Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015-07-20 President's Letter

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Congratulations on the marvelous work you are doing! This week you baptized more people than any week in the last 6 months! This was also a great week for temple ordinances, full activity and temple preparation. Thank you for catching the Mission Vision!

Two of the favorite hymns in the church are "Families Can Be Together Forever" and "I Am A Child Of God." The first hymn starts off with the words: "I have a family here on earth. They are so good to me." The second hymn includes the words: "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here, has give me an earthly home with parents kind and dear."

For many of you, these words do NOT describe the home you came from. In fact many of you come from homes where the parents are not active, or they are separated, divorced or missing completely. Some of you were raised by relatives or foster parents. Some of you were raised by both parents but your home was a battleground of arguing, fighting and other severe problems. My heart and love go out to each of you.

Several of you who come from these kinds of backgrounds have expressed that it is a little  uncomfortable, and sometimes even painful, to teach and testify about happy, eternal families. Some of you have asked for counsel about how to deal with this. Here are some thoughts for you to consider.

Those of you who come from difficult homes are in GREAT position to testify of the importance of stable, loving, gospel-centered families! You know from personal experience that there is a great need for both a father and a mother in the home. You know from personal experience that there is a great need for kindness, gentleness and love in a home. You know without any doubt that The Family: A Proclamation to the World is an inspired document. You know what it feels like to desire with all of your heart to have a loving, eternal family. Because you "know the bitter", you can more easily "know the sweet" of eternal families.

Even though you did not come from such a family, you have seen strong, loving, Christ-centered families. You have been in their homes. You have felt the spirit there. You have seen the difference the gospel makes. You can testify of that difference. You can be open with investigators and others about your background and you can express with all of your heart your great desire to have the blessings of the gospel that you have seen. You can invite them to join with you in receiving these blessings.

My parents both came from broken homes. They came from homes where there was much bitterness. My mother joined the Church as a teenager. When she and my father married, they married in the temple. They made the decision that their home would be different than the homes they grew up in. They made the decision that their children would have love, stability and the great blessings of the covenants of the gospel. For each of you that came from homes like theirs, you too will be able to establish your own eternal family. You do not have control over the family of your youth, but you do have a great opportunity yourself. You will establish a loving, supportive, family who has been sealed in the temple. You will have the family you dream of if you live righteously and pray for it with all your heart. Your service as a missionary and your obedience to the Lord will be the keys to this future blessing. Do not be shy to testify and teach about eternal families.

2 Nephi 31:20: "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."

For those of you who come from supportive, gospel-centered, covenant-keeping homes. You can testify from personal experience what it feels like to have that blessing. You have visited homes where there is much sorrow and wickedness. You have seen and felt the difference between these homes and the one you grew up in. You can testify with the same strength that the gospel is true and that families are important to Heavenly Father. You too will establish an eternal family that will bring joy to your heart.

May the Lord bless you my dear fellow servants. May He bless you with the Spirit of Elijah to witness to your souls that families are central to God's plan. Our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ and to establish eternal families. Our message is a message of joy, love and eternal happiness. It is the best message in all the world.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler