June 25, 2009

Dear Family,
The past couple weeks have been fantastic. Heavenly Father has been stretching me in so many different ways and at times I have really been feeling it.  Rising Sun is such a great branch. There is a great combination of members and investigators and I have really fallen in love with all of them. The momentum is building we can really feel the spirit guiding everything we are doing. I love it!

Elder Willes got moved and is now a service elder. That means he is based out of Broomall but gets to see the entire mission. He helps move the missionaries and set up the zone conferences. If someone needs a car they take it to them. It’s kinda a break from proselyting for a little while but they stay really busy taking care of everything else that needs to get done to help a mission function. He will probably be there for the next 2-3 transfers.

In his place I received TWO wonderful missionaries. Elder Gillman from Lindon, Utah and Elder Chan from Pocatello, Idaho. We have been having a great time being companions, I love it. We make a pretty fun team. President Murray said that we would be together until I went home and then they would take over the area and be here for a total of probably six months a piece. Our area is a big change for Elder Chan who has been out for 7 months serving in areas like South Philadelphia and in the city of Reading, but Elder Gillman is used to the countryside. He is just coming out of Cambridge,MD where he has been for six months and on his mission for a total of nine months. This is also Elder Gillman’s third trio / threesome / tri-panionship so he has lots of experience as to how we are going to need to function. I was pretty shaky myself as to what I was going to do with three missionaries when I had a hard time keeping two of us busy! But I KNOW that
Heavenly Father has placed us all together for a reason.

I have had a couple really cool testimony building experiences the past few weeks and I have been feeling the spirit stronger now than I have probably my entire mission. We have been put in a couple situations where prayer and fasting was absolutely neccesary. They were big time make it or break it moments. The cool thing was after the test and seeing the positive outcome I was given what seemed like kind of a sneak-peek by God. I was shown that if I wasn’t humble enough to do all that I could do and also go to God and seek extra help that the outcome would have been different. I believe myself to be a pretty good, pretty fluent missionary BUT I see that every once in awhile Heavenly Father will put tests in our path to see if we will trust in our own abilities and rely only on ourselves  OR go to Him and trust in Him! That has been one of the greatest lessons of my mission.

You asked about the members of the branch. They are so sweet and I really love them. Each unit that I have served in I have been able to connect with the membership and that has been a great success of my mission. Each ward or branch has each had its own qualities that make me enjoy it, and Rising Sun is just the same.  The members love having us over and many of them are striving to help the missionary work move along. The past week or so we have been in the homes of the Wheeler’s, Kubesh’s, Jackson’s, Cain’s, Ellsworth’s, Simmons, Nair’s, Strange’s and more. They really take care of us and are always asking us how they can help us out. There are a few really incredible families in the branch too. I look at them and I see so many qualities that I want my family to have.

Our apartment is really nice too. As you saw in the picture we live right above a hair salon. The apartment is really nice and was furnished by the members. Brother Kubesh especially loves it, because he is the one that found it nine months ago so they could put missionaries in the branch.

That’s all I have time for today. I’m loving it and working harder and more efficiently than ever before, and thankfully I have great companions who are willing to do the same.

I love you. Have a great week!

-Elder Michael Oakford


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