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

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