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!