Tuesday, July 4, 2017

2017-07-04 Final Post

Dearest Missionaries,

Our hearts are full of gratitude for the great and sacred gift it has been to know you, to love you and to serve with you.  We have been humbled as we have witnessed your faith, your love for the Lord, your patience and love for one another, and your efforts to truly become the polished servants of the Lord that He knows you can be.

We want to thank you for who you are and for who you are working with faith to become. We want you to know that President Ostler and I believe in you.  We believe in your ability to become the kind of person that Heavenly Father sees in you…because we have seen many glimpses of it.

One of the great gifts Heavenly Father has blessed us with, as we have served with you, is to see in you the incredible person you can become if you stay on the path He has commanded, counseled, encouraged and pled for you to stay on.  He IS your loving Father in Heaven.  He wants you to come HOME to live eternally with Him forever.  We do too.

We promise you that we will do everything we can to be worthy to be where He is, so that one day we can be eternally with you.  Will you please do the same?  Like I said in zone conference, we will be waiting for you to come through the veil.  We will wait till every single one of you come through.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our missionaries were like the Army of Helaman and "NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS LOST”!   That is what our greatest desire is.

Please do your best to be obedient and to follow the prophet.  It will bless your life and help keep you free from unnecessary pain and suffering.  We, like Heavenly Father, just want you to have great joy and happiness.  We love you.  The only way you will experience those things is if you CHOOSE to obey with faith that it will bless your life.
We testify and promise it will!!!!  First obey, later you will understand.

Lastly, please remember our testimonies of our precious Savior and His atonement.  We ALL fall short.  We ALL sin.  Get back up, repent, turn around, do what you need to fix it and then don’t do it again.  Do not suffer all your life with shame and guilt. Repent, get back up and get back in the race.  The prize goes to all who finish, not just the fastest.

We love you all.  Thank you for being such a wonderful part of our lives.  Please, please keep in touch with us.  We will always love you, wonder how you are doing and pray for you.

So now, it’s time to move onward and upward!  Let’s show Heavenly Father how much we love Him by the way we serve Him. He gave His only begotten Son, He gives us every second of His time and every ounce of His love.  Christ gave His life and willingly took on Himself all our punishment, pain, suffering, sickness, loneliness, and insecurities.

Surely, we can go out and share His message with our brothers and sisters.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true restored gospel and church of Jesus Christ on the earth, established for our salvation and joy.  It is the answer to all the troubles of the families in Manila and problems in the world. 

As President Hinckley said, "Let us get at it with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord.  We can do it if we will be prayerful and faithful. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. We have nothing to fear. God is at the helm. He will overrule for the good of this work. He will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments.”  And as Joseph Smith once said, "Shall we not go on in such a cause?!”

We will love you forever,

President and Sister Ostler

Dearest Parents and Families,

President Ostler and I thank you for the sacrifices you make daily to share your sons and daughters, parents and grandparents with the Philippines Manila Mission in the service of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May you be blessed forever!

We close this final post with a painting that represents how we feel about serving this mission.  We began this mission with great expectations and hopes.  Because of our love for the Savior and our desire to share the gospel, we hoped we would be able to make a big difference in building the Lord's kingdom in the Philippines.  As we complete this mission, we are humbled with the knowledge that all good things come from God.  All that we are that is good, all that we think, all that we can do, every talent, every skill, every good thought, every breath....it is all because of the grace and goodness of our God.  In the end, we have given what we could, and though it seems very small, it was what we had, and we gave it with willing hearts and sincere love. 

The beautiful and most meaningful part of this pictures is the reassurance that the Lord accepts "what we have" and can take it and make it "enough" and to spare...just like He did the 5 loaves and two fishes.  Our prayer is that He has made it enough. 

We love you all,

President and Sister Ostler

Friday, June 30, 2017

2017-06-30 President's Final Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,
You will receive this letter on the last day I will serve as the president of this mission (Monday, July 3). Beginning that afternoon I will no longer preside over this mission, but I will always be your mission president and you will ALWAYS be my missionaries!
As I look back on these three years I think of the 35,000 weekly missionary emails I have read. (I love reading your emails!) I think of the 4,000 missionary interviews I have had (I love meeting with you and feeling the Lord's love for you!). I think of the zone conferences, training meetings, district and stake conferences. I think of the amazing miracles the Lord has done here...baptisms, temple ordinances, lives changed and families saved. I think about the first interview I had with you at the beginning of your mission--with your wonderful combination of faith and nervousness, your struggles to adjust over the first few weeks, and then watching the remarkable light of the Spirit fill your countenance. I think about watching and helping you as you gained confidence to forget your self and do hard things in the service of others.
I have truly treasured this time with you. On the first day of your mission I told you the story about the travelers who needed to collect precious diamonds during their journey. Diamonds are very valuable because of their beauty, their great strength and their rarity. Diamonds are the hardest of any bulk materials on the earth. How are diamonds formed? They do not grow in gardens or fall down like rain from the sky. Natural diamonds are formed deep in the earth under great pressure (650,000-900,000 lbs or 270,000-400,000kg) They are also formed in intense heat (1,600-2,400 degrees F or 900-1,300 degrees C).
YOU are the diamonds of my missionary service. You are the diamonds of the Lord. You are beautiful, strong and rare. You have made huge changes during your mission because you have taken on your shoulders the responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Figuratively, you have undergone "great pressure and intense heat" as the Lord has purified you and formed you into rare and precious gems. The "greatest diamond of all" is our Savior, Jesus Christ. He suffered more than any human can suffer...and He did it all for love...love for His Father and love for us. In a small way, you have followed in His footsteps to become diamonds. Your sacrifice, like His, is motivated by your love for your Heavenly Father and your love for your fellow men. Your process of changing and growing is part of the gospel plan:
"I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10)
"Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. for after much tribulation come the blessings..." (DC 58:3-4)
We should not expect that being a disciple of Jesus Christ would be easy. If we say we want to truly follow someone who selflessly suffered, we need to be ready to selflessly suffer as well.
The Lord is not done with you yet. He has a lifetime of blessings awaiting you. As you humbly and selflessly serve Him, you will be tested and tried AND you will be blessed more than you imagine.
Thank you for who you are. Thank you for being my heroes. Thank you for loving Heavenly Father more than yourself. Thank you for loving our Filipino brothers and sisters more than yourselves. As I write to you now, tears of love come to my eyes.
As you know...the Atonement of Jesus Christ means everything to me. EVERYTHING.
All of my hopes, desires and dreams are possible because of the Atonement of my Savior.
The Atonement is the Bridge across the deep canyon of sin. It will "...lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked--and land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven...(Helaman 3:29)
The Atonement of Christ is my comfort and strength in times of trouble: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." (Psalms 23)
I can overcome all things through the Atonement, through faith in Christ:
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)
"What are these that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?...These are they which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."  (Revelation 7:13-14)  "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Revelation 21:7)
The Atonement of Christ will make right every wrong: "They shall hunger no more, neither shall they thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." (Revelation 7:16-17) "And God shall 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..." (Revelation 21:4)
The Atonement provides the resurrection: "And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in Him." (2 Nephi 2:10)
...there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life...that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead." (2 Nephi 2:8)
The Atonement opens the way for me to be sealed to my family and to be with those I love after this life: "And the same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy." (DC 130:2)
I am deeply and eternally grateful to my Heavenly Father for the gift of His Son. I am likewise overwhelmingly grateful that Christ had the love and courage to say the simple words: "Here am I. Send me."
I know that the Father and Christ live. I have felt their love. I have felt their strength. I have seen the hand of God so clearly. I have seen Him in the faces of many beautiful Filipinos and many beautiful missionaries. I know that this is the church of God. I know that the priesthood is real. I know that the temple is the house of God. I know that you were called by God and that He has endowed you with power.
Now, my dear missionaries, do you remember Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon? It is a remarkable dream that is centered on the Atonement of Christ. Lehi sees a tree "whose fruit was desirable to make one happy...and I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted...and as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy..."
Lehi then tries to get his family to come. He watches as many people press forward trying to get to the amazing tree. He then describes what I think could be two groups of missionaries:
GROUP ONE: "And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness (all the trials of a mission), clinging to the rod of iron (obedient and faithful) even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree (becoming clean and serving the Lord faithfully).
And after they had partaken of the fruit (after their missions) they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed."
Lehi then looks to see what the problem is: "...on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building: and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at the; AND THEY FELL AWAY into forbidden paths and were lost."
I can imagine Lehi, in his dream, jumping up and down and waving his arms, shouting: "STAY BY THE TREE! STAY BY THE TREE!" I can imagine his anguish and sorrow as they succumbed to social pressure, mocking and evil influences and wandered away to destruction.
GROUP TWO: "...he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree." This group STAYED BY THE TREE. They humbly fell to their knees...and stayed humble. They ignored the people who were pressuring them.
With this second group I can also imagine Lehi saying to himself: "I am SO glad that they stayed by the tree! Now they will be safe. Now they will receive all of the blessings." In those days they didn't do "high fives", but if they did, I am sure Lehi would have been giving them all around!
Elders and Sisters, my strongest counsel and most urgent invitation for you is to STAY BY THE TREE. The Tree is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Atonement of Christ. It is the plan of happiness. It is your temple covenants. It is your baptism covenants.
The greatest danger for returned missionaries is SOCIAL PRESSURE. It is the pressure to rejoin the world after your mission. It is the danger of becoming part of the world again. As Elder Shayne Bowen said: "Shame on you if you feel comfortable in the world!"
Now that you have tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Life I invite you to STAY BY THE TREE.
ONLY the tree has the blessings of happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
How do you Stay By The Tree?
1. READ the Book of Mormon every day. No exceptions.
2. PRAY every day. No exceptions.
3. SERVE every day. Pray to know who you can serve every day of your life. On the Sabbath, keep the Sabbath Day holy. When you have a calling, fulfill it. When the missionaries need help, go work with them.
If you will do this, the world will have no power over you. Even if your family opposes your activity in the church. Even if all of your friends want you to break the commandments; if you Read, Pray, Serve the Lord will be with you. He will lead you to new friends and give you new strength.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught regarding Peter, who who wavered after his first mission:
"Peter, do you love me? ...Lord, thou knowest that I love thee...Then Peter, why are you here? (back in the world) Why are we back at this same shore, by these same nets, having this same conversation? What I need, Peter, are disciples, and I need them FOREVER. I need someone to feed my sheep and save my lambs. I need someone to preach my gospel and defend my faith. I need someone who loves me, truly, truly loves me. And loves what our Father in Heaven has commissioned me to do...Did you, like they, think the cross and the nails and the tomb were the end of it all and each could blissfully go back to being whatever you were before? Children, did not my life and my love touch your hearts more deeply than this?...I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said "Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ." That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well."
"My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not sure just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us precisely what Christ asked Peter: "Did you love me?"...The crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty..." (General Conference, October 2012)
I love you with all my heart. I look forward, at some future day, to greet you with open arms in the Celestial Kingdom. In the meantime, I will pray for you every day of my life. I will cheer for you. I will love you.
Sister Ostler and I plan to serve many missions. We will serve the Lord until the day our Father calls us home. I promise that we will do our very best to Stay By The Tree...with you.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler

Sunday, June 25, 2017

2017-06-23 Wedding and Farewells to Friends

Friday was the sealing of one of our wonderful RM sisters, Sister Gabut.  President was able to attend the sealing, and several of the other RM's from Manila mission were able to be there as well.  It was a very special and beautiful time for all.  Truly seeing our returned missionaries be able to start their own eternal families bring such incredible joy to us.  It is amazing to see how the joy we feel for others is almost greater than the joy we experience for own experiences.  Oh, how we love our missionaries!

Arnold and Susie Nepomuceno, who used to serve as Branch President and wife in Coron, Palawan have become good friends, and their sons had "adopted" Caleb as their "kuya" or older brother.  They have been one of the "pearls" of our experience here in the Philippines.  We are so grateful for them and for all of the Filipinos who have truly put their arms around us and adopted us as their own.
We love you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

2017-06-26 President's Message...The Extra Mile

Dear Sisters and Elders,
What a great blessing you are to me! You are the best missionaries on earth. I have felt very clearly so many times how much the Lord loves His missionaries. I feel how precious you are. I feel your great, eternal potential. I feel deeply grateful for your sacrifices.
I have learned many things from you and those who came before you. Over time, some very important principles of success shine through. Today I want to share with you a principle that I have seen many, many times. It is the principle of "Going the Extra Mile" or "Fourth Floor Last Door" or "Giving the Lord Everything I have...and then giving some more."
The Lord saves some very special blessings for those who serve Him TO THE END.
For example, last week a pair of missionaries on Palawan decided to go finding along a trail up the mountain. They talked to EVERYONE they saw along the way and approached every house. Their time was almost up and "then I heard a voice in my head that said "Go do one more. I looked up the trail and saw nothing but trees, but decided to listen to the voice and keep going up the trail. After a few minutes we found a house and called out to them. Tao po! A guy came out of the house, looked at us, and invited us in. We went inside and met a beautiful family. A husband and wife and six little kids who are more than prepared to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Another set of missionaries reported: "In spite of the rain we have experienced during the last few days we didn't stop working. Although many people rejected our invitation to be baptized, we never felt discouraged. We continued to work hard and not let Satan win. One time, we decided to explore our area even though it was raining hard. We both felt the Spirit prompting us to continue walking. Later we heard a small voice calling to us. When I looked back, a woman and her child were heading towards us, smiling, even though she was trying to catch her breath. She introduced herself as a member and a returned missionary and was so happy because she finally saw missionaries for the first time in her neighborhood. She said: "Heavenly Father answered my prayer. Please teach my husband."
These experiences happen over and over again. Sometimes the Lord blesses us during the first OYM. He often blesses us during our days and evenings of proselyting. But it seems that He saves special people and special experiences for when we go the extra mile...for when we do something extra that we were not required to do.
It reminds me of what the Lord taught in Doctrine and Covenants 76:5-6:
"For thus saith the Lord--I the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and truth UNTO THE END. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory."
Think of the "extra-milers" in the scriptures:
Samuel the Lamanite Prophet (Helaman 13, 16): "And it came to pass that he did preach, MANY DAYS, repentance unto the people, and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land.
[He worked very hard, was rejected by everyone, and decided to go back to his house. But he listened to the Spirit.]
But behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should RETURN AGAIN, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart.
And it came to pass that they would not suffer that he should enter into the city; therefore he went and got upon the wall thereof...
[Think of it! Rejected by everyone. Not allowed back into the city. But He was dedicated to his calling. NOTHING would stop him from fulfilling his calling!]
... and stretched for this hand and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart....And now, it came to pass that there were many who heard the words of Samuel, the Lamanite, which he spake upon the walls of the city....[those who} did not believe in the words of Samuel were angry with him; and they cast stones at him upon the wall, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall;
...but the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows. Now when they saw that they could not hit him, there were many more who did believe on his words, insomuch that they went away unto Nephi to be baptized...
...therefore when they saw that they could not hit him with their stones and their arrows...they went forth to lay their hands on him, behold, he did cast himself down from the wall and did flee out of their lands..."
If we had more of the spirit of Samuel, the Lamanite, imagine the blessings that would come!
Alma the Younger (Alma 8): "Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance. Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts..and withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him and caused that he should be cast out of their city, he departed thence and took his journey...While he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people...an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying:
Blessed art thou, Alma: therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice, for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God...return to the city of Ammonihah and preach again unto the people of the city...and he returned SPEEDILY to the land of Ammonihah."
He returned and the Lord brought him to Amulek, who would help him convert many, many people to the gospel.
There are many more examples in the scriptures. There are literally thousands of examples in our mission.
Why does this work? It works because the Lord wants humble servants. The Lord wants servants who will give everything. The Lord wants servants will sacrifice and consecrate everything the have. When we do this, miracles come to the lives of those we serve...and another miracle happens inside of us. This is when we finally LOSE OURSELVES IN THE SERVICE OF THE LORD.
I invite you to put this principle to use in your missionary efforts. GO THE EXTRA MILE. Go to one more house. Talk to one more person. Keep going in the heat. Keep going in the rain. Keep going in the mud.
Going the extra mile is a true principle. I promise that you will see amazing blessings as a missionary when you do this.
"Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come!...Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back (the fruit of your labor)..." (DC 31:3,5)
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler

PS: This principle will also hold true for the rest of your life. If you will go the extra mile in the things that really count, your blessings will be multiplied. When a father or mother takes an extra ten minutes to talk lovingly with a troubled child. When a father helps with the children at home even when he is weary and bone tired; When a mother says kind words to her husband even when she feels that the children have taken all she has to give that day; When a home teacher makes the extra effort to reach out to his family; When you read the scriptures every day, even on the hardest days. It is that extra effort, that extra love, that extra mile, that brings so many blessings.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

2017-06-21 Last Palawan Zone Conference

Elder and Sister Porteous have now transferred over to Puerto Princessa.  The Wolcotts will be helping with the transition of Mission Presidents in Manila.  We had a wonderful time with the missionaries.  They are amazing servants of the Lord and radiate such great spirits.  Just look at their pictures and you will see what we see!  They are such a blessing to the people they serve!

 Caleb's school is out, so he was able to join us.....and enjoy the delicious food Sister Santos makes.

It was hard to leave these incredible missionaries.  But we are trying to focus on the Lord's work instead of our feelings, and that helps.  It has been such an indescribable blessing to serve with these young men and women.  They are all trying so hard in their own opportunities for growth.  It is amazing to see how much they grow.  When they return home to you, you will see it too.  Please know that their growth has come with a lot of hard work and exercising a lot of faith.  We are so grateful for them.  Thank you, parents and families for sharing them with us!

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017-06-18 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,
You are amazing blessings in my life. I thank the Lord for every minute I get to spend with you! I thank the Lord that He sent you and me here to serve Him together. Thank you for being such devoted, faithful servants of the Lord. Thank you for your support and friendship.
There is a great truth that many people never learn. It is the truth that HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. HAPPINESS IS NOT JUST SOMETHING THAT HAPPENS TO YOU.
So many people say "I will be happy when...
my investigators keep their commitments
when it stops raining
when the weather is not so hot
when I go home from my mission
when I am a leader
when I have a different companion
when my companion changes his behavior
when I get married
when I finish school
when I have a baby
when I have a job
when my spouse improves
when my children grow up and leave home
when I have a lot of money."
Many, many people wait their whole lives for happiness to come to them. They are the "victim of circumstance."
But real happiness does not come from possessing things, or from things that other people do, or from the passing of time.
Happiness is a choice! It is YOUR choice!
What are the sources of true happiness? All of them come from Heavenly Father.
HOPE: "And what is it that ye shall hope for? ...Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal." (Moroni 7:41)
LOVE OF GOD: "And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people....and surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the had of God." (4 Nephi 1:15-16)
"...men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25)
BRINGING OTHERS TO THE LORD: "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (DC 18:15)
FAITHFUL SERVICE TO THE LORD, EVEN WHEN IT IS HARD...ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS HARD: "And it came to pass that while he [Alma] was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people...it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto him, saying: Blessed art thou Alma, therefore, LIFT UP THY HEAD AND REJOICE; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God..." (Alma 8:14-15)
In the scriptures, there are 10 places where the Lord says: "Be of good cheer." It is interesting that the first 8 references all refer to the love of God or the Atonement. The remaining 2 refer to the joy of sharing the gospel. NONE OF THEM refer to being happy because circumstances are easy, or someone else makes changes. ALL OF THEM refer to the love of God and the joy of bringing others to Him.
"...In the world he shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
"...be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you." (DC 61:36)
"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you..." (DC 68:6)
"And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer, for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours." (DC 78:18)
"...Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." (Matthew 9:2)
[When Jesus appeared to the disciples at night, walking on the water} "...be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." (Matthew 14:27 and Mark 6:50)
"...behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying: Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world..." (3 Nephi 1:13)
"And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." (Acts 23:11)
"Let thy heart be of good cheer before my face; and thou shalt bear record of my name...unto the ends of the earth." (DC 112:4)
Do you want to be happy? Do you want to "be of good cheer?"
If you do, then use the agency which God has given you. Follow the two Great Commandments:
1-"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind."
This means that we love God so much that we keep all of his commandments, we honor our covenants and our whole souls are full of gratitude for the great plan of happiness that comes to us through the Atonement of Christ. This means that we notice, and enjoy and feel a deep gratitude for the blessings He has given us, including the beauty of small things and the value of each soul.
2-"And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Matthew 22:37,39)
This means that we serve our fellow men with great love and devotion. We put our own selfish wants and desires aside and we truly consecrate our time, talents and heart to the service of the Lord and our fellow men.
I have now had the privilege of serving with more than 500 missionaries in this mission. The happiest most joyful missionaries are those who live these two commandments. I recently met with a missionary who has made a big change in his life. He has begun to serve with great obedience and great diligence. His countenance is now different...there is peace and strength and confidence and hope in his eyes. He is physically different...he looks like a man of God and not just a boy trying to serve a mission. His investigators and members in his ward have noticed something different. He is receiving more referrals. People are keeping their commitments more often. But most of all, he is truly happy for the first time in his mission...and the first time in his life.
I invite you to choose happiness. Choosing happiness does not mean that "Today I will choose to be happy." It means that "Today I will DO the things that bring true happiness."
Joseph Smith taught: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness and keeping all the commandments of God." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 255-256)
May the Lord bless you my dear fellow-servants, that you will DO the things that lead to true happiness.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017-06-02-03 Palawan Young Single Adult Conference in Narra

The Narra District and Puerto Princesa Stake held a combined Young Single Adult Conference in Narra this year.  It was a spectacular event that was attended by about 150-160 young adults.  It was held in Narra at the Crystal Paradise Inn and Resort, our favorite place on the island.  They welcomed the group as "Mormon's Family" :)

The conference began with workshops taught by President and Sister Ostler.  President Ostler taught the pre-mission aged young adults about how they can and need to prepare for their missions.  Sister Ostler taught the returned missionaries and the girls that dared to come....how to prepare for marriage.  :)

It was a wonderful experience to share together the principles that help us have eternal happiness in our lives and how we can share it with others.  Some of the memorable moments were President teaching the pre-missionaries how to get the courage to do difficult things.......the secret of 1-2-3!  You count to three and on three you just do it.  He taught them many valuable lessons and they seemed inspired to prepare more for their missions.  Sister Ostler taught about how Heavenly Father has a most incredible gift for us (Eternal life with our families) but we are like a child who doesn't open the gift because we are too busy, we need to finish our schooling, we want to have fun with our friends, or we're afraid, so we just don't accept the gift.  We talked about the things that stop us from eternal marriage and how to overcome them.  Everyone who was shy "threw away" their shyness because we all agreed that we couldn't let our shyness keep us out of the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.  The true test came that night after a day of games and great food.  There was a DANCE.  The leaders lined up all the handsome RM's and the beautiful sisters and they would dance for 30 seconds, then move down the line.  They needed some encouragement to introduce themselves and start talking, and whenever we saw sisters not dancing, we pointed them out to the brothers and reminded them that they want eternal life :), and the brothers got over their shyness.  It was really a fun night for all.  Even the prophet would have been pleased with the way the brothers did their duty and kept those sisters dancing and feeling special.  The testimony meeting crowned the event and was accentuated by the Tuco (lizard-type animal) calling out "Tuco, tuco" (which president has taught the people it is really saying "templo, templo"..temple, temple).  Everyone laughed when the Tuco called out during a sister's testimony.  It was the only time it had made any noise in the large ampitheater area. Imagine the surprise when President got up at the end of the meeting to give his concluding remarks, and right as he thanked the Tuco for reminding us about the importance of the temple, the Tuco (for only the second and last time that day) called out "Tuco, tuco".  It was a great end to a great activity!

Brother and Sister Papa are the Family History Area Consultants.  They came and taught a workshop to get all the single adults excited and motivated to do their family history.  They did an excellent job.  Their enthusiasm reminds us of Sister Ostler's dad who also tries every way possible to encourage family history.  It was a great blessing to be with them.

 After the conference, President got to interview several people for their missions.

Elder and Sister Atkinson are busy preparing everyone for missions and the temple!

Afterwards, they had a meeting with all the branch and district leaders to evaluate the activity. It's just amazing to see the growth of the church on Palawan.

2017-06-14 Our Last New Group of Missionaries

    We always take the new missionaries to the American Memorial Cemetery where President Hinckley dedicated the land of the Philippines for the gospel to be preached.  It is a sacred place where we remember the sacrifices of so many that allow freedom to be in the Philippines.  We are so grateful for all these brave men and women who sacrificed their lives so that we can be in this land and share the message of eternal, spiritual freedom!

Countries that follow and rely on God are blessed by Him.  May the Philippines continue to be blessed by Him.