Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016-08-22 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

As you know very well, we are in the middle of the rainy season here in the Philippines. The rainy season usually lasts from June through October. 80% of the annual rainfall of 200cm (81 inches) in our mission comes during these  five months. It rains almost every day, bringing floods to many Manila neighborhoods and mud on Palawan.

The rain can make missionary work difficult. When it is raining, fewer people are on the street with whom you can talk. The flooding makes it difficult to visit people in certain neighborhoods. The mud makes it hard to walk and hard to stay clean. The rain makes it more difficult for people to attend church. No matter how hard we try, we will never stop the rain. But we can adjust our attitude.
We have a Mission Motto about things like the weather: "Never complain about something you cannot change."

I want to thank the many of you who follow this motto. Murmuring, complaining and whining were the trademarks of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon. They were also the trademarks of the people of Israel as Moses tried to lead them to the Promised Land. They complained about everything that went wrong. They complained about everything that was hard. Complaining never blessed anyone. Ever.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: "Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but... no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won't make it worse!" (April 2007 General Conference)

Please make the decision to Never Complain--not on your mission and not in your life. If you will keep this commitment you will find that your life is much happier. You will have more of the Spirit of the Lord in your life. People will enjoy being with you more. When you stop complaining you will be able to see the good and beautiful things that the Lord has given you. Beside that, no one really wants to hear you complain.

Never Complaining is very hard at first, especially if you stop there.

Silently enduring all of the challenges, misery and hardship that come your way is better than complaining the whole time, and honestly, sometimes it is the best we can do. However, there is a better way. The better way is described in these scriptures:

"Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us CHEERFULLY do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance (FAITH), to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." (Doctrine and Covenants 123:17)

The first step is to stop complaining. The next step is to face the rain and other challenges in our lives with Cheerfulness and Faith.

As we learn about the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we see how hard it was for him to be persecuted when he was a young boy:

"It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too , who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be though a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great one so the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself." (JSH 1:23)

Joseph was not complaining, but the hardships made him very sad during his early years. Later, as his faith and understanding grew, Joseph adopted a different attitude towards his trials:

"And as for the perils which I am called to pass through, they seem but a small thing to me, as the envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life...God knoweth all things, whether it be good or bad. But nevertheless, deep water is what I am wont to swim in. It all has become second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all..." (DC 127:2)

"I should never get discouraged, whatever difficulties should surround me, if I was sunk in the lowest pit of Nova Scotia and all of the Rocky Mountains piled on top of my, I ought not to be discouraged, but hang on, exercise faith and keep up good courage and I should come out on top." (Memoirs of George A. Smith)

How can we face our trials with faith and good cheer? Because we have a loving Heavenly Father who sent His Son, Jesus Christ to the world. Because of Him, every trial, difficulty or misfortune can be endured. Because of Him, we know that "God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain..." (Revelations 21:4) Because of Him, we can be forgiven for all of our sins, healed of all of our pains and given strength to become better sons and daughter so God. As He told his disciples:

"...In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

I invite all of us to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on the Lord. Let us never complain and let us "cheerfully do all things that lie in our power" to serve Him and to bring the gospel to His children. Let's be careful in the mud and the floods, but let us go forward with faith, good cheer and enthusiasm to bring the gospel to our fellow men!

May the Lord bless you my dear fellow missionaries. Your faith and diligence inspire me. You are my heroes.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

PS As you work on never complaining, but moving forward with faith and good cheer, remember that it is important to communicate openly with your companion about how you are feeling. You can do this without complaining.

During your planning or your companionship inventory, or other appropriate times, it is important to share any problems you see or any feelings that you have that detract from your companionship unity. You can do this by saying: "Companion, I see so many good things in what you are doing and I really am grateful to be working with you. However, when you do X it makes me feel Y (sad, disrespected, disobedient, etc.) How do you feel about it? Can we talk about how to resolve it?"

This is not complaining. This is working together to solve a problem.

You can also share a feeling that does not involve a problem with your companion, such as: "I am feeling discouraged about the language. Can you help me to do better?" Or, "I am feeling hurt because of all of the rejections today. How do you handle the rejections in your mission?"

This is not complaining. This is asking for help.

Or, you can share how you are feeling physically: "I have a fever and I have been throwing up."

This is not complaining. This is sharing with your companion some important information.