July 9, 2009

July 9, 2009
Elders Gillman, Chan, and Oakford

Elders Gillman, Chan, and Oakford

Hey there,

Everything here is going fantastic! To show you what a good attitude can do, we mixed things up here last week and because we did we had the most successful week in Rising Sun history.  We are doing better and better as we learn how to function in this threesome. Sometimes its a little tough and you  have to work around some of the normal difficulties that you would have but with three people. Not bad though I really like it.

4th of July was really fun. We had a Pancake breakfast at the church from 8-10AM. There was a good turn out and the weather was beautiful so it turned out to be a really nice event. There were lots of branch members that came and many brought with them friends who had not been to the church before. I think an activity is always a nice way to introduce people to the church and the members without being too pushy. In the evening we went to the Ellsworths home/farm  and went to the party there. Nick and his son Aiden came along and they had a blast. Tons of people came to the party and after it got dark they had fireworks. The party lasted two days the 3rd to the 4th. Fireworks both days.
So here is the miracle for the week. This story starts back about three or four weeks ago. One day when I was with Elder Willes we were driving through Perryville late to an appointment.  I looked out the window and saw this woman sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette and right when I saw her the Spirit hit me “You Need To Talk To That Woman.”  I looked at her again as we were passing her and thought about how late we were to a really important appointment and then I did something that probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do but I prayed and told Heavenly Father next time I see that woman I am going to talk to her… Well. On Friday we were all set to go tracting in this neighborhood and we were saying a prayer before we got out of the car and as I closed the prayer I felt a very strong impression that we should not be here. I asked Elder Gillman how he felt and he told me the same thing. So we started heading towards another neighborhood that we had set as our back up plan. As we were driving down the street  I saw that same woman sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette and it hit me again “Go Talk To Her!”  So I told Elder Gillman to turn around. By the time we got back to that apartment building she was gone! But I was pretty determined since I promised God that next time I saw her I’d talk to her. So I grabbed Elder Chan and told him to come with me. We went up to the apartment building and rang all the door bells and knocked on the door but nobody was answering so I told Elder Chan to just open the door and go in.  As soon as he stuck his head in she stuck her head out and looked downstairs right at us and said “Can I help you?’ When I saw her I walked in and said “Yes, we have been sent here by God to talk to you today. Can we come in?” She seemed kinda shaken when I said that and replied “Well, I was just about to get in the shower do you think you could..” I knew I couldn’t let her get away so I told her “I saw you sitting on the porch and the Spirit of God told us we needed to talk to you right now. Can we come in?” Then she surprised me by saying “Well yes, come right in.”  I hollered out to Elder Gillman, he parked the car and we had a great lesson with Vanessa. She then called one of the members that lives right down the street from her and got a ride set up for church. Sunday came and she was there. She even got up and bore her testimony! She loved it and the coolest thing was in her testimony she said that for the past two weeks she had been praying to God to help her find which church she was supposed to join! I love miracles. Follow the Spirit and you can never go wrong.
I love you.
Elder Michael Oakford

02 July 2009 Letter

July 2, 2009

Hey there!

Things here in Rising Sun are really picking up. We are teaching some great lessons and we are finding a wonderful new group of people to add to our teaching pool.  We knocked into an old investigator, Nick,  that Elder Willes and I dropped when I first got to the area because he was always at school and never around to be taught. Elder Chan and I first saw him on Friday and taught him the Plan of Salvation. Saturday we stopped over again to make sure everything was good for him to come to church and he told us he was setting out his clothes and noticed he didn’t have church shoes and asked for help to get some. So we called up our branch mission leader who took him to Wal-Mart to buy some shoes! Sunday he was at church, he participated, and he even volunteered to say one of the prayers. One of the members in Rising Sun invited him to his birthday party and another invited him over for the 4th of July. When we were walking over to Brother Kubesh’s birthday Nick said “so I think I’m gonna get baptized in a couple weeks.” Elder Chan was kinda surprised buy his comment and said “Into what church?” Nick gave him a funny look and said “this one, dummy, what do you think?”
Then at dinner he asked the members, “How do I go about scheduling a baptism at church? like who do I need to talk to and everything?”  When we got him home we talked to him and taught him some more (making sure there was nothing that would prevent him from being baptized) and then commited him to baptism on the 26th of July!
The whole branch is really excited for THEIR new convert. I’m sure they will take very good care of him, he already feels a part of the church.
Everything else is going really well. More and more people are coming to church and the excitement is building! Missionary work really is fun. We have taken some great members out teaching with us and there testimonies have added so much power to the lessons we have been teaching. Tonight I get the opportunity to go on a split and go out teaching with Mike Fox, one of the young men in the ward who is awaiting his mission call. I am really excited. I wish I went out teaching more with the missionaries before my mission so I love bringing the young men along with me. I got the chance to go on my ‘mini mission’ before going into the MTC and that helped SO MUCH, but nobody else gets that chance and I think that going into the MTC with experience under your belt helps a ton.
Elder Chan and Elder Gillman are doing great. They are still getting used to the area as well as adjusting to the heat that is coming really soon. This will be their first summer. I am the lucky one that caught the end of one summer, got the brunt of a full summer in Philadelphia last year and then get almost a full summer before going home.
I love it.
I love you.
-Mike

June 25, 2009

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


June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009

I guess you all get pictures instead of a letter this week. It took awhile to download them all.
Hope you enjoy.

Mike

Mikes District

Mike's District

Rolling Hills near Rising Sun, MD

Rolling Hills near Rising Sun, MD

Cheaspeake Bay

Cheaspeake Bay

Elders Peck and Oakford

Elders Peck and Oakford

Rising Sun Apartment and Car

Rising Sun Apartment and Car

Oakford Avenue in Oakford, PA

Oakford Avenue in Oakford, PA


June 10, 2009

June 10, 2009
Dear Familia,
Everything here in Rising Sun is rockin’! We are building momentum and seeing lots of progress in the area.  We have a handful of less actives who hadn’t been to church in a long while who we have been teaching and they all showed up to church on Sunday! What a blessing. We are really working on finding more people to give baptismal dates too. They are here, we are just trying to find them.
The weather has been pretty good except for one day that we got dumped on by a passing storm. Yesterday, Mother Nature put on a beautiful lightning and thunder show. There was constant thunder for almost 2 hours! The lightning lasted from about 3pm to 7pm. I was waiting for it to get dark before I took some pictures but by the time it gets dark now, we are home and the lightning had stopped anyway.
We had our Zone Training Meeting in Dover, DE on Monday this week and then we have interviews with President Murray tomorrow morning in Wilmington, DE.  It’s already putting a crunch on our miles–we get 1350 per month.  President Murray came to our district meeting a couple weeks ago and taught us about the skills of communication. Lots of missionaries before coming out on their missions have limited contact with other people that they are trying to communicate with. The youth get so distracted by media and electronics that they would rather sit at home and play video games than go outside and interact with their friends. I think this leads to a HUGE shock once these people are sent out into the world to TALK TO and MAKE FRIENDS WITH everyone that they see. In his most recent Sickle Thruster, he wrote about how missionaries can learn to communicate with everyone especially their companions a lot better. I loved having him there. It’s always a treat to be with and hear and learn from President and Sister Murray. I’m really looking forward to my interview tomorrow.
Transfers are coming up quick! Only about one more week until my last transfer here in the mission field! Elder Willes has been here for a couple transfers now so he might get transferred,  but you never know. If he does, I hope they take Elder Moorhead out of Service and send him down here to Rising Sun to be my last companion!! Very unlikely, but I’ll pray for it!!
I got everyone’s letters on the same day this week. Yes, it is very OK to send things to my apartment. I live in the second story of a big house that has been converted into a hair salon on the bottom level and two apartments up stairs. The only thing that I would worry about is having the squirrels or deer run away with whatever you send.
Alright that’s all for now.  My time is up.  I love you.
-Mike

June 4, 2009

June 4, 2009
Dear Mom and Dad,

Everything is going great here in Maryland. We have some great people that we are working with and they are all progressing really quickly. The weather has been all over the place. We have had some really beautiful days and then some days like today that are overcast and rainy.

My talk in sacrament meeting went great. There wasn’t much time so I had only about 15 minutes to fill. Brother Kubesh and I were the only speakers but they released the Relief Society President and so she and the new one both gave there testimonies.  It was a nice meeting. Tonja, our investigator that has a date for June 28, was there with her two kids and she really enjoyed church as well which was great! Her kids on the other hand are not used to it yet and had a hard time in their classes. She is doing really well and we are all really excited to Rising Sun’s first baptism in a couple years.

Last week I was on exchanges with Elder Clark in Smyrna, Delaware. We had a really good time. I have served around Elder Clark for the past couple months when I was in Morrisville. We had a great two days of work. On Friday I think we taught more lessons than we had people tell us No!! That was incredible. The people in Delaware and Maryland are a lot different from those in the city. Elder Clark goes home at the end of this transfer and then will be at BYU next semester. He is a great friend but it going to be nice to still see a lot of these missionaries after my mission.

So the word on the street is that as of July 1st our mission will be taking over the Scranton, PA stake.  It is the stake that is just North of the Reading Stake. That will give us 8 more units and a lot more Spanish speaking missionaries. I think that that stake was part of Austen’s mission.
Nothing else is really happening at this time.  We have Zone training meeting on Monday down in Dover and then interviews with President Murray on Thursday, so P-Day will be on Wednesday again.
Alright, that’s all for now.
Love you,

Elder Michael Oakford


May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009

Hey there,
Everything is going great here in Rising Sun.  I’ve decided I really like that name, if I was going to name a unit that’s probably what I’d call it.

It stayed nice and cool today so we were able to go out with Brother Kubesh and hit balls at the driving range, it was a blast. We were expecting a lot of rain but it has stayed away, at least so far.
We are teaching a small group of wonderful people. Tonja is a young mother of two who they found tracting right before I got here. She is progressing really nicely and has a great spirit about her. She is reading and studying and really loving everything she hears. We had a Memorial Day picnic and she came and was able to meet a lot of the other young mothers which was a nice comfortable opportunity to do that outside of church.  She and her husband Steve and their two kids (7 and 8 years) will be coming to church for the first time this weekend. I’m really excited for them to come and meet the wonderful branch family.

We are also teaching a couple college age kids who live right next to the church in North East. Vince, his sister Heather and her boyfriend Ron all sat in on a really great lesson where we were able to answer a lot of their wonderful questions about God and the basics of religion. Vince is the most interested out of all of them. We have had a couple really great lessons with him and Brother Kubesh and he is keeping all the commitments we leave him. He has prayed and received a wonderful witness that what we are teaching is true and he knows The Book of Mormon is true and is really enjoying reading it.

We are having a great time building our teaching pool and progressing those we find. I’m sure we can see some great success in this branch before the time I go home.

Tomorrow we have Zone Conference up in Broomall. The focus for this Transfer is on Chapter 1, Chapter 3 Lesson 1, Chapter 3 Lesson 5 and Chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel.  Only one Zone Conference after this one so I’m excited to make the most of it!

Alright we are going back to work. Not much else to report. We were at the driving range and out past the end there was an Amish farmer working on his field with his big team of mules. Pretty fun to see!

Have a great week!

Love you,
Elder Michael Oakford