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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Magadang Umaga (Good morning everyone!!)

The MTC has been a bitter sweet experience so far. It's been tough to adjust to the missionary life and spending your entire day in a classroom learning a new language and sharing a tiny bedroom with 6 other people. The worst part is that sometimes I feel as if I'm going through this change alone and I don't have too many people to be there for me. But as I pour out my heart and soul to the Lord I am able to be strengthened in my studies and recognize my purpose as a missionary. The MTC is just such a draining place and you want to leave and just go to the Philippines but then again you love it because of the spirit that has been felt through out the day.

I'm trying to do the absolute best I can to develop a relationship with my companion and my district but I just can't seem to develop that relationship to make the MTC a better place for all of us. I'm really hoping this next week will be a better week to grow as a companionship and a district so we can learn from the different qualities that we possess.

Some of the most spiritual experiences have happened this week. We got to teach Angelo three times this week and even though we're not even close to being where we need to be in the language, the spirit is still testifying that the words that we're saying are true and I'm able to really feel and rely on that assistance to teach investigators. But after we taught Angelo I asked one of our teachers, Brother Smith, "How can we teach from the spirit when all we really know are a few short sentences in Tagalog?" Then he said, "I'm going to bear my testimony all in Tagalog. You'll only be able to make out about 1/8 of the words that I'll say but tell me what you feel after." So he bore his testimony and he was right, I only made out about 1/8 of the words he was saying but the spirit still testified that what he was saying was true. I don't know why but that experience really stuck out to me on relying on the Holy Ghost to provide the words I need to help the people we teach. The biggest thing people need to do is FEEL the love of God through the Holy Ghost and it's our job to help them feel that love. Also, we're able to share our personal experiences and testimonies and I feel as if that is the time that we are able to grow and develop a better relationship together when we share those personal testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel.

I'm really starting to come along in the language and can carry out a short conversation and able to pray all in Tagalog. Not only that but I'm able to make out most of the words that my teacher is trying to teach us. So personal and language study has been an extreme blessing in my life.

We were able to see what the outside world is like for a brief 30 minutes because my companion had to go to the ER after chipping his bone playing basketball. It was good to get outside for a short period of time and see what other people do outside of the MTC. 

I made a list of short term and long term goals yesterday. They're all going to really test my capabilities but I just need to pray for strength and assistance to follow up on those goals.

The gym has been the biggest help in my life to wind down and relax by playing volleyball or basketball. Even though it's only for about 45 minutes I still love going there to help me keep my mind off of the demands of learning a new language.

We get to go to the temple today! I'm excited for that. I feel like the temple is the best place to relax and really have a close and personal relationship with God and receive revelation as to what to do while on this mission. Just being on temple grounds during the Sunday walk helped me calm down, that's how sacred that place is!

I wish there's more stuff to write about but the thing about being at the MTC is that it's literally the same exact thing over, and over, and over again every single day. I'm sure I know the classroom better than the back of my hand now just from being in it for about 10 hours every single day. 

I love you all and I'll be thinking about you this week!! 

Mahal ko kayo (I love you!)

Elder Oslund

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Kumusta Po Kayo?! (How are you?!)

Hey everyone!

Pretty crazy week so far at the MTC. The first 5 days are the worst part of the MTC because you're trying to get into a regular missionary schedule, learn Tagalog, learn how to teach, and still trying to grow in the gospel. But, the spirit is being felt EVERYWHERE which makes it a lot easier for sure. I won't be able to send you all the pictures that I took this week because the computers at the MTC have so many restrictions on them that I can't access my pictures off of my camera.

So my first companion, Elder Briskin, is from Milan, Italy but grew up in the United States and our Bishop for our zone described us as "complete opposites". He's called to serve in Manila. He's such a  great guy and we are able to really learn and grow together by the different qualities we have. 

The missionary schedule is INTENSE for new language learners. I'm so thankful to have the gift of tongues and the spirit by my side the entire time. I seriously don't think I could have made it out the first day without those gifts. 
Our Schedule is:
6:30- 7....Planning
8-9....Personal study
9-10....Companion Study
10-11....Language Study
1:15-4:30....Class Instruction (All Tagalog)
4:30-5:30....Additional Study
5:30- 6:15....Dinner
6:15- 9:10.... Class Instruction (All Tagalog)
9:10- 9:30....Planning
10:15 Quiet Time
10:30 Bed

So as you can see our mental stamina and faith is being tested to an extreme measure right now. By far the hardest thing I've ever had to do mentally.

I was called to be the district leader while at the MTC on Thursday night! Pretty cool! I love the district that I'm in. The sisters are really smart and really intimidate me by how well they're learning the language but I'm not doing too bad myself ;). This language is definitely something that will take a lot of time to pick up and understand but I've gotten so many confirmations that it will come together for me sooner or later. A scripture that I love is from D&C 11:10-14. I've never had a scripture hit me as hard as this did. I know that the work I'm doing is hard but I know that this church is true so the hard work will have an amazing result at the end!

It's amazing to see just how far the gospel has grown since the time it was restored. Over 15 million members and 170 temples! This is truly the Lord's work and even with all the oppostion we face as members of Christ's true church, the work still continues to grow and continue. What a blessing it is to be able to associate my name with Christ's name and to be able to do HIS work! I loved General Conference so far. It's so comforting to know that we can receive instruction and guidance by true Prophets and Apostles of Christ.Being a district leader I'm able to help guide and ask questiopns to the members of my district about the conference. The spirit has been so strong as I've been obedient to the commandments and being able to engage in such a discussion. 

We were able to teach an investigator already. All in Tagalog. On Friday night. Once I saw him all of the things I learned got thrown out of the window and I just blanked out. But I'm happy to be able to test and push myself so that I can become a better teacher and more fluent in such a difficult language. I am already able to say most of the greetings and ask questions, and already know how to open and close a prayer in Tagalog! The rest will come later haha. 

Well I love you all and I think about you all the time! Keep me in your prayers and I'll keep you in mine :) 

Pagmamahal (love),

Elder Oslund

FYI my P-days are on Saturdays and I leave for the Philippines on November 13th :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"The Last Suppers"

Here are some photos of Elder Oslund's final days as a "civilian", 30 September - 1 October 2014. We wanted to make sure his "Last Suppers" were delicious. He is now at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.

Holding the Philippines Flag in Nashville, TN

Enjoying a Chubby's Jalapeno Ranch Burger in Pleasant Grove, UT

Elder Oslund sharing his story and testimony to high schoolers in seminary

Elder Oslund and Doug Campbell at the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City. Doug is writing Tommy on his mission

Elder Oslund at the Salt Lake City Temple

Brothers at the SLC Temple

Elder Oslund at the Christus Statue at the Temple Square Visitor's Center, SLC, UT
Officially a Missionary - Last photo before entering the MTC

It is clear that Tommy has never been happier. He is ready for this amazing adventure that is just beginning.

He would love to hear from you! Send him an email or write him a letter. His email and physical addresses are on the sidebar!