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