A Word from President Murray

August 15, 2009

President Murray posted a blog entry about Mike.  It’s here.


Returning Missionary

August 14, 2009

Michael returns from his mission Saturday morning, August 15th.  He speaks in Santa Susana II Ward on Sunday, 8/16, at 9:00 AM.  The address is 5028 E Cochran St, SIMI VALLEY , CA 93063.

August 13, 2009 The Final Letter

August 13, 2009

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them (Mosiah 4: 9-10).”

“O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day (D&C 4:2).”

“Say nothing but repentance unto this generation. Keep my commandments, and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed (D&C 11:9).”

I had a dream last night about these scriptures. I don’t know if that ever happens to you but I get it every once in awhile. I’ve been going over the past two years in my head and reading through my journal and remembering all the wonderful people that I have come into contact with and I’ve had the opportunity to teach. It’s amazing, as I added up all the numbers I found out that I have made contact with over 12,000 people in the past two years and I think I have taught over 2,000 lessons!  It’s incredible!

As I have looked to God for everything in His work I have felt His guidance and my testimony has grown stronger because of it. I love that phrase “If you believe these things see that you do them”!  That is how my testimony has come and that is how I’ve seen others come to know it is true as well. Faith is not just a passive belief but it is an action. See that ye do them!

To the next scripture: It is only when I have served with my heart, might, mind and strength that I have felt truly worthy to do God’s work and know that one day I will have to stand before Him and account for these two years.  Charity, and giving all you have for others, is something that is completely foreign to most teenagers when they  leave home and start serving a mission. Soon after you get into the field you realize that the only way to do this work is in His way, and that way is hard and very different from the way the most of us live our lives. Because of that though, the difficulty and pressures you feel put you in a humbling place that forces change (thank goodness).  Which leads into the next scripture.

I’ve come into contact with over 12,000 people in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Have I said “nothing but repentance” to them? Have I encouraged faith in Jesus Christ and taught them to live the commandments that God has given us? I think I’ve done my best. I love this work and I really have seen all the blessings in my life, and in the lives of those that I have taught, that God has promised.

This Sunday was an amazing day. The pinnacle of all my work here in Rising Sun. Immediately after church we had the baptism of Nick Brown. It took a lot of work for him to get to this point and he still has a long, hard and wonderful road ahead of him. It was an amazing service, with great attendance from the branch. Even President and Sister Murray came to see Rising Sun’s first baptism in a long time. I had the wonderful blessing of being asked to baptize him and then in two Sunday’s Elder Chan will confirm him in Sacrament meeting.

Later on in the day, Erin Snyder was baptized by Mike Strange. Erin was pretty nervous before she was baptized but she was glowing afterwords. We only met her about a month ago through her best friend Taylor Strange. We met her at dinner with the Stranges on July 3rd and then with the encouragement and persistance of Taylor she met with us and had a lesson a couple days later. Ever since I met Erin I could tell there was something special about her. She really has a wonderful future ahead of her. I was blessed to be able to confirm her immediately after her baptism since she is heading to South Carolina for school this Saturday.

I don’t want to leave. I never want to stop doing this work. Seeing the lives of so many people change for the better has been the best blessing I could ever ask for. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to do this Full-time. I opened up the Ensign yesterday and and the talk I opened to was titled “Get On with Our Lives”.  It is now time for me to get on with the next chapter of my life, but I can tell you, missionary work is going to be a big part of it.

-Elder Michael Oakford

August 6, 2009

August 6, 2009
What a way to close out my mission! Things have still continued to improve and the area is thriving. I believe last week I told you that Nick wasn’t prepared and things didn’t look hopeful but right after I wrote on Thursday things started to dramatically improve and he has put himself right back on track. He is doing great and his interview for baptism is tonight at 7. He has asked that I baptize him and Elder Chan will confirm him the following Sunday. He is really excited and commited to do this and has kept every commitment we have left him to help him prepare for Sunday. The Branch is really pumped as well. It’s going to be a fun day.
Erin had her interview this past Tuesday and is all set and ready to go for her baptism which will be at 6:00pm Sunday evening. She is having it later so people from the Newark Singles Branch can come on over after their meetings. We’re hoping for a great turn out at both of the baptisms. The support for both of them from the members of the church has been tremendous.
Today I did a trial run at packing so I could make sure I wouldn’t have to ship anything home. It really is not very fun packing all your stuff up and knowing that the next area that your being sent to is HOME. I’m not really looking forward to it, and neither is Elder Chan since every time I would pack something up he would be right behind me to pull it out and remind me that he is not letting me leave.
Alright well, I’ve got to run for now. We helped this morning get things ready for a wedding reception for someone in the branch and then tomorrow we are helping set things up at the church in the morning. We’ve still have a lot of errands to run.
I love you. Keep Erin and Nick in your prayers.
I love you!
-Elder Michael Oakford

July 30, 2009

July 30, 2009

This week has been another full of tender mercies from the Lord. You’ve got to love the roller coaster ride of Missionary Work!!

First the bad news, Nick is not going to be ready for awhile, he’s just not keeping committments and is still having a hard time with smoking. Please keep him in your prayers.

Now for our beautiful miracle!
Sunday Erin couldn’t get off work for church and she tried finding someone to fill in for her for 3 hours. So we set up a lesson at Taylor Strange’s house (she is Erins best friend) for that night. We taught the Plan of Salvation, and the lesson went great! Taylor and Mike Fox were there and helped us teach. The Spirit was very strong and through the whole lessong we didn’t talk about baptism, mostly because the Monday before we commited her to baptism and she said the she wasn’t ready and did want to be rushed. Then we didn’t see her for the rest of the week because Taylor was at ‘trek’ and Erin is a very difficult person to get ahold of. After our lesson on Sunday we went back to the apartment and finished our planning for the next day, when the phone rang. It was Taylor and she told me to get everyone together (Elder Chan was in the shower and thought I was crazy for telling him to get out RIGHT NOW!) We gathered around the phone and Erin got on the phone and told us that she had prayed and had decided to be baptized on Aug. 9th! My last Sunday here! She really had just caught fire the past couple days. I gave her a nice copy of the book ‘Our Search for Happiness’ with my testimony in the front  and she read it until she finished it at 2Am!

Today Erin called us while we were shopping and asked if we could have a lesson this morning even though it was P-day and of course we said yes (we had a lesson with her last night at the Olson’s house too).  I made some quick phone calls and had everthing set up. Sis Simmons and Sis Cloward changed their plans, picked us up and took us to the Fox’s where we planned to teach Erin since she was home alone. She pretty much taught us the Word of Wisdom and all about Tithing.  The really great thing is the branch has just taken her and fell in love with her.  She has already contacted her Institute Teacher and the Branch President down in South Carolina where she will be going to school! You have to love someone who is so fired up about the gospel in their lives.  She has already started doing family history so she can do baptisms for the dead for her relatives!

That has been our week.
I couldn’t ask for a better end to my mission!
Elder Oakford

July 23, 2009

July 23, 2009

Hey there,

This past week ended with a great day at church, seven investigators, another Rising Sun best! Yay!   We are having a great time and working hard to see lots of progress.

Right now we are looking at Nick getting baptized on the 2nd and then Vanessa and maybe Erin getting baptized on the 9th. Our hopes are high and lots of things have to happen before they can get baptized so we’re working hard to make sure it can happen.
Today we had a really fun day. Sister Cloward and Sister Simmons took us on an adventure to the Herr’s Potato Chip Factory and then down to Turkey Point Light House.  The tour was fun at the factory, warm chips, yummy. The hike to the light house was probably the highlight of our adventure. I’ll try to send more pictures when I get them and Sister Simmons said she would send some to you as well.
Lots of work to do tonight and since we packed our day I don’t have much time to write.
I love you.
Have a great week.

July 15, 2009

July 16, 2009

Well I sat down to write and then tried pondering for a little while but I’m still not coming up with much to report this week.

Things are going great. All the people that we are teaching are doing fantastic. We are working hard and seeing great things from doing so. Last Friday was Zone Conference in Broomall, PA. It was my final Zone Conference! Pretty sad. It was a great meeting and we put alot into it and in turn got alot of great things out. At the end of the meeting they always have the departing missionaries bear their final testimony. It was a pretty weird experience. In the past I had always just sat back and listened as my friends spoke about their missions and how fast the time had flown by and all that they learned. As they would be speaking I’d be thinking ‘wow I’m really sad to see them leave but thank goodness I have a while to go before I’m up there.’ But time crept up on me. When it was time to finally go up and speak it didn’t feel real at all. I really can’t believe it is almost time to go home. It seems like I’ve been doing this for so long and I’ve completely immersed myself in it that I don’t really remember what it was like to be back at home. I’d rather stay here.  Oh well.

Nick is doing great and he is still ready for his baptism on the 26th. Just working through the last couple weeks before baptism and usually those are the toughest ones, satan will do anything to get in the way.  Vanessa, who is the woman in the story I told you last week or the week before, is doing great. She is excited to come to church and continue to learn more. Answers to prayers are the best. Once God has answered your prayer you have absolutely no need to question anything else. I love it.
We have a few more wonderful people that we are working with and this week is going to be really important to see what happens with them in the future. I’ll update you next week.

I love you.

“Every event, every encounter, every disaster, however despairing it may seem to the outward eye, may be met with spiritual success. A temporal tragedy need never result in a spiritual defeat. To the contrary, such “tragedies” have often proven the springboard for a sublime spiritual victory.  One man accepts his deafness by blaming God; another, Beethoven, scores the Ninth Symphony. One woman with loss of sight sees only darkness; another with greater vision, Helen Keller, becomes a beacon to a blinded world. One man responds to his disease with loss of faith; another, Job, declares, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). One man loses his wife and in the process his zest for life; another, Robert Browning, draws ever deeper from the well to pen with compelling passion poetry of divine dimensions.   One man may respond to the seemingly disastrous events of life with vengeance and venom; another may respond with humble submissiveness to God’s will, an appreciation for life as it is, and a firm resolve to be better.  For one, life’s challenges and tragedies become stumbling blocks; for the other, the become stepping-stones.”   From The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister

-Elder Mike