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;)