Saturday, December 13, 2014


Wonderful people from the Area Public Affairs office sent me their pictures and videos so we could share them with you.  These are probably more pictures than you care to see....but I'm a mission mom who loves her "missionaries", so.....  sorry!  They are just the best!!!   :)

 After practicing the night before for three hours or more, and sleeping for less than four hours, these wonderful missionaries got up, got beautiful and handsome and were cheerful and excited to be awake at 3am!  Here the sisters are waiting for the ladies makeup room to be unlocked.

They are already gorgeous! Each one of them radiates light so beautifully!

                                  Beautiful sisters, inside and out!

                 These are the handsome elders!  What wonderful young men!

After realizing that it was up to us to do any makeup, we used our own talent to help each other look their best.

The elders spent less time on their appearance and more time on "helping" each other.

                                            The finished product....beautiful!

 Elder Jo was given his own mic to make sure his beautiful violin playing could be heard.

Isn't this the cutest, most handsome, most beautiful group of young adults you have ever seen?  They just radiate the light and joy of the gospel....every one of them!  I just wish the rest of the 110 members of the choir could have been there too.  The whole Philippines would have joined the church after seeing their incredible example.

                   Elder Jo and Elder Thurber are extremely gifted musicians!             
                        Elder Cowan's body guard.....

                                   Elder Osguthorpe's friend.

What a wonderful bunch of great missionaries who know how to have fun sharing the joy!
                    It's amazing what a little hat will do!

                              How we love these sisters!

                           The masters at work........ Elder Osguthorpe is amazing!


                              Singing with their whole hearts and testimonies...

    Elder Osguthorpe's dramatic and exciting directing was fun to sing with!

                               This looks like the perfect Christmas card!

  May Manila and the rest of the world enjoy the joy this season and always!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

2012-12-11 MGA TV performance

It is almost 24 hours later, and I just have to write a note because my heart is so full of gratitude for the support of the Lord.  Today was another day of many miracles!

I'll never be able to list them all, but I just want you to know that it really shouldn't have gone well today.  Yes, we had done all we could.  Yes, we had tried our best.  But, no, we hadn't practiced enough.  No, I have never led or organized a real choir.  No...none of us had any clue about being on TV!  I'd never heard of the TV station and didn't honestly have any idea of what we were really getting into.

But, we had felt an impression that having a Christmas Mission Choir would be a blessing to the people of Manila and the missionaries.  So, we'd tried to do what we could to make it happen.  Our efforts, though well-intentioned, were imperfect, limited because of time and lack of knowledge, and honestly....things should not have gone well.

But we had done the best we could with what we had, and we had 260 of the most wonderful missionaries in the world praying for it to be successful, and......the Lord REALLY blessed us.

My video camera had problems, so I will have to attach pictures and videos later (several others took videos and promised to send me them).  But the following link will show you one of the first shots of the missionaries on TV.  It was recorded at about 5am.  :)

Missionaries from all over our mission converged last night upon the mission home.  Companionships did exchanges over night so the singing missionaries could practice and stay overnight at the mission home.  Every missionary could tell you a story of the challenge they had getting to the mission home.  Two sets of sisters spent over two hours trying to get a 15 minute drive distance (if the traffic was good....) But they all got there. They were weary and sweaty, but with a great, enthusiastic attitude.

We had a delicious spaghetti dinner prepared by Angel, then practiced for three hours.  It was an amazing experience.  We had been told many different things by the producers and weren't really sure what was going to be expected of us.  They had changed from saying they wanted three songs to maybe five or more.  So, we started practicing new songs.  A sweet sister, Sarah Castro, paid to take a cab across town after work to come help the choir practice.   She's a choir teacher.  She was amazing.  Between her and our very able conductor, Elder Osguthorpe, the choir quickly learned the music.  Sarah even taught them "Carol of the Bells" which is quite challenging to learn and sing acapella.  Yet, within a half hour or so, she had taught them.  When they sang it through with their music, it still sounded pretty choppy and unsure, so we thought maybe we should just not do it any more, but we felt like we should try it again, so Elder Osguthorpe had them put away their music and sing.  I wish you could have all been there!  They did SOOOOOOO well!  They sang all the words and the right notes.  If you were to ask anyone in the choir, I think they would all tell you what a miracle it was.  Even Sarah said she was amazed that they could learn it that fast.  We felt like we had Heavenly help.

Time was up for practice, so we had to quit before we were as prepared as we wanted to be or needed to be.  We had "family scripture study" together as a LARGE family.  It was a neat experience together, then we joined in prayer to petition the Lord for His care and help so that we could represent Him and His restored church and gospel well.  Almost everyone got to bed by 10:30 or 11:00.  For some it was later.  Then, we woke up at 2am and got ready by 3am.  We were picked up by vans from the TV station and driven to the TV station headquarters.

They took us to the "makeup rooms" where we found out it was the place for us to put on our own make up if we had some.  After fixing our faces, we went down to the front lobby where they have a large, beautiful set of stairs.  That is where we sang for the performances.

Our first performance was about 5am, an hour earlier than they had told us, but the missionaries were up to the task.  They did great and were recorded and sang live three times during the first hour of programming.  Then, they brought us food to eat.  They were amazing hosts in taking care of all of us.  After eating, we talked about what other songs we could sing because they had told us they needed more.  It was amazing to see them get to work and share ideas.  Several Filipina sisters taught all of them the words to "Pasco Na Namaan" in Filipino.  Again, it was miraculous how quickly they learned it.  After waiting for the producers to call us again, we decided to go practice all the new songs we'd added.  After practicing, they had one last chance to perform about 7:25am.  We sang "Pasko Na Namaan and all sorts of people walking through stopped to listen.  They really liked foreigners singing a song that was a favorite, well known one for Filipinos.  After wards the producers and everyone came to get their pictures taken with the choir.  They were very hospitable.  It was so much fun.

I will post pictures and videos hopefully tomorrow, but I just had to let you know what a wonderful Father in Heaven we all have.  It really was a day of miracles!  We all know, stronger than we knew before, that we can depend on the Lord when we do the best we can.  He does not leave us alone.  Our weakness is truly an opportunity for His power to be shown.  Today, we are witnesses.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Well, tomorrow morning in two hours, 23 wonderful missionaries are getting up to get ready to be picked up at 3am.  They have practiced their hearts out and is time. 

When we arrived in Manila and went to the first mall, we had the impression that it would be wonderful if a missionary choir could sing there.  As Christmas approached, we collected information about who could sing what part.  We invited everyone who wanted to sing to join.

We now have a choir of 130 wonderful missionaries who sound incredible.  It has been a joy to sing praises and rejoice through music with them.  Through the help of a stake president, we were asked to sing on GMA7 which is the number one TV station in the Philippines!  We weren't sure it would really come through, but everyone worked hard and prayed hard. We were told last week that we could only have 20 singers, so we have struggled and prayed and agonized over who to choose.  It was an amazing process.  We ended up choosing some we hadn't even thought about and not choosing some who are very talented.  But I have to tell you that it is miraculous!  They sound wonderful!  And there are many personal triumphs and joys happening in their lives.  It is so wonderful to see them so happy!

So, tomorrow morning, we put our total trust in the Lord and go forth with faith, confident that He has all wisdom, all power, and all compassion.  He knows we are weak!  He knows we don't know everything!  He knows we are inexperienced!  He knows none of us have ever done anything like this!  The amazing thing is that he is willing to get in the other side of the yoke and help us pull this load.  He has given us peace...despite many reasons not to feel it.  There is a special feeling of unity and testimony that we all feel.

From 6am to 8:30am Manila time tomorrow morning (December 11), the Manila Mission Choir will be singing on GMA7 (which is available through some cox packages).  We found out yesterday that they will be shown as the morning show goes to breaks, so we will be performing off and on throughout the 2 and 1/2 hours.  We may only be seen for 10-15 seconds at a time....we don't know.  But we pray that it will bring glory to our Father in Heaven and our beloved Brother, Jesus Christ.  We pray that the people who see them and hear them will see and feel something different, something special...that they will feel the Spirit and that they will see the missionary name tags and associate the two.  So when they see missionaries with their name tags, they will remember the feeling that they had while they heard them singing, and perhaps they will let them in their homes, or listen to them...or even look for them.

The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  May all the world come to know that!

We will try to record it if they will let us.  The whole morning tv show may be posted on you tube afterwards.  We will find out and let you know on this blog.  Thank you for raising such wonderful, incredible children.  They bring so much joy!  We love them and we love you for sending them.

Pray for us!

Monday, December 8, 2014


Dear Parents, Friends and Family,

We are grateful to report that the storm has passed and that all missionaries are safe and accounted for.  Typhoon Ruby weakened considerably as it approached the Manila area over the past few days. By the time the storm passed last night it was nothing more than a heavy tropical storm.  We are now asking the missionaries to resume their normal duties but to be very cautious to avoid any floodwaters.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of our missionaries in the areas where the typhoon first made landfall over the weekend, causing extensive property damage and destroying homes and businesses. We are love you and are praying for you.

It is a remarkable thing to be a member of the Lord's church and to have some knowledge of the our Father's plan of happiness. No matter what storms of life come our way, whether it be weather or health or family challenges or poverty, we know that our Heavenly Father has not left us alone. We can always rely on the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, to give us peace in times of trouble. We know that Heavenly Father not only plans for us to come back to live with Him again but that he plans for our great happiness. Our role is to have faith in Him and in His Son, Jesus Christ, to share His precious gospel and to follow His commandments. In exchange, we have the promise of peace in this life and eternal happiness in the life to come.

I testify with Alma that "...I do know that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day." (Alma 36:3)
We need to " forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and love of God and of all men..." 2 Nephi 31:20

May the Lord bless you,

President Creg Ostler
Philippines Manila Mission