Monday, May 18, 2015

2015-05-18 President's Letter

Dear Sisters and Elders,

As you now know, serving the Lord on a full-time mission is very hard work. It demands daily discipline to be up by 6.30am every day and to be focused on your purpose every minute you are awake. It is hot, sweaty, uncomfortable work. It is a work that is full of rejection and uncomfortable times. Sometimes you and your companion are not compatible and sometimes you feel irritated and weak and that you have given your last bit of energy.

On the other hand, serving the Lord on a full-time mission is very sweet work. All of the discipline and effort is worth it when you see the people you love begin to develop faith in Christ, when you feel the spirit as you teach, when people change their lives for the good, when your heart fills with love and care for these precious souls.

The hard days on a mission usually OUTNUMBER the great days, but the great days will always OUTWEIGH the hard days.

You know this is true. This is truly the sweetest, most meaningful, loving work in the world.

2 Nephi 2:15 " must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter."

Moses 6:55 "...and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good."

However, I want to caution you against just enduring the hard days while you wait for the good days to come. There is great purpose in the hard days.

Why does the Lord allow us to have hard days when we are serving Him?

Several reasons come to mind:

1. The Lord knows that only through sacrifice can we become truly selfless. If everything came easily to us, we would not have the opportunity to become Christ-like.

2. The Lord needs us to become humble so that He can teach us. We learn much more when we are humble and our hearts are open for learning. What does He teach us? Patience, communication, not judging, the value of searching the scriptures. Most importantly, He teaches us how to recognize and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Being humans, if we did not NEED to rely on Him we would naturally rely on ourselves. Some of the most profound revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith came when he was in prison or having other challenging experiences. Hard times are when we will receive our most profound inspiration as well.

3. When times are hard, it causes us to look at ourselves and ask "What do I need to change?" Would we really ask ourselves the important questions if things were always easy? Many, many missionaries finally repent of all of their sins when they are faced with mission hardships.

4. If we are observant and prayerful during hard times we can learn many truths that will bless us and bless others for the rest of our lives. For example, I learned from my mission companions that the most important qualities I wanted in a future wife was someone who loved the Lord with all of her heart and who wanted to do what is right more than she wanted to breathe. I would not have been so focused on this quality without my mission experiences.

On my mission, I also learned how to truly be exactly, independently obedient when I had a companion who was very disobedient. I learned that I could trust myself to be obedient even when no one else would ever know. I suppose that the Lord also learned that He could trust me as well. I would have preferred to only have companions who were obedient, but the Lord needed me to grow and learn.

Because it was so difficult to baptize on my mission, every positive missionary lesson, every chance to share my testimony, every baptism was very precious to me. I began to learn gratitude.

Serving far away from my family for two years, with no calls home and only hand-written letters, taught me the value of family and taught me how much I really loved my parents and siblings. The sacrifice of that time has made our relationship extra sweet over the years. The same thing is happening now as we will not be with my parents and most of my children for three years. I am grateful for the chance to sacrifice for the Lord. I know He will teach me and make this time sweet.

On my mission I began to learn the value of a soul, but the Lord has taught me this over and over again, through hard times and good times. The death of a close friend, the death of a dear cousin, several miscarriages of Sister Ostler, the birth of each of our seven children. All of these experiences taught me this important lesson, but the hard times taught gave me the perspective to truly understand the blessing of holding a healthy baby in my arms.

In my life after my mission I found that hard times were the best learning times. The first  job I obtained after graduating from college ended after 10 months with the company dissolving. The next job ended after three months when that company ran into trouble. The next three jobs I had were also short term and full of stress. I did not enjoy those experiences. But the Lord helped me to learn from them. I made much wiser choices regarding my jobs afterwards. When it came time for me to start our own business, my partner and I discussed and learned from the mistakes we had seen others make, and the mistakes we had made ourselves. We interviewed other business owners and asked them wht mistakes they had made and what they had learned. We were able to build a business that provided for our families and eventually allowed both of us to be serving now as mission presidents at a relatively young age. I am thankful for those hard experiences.

I like this poem:

Pain stayed so long I said to him today,

"I will not have you with me anymore."

I stamped my food and said, "Be on your way,"

And paused there, startled at the look he wore.

"I, who have been your friend," he said to me,

"I, who have been your teacher--all you know

Of understanding love, of sympathy,

and patience, I have taught you. Shall I go?"

He spoke the truth, this strange, unwelcome guest;

I watched him leave, and knew that he was wise.

He left a heart grown tender in my breast,

He left a far, clear vision in my eyes.

I dried my tears, and lifted up a song--

Even for one who'd tortured me so long.

Orson F. Whitney wrote:

"No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we will endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our character, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be call children of God..and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in Heaven..."

May the Lord bless you with many sweet, good times...and with enough hard times so that you will receive ALL of the blessings the Lord has in store for those that love Him.

Mahal ko po kayo...talaga!

President Creg Ostler