Friday, April 29, 2016

2016-05-01 President's Message "Aspiring to the Honors of Men"

Dear Elders and Sisters,

One day, as Jesus and his disciples were walking to Capernaum, the disciples were having a private argument. When they arrived, Jesus asked them: "What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?" They were embarrassed to tell him because "they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest." (Mark 9:33-34)

The desire to have praise, recognition and worldly power is a natural human weakness, but it is a dangerous trap. It is like walking down the streets of Manila during a rainstorm. When you step in a puddle of water, you don't really know if it is a centimeter deep, a meter deep or two meters deep. If the puddle is a centimeter deep you can keep walking with no problem. If it is a meter deep you can suffer a serious injury. The trap of worldly praise and power is 100 meters deep and can wreak destruction on your soul.

During the Council in Heaven before the world was created, Satan fell into this deep hole. He rebelled against Heavenly Father, saying: "I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor." In contrast, Christ said: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:1-2)

As you study the life of Jesus Christ you will see a remarkable, consistent message. It is remarkable because Christ was the most pure and powerful person ever to be born on the earth. If anyone had the right to receive praise, recognition and worldly power it was Him. But He consistently rejected it every time:

-After fasting for 40 days, Satan came tempting him with food, power, worldly wealth and worldly glory. Christ humbly resisted, saying: "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." (Matthew 4:1-10)

-When He healed the sick, He often asked them to keep it quiet. Even after raising a young woman from the dead "...he charged them straitly that no man should know it..." (Mark 5:42)

-He was approached by a man whose son son was possessed by a terrible spirit. As he was talking to the man, a large crowd began to gather. He quickly healed the boy "And they departed thence, and passed through Galilee; and he would not that any man should know it." (Mark 9:17-30)

Jesus not only set the example himself, He also taught against the trap of seeking praise and power:

"Beware of the scribes, which desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues..." (Luke 20:46)

"Moreover, when ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto me to fast." (Matthew 6:16)

"Behold there are many called but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and [they] aspire to the honors of men..." (DC 121:34-35)

"And also he [William W. Phelps] hath need to repent, for I the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me." (DC 58:41)

How Does This Apply To Us?

Of all people that should NOT be affected by this temptation it should be missionaries. You have given up everything: school, work, family, popular music, friends. You work hard, 7 days per week, for 18 months or 2 years. You spend your days studying the gospel, talking to strangers, being rejected, walking hour after hour, giving selfless service.

However, it applies to you just like it did to the disciples of Christ during his life. Even missionaries are tempted to think that being called as a  leader should be one of their goals. Even missionaries can think that being praised or respected by others is important. Even missionaries can, from time to time, lose sight of the fact that it is God we are serving and no one else.

Sometimes our families make this even more difficult. It was the same during Jesus' time. "Then came to him the mother of [James and John] with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom." Sometimes your family or friends set expectations for recognition and success that are false. They equate leadership responsibilities with success. It was not true at the time of Christ and it is not true now.

We need to resist every temptation to fall into the hole of aspiring to the "honors of men."

When his disciples were "moved with indignation" because of the request of the mother, Jesus taught: "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant."

Then He uses himself as the example: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:20-28)

I invite each of us to follow the example and teaching of the Savior. When asked what is the greatest commandment, he taught:

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind...And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)

This is how He lived His life: loving God and loving us. He followed His Father with exactness and devotion and He gave everything, including His own life, to save us.

We will be blessed as we serve only God and our fellow men, not our own desires for praise or power.

Thomas asked him "Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
This is a question all of us should ask.

And for all of us the answer is the same: "I am the way, the truth and the life." (John 14:5-6)

Let us humbly serve God and our fellow man, without the desire for recognition or authority. Let us love them as He loves them, with a selfless, pure love.

Mahal na mahal po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Mother's Day Guidelines for May 8th

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Mother's Day is next Sunday, May 8th. This is a wonderful time for you to talk with your family.

Here are the guidelines:

1. 40 minutes maximum time

2. Either phone or Skype is permitted.

3. You are only permitted to call parents. If your parents are separated, you may talk with each of them separately for 30 minutes. If you were raised by a guardian, if your parents are not alive, or if your parents are inaccessible, you may call your guardian or other close relative. You may NOT talk or Skype with boyfriends, girlfriends or other friends. This is a family call.

4. You should initiate the call from here if possible. If not, you may receive the call on your phone. You may use support to buy the extra cell phone minutes for your call. Please tell your family that this number is ONLY for the Mother's Day call. They are not to text or call you at other times.

5. Because of time zone differences, you may call on May 7, 8 or 9 depending on the availability of your family.

6. Please email today to make arrangements for the call. Check your email again this Friday to find out what time will work for your family. If your family does not have email, please ask the mission office to send them a text to arrange the call.

7. Families can email with any questions regarding this call.

8. District Leaders and Zone Leaders: please make sure that everyone in your stewardship is able to make this call and that everyone understands the guidelines.

I suggest that you prepare for your call by writing down the things you want to share and the questions you want to ask. Remember, this is a good time to share with them about how you have changed in the mission field as well as your spiritual experiences. It is also a good time to hear how your family is doing.

Sister Ostler and I are excited for you to talk with your loved ones. Enjoy this time!

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Makati East Stake Youth Conference Mini MTC

 If Makati East Stake is a good measure of the future missionaries of the Church, the Church is in good hands.  It was a wonderful experience to be with them.  The leaders had spent countless hours preparing every detail.  The youth were well-behaved, dressed appropriately and had a good spirit.  It's wonderful to see the church program functioning so well here in the Philippines!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

2016-04-24 Tay Tay Branch Organized!

Today was an amazing experience!  President Ostler helped to organize the TayTay Branch!  What a day of rejoicing!  Thank you to all the missionaries who have served there and all the seniors who have driven back and forth all those miles to help the members there!  The church is truly growing!

April 24, 2016 Creation of the Taytay, Palawan Branch of the Church.
A day of celebration!
New Branch President: President Gershon Miraflores
1st Counselor: Mar Dalan
2nd Counselor Gaudencio Tuante
Branch Clerk: Kenneth Decolongon
Elders Quorum President: Mondrito Reño

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016-04-25 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Congratulations on a wonderful harvest of souls these past few weeks! Thank you for your obedience, hard work and dedication. I thank the Lord for sending you to this mission.

Thank you for being great teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As "Master Gospel Teachers" you have demonstrated your ability to teach all five missionary lessons (a total of 40 gospel principles), including all of the doctrine as well as supporting scriptures and personal examples. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself so well.

Today I want to remind you of another kind of teaching you do. This teaching is even more powerful. This teaching reaches many more people than just those you sit down to teach in their homes. This teaching starts the minute you wake up in the morning and ends the minute you go to sleep at night.


When you wake up in the morning you are teaching your companion and apartment mates when you are out of your bed by 6.30am, praying for the Lord's help in your day. You are teaching as you faithfully exercise and then start your studies promptly at 8am. You are teaching when you take companionship and language study seriously. You are teaching as you realize that you serve the Lord IN your apartment just as you do OUTSIDE your apartment.

You are teaching when you leave the apartment and go out on the street. Are you smiling and pleasant with your companion and those you meet, or are you shy, embarrassed or focused on yourself? You are teaching when you greet people and Open Your Mouth to share the gospel. Do you treat them with kindness and like a child of God and not "just another person who will probably reject me?"

You are teaching by how you walk. Are you walking WITH your companion in unity? Or do you trudge through the streets like you are sweating through a death march?

You are teaching with your humor. Is your humor uplifting and cheerful or is it making fun of someone?

You are teaching by the respect you show to older people and women and children.

You are teaching when you are watching and praying for your companion while he/she teaches rather than watching TV or gazing around the room.

You are teaching when you show only love and patience with your foreigner companion learning Tagalog.

You are teaching when you NEVER say anything negative about your companion to members, investigators or other missionaries.

You are teaching by taking a daily shower and keeping your clothes clean and fresh-smelling, even though every day you sweat and are covered with dust.

You are teaching by asking questions of others that show your true love and concern.

You are teaching when you refuse to go home early, even when you are tired and none of your appointments have worked out.

You are teaching by what you say in your relaxing time. Is it uplifting and spiritual? Is it focused on your investigators or is it focused on the things of the world?

You are teaching by your obedience to mission rules, whether you understand them or not.

Elders and Sisters, YOU ARE ALWAYS ALWAYS TEACHING. You have the name of our Savior Jesus Christ on your chest. You are always teaching about what it means to be a disciple of Christ and a member of His Church.

Please make sure that you never fall into the condemnation that Corianton received from his father Alma: "Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words." (Alma 39:11)

May it be said of you, as it was said of Moroni:

"And Moroni was a strong and a might man.; he was a man of perfect understanding...Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people.

Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ...Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men." (Alma 48:11,12,17)

May your teaching, through your words and through your actions, be powerful, clear and righteous.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016-04-20 The New Missionaries are Here!

                                         Elder Whittle and Elder Leofo (2 assistants)
                Elder Roberts helping with new missionary orientation.
                   Elder Garcia and Elder Leofo, the two new assistants, with new missionaries

              The beautiful American cemetery.

      Explaining the history of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, a turning point of the war in the Philippines.

                           View of one side of the hall with rows of names of those missing.

                         Getting ready for orientation with their trainers!

                                     Finding out who new companions are and what area they will serve in.

Multi-talented Assistant, Elder Whittle

                                           The new "batch" on a sweaty, windy day!

It was a wonderful day with a great new group of missionaries!  It is so much fun getting to know a new group.  They have so much anticipation and energy despite being so tired from not sleeping due to excitement!  They will hopefully sleep well tonight!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016-04-19 Time For the Next Step!

 It's that time again!  As much as it hurts, having missionaries finish their missions is a wonderful thing!  If I could just capture the feelings from our testimony meeting tonight and send them to you, I would!  It is a PRICELESS experience to be with these precious missionaries who have given their whole hearts and effort to the Lord's service.  Truly they have been sanctified by their sacrifice and strengthened by their struggles.  We are humbled to have served with them. They are AMAZING!
So, welcome them home!  Keep them safe!  Help them stay strong!  Get them busy serving!  They are ready to continue building God's kingdom here on earth! These missionaries will change the family at a time!

The Wonderful Wolcotts have returned from Palawan after serving so faithfully night and day over there.  President Wolcott will serve as President Ostler's counselor while President Mortimer is home for surgery.  We miss the Mortimers SOOOOO much!  Our prayers are being sent your way!!!  We love you!

                                       We are as the army of Helaman..........  brothers, forever.

If anyone is looking for a righteous, wonderful and beautiful companion,  these are some of the very best!  Oh, how we will miss them!

 Oops, Elder Garcia got his picture in here too!  He's one of our new assistants!  Elder Leofo is our other new assistant. I'll try to get his picture tomorrow!  They will join Elder Whittle assisting the President.  Elder Schroeder is on his way back to Palawan to serve there for the end of his mission.  We will miss him as he has served the mission so humbly, faithfully, cheerfully and supportively.  Parents, you are lucky we ever let these missionaries come home! That's how special they are.  Thank you for sharing them!

 If anyone knew how honestly incredible it is to serve a mission with faithful missionaries, they would be waiting in line begging the prophet to let them go!  We feel soooooo blessed to be here.
Thank you, parents, for raising such wonderful servants of the Lord!