Monday, May 30, 2016

2016-05-30 Mission President's Seminar and Finish Strong Meeting "Batch"

 President and Sister Ostler were blessed to attend a Mission President's Seminar in Cebu.  What a
treasured experience to be with such wonderful, consecrated people.  We just feel so grateful.

                                                          In the service of our Savior

                 All the presidents, wives and area leaders were able to attend a session in the Cebu
                Temple.  What a beautiful temple!  What an amazing group!

This picture was taken after our finish strong meeting.  This group will be leaving in six weeks.  I can't tell you how sad that makes us.  These elders were our first incoming group of elders.  We remember that day so well.  They were so nervous and unsure.  They felt confident that they could speak Tagalog until they got out on the streets, then they felt like they would never understand it.  But every single one of them is amazing.  The foreigners can speak Tagalog and the Filipinos can speak English....even the shy ones.  (Although some of them still complain that it makes them think so hard it "gives them nosebleeds!")  :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016


   One of the great joys is seeing our missionaries again....and they still glow! It was absolutely wonderful to be able to meet his family.  We can see where he got his goodness. :)

                                                     Elder Tueller, we all miss you!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

2016-5-29 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Thank you so much for your faith, obedience and hard work. This weekend many people were baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost because of your great efforts to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember that every effort you make is valuable. Every testimony, every lesson, every example of righteous living that you give makes a difference. Thank you.

During a training meeting last year with Elder Neil Anderson, he shared something that he was taught by Elder Packer during his time as a new apostle. Elder Packer said: "As a general authority you need to be right...but you also need to be kind."

One of the most important characteristics of a true disciple of Christ is Kindness. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught: "Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes. Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes." (General Conference, April 2005)

Elders and Sisters, examine your interactions with others. Is the tone of your voice soft or hard? Are your words blunt and harsh or are they soft and encouraging?

Do you excuse yourself by saying: "In my province or country or family, that is just how we are." Or, "I am just telling the truth." Or, "I like it when people are strict with me so that is how I will treat others."

I invite you to change. I invite you to follow our Savior Jesus Christ. He shared the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke chapter 10. The traveler showed kindness and love to a stranger, someone who was an enemy of his people, someone who may have made a foolish decision to travel in a dangerous area. Instead of criticizing him, the Samaritan helped him. As you read the New Testament and the Book of Mormon describing the life of Christ, you see many, many instances of Jesus' kindness to children, sick people, crippled people, sinners and others. Even while he was in great agony, in the very act of being crucified on the cross, he said "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34)

Elder Wirthlin taught further: "One way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask, "How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support others in the Church, or do I criticize them?" If you re criticizing others, you are weakening the Church. If you are building others, you are building the kingdom of God. As Heavenly Father is kind, we also should be kind to others.

"But," you ask, "what if people are rude?"

Love them.

"If they are obnoxious?"

Love them.

"But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?"

Love them.


The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.

Why? In the scriptures Jude taught, "And some have compassion, making a difference." (Jude 1:22) (General Conference, April 2005)

Remember the Primary song, "Kindness Begins With Me."

I want to be kind to everyone,

For this is right, you see.

So I say to myself, "Remember this:

Kindness begins with me."

Here is an example from the life of Joseph Smith, written by a child who was there:

"My older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph's brick store. It has been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got our feet in the mud, and could not get out, and of course, child-like, we began to cry, for we thought we should have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavy-laden shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing."

More from Elder Wirthlin:

"The things you say, the tone of your voice, the anger or calm of your words--these things are noticed by your children and by others. They see and learn both the kind and the unkind things we say or do. Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home.

The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. the Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.

Each of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another. Never look down on those who are less perfect than you."

The most golden investigator of my mission in Vienna, Austria was prepared to join the Church because of the kindness of two missionaries. Hannelore was visiting her brother one evening and two elders knocked on the door. Her brother had met them on the street and had given them his address. When her brother answered the door he was very rude to them and mocked them. Instead of reacting with anger or rudeness they were kind and courteous and left as soon as they could. After they left her brother laughed and thought that he had done a good thing. Hannelore could never forget the kindness of those missionaries. After many months she contacted the mission office and asked to meet with the missionaries. Her baptism was a direct result of two Christlike missionaries who never knew the blessings they brought to Hannelore.
Elders and Sisters, do not wait for others to be kind to you before you are kind to them. Do not let the actions of others control your actions. You have been given the great gift of agency--the gift to act and not to be acted upon. Choose to be kind. Choose to be understanding. Choose to follow the Savior.

Small acts of kindness have eternal consequences, whether it is with those you teach, in your companionship or with other missionaries.

With love and confidence in you,

President Creg Ostler

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2016-05-22 President's Message, Departing Missionaries and Visiting RM's

                             Sister (Williams) Pardoe, her new husband and her parents.

                                                         Sister Vaka's last interview!

                                                    Elder Cabuntocan's last interview.

                                                       Elder Alquizola's last interview.

                                   Elder Franciso and his beautiful girlfriend came to visit.

Dear Sisters and Elders,

This past week Sister Ostler and I were in Cebu for training with the Area Presidency along with the other mission presidents and their wives. We were blessed to be able to attend the beautiful Cebu temple and to receive instruction and inspiration.

The seminar was a wonderful combination of spiritual teaching and motivation to do better. One of the mission presidents said that when he arrived in the Philippines in 1975 as a young missionary there were 2 missions, 20,000 members and no temples. Now we have 700,000 members, 21 missions and 2 temples. In spite of this remarkable growth, the Area Presidency said that we have barely begun to establish the Church in the Philippines. "We will see the membership of the Church go into the millions. Many more temples will be built here. You are doing well. But you can do better. There are millions of people prepared in the Philippines."

We were taught that the Lord will bless us to find many more converts if we exercise more faith. I look forward to working together during the coming months to claim the blessings of obedience and faith.

I also spoke at two stake conferences this weekend. Elder Ardern presided at one of the conferences. After observing the wonderful missionaries in that stake he stood up and said: "The Spirit has prompted me that you can trust these missionaries." He told me privately afterward that our missionaries look very, very good. He could see that you love the Lord and that you are working with all of your hearts. (You know me. Of course it brought tears to my eyes when he said this. I told him that you are not just good. You are great!)

Elders and Sister, I know that missionary work is not easy. Every day you face rejection. Every day you put your faith on the line to teach the gospel.

I don't want to sound mean or insensitive, but I am glad that it is hard. I am glad that we are tested and tried. How else can we really show our love for God? How else can we truly follow Jesus Christ? How else can we strengthen our faith?

"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same." (Luke 6:33-34)

"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven..." (Matthew 5:44-45)

"The winds of tribulation, which blow out some men's candles of commitment, only fan the fires of faith...of special men." (Neal A. Maxwell)

"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10)

Enduring hard things for a good cause is the sign of spiritual maturity.

Sacrificing yourself for others is the true sign of discipleship.

Every act of obedience, every act of service, every act of sacrifice changes your soul and draws you closer to God.

Every sacrifice for the Lord is your way of saying "I love you" to our Heavenly Father.

May the Lord bless you my dear friends. Live your lives so that you will be trusted by God. Live your lives so that God can work through you to save many souls.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Saturday, May 14, 2016

2916-05-14 Cinnamon Roll Preparation Day

Elder Ballif and Elder Packard came to the mission home for their preparation day and made Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls.  They are great elders and made two batches to share.  It's amazing how many talents these elders have!  It was wonderful having them at the mission home.  Caleb, President and I really enjoyed helping to taste the cinnamon rolls!

2016-05-15 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

Sister Ostler and I are really enjoying our interviews with you during this transfer period. You bring with you a spirit of faith, humility and love for the Lord that is inspiring to us. Thank you for serving with all of your hearts. Thank you for striving to become consecrated missionaries. You inspire us. You are doing a wonderful job in your calling.

Even though we are all trying very hard to do the Lord's work, we still have weaknesses. One of these weaknesses is that we sometimes criticize, or make fun of, others who are trying to improve. When we criticize others who are working hard to improve, we become a tool of Satan. We hurt the faith of others, and we weaken our efforts to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are speaking evil of someone who has been called by God. This is a serious mistake.
Why do we sometimes do this?

-Is it because we feel badly that we ourselves are not trying as hard as we should?

-Is it because their actions make us feel pressure to improve... and we want to be a bit lazy?

-Is it because we think it is funny to criticize and we are trying to make a joke?

-Is it because we afraid that we are not strong enough or capable enough to do better in our lives?

Sometimes members might say: "Those people are too strict in living the gospel. I want to have some fun in my life. I want to keep all of the big commandments but I don't want to be a so strict." Some people feel that "keeping all of the rules" is not necessary or is too hard. They feel that they can make their own rules.

I have even heard several times that some obedient, hard-working missionaries are called "Robots."  Only someone who is spiritually immature would say such a thing.

I invite you to consider some things...

The first king of united Israel was a man names Saul. He was chosen by the Lord through the prophet Samuel. At the beginning of his reign, Saul was humble and obedient to the Lord. The Lord loved him and so did Samuel. But then the time came that he decided that he would make exceptions because he knew better.

In 1 Samuel 13, Saul had gathered together an army to fight the Philistines. The prophet told him to wait for him before going to battle so that Samuel could offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel was late in coming so Saul went ahead and did the sacrifice himself. Samuel arrive right afterward and asked him why he disobeyed the Lord.

Saul had three excuses: 1-The people are scattering from me. (The people were getting impatient and were starting to go back home.) 2-You didn't come on time. 3- The enemy army is gathering. Samuel then told him that "thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel forever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart..."

The Lord expected Saul to be exactly obedient. When he made up his own rules, with his own excuses, he lost the blessings.

Later, Saul evidently received another chance, but he was still not exactly obedient. In 1 Samuel 16 the prophet gave Saul specific instructions for a battle, including the direction to destroy all of their enemies and their cattle. Instead, Saul's army killed everyone except for the enemy king, and they kept the best of the cattle alive. When the prophet heard about Saul's disobedience he cried/prayed to the Lord all night for Saul. When Samuel asked Saul if he had followed the Lord's commandments Saul lied and said: "I have performed the commandment of the Lord." Then Samuel asked: "What meaneth this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Saul thought he could lie about his disobedience, but the prophet knew.

Saul then made excuses. He blamed "the people" and then he said that the real reason they hadn't followed the commandments was because he had a better idea--he would offer everything as a sacrifice to the Lord at a later time. This probably wasn't true.

Then Samuel gave him this famous instruction: "Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams."

The Lord gives us the commandments to bless us. We are blessed BY keeping the commandments and we are blessed FOR keeping the commandments. Exact obedience to the Lord brings all of these blessings.

Think of the example of Nephi. Was he a "robot?" His brothers criticized him and complained because of his exact obedience to the Lord. Nephi had the courage to stand alone. He had the courage to do what was right even when his brothers physically abused him. He had the courage to do what is right even when it seemed impossible. If they had known the word "robot" they would have used this in criticizing him. But Nephi and millions of people that have come after him have been blessed by his obedience. We have the scriptures because of his obedience. His people stayed close to the Lord for hundreds of years because of his obedience. The same thing will happen for you. If you choose obedience...exact obedience...obedience even when others complain about it or joke about you...then you and your family and those you teach will be blessed for hundreds of years to come.

Nephi said: "I will go and do the things which the Lord has commanded..." (1 Nephi 3:7) When they had a setback, he said: "As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us." (1 Nephi 3:15) After almost being killed as he tried to follow the commandments, and after his brothers beat him, he still said "Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord..." (1 Nephi 4:1)

Later in the Book of Mormon, the most legendary warriors--the warriors who fought against impossible odds and saved their nation--were successful because "they did obey and observe to perform EVERY word of command with EXACTNESS; yea and even according to their faith it was done unto them..." (Alma 57:21)

I imagine that there could have been people who made fun of them for being "robots"...for being so strict in their obedience to every single command. But, to quote another Book of Mormon prophet: "Fools mock but they shall mourn..." (Ether 12:26)

Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration had to learn this same lesson. He was a good man, a great man, but he was young when he was called. He wanted to help others believe what he was doing in the translation of the Book of Mormon. When he succumbed to peer pressure to share some of the translated documents, the documents were lost. (One of the things I love about the Prophet Joseph is that he never hid his weaknesses!) The Lord chastised him with these words:

"For although a man man have many revelations, and have power to do many might works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him...You should not have feared man more than God...You should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary and he would have been with you in every time of trouble." (DC 3: 4-8)

Joseph later said: "I made this my rule: WHEN THE LORD COMMANDS, DO IT. To get salvation we must not only do SOME things, but EVERYTHING which the Lord has commanded. The object with me is to obey and teach others to obey God in just what he tells us to do. It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it."

Jesus Christ is our perfect example. He said:

"I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things...I do always those things that please Him...I honor my Father." (John 8:28,29,49) He was faithful and exact in His obedience to God.

Never criticize someone who is trying. Never look down on someone who is striving to live his or her life with exact obedience to the Lord. Never use the word "robot" or "aspiring" or anything else to make fun of someone who is trying. Pray for them. Encourage them...and then look inside your own heart... Look inside and ask the questions the newly humbled Paul asked: "Who art thou Lord?...and he trembling and astonished said, Lord what wilt thou have me do?" (Acts 9:5-6)

May the Lord bless each of us as we humbly see to follow the Lord with exactness and as we love and lift each other along the way. May we adopt the motto: "When the Lord commands, do it."
Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Friday, May 13, 2016


                                 These are the happiest of days......on their way to exaltation!

Sunday, May 8, 2016


Tomorrow, Sister Vaka will be flying home to Canada.  We will miss her.  She's been a wonderful and effective missionary. My most recent opportunity to OYM was with her before a doctor's appointment.  She answered the man's questions and directed the conversation in such a natural way that he felt her sincerity and committed to come to church!  She and her companion OYM'd everyone they came in contact with and gave out several Books of Mormon.  The world is a better place because of missionaries like her and Sister Savea!

2016-5-5 Mission Leadership Council

 Mission Leadership Council is such a wonderful time together!  All the zone leaders and sister training leaders from the entire mission (including Palawan) all gather at the mission home.  What an amazing spiritual experience it is to have these wonderful and dedicated elders and sisters all in one place!  One of our themes was "choosing the harder right" and "being truly converted".  The assistants did a great job sharing their own experience of becoming truly converted.  It was beautiful and strengthened all our faith.

We also did some role plays with using "Adjusting to Missionary Life" booklet to help the companionships in our stewardship.  It is amazing to see the mature ideas that come out of their mouths.  The common thread in their responses is love for the companionship and a pure desire to help them resolve their challenges.

 Sister Skudder is Sister Toa's companion.  They were a threesome, but now a twosome.  Sister Skudder is in training, but is a co-sister training leader because one companion left.  It is a wonderful thing to watch these young adults become adults.  They truly have courage and exercise their faith to become all they are asked to be on their missions.

 The missionaries' favorite part of MLC is probably Breakfast and Lunch!  Angel feeds them well!

         It's so wonderful to have the Wolcotts over here.  It's a major adjustment for them, but a great    
                                       blessing for us and the rest of the mission.

Today, on the way to MLC, 100% of the missionaries OYM'd 3 people.  They also all reached their companionship goal of 190 OYM's a week.  In celebration, we watched, "The Go-Getter" and had popcorn.  The Go-Getter is a movie about a young man who has a goal and won't let anything stop him or discourage him.  It shows the length, effort and creativity as well as determination it takes, and how great the reward can be.

We are so excited to have Elder Beagley back!  He had to go home for surgery, but it is clear that he didn't waste his time.  He is back full of enthusiasm and ideas.  Welcome back Elder Beagley!

5-9-2016 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Stop for a minute and think about the huge importance of your calling. You have been called to invite others to come to Christ. Why is this so important?

--With your help, they can be cleansed from their sins so that they will receive the Savior's mercy on the day of judgment.

--With your help, people can experience a true change of heart, and can have a "sincere, lasting change of thoughts, desires, habits and actions."

--With your help, people can find peace in this difficult world.

--With your help, people can learn to live in love and harmony with their families.

--With your help, the doors of the celestial kingdom are opened for them. They can live with God again.

What could be more important than your calling? Nothing. The work you do is of highest importance. Your work is sometimes difficult. It sometimes takes more courage and patience than you have ever imagined before. The work you do is a hero's work.

In Brandon Mull's book, "A World Without Heroes," young Jason is setting off on a difficult quest. In his conversation with the king, he expresses his doubts about himself:

"Can I be honest with you? I'm not sure I'm cut out for something like this. I'm a pretty regular guy. All this stuff you've been telling me has almost scared me out of my mind. I don't think I'm what you are looking for. You need a REAL HERO."

The king teaches him:

"So many misconceptions surround the notion of heroism. Far too many categorize a hero as a champion on the battlefield, a commander of legions, a master of rare talent or ability. Granted, there have been heroes who fit those descriptions--but many men of great evil as well. Heed me. A hero sacrifices for the greater good. A hero is true to his or her conscience. In short, HEROISM MEANS DOING THE RIGHT THING, REGARDLESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES. Although any person could fit that description, very few do. CHOOSE THIS DAY TO BE ONE OF THEM."

Thomas S. Monson: "Courage comes in many forms. "Courage is not limited to the battlefield...or bravely catching a thief in your house. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are inner tests, like remaining faithful when no one is standing alone when you are misunderstood." I would add that this inner courage also includes doing the right thing even when we may be afraid, defending our beliefs at the risk of being ridiculed, and maintaining those beliefs even when threatened with a loss of friends or social status. He who stands steadfastly for that which is right must risk becoming at times disapproved and unpopular."

The Savior said: "...Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8-9)

Peter said: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation..." (Romans 1:16)

My dear elders and sisters. You are my heroes. You show your faith and courage every day by doing what is right, even when no one else will know. You show your faith and courage by talking to many strangers every day, inviting them to learn and sharing your testimony with them. You are my heroes because you allow nothing to stop you from your sacred mission--neither heat, nor rain, nor rejection, nor homesickness nor laziness--none of these stop you. You move forward day after day, putting your faith in God and in His promises. You keep your covenants. You are my heroes. The world needs heroes like you.
Remember: "Your calling gives you authority; keeping your covenants gives you power." (Preach My Gospel)

May the Lord bless you to stand boldly and courageously as "a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in..." (Mosiah 18:9)

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

5-8-2016 The Canadians are Here!

Today, a wonderful, energetic couple, Elder and Sister Porteous, arrived in Manila.  After flying through Los Angeles and Hong Kong, they arrived in Manila.  They went straight to the mission home and showered, then we went to Makati 3rd ward with them.  It was a lovely primary program for mothers.  We felt so lucky to have been there.  The Porteouses are from Canada and bring with them a wonderful spirit.  President Ostler and I feel sooooooo blessed to have senior couples serving in our mission.  We appreciate all those who have served and those who (hopefully) will yet serve. :)    It takes a really special couple to give up so much with so much enthusiasm and willingness to serve wherever called.  A special THANK YOU to all who are willing to serve.  We love you!