengthen and turn my own life around, then it can turn ANYONES life around. That was the message I wanted to share to the people of wherever I was called to serve (luckily it's the Philippines :) ).

The Atonement of Jesus Christ has been the most real thing I have ever felt in my life. I know that if someone has feelings of guilt, or maybe thinking that they can't change the person that they are, The Lord still knows the potential that you have as a child of God. He sees you as the person you CAN become instead of the person that you were. How amazing is His love for each of us? If there's one thing I hope people can get out of this email is to have faith in God, have faith that He sent His only son so that we can become happy, so that we don't have to experience any pain that the Savior experienced during his mortal ministry. He sent His only son to die for us so we can be forgiven and have eternal life! :)

Throughout the rest of the week my faith continued to grow.It's so comforting to know that whatever feeling of homesickness I feel or whatever feeling of self-doubt I feel, The Savior has felt is as well.After that experience at the temple my prayers have continued to be answered through scripture study, listening to talks given by modern day prophets and apostles, and the devotionals that we have here at the MTC. My outlook about the MTC and my purpose as a missionary has flipped completely around BECAUSE OF THE ATONEMENT. There is so much power behind prayer, scripture study, and guidance from prophets and apostles.

Because of the strength I have been able to receive this week, my companionship has been able to develop a stronger bond, the district has been able to develop a stronger bond, scripture study has been able to answer all of my prayers and concerns, the language has been able to click a lot easier, and lessons with investigators have been more meaningful and has invited the Holy Spirit to be there as we teach.

Have faith in God and His Son that they will provide you the strength to overcome any trial you might be having. I love you all so much and think about you still, I know that the Lord has comforted me by letting me know that everything will be alright with my family and friends back home as I hasten His work in the Philippines. 

I hope this email helped describe what my experiences were throughout the week! 

Mahal ko kayo!

Elder Oslund

Elder Oslund and his first companion, Elder Briskin, from Milan, Italy

Redondo 2nd Ward Missionaries: Elder Oslund and Elder Weaver at the MTC

Language Study Books

Elder Oslund's District

To and From