Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016-3-30 Four Magnificent Missionaries

We had a wonderful day yesterday with four very special missionaries.  Two will be going home today and two more next week.  They have each served so well and faithfully.  It is hard to let them go.  But we are thrilled for the kind of blessing they will be to their families and the church in their home areas!

2016-3-28 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Years ago, while serving as the president of a wonderful stake of Zion, the leaders of our stake put together an inspired invitation to the members of our stake. Today I feel that you will be blessed by me sharing portions of it with you.

We live in the last days. These are days that have been foretold by prophets for thousands of years. It is our privilege to live at a time when we can play a significant role in preparing for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: "The building up of Zion is a cause that has interested the people of God in every age; it is a theme upon which prophets, priests and kings have dwelt with peculiar delight; they have looked forward with joyful anticipation to the day in which we live; and fired with heavenly and joyful anticipations they have sung and written and prophesied of this our day; but they died without the sight."

The Lord wants us to have all of the magnificent blessings of exaltation and eternal life. But Satan has never worked harder in the opposite direction. In addition to being a day of unparalleled blessings, these are also days of the greatest temptations and distractions in the history of the world.

In order to fulfill all that the Lord needs us to do, and to withstand the temptations of our time, the Lord wants us to focus on becoming a Zion people--"pure in heart" and of "one heart and one mind, and swell in righteousness; and no poor among [us]" (DC 97:21, Moses 7:18)


The Lord does not want us to jump into a huge spiritual improvement program with the hopes of making some huge leap in spiritual growth. All too often this is like someone who dives into an extreme fad diet, only to abandon it soon thereafter, with no permanent benefit. After a big spiritual effort we tend to slip back to a similar level of spirituality that we had before the program started. These temporary efforts do not typically produce the steady, permanent, rock-solid change that will prepare us and our families for the storms and opportunities ahead. Real change and growth are rarely sudden things. Real change is typically a result of steady, sustained effort.

As we ponder Lehi's dream of the Tree of Life and what it took for the people to reach the tree, we see a great lesson for us. The people who made it to the tree and partook of the fruit caught hold of the rod and pressed forward through the mist of darkness, constantly clinging to the rod (1 Nephi 8:24). Nephi later expresses this same truth:

"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 you shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." (2 Nephi 31:20)


There are three important habits that are the key to spiritual strength and safety. I invite you to make these habits a PERMANENT part of your life. Right now they are part of your daily mission schedule. But I invite you to teach these habits to investigators and recent converts and to share them with your family. After your mission, I invite you to make these habits permanent and important in your life.


Reading the word of Christ and His prophets is the foundation of our spirituality. There is no substitute. There are no shortcuts. Reading is the plow that digs up the hard earth of our lives and prepares us to receive the revelation and strength we need.

Spencer W. Kimball said: "I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and spirituality returns." (Spencer W. Kimball Teachings, p. 135)


Prayer is our wonderful, private way to communicate with the Father of our spirits. It is our chance to connect with the Being who loves us more than we can ever imagine. It is our chance to seek His forgiveness. It is our chance to receive His guidance and to learn what He needs us to do.

I invite you to pray honest prayers, where your words, feelings and actions all match. Pray simple prayers of the heart. Focus on the things you are grateful for. Pray with will intent--with the sincere determination to follow whatever direction you receive from the Lord.


Serving others is the key to experiencing the kind of joy that God experiences. How we care for those in need is the greatest test of whether or not we are truly becoming like Christ. It is also the key to retaining a remission of our sins (Mosiah 4:26). However, more than any personal benefit to us, there are so many of God's children who are in great spiritual, physical and emotional need. Ours is the great opportunity to love and lift and bless them...for no other reason than because they need our help. Temple service and the joyful service of inviting others to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ are important parts of the service you give.

I promise you that reading the scriptures every day will give you the extra strength you need to do what is right and carry the burdens the Lord has given you. You will feel a renewed closeness to, and affection for, the Lord and His prophets. President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "...there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, and a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God." (Ensign, August 2005, p.2-6)

I promise that, as you pray earnestly every day that the Lord will listen to your prayers and you will feel His closeness and involvement in your life. You will never be alone.

I promise that, as you reach out and serve others every day that you will know pure joy. The tendency to be focused on your own wants and your own problems will diminish and you will find your heart filled with love and compassion for others. As you serve, you will feel closer to the Savior than at any other time.

Sisters and Elders, I love you. My greatest desire is for you to receive eternal life. Reading, praying and serving every day will bring you safely there.

Mahal na mahal po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016-3-23 Zone Conference

Today was a wonderful celebration!  It is sooooooo much fun to get together and share the joy of service in the Lord's kingdom and rejoicing in the blessings that flow from the love and atonement of the Savior, Jesus Christ.  I cannot imagine any more wonderful of an experience to be having than associating with such dedicated, consecrated, faithful individuals!  Each face in this picture has their own story, their own challenges.  Yet each one of them is exerting faith to overcome those challenges and to become stronger.  Today, we saw such growth in many of the missionaries.  It is a beautiful thing to watch those who chose to be refined by their experiences.  Truly a mission is such a refiner's fire.  It is an unparalleled opportunity to focus on selflessness and spiritual/emotional/personal development. 

This is half of our missionaries in Manila.  We have the other half next week.  We did Palawan's zone conference last week.

Our newest senior couple, The Jacobsens from Missouri!  They just arrived yesterday and are amazingly adjusting well despite jet lag!

The Addurus are fitting in quickly to their new responsibilities.  Everyone loves them too.

These are the first sisters to serve in Coron!  They have had many challenges, but they are cheerful, undaunted and marvelous missionaries!

  Sister Barton and Sister Fermin teaching about Effective Planning