Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last Email from the Mission

My dear family members, friends, relatives, and anyone else who may be reading,

This is my last Pday. In one week I will no longer be a set apart missionary. These past two years have gone by way to fast. They've been full of successes, failures, happiness, sorrow, peace, and everything in between. Some weeks felt like an eternity, and others passed by in a blink of an eye. It hasn't been easy, it's been the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's also been the most rewarding thing I've ever been a part of. It was rewarding because it gave me the chance to help people leave a life filled with sorrow, guilt, and pain, and come into a life filled with joy, peace, and love. This change only comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The power of the infinite atonement is strong enough to change people, heal broken hearts, do everything!

Seeing people who I love become happier through Christ's Atonement has definitely been the best, but the people I've met aren't the only ones who have been changed. This mission has changed me as well. Through my work I have come to know my God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent. The trials and doubts that come with the work pushed me to my God, and as I drew nearer to him, He drew nearer to me. He lifted me up, supported me, and made my burden light. The trials then turned into testimonies with the joys. All of these experiences combined with the Gospel of Jesus Christ have changed me, and are still changing me. I know the gospel is true and that it changes lives because it changed mine. I am a living testimony that it works!

I wish I had more time to serve, but just because I'm headed back to Utah doesn't mean I'm done with my mission, I'm just getting transferred ;) Every member needs to be a missionary, not just the ones with name tags. I can't wait to continue on in the work of salvation!

I love you all! 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Very Little Information but A LOT of Pictures!

September 3, 2016


Just a quick update this week, everything's good, I'm good, my leg is
getting better, I still haven't started physical therapy though, the
insurance made out an appointment for me, but the appointment was in
Hamburg! Haha, and I can't travel 250+ kilometers two to three times a
week just for that, so I have to wait a little longer until I can get
an appointment in Berlin. It's a little annoying, but I can wait a
little longer.

In bigger, better news, the Freiberg Temple is going to be
re-dedicated tomorrow! Woohoo!! We're all SOOO EXCITED!! The
dedication will be broadcast to all of the chapels in Germany, so
we'll all get to see it and participate! It's gonna be a good one!

Well, sorry for the super short email this week. Keep being awesome! Love you!

LG Elder Oliphant

August 27, 2016

Hey hey hey! How are you on this beautiful, hot, August day? Man, I don't know how it is in the rest of the world, but it is roasting up in here! 

Anyway, I wanted to start with a shout out to a true hero from this last week: my mom, the one and only Julie Oliphant. Last week she got my flight plans, and noticed that they were for the 29th of September instead of the 30th. She wrote me and asked if that was correct. Well, that wasn't correct, they had made a mistake in Salt lake and booked the wrong tickets! The tickets were booked while the whole office staff was gone helping the new missionaries in Freiberg, so we didn't notice it, and if my dear mother hadn't pointed that out, we would've been in big trouble.  So, thanks mom! You rock!

Anyway, this week was more of the normal stuff. Life as an office elder can be fun at sometimes, but also really boring at others. A big part of our job is trying to fix problems in the mission, but sometimes these problems are just way over us. For example, one thing that we do a lot is buy train tickets for traveling missionaries online through the train company, DeutscheBahn. Well, we don't know why, but we are somehow being blocked from buying tickets. It's really, really annoying. We've called DeutscheBahn, they said it was a problem with the bank. We called the bank, they said it was a problem with DeutscheBahn. We would just use another method of transportation, but DB has a total monopoly on the train system, so there's no other option. It's really dumb, I hope we can get it sorted out quickly!

Well, what else is new... Oh, this week I got a package! There was no return address, only a postage mark from England. I opened it up, and what was inside? A potato! with a message from my mom. Haha, I was so confused, but it was really funny, the whole office staff got a good laugh out of that one.

Well, that's all from me. Bis später, Alligator!

A little free time...

They needed a new toilet seat 

The District on July 4th

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wahoo!! Wittenberg!

Hey hey hey!

Well, I have good news. I'm out of the hospital! Woohoo! I got
released on Monday, and I was so happy. I'm really glad that I was
able to be taken care of in a good hospital with good, capable doctors
and a very nice and helpful staff, but man, 18 days was just a little
too much. I did learn a lot though while I was in the hospital. I had
a lot of questions, like why I had to go in two days before our
baptism, and why this had to happen to me now, near the end of my
mission. For a while I was upset, frustrated, and even a little angry.
I had all of these questions, and I felt like I wasn't getting any

The answers that I wanted didn't come immediately, but they did come,
and it was through the Book of Mormon. I wanted to know if the Savior
really knew what I was going through. I decided to read in 3 Nephi 11
where Jesus Christ himself comes and visits the Nephites, the crowning
point of the Book of Mormon. As I was reading, verses 14 and 15 really
stood out to me, which say,
" 14 Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into
my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands
and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the
God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

15 And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their
hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands
and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until
they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with
their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was
he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come."

Here, Jesus Christ is giving the Nephites an invitation to find out
for themselves if Jesus truly is the Christ. This is the same type of
invitation he gives to us. We don't yet have the opportunity to feel
the prints in his hands, but we can still know that He is the Savior
of the world. We come to know this by reading his words, learning
about his life, work, and ministry, having experiences with his
spirit, and by praying unto the father to ask for a personal witness
that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten son of God.

This touched me in my moment of trial, and after praying to the father
and pleading for forgiveness from Him, I received the witness from the
spirit that I desired, and I knew that Christ suffered with me, and he
would help me. And he did, he bore me up with his spirit, and he sent
his angels to help me. One of these angels that came was Elder Charles
of the seventy. He came to visit the mission, and was very busy, but
he still took the time to come and visit me personally in the
hospital. We had a short little interview together, and it was such a
wonderful experience that just boosted my spirits so much.

Well, now I'm out and I'm back in action. My leg is doing better, I
don't have a cast on it anymore, I can wear a shoe again, but I still
can't put my full weight on my foot yet, no more that 15 kg. I'm also
starting physical therapy, so that'll be fun I guess.

Today for p day we got on a train and went to Wittenberg! It's a
rather small, but very famous city. It's where the Reformation really
started, with Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the door of the
Schlosskirche (Palace church). It was really cool to see, and learn
more about one of the great men who paved the way for the Restoration
to take place. Seeing the door where the theses was nailed was also
really cool. Martin Luther's actions lead to the reformation, which
led to expanded thinking and a pursuit of religious freedom. In order
to pursue their religious freedom, several groups of people left
Europe which started the foundation of modern day America, the country
where God could restore his church. This was probably the most
influential door in history!

This is the door!

One more thing, transfers! I'm staying in the office, which means I'll
be finishing my mission here, and I'm totally happy with that. I'll
enjoy my time :)

Well, that's all from me. Have a great week!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Updates coming in hot!

Halli hallo!

Well, I haven't written for a few weeks now. Sorry, I know I should
have, here's an update on what's happened over the past few weeks.

So, on July 18, I went to the doctor to have a pin removed from my
leg. I went in, and the surgery was simple, quick, and relatively
painless. I came back the next day for a check up, and they told me
that there was an infection in my leg. They started treating it, but
it was spreading to quickly and the antibiotics they gave me to take
orally weren't having any effect. On Friday, July 22, the doctor told
me he had done all he could do, and I needed to go to the hospital.
This was a little upsetting, but my first thoughts were, "ok, this
isn't a big deal, I'll be there for maybe a day or two, and be out on
Sunday in time to jump into the baptismal font with Sebastian." Well,
I got there, and the doctor in the hospital told me they needed to
operate in order to clean out the infection, they would be attaching a
pump to my leg to slowly suck out infected fluids, and that I would
need to stay for 8-10 days. Ouch. That means another surgery and more
hospital time. It also meant that i wouldn't be able to attend
Sebastian's baptism.

Now, let me tell you something about Sebastian. When I first broke my
ankle and I found out I would be going to the office I was devastated.
I didn't want to do office work, I didn't want to have a broken ankle,
I just wanted to find, teach, and baptize. The Lord new the desires of
my heart, and he prepared a way for those desires to become a reality.
On my first Sunday in the Lankwitz, Berlin ward, I was walking into
elders quorum with my crutches, and another member from Thailand, who
also was on crutches, sat down next to me and said "yes, now I have a
friend." This member, Panu, is so amazing, and he has an amazing
family, and he makes me a little bit jealous of Elder Gremillion and
Elder Smith-Driggs who get to serve with The amazing  Thai people. But
only a little bit ;). After Elders quorum Panu turned to me, and he
told me that his son, Yoshi, had brought a friend with him to church,
and that he wanted me and my companion to teach him. There were two
other companionships in the ward who had been there longer and knew
the family better, but they asked me and my companion to teach him. We
started off, and he made so much progress. He understood everything so
well, and after our second appointment he accepted our invitation to
be baptized. He picked out a date, and by July 24 he was ready, and he
was baptized. He initially asked me to baptize him, which is why I was
rather upset about having to be in the hospital, but in the long run
it's not about who performs the baptism, it's about him making a
covenant with our Heavenly Father.

After I couldn't be at the baptism, Sebastian asked if I would be
there to confirm him. I thought for sure that I would be out of the
hospital by the next Sunday, July 31, but at the time I still had a
tube in my leg sucking out all the gunk. I really, really wanted to be
there, and the Lord provided a way. I got permission to leave the
hospital for a few hours to attend sacrament meeting, where I
confirmed Sebastian a member of die Kirche Jesu Christi der Heiligen
der letzten Tage, and I gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost. It was an
amazing day, and it showed me that nothing can come in between the
Lord's work, and it showed me that the Lord loves all of his children.

After the spiritual high that was associated with the confirmation, I
went back to the hospital, where I still am today. I've been here for
over two weeks now, they've performed 4 surgeries, I've had 25 needles
stuck in me, I've received 50+ bottles of antibiotics intravenously,
I've swallowed over 200 pills, and I've seen the hand of the Lord help
me, and support me through this trial. He's also helped me to spread
the gospel with those in the Hospital. I was able to testify of the
power of the Book of Mormon to one of my roommates' wife, who then
accepted the book and wants to learn more. I've also answered
countless questions about the church from the nurses, doctors, and
other patients. Everything from "why don't you drink coffee" to "who
is Thomas S. Monson?" All in all, I've learned a lot from my stay
here. I'll hopefully be released on Monday, so I can enjoy the last
week of the transfer with my companion and with my work.

The Lord has done a lot of things to help me keep my spirits high, and
to pass the time. I've had visitors come every day I've been here,
something I'm so grateful for because the nurses told me that visitors
usually don't come that often. I've had members, missionaries, even
the wife of a seventy came to say hello, and to bear her testimony,
and I'm so grateful that the Lord sent these loving people to help me.
The nurses and doctors here have also been extremely kind to me,
something else that I'm super grateful for. I've also had some really
cool roommates. My current is a retired professional soccer player.
He's fun, we get along well.

The biggest lesson I've learned is definitely a lesson of patience. In
one of his visits, President Fingerle was talking to me about
patience, and he reminded me of they saying, "pray to have patience,
to endure what you can't change, pray to have power, to change what
you can change, and pray to have wisdom, so you can discern which is
which." This is a situation that I currently can't change, and I think
the Lord is using it to teach me to have more patience. The current
plan is for me to be released on Monday, which with make the original
8-10 day estimate into 8+10 days ;) but it's fine. As long as my leg
heals, and I can get back to work.

I love you all, thank you for all of the prayers and support that
you've sent my way, bis aufs Wiedersehen!

LG Elder Oliphant

 Sebastian at his baptism with my comp, elder Anderson, and my
temporary replacement, elder Oliver
Sebastian and I together after his confirmation. The thing around
my neck is the pump.
My gross leg
My roommate, the profi Fußballer

A few more emails:

Well, when I first got here they took the plate out that was
stabilizing my bone so that there was no chance that any infection
could travel underneath the plate where the doctors couldn't get to
it. Because they took it out, the bone is naturally now not as stable
as it would have been, so I have to wait a little longer. But, this
week I started putting a little weight on it during physical therapy.
Next week the doctor said I can start to put my full weight on it
again. I have to stay until Monday because of the antibiotics that I
still need to receive through an IV. Yes I'll write a real letter
today. I'm trying to stay in good spirits, but I've been been here for
over two weeks now, and it's getting kind of hard, but I get a lot of
visitors, at least one every day, and I read a lot in the scriptures,
which helps a lot. The biggest thing I've learned is to have patience
with things that you can't control. I'll write more about that later.

Elder Charles of the Seventy with Chase

Dude! Elder Charles just visited me and we had a personal interview!
That was really cool

Dear Sister Oliphant,
Today Elder Charles of the Seventy took the time to visit your son together with me.
It was good to found your son optimistic and fine. We took him on a walk in the hospital and he confirmed that he might get released on the following Monday.
We had a prayer with him and left him in high spirits, after a joyful and humorous time together. 

Best wishes, President Fingerle