Sunday, October 23, 2016

2016-10-23 Making Me Cry

Tonight, the buzzer rang, and when we answered the gate, it was three handsome, glowing returned missionaries from the Manila Mission!  And I could finally HUG them!  :) I cried when they left, now I cry with joy to see them again...

We are so pleased to see these elders!  Each of them is trying so hard in their own way to follow the prophet's counsel to move forward with their lives.  Despite challenges for each one of them, they are moving forward with faith.  We are so grateful for their efforts.  It makes us so happy to see them bonding together to support each other in righteous goals!  We know the Lord will bless them as they continue to follow His guidance.  NEVER MISS A DAY!!!! (Personal Prayers, Scriptures, Service)

You CAN DO THIS!  All of you Returned Missionaries!  If you feel weak, join with other RM's and get back on track.  Pray together, study together, help each other set goals and achieve goals, help each other find job, have the courage to follow the prophet's counsel.  We are all brothers and sisters in this wonderful world with the same goal of eternal life.  Let's join together and help each other achieve it!

One word of advice for all the RM Sisters out there, please know that there are good, righteous, returned missionaries who are trying to prepare for the kind of future you are looking for.  Live worthy and then help them feel comfortable enough to get to know you!  Sometimes your beauty, your educational accomplishments or your many talents intimidate them and it is hard to be your friend.  So sisters, 1-2-3....get the courage and introduce yourself, start a conversation, be friendly, be easy to talk to, try to get to know them. Being shy only stops you from getting to know them.

Elders, 1-2-3...get the courage and start a conversation....there are friendships just waiting to be made.
Every friendship won't end up as a marriage, but friends are great blessings to have along the road to marriage.  You CAN DO IT!  "Go to the front of the boat"! "Fresh courage take...our God will never us forsake!"  :)   Time to "fresh start" your area!

We love you!

President and Sister Ostler

2016-10-23 Interviews and Classes

Our mission is extremely blessed to be located on the far side of the Philippines from where typhoons usually come.  We only had some rain.  Other areas of the Philippines were hit quite hard, but according to the latest news we received from the Area Presidency, they are not aware of any loss of life and the missionaries are all safe.  Some of the members in affected areas have lost their homes, but they are grateful to have their families.  We have some missionaries serving in our mission whose families lost their homes. It is humbling to see them continue to serve faithfully despite this kind of difficulty in their family.  They are most grateful their families are ok.

All of our prayers need to be sent heavenward for all those around the world who suffer.  Each of us is so blessed.  May we each reach out to whoever we can and make someone's burden lighter today.

We are currently interviewing all of the missionaries.  What a blessing it is to meet with them and hear of their dedication to the Lord.  Where else in the world is their a group of young men and young women focused completely on bringing joy into the lives of the people around them?  It is an amazing thing to witness and to realize that throughout the world are many groups of missionaries just like these....dedicated to the Lord.

We got a couple of pictures at the last interviews.  While they do interviews, they also rotate through classes that help them with skills.  One of the skills they learned this time was helping new members learn how to find family names and prepare them to do the temple baptisms for their ancestors.  The temple is closed till the second week of November, so everyone is gearing up to keep it very busy once it opens again!

Another class was on communication  and the importance of listening for understanding.  We talked about how everyone has a different perspective even though they see the same thing or have a similar experience.  We had a fun time watching "The Blind Man and the Elephant" and having everyone tell us what they saw in this picture.

 We showed everyone this picture and asked them what they saw.  It was AMAZING to hear how many different things people saw.  Then we had them come up and try to help explain what they saw so that the rest of us could see it.  Some missionaries even posed to help us see what they were seeing.

We all tried very hard to see the perspective of each other.  Many time it took time, but it was so fun when someone would finally see it and you could hear them say, "Ohhhhhh!"  Sometimes, we never could see what they saw, but we understood they saw it differently, and they felt respected that we tried. 

It was a great learning experience for us to realize that our cultures, the ways we were raised, our past experiences, our education, our personalities, and the ways our brains work all affect the way we each see things.  We shared some real life experiences that helped us all realize that we need to:
1.  STOP  judging, reacting, lecturing, etc.
2.  LISTEN until we truly understand
3.  Go ahead and work together to solve the problem

It is a joy to work with these wonderful missionaries.  We pray that the lessons they learn on their mission will bless them not only in their apartments with their companions and kabahays,  but also with their investigators, the members and throughout their lives.

2016-10-23 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

I thank you with all my heart for your sacrifice, hard work and faith! All 200 of you are serving the Lord with faith and love. Thank you.

There are two ways to live your life:

1. "Wishy Washy": Every time you are in a situation you think about what you will do--Will I be obedient today or not? Will I read my scriptures today or will I put it off? Will I go through the motions or will I put my heart into the work? Will I be honest or will I lie a little? Will I do my duty or will I be lazy? Will I pray or will I wait until another time? Will I turn off that bad video or will I watch it for a little while? Will I keep the law of chastity? Will I pay my tithing? Will I keep the commandments or will I slack off?

Living this way requires you to make thousands of decisions over and over again. Every day you have to decide if you will live according to your beliefs or if you will make an exception and choose the weak path.

2. "With Integrity": You decide once and for all, completely and entirely, that you will live your life according to what you believe. You will not ever need to decide again whether or not you will be honest, hard-working or faithful. You have already made that decision. All of your energy goes into living your life by the decision to live what you believe.

Some decisions only need to be made once.

There is great power in making strong decisions one time only.

One of the great joys of serving as a mission president is watching you come to the point when you reach your TURNING POINT...YOUR TIME OF DECISION...when you decide once, and for all time, to live with integrity.

I pray for the time when each of you comes to that turning point...the point of conversion...the point of integrity.

Integrity is living your life according to what you believe. No excuses, no rationalization, no procrastination.

This time came for DAVID when he faced the giant Goliath. He was a young man, experienced in taking care of sheep but completely inexperienced in battle. He had good desires. He talked a good talk. But the time came that he needed to go out on the battlefield to face the giant.

What did he do? He picked up some stones and RAN toward Goliath. He completely committed himself. With God's help, he accomplished the impossible.

BRIGHAM YOUNG was also a man who made the decision to serve the Lord. He studied about the church for two years and received a spiritual witness that it was true. After he made that decision, he never looked back. He was called to leave his family to serve a mission in England. When it was time for him to leave with his companions he was so sick that he couldn't stand up. His wife, with a newborn child, was also sick, as were his children. Determined to fulfill his promise to the Lord and go on a mission, Brigham crawled out of the house and staggered to a wagon. After a painful ride to the river's edge, and then across the river, he lay on the ground for a long time. A horseman came  along and gave him a ride to the Kimball home where he found Heber also sick. The two men lay bed-ridden for a week or two, but finally determined that they had to be about the Lord's business. They got up, arranged for a wagon to take them out of town, and said good bye to their wives. (Brigham's wife, Mary Ann, had come across the river to help nurse him.)

Weakened by their illness, the two men climbed into the wagon and lay down. Brother Kimball said to Brigham, "let's not leave them this way." They staggered to their feet, waved their hats and shouted, "Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah for Zion!" and collapsed to the floor of the wagon.

During the next few months they worked their way to New York. Brigham traveled in rags. The only way he had to keep warm that winter was to have an old quilt tied around him with a rope.

By February 1840 they were determined to sail to England, but they had no money. Brigham appealed to the local Saints. "We have come this far without money,' he said. "Now we must get to England, and we can't swim the ocean." The members raised the money.

In March, they sailed for Liverpool, England. The month-long trip was miserable for Brigham; he was seasick most of the time and was unable to eat. He lost so much weight that his cousin Willard Richards, who met him at the dock in Liverpool, couldn't recognize him.

During the next year, Brigham and his colleagues did a great missionary work in Britain...and brought an estimated 8,000 people into the Church. (Liahona, June 1989)
Brigham made the decision to serve the Lord and never looked back. He lived with integrity.

There are many other examples: Joseph of Egypt, Abraham...and many of you.

I invite you to make the decision, the once-in-a-lifetime, rock solid decision that you will be a man or woman of God. That you will serve Him with all of your heart, might, mind and strength. This is not a "yes, that sounds like a good idea" decision. This is not a "yes, I'll do that today but tomorrow I might be tired" decision.

This is a decision to be like NEPHI:

"Blessed art thou, Nephi, for the things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but has sought my will, to keep my commandments." (Helaman 10:4)

This is a decision to be like the LAMANITES converted by the sons of Mosiah:

"And as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren...were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away." (Alma 23:6)

"...the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord." (3 Nephi 6:14)

This is a decision to be like MORONI:

"And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a 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, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion even to the loss of his blood.

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 children of men." (Alma 48:11-13,17)

May the Lord bless you my dear friends, to make this decision and never look back.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

2016-10-19 Super Typhoon Headed Far North in Philippines

Dear Parents and Families,

I want to inform you that a "super typhoon" will make landfall in the far-northern provinces of Luzon Island this evening. The storm is quite far from Manila and Palawan and there should be no impact within our mission.

We are praying for the families of our missionaries who live in the affected area as well as for the many other church members and missionaries who are in the path of the storm. The people who live in the affected area are well-accustomed to typhoons and have made every effort to prepare.

Warmest regards,

President Creg Ostler

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016-10-17 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Thank you for your amazing faith! Thank you for loving the Lord so much that you were willing to leave everything behind to serve Him here.

One of the greatest experiences of serving a mission is seeing someone you have loved, taught and prayed for get baptized. As you watch them standing in the the simple but sacred words of the baptism ordinance are said..."Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen" they are immersed in the water and then come up you see the smile and joy on their experience one of the truly joyful moments in the life of a missionary.

The Spirit of the Lord is stronger at baptism services than almost any other time or place. Why? Because Baptism is the Gateway. Baptism is the first essential step in returning to live with our Heavenly Father.

"Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:5)

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught: "We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives...We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and BAPTISM and confirmation in order to OPEN THE DOORS OF THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM TO THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF GOD. No one else can do this." (Preach My Gospel, p. 9)

The reason he says that "no one else can do this" is because baptism must be performed by proper priesthood authority. Even Jesus Christ needed to be baptized and even Jesus Christ needed to be baptized by someone with proper authority (John the Baptist). The gift you bring to those you teach is very precious and it includes the proper authority to baptize.
This week in your zone meetings you will be learning about the importance of bringing recent converts to the temple to perform sacred baptisms for their ancestors. This is an important part of the conversion process. Our mission vision includes baptism, full activity in the Church, temple baptisms, temple preparation and temple ordinances. But when you think about our mission vision, or when you recite your Missionary Purpose, the word BAPTISM should always be in capital letters in your mind. Your main purpose as a missionary is to help people to repent and learn the gospel so that they can be BAPTIZED.

I invite you to pray for BAPTISMS in every prayer. I invite you to make BAPTISM the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning. I invite you to make BAPTISM the last thing you think about when you go to sleep.

When you OYM, when you teach, when you walk down the street, think about the joy that will come as these people repent, change their lives and make covenants with God through BAPTISM.

Heavenly Father answers prayers. He really does. He listens lovingly and carefully to your prayers. When you pray with all of your heart, when you are specific in your prayers, when you are doing your part, He will answer your humble request.

What do you need to do to bring more people into the waters of baptism?

1. Be exactly obedient.

2. Focus your mind and heart on serving the Lord. Push out all worldly concerns or distractions.

3. Work diligently, with a purpose, every day. What is the purpose? BAPTISM.

4. Be hopeful. Exercise faith. Be positive. Expect the Lord to bless you. I promise that He will.

I look forward to many joyful times as you and I witness many of those we love enter the waters of BAPTISM...and enter the gateway to eternal life.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Sunday, October 16, 2016

2016-10-16 RM's are Precious to the Lord....and Us

One of the great joys of mission life is the blessing of seeing our returned missionaries.  Tonight we had the blessing of being visited by Sister Sundae Indino. 

What a joy to see she is still strong in Christ.  As we see so many of our RM's facebook posts, our hearts swell with gratitude for the choices you are making....the choices to stand with Christ, to chose the harder right, to trust in God and His promises rather than the wisdom of man or the counsel of your fears or friends.

Stay strong dearest Elders and Sisters, our brothers and our sisters, those who have served together harvesting for the Lord in the "fields of Manila".  He has a greater work for you.  Feed your faith, strengthen your determination and increase your humility.  He will lead you along.  He is right there, wanting more than ANYTHING for you to succeed. 

We love you all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

2016-10-13 Mission Leadership Council

We had a wonderful Mission Leadership Council today.  It's an amazing experience to be in the presence of so many current and future leaders of the Church.  As they magnify the talents they currently have, it is easy to see how they will develop and grow into becoming powerful leaders and disciples of Christ.

The skills they learn on their mission apply to every aspect of their future lives as well.  It is a wonderful experience to witness their progress.  We had an activity where they were able to participate, then share insights.  It almost brought tears to my eyes to hear them communicate with each other so clearly, compassionately and supportively.

These are YOUR children, your friends.  Yes, they are amazing.  We look forward  to the day you can see their growth as well.  We are so blessed to be here with them.  They make us want to be better!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

2016-10-10 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Thank you for your faith. Thank you for every good thing you do. Thank you for loving and teaching the wonderful people in our mission. Thank you for every drop of sweat and every drop of rain that you endure. Thank you for faithfully accepting every call and every assignment. Thank you for being cheerful and positive. Thank you for loving your companion. Thank you for representing our Father in Heaven and His Son every day. I love you with all my heart. I am deeply grateful for you.

When I began my first mission in Vienna, Austria I wanted with all my heart to give the Lord a perfect mission. I didn't want anyone to give me credit or glory. I just really wanted to give everything to the service of the Lord. I wanted to "perform" my mission for the Lord like it was a "perfect game" in sports or a "perfect performance" in music. I felt that I was clean, that I had a testimony, that I would love the people and that the Lord would use me to bring many people to Him.

I soon became disappointed in myself that I was NOT a flawless missionary and my missionary service was far from perfect. I also discovered that I was not the great, fearless companion that I hoped I would be and that my testimony and knowledge of the gospel were not as strong as I thought. I discovered that, even though I was trying my hardest, I did not really know how to teach and commit and help people change their lives and get baptized. I discovered that my humility was weak. In short, I really needed the Lord's help to BECOME the man that God needed me to become.

BECOMING a son or daughter of God is a PROCESS. It is a JOURNEY. The Lord takes us from where we are now and leads us along a pathway back to Him.


Humility is, and always has been, the first step, the prerequisite, for any progress in spiritual things. We must see our own weakness and we must turn to the Lord. Humility is both of these things. Focusing on our weaknesses alone will just make us discouraged and downtrodden. But seeing our weaknesses and turning to the Lord is being truly humble. When we are humble, the Lord can work with us.

" grace is sufficient for the meek...I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, AND have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:26-27)

"Whosoever shall humble himself as a little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:4)

When we are sufficiently humble we can learn from the Lord. He is always ready to teach us. But even the best teacher must have students who will listen.

His lessons often come through other people or experiences we have with them.

My call to serve a mission was not an invitation to PERFORM a great mission. In reality it was an invitation to BECOME a true disciple of Christ and an effective missionary.

This process of becoming who the Lord wants us to become takes humility and it takes time.


Sometimes, as we are striving to serve and striving to become, we make mistakes. Making mistakes is not the problem. The problem is when we do not correct our mistakes, repent and learn from them. Similarly, falling into the mud is not the problem. The problem is when we lay in the mud and blame ourselves and blame others and we don't get up, get clean and get moving.

Paul Dunn said: "I don't mean to suggest that you won't stumble a time or two. That is part of the growing process. The lives of many great men will testify to you that ofttimes they have many failures, but there is no disgrace in falling down; the disgrace is lying there. To get up one more time than you fall is to be a winner. To stay down is to be a loser."

Jeffrey R. Holland: "However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made...I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love."


God wants to teach us. He wants to lift us. He wants to change us. Becoming His disciple is to follow the path of a disciple. He doesn't say: "Sit here and I'll change you." He doesn't say: "Here is a missionary badge. Now you are a perfect missionary." He says: "Come follow me" and "Walk with me" and "Do the things that ye have seen me do." We do not believe in magic. We believe in miracles. Getting baptized, getting set apart as a missionary, receiving our temple endowment, do not magically make us into great disciples of Christ or great missionaries. But as we humbly, faithfully and diligently do His work and follow the path of the Savior, He performs miracles in our lives. He changes us. He does miracles through us.


The most important thing we need to become is to be filled with the pure love of Christ.

In Moroni 7:47-48 we learn: "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore...pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that ye may be filled with this love...that ye may BECOME the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him."

When we are full of this selfless, obedient love the changes can really begin.

We see the example of Paul, Alma and many others. Alma started out as a sinful man, but became one of the greatest missionaries of all time. From the time he was "born of God" and filled with love he says that "...from that time even until now I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." (Alma 36:23-24)


Alma's success did not happen overnight. He went through many hardships but he eventually baptized thousands.  He says "And I have been supported under trials and troubles of every kind, yea,  God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me." (Alma 36:27)

As we become true disciples of Christ, as we become the kind of missionary he wants us to become, something changes in us. We find ourselves giving God ALL OF THE CREDIT. Why? Because we realize that all of the credit truly belongs to him.

As I look back on my first mission, I feel deeply grateful for the blessings of the Lord and for the people that I was able to teach and bring to Him. I know that He changed me. I know that He used me to do His work. But I also see very clearly that not a single convert, not a single accomplishment, was a result of my efforts. I was the tool in His hands. I was not the hands. I was the arrow and not the bow or the bowman.

My mission was not a "performance."  My mission was an apprenticeship. It was a time for the Lord to teach me and mold me. It was a time for the Lord to humble me. It was a time for Him to use me.

My dear sisters and elders, become humble, turn to the Lord for help, learn from your mistakes and repent, pray to be filled with love and trust God. Give Him all the credit. That is where all the credit truly belongs.

May the Lord bless and strengthen you my friends,

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Friday, October 7, 2016

2016-10-07 Each Soul's Great Worth

One of the greatest blessings of serving a mission is to see the personal growth that each one of the missionaries makes.  We cannot possibly post pictures of each of the missionaries and describe what incredible changes we have witnessed in their lives during their missions, so I'm posting just this a testament that change is possible and a wonderful blessing!
Sister Narag is a great example of a missionary who chose to change despite challenge and difficulty. 

We are so proud of ALL of the wonderful missionaries past and present who have decided to change their direction and to stay firmly on the path towards exaltation.  Elders and Sisters, we are so proud of you.  We are so happy because we know it will bring you the kind of joy Heavenly Father wants you to have.  We love you!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2016-10-05 The Wonderful New Servants of the Lord Have Arrived!

   Bright and early, Wednesday morning, these cheerful missionaries arrived from the MTC.

          Elder Webster and Elder McCauley reap a few benefits from service in the office.

   Sister and Elder Porteous keep the interviews and information sheets running smoothly.

  Lumen & Angel provide wonderful meal and keep the house clean even with all of us here!

     Touring the American War Cemetery where the Philippines was dedicated by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley is a sobering and sacred experience.  As we consider what the people buried there sacrificed so that the land of the Philippines can be free for the people to worship God they way they want, we can't help but think about what we want to be willing
to sacrifice for the eternal spiritual freedom of our brothers and sisters here.

Six, beautiful new sisters!
                                                             Our new "batch"


                                                         New Missionary Orientation

       And the new companions are.........

The other four missionaries will be serving on Palawan where their companions are waiting for them.  They flew out tonight and will meet them soon.

They're a wonderful group of missionaries....

                       And now....they're off to begin a new adventure!