Tuesday, January 31, 2017

2017-01 First MLC of 2017

Our first MLC of 2017 was an amazing one as we discussed all the changes that are coming for missionaries.  The daily schedule has changed so that they have more flexibility to be able to get out of their apartments earlier and teach, and then do their language study and companionship study later at a less busy time.  It also will allow missionaries to go to be earlier, as early as 9:30pm if we feel it is necessary for their health.  Lastly, they are given 4 more free hours on their preparation day so they can actually relax and visit historical or  interesting places.  They are very excited about that!

Here are some pictures from MLC.  What a great group of leaders there are in this group!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Philippines Manila Mission 2014-2017 RM Reunion Announced!

Manila Missionary RM's start saving now!  Saturday, May 27th will be our RM Reunion.

Here are the plans!
9:00am       Meet at the Manila Temple to get tickets and take pictures
10:00am     Temple Session
12:15pm     Lunch at Patron Housing (free for our RM's)
1:15pm       Travel in mission vans (free) to Buendia Building
2:00pm       Games, Activities, Slideshows/videos
5:00pm       Catered dinner
6:00pm       Message from President and Sister & Testimony Meeting
8:00pm       Reunion over.....lots of hugs

We will be completing our mission the end of June, so we hope you will be able to find a way to come!  We love you all!  You will always be a part of our hearts and our lives.  We are better people because of you!

2017-01-22 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

We love you! Thank you for your amazing service and sacrifice.

When Jesus was twelve years old, he went with his family to Jerusalem to celebrate the passover feast. After the feast days, his family left to return to Nazareth. After they had been on the road for a day, Mary and Joseph realized that Jesus was not with them. When they anxiously returned to look for him they "found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors (teachers), both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers." When they began to chastise him for not staying with the rest of the family, he asked them a question: "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" In other words: "Why were you looking for me? Didn't you know that I need to do the work Heavenly Father sent me to do?" (Luke 2:46-49)

At a very young age, Jesus knew that he had important, serious work to do. He knew that his Father in Heaven expected him to spend his time in His service. Likewise, you have important, serious work to do.
One of the hallmarks of a true disciple of Christ is someone who is focused on "our Father's business."

We see this characteristic in the young prophet Mormon who was selected to be the keeper of the sacred records of his people when he was only ten years old: "Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe." (Mormon 1:2)

In your missionary call letter, which was signed by the prophet of God, it says: "You will also be expected to devote ALL YOUR TIME AND ATTENTION to serving the Lord, LEAVING BEHIND ALL OTHER PERSONAL AFFAIRS."

In the Lord's great revelation to all missionaries, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 4 we learn: "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with ALL YOUR HEART, MIGHT, MIND AND STRENGTH..."

President Brigham Young taught: "If you go on a mission to preach the Gospel with lightness and frivolity in your hearts, looking for this and that, and to learn what is in the world,...you will go and return in vain...Let your minds be centered on your missions." (Missionary Handbook, p.7)

Christ taught: "And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." (Matthew 10:38-30); and "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62); and "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

The missionary work you have been called to do is extremely important. It is urgent. You only have a few short months to serve. Every minute counts.

I have some questions for you. You do not need to send me the answers but please ponder and pray about them.

1. Are you devoting ALL of your time and attention to serving the Lord?

2. Are you always mindful of the fact that your mission time is not your time, but the Lord's time?

Think about the way you used your time during the past week...

At church...How did you spend your time?

1. Did you spend some time talking with other missionaries or did you spend all of your time with your investigators or getting to know the members? (Sundays are not the time to talk to other missionaries...except for your companion.)

2. When you were talking with the members, were you hanging around the teenagers and young adults and enjoying talking with them or were you spending 90% of your time with the ward leaders and other older members getting to know them and setting appointments to visit them and enlist their help?

3. Were you taking pictures, talking about worldly things and joking around or were you kind, loving, but serious about your calling?

While you are out working...How did you spend your time?

1. Were you greeting and talking to people everywhere you go, including inviting them to learn more about the church? (In most areas, our goal of inviting 15 people per day is a small goal.)

2. Were you planning your time wisely and following your plan?

3. Were you spending extra time visiting members and others who are not making progress or not helping you with your important calling?

Do you feel the urgency of your calling? Do you wake up every day with a burning desire to bring the saving message of the restored gospel to the world?

Elders and Sister, I invite you to review your service. Ask yourself these questions but also ask the most important question: "Am I serving the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind and strength?" If the answer is "no", now is the time and this is the place to make the change.

I invite you to "be about our Father's business."

I promise that the Lord's words are true...if you will lose your life in the service of the Lord, you will find your life...and more important, you will help many others find their way to the Lord.

Now is the time. This is the place.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017-1-16 Finally Got Her!

When Sister Misi-Uili arrived, we didn't get her picture with President and Sister Ostler, so we finally got it and are adding here.  We love her wonderful positive spirit!  So glad she's here!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2017-01-15 The Fruits of Faith

A family in Coron is struggling, as they all do, to survive. The father joined the church in May, and they have been working together to be able to be sealed in the temple.  They run a fruit stand, buying, then reselling fruit.  The last week of December, their stall was full.  They decided to pay their tithing even though they would have no money. On the last day of December, they were completely surprised.  Even though there are many other fruit stands around them, the fruit in their fruit stand was almost totally sold! They truly did not expect that to happen.

2017-01-15 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,

My message to you today is very simple: "YOU CAN DO THIS!"

Is missionary work hard? Yes.

Is life hard sometimes? Yes

Will you face many challenges in your life? Yes


You are a precious daughter or son of God. He did not send you to earth as some kind man-made, half-thought out program. He created the earth. He created you. He created a wonderful plan for you to come back home to Him. Before He sent us to earth, He made sure that there would be a Savior and Redeemer for us. Why? Because He plans for you to be successful!

Elder Richard G. Scott said: "Our Heavenly Father did not put us on this earth to fail but to succeed gloriously!"

Every one of us was called by God to serve a mission. Every one of us was set apart by someone holding priesthood keys. You can do this because God called you to do it. You can do this because you were set apart by the power of the priesthood.

Remember when you were praying about serving a mission? Remember the feeling of peace you had when you prayed? This is another sign to you that the Lord will make you successful, if you will strive with your whole heart.

"Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?" (DC 6:23)

"Sometimes we become discouraged...even by sincere invitations to improve ourselves. We think silently 'I can't do all these things' or 'I will never be as good as all these people.' Please, my beloved brothers and sisters, we must stop comparing ourselves to others. We falsely judge our self worth by the things we do or don't have and by the opinions of others. If we must compare, let us compare how we were in the past to how we are today--and even to how we will be in the future. The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us. Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you. He will love and correct but never discourage us. That is Satan's trick."

"Let me be direct and clear. The answers to the questions: 'Am I good enough?' and 'Will I make it?' are 'Yes, you are going to make it as long as you keep repenting and do not rationalize or rebel.' The God of Heaven is not a heartless referee looking for any excuse to throw us out of the game. He is our perfectly loving Father who yearns more than anything else to have ALL His children come back home and live with Him as families forever. He gave His Only Begotten Son that we might not perish but have everlasting life! Please believe, and please take hope and comfort from, this eternal truth. That is His work and His glory." (Elder J. Devn Cornish, October 2016 General Conference)

Remember, missionaries do not perform miracles. God performs miracles. Our role and duty is very simple: "Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength." (DC 11:20)

He will do the miracles. He always does. Our role is to be strive with all of our might, mind and strength to follow Him.

A wise missionary would say: "I may not be the greatest missionary. I may not have great teaching skills or great language skills. I may be a little shy or awkward. But I CAN be obedient and I CAN give the Lord my whole heart."

This is what the Lord requires. He does not compare us to others. All He asks is for us to serve Him with our whole hearts, to repent when we fall short, and to jump back up on our feet and move forward.

When hard times come, as they always do, say to the Lord: "With your help I know I can do this."

When you are hot, tired and rejected, tell the Lord: "I will keep moving, I will keep serving, because I love you."

I promise, my beloved elders and sisters, that the Lord will do His miracles through you if you will serve Him with all your heart. Never compare with others. Never get discouraged because you do not see with your own eyes the people the Lord saves because of you.

You will succeed gloriously! You can do this!

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Monday, January 9, 2017

2016 Manila Mission Christmas Choir

Pictures and Videos of the 2016 Manila Mission Christmas Choir can be seen at:


Manila Philippines Temple Lighting Ceremony

 NAIA Philippines International Airport

  City Hall, Mayor's Office, Passay City

 Makati and Makati East Stake Music Firesides

Sunday, January 8, 2017

2017-01-09 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,

Thank you for your faithful service to the Lord. Thank you for sharing His love with everyone you meet. Thank you for your sacrifice.

The Philippines Manila Mission is one of the great missions of the Church. The work of the Lord is blossoming here. But sometimes, in the ward or branch or area you are serving in, it feels that the work is dead or that it is going backward. I have heard many times from missionaries that "This is a hard area." "The members in this ward do not support us." "It is hard to work here because we are so far from the church building." "We have already talked to everyone in our area." "Our area is too big." "Our area is too small." "No one wants to talk to us." "The rain makes everything muddy."

As you know, I served for two years as a missionary in Vienna Austria, seven years as stake mission president in Chicago, four years as a counselor in the Chicago missionary presidency, and many years in leadership callings in Arizona. In every place I have lived there were places that the missionaries said were "dead areas." Through all of this I have learned this one truth:


To put it another way:


YOU are the one who makes the difference!

When President Thomas S. Monson said: "Your future is as bright as your faith" he was talking about the missionary work in YOUR area.

When you read this, what are you thinking to yourself?

Are you thinking: "I can do this. I will exercise great faith in Jesus Christ. I can pay the price to have the Spirit of the Lord with me. I can find the elect of God and bring them into the waters of baptism."

Or are you thinking: "But...President...my companion is X, my area is X, my Tagalog is weak, there are too many rich people here...or there are too many squatters here...or people are so busy here...or people cannot afford fare to come to church...or I am new here...or I have been here too long."

Whenever you are called on to have faith and your response starts with "Pero..." or "But...", you are already weakening your faith.

Think about the Ammon the missionary in the Book of Mormon. He was not assigned to a good area. He was the son of King Mosiah in his own country. He was a prince. He could have stayed home and eventually become king of the Nephites. (You think that you sacrificed a lot to serve a mission?)

He was basically a slave or servant of the king. The king talked nicely to him at first but he was basically assigned to a "dead area." In fact, it was literally a "dead area." The previous servants assigned to that area were killed by the king because some local bullies stole the king's sheep.

We can learn a great lesson from Ammon's actions in this "bad area."

In Alma chapter 17, Ammon was new in the area (3 days) when they took the king's sheep to water at Sebus. The bullies immediately came and scattered the sheep.His companions started to murmur and complain: "Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were sacttered..and they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold our flocks are scattered already. Now they wept because of the fear of being slain."

This is similar, as a missionary, to being assigned to a hard area and then bad things start to happen. Your companion complains and murmurs and wants to give up.

What is Ammon's response? "Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy: for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow servants." Here is Ammon in an "impossible situation." His circumstances were bad. But he had faith. He encouraged his fellow-servants to believe. They all ran and gathered the sheep again. Ammon fought with the bullies and killed and wounded many of them. His courage led to the conversion of the king, his family, and thousands of Lamanites. It started with a faithful missionary being assigned to the "worst area in the mission." It was not easy. It took time. It took great faith. It took a positive outlook. Ammon's success was as bright as his faith.

Elders and Sisters, I have been here in this mission long enough to see EVERY area in the mission on fire at one time or another. It is not the area, it is the missionary!

Christ said: "Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." (Matthew 17:20)

Is it easy to light your area on fire? Is it easy to find scattered Israel? Of course not. But with God, ALL things are possible.

Alma 26:22 "Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance..."

In the Philippines we have a saying: "I will be the one." Now is the time for you to be the one. Do not wait for a transfer, for a different companion, for the weather, for members, for anyone. Be the one! It does not take a thousand matches to start a fire. It only takes one.

Ammon gives us the formula in Alma 26:22: repent, exercise faith, bring forth good works, and pray without ceasing...and the Lord will bless you.

I believe in you. I believe in the Lord. Together with the Lord, all things are possible.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

2016-12-29 President's Message

Dear Elders and Sisters,
As you read this letter, please stop for a minute and look at your missionary name badge. The first word on the badge is your title: "Sister" or "Elder." These are sacred titles. They indicate that you have been called by God and set apart by someone who has priesthood authority. These titles set you apart from others. Next is your last name. Your name is one that has been handed down from generation to generation. It is the name of your ancestors. It is the name of countless people who are counting on you to serve with honor and faithfulness.
The next large name you see is "JESUS CHRIST", in all capital letters. You represent Christ and His church. You were sent by Him to share His gospel. You were sent to share is gospel in several ways:
1. You share by your example. You share by actually living the gospel that you preach. You keep yourself clean and worthy. You study the holy scriptures. You pray. You keep the commandments. You are kind and loving even when you are tired and have been rejected. You keep working and keep talking and keep teaching even when you really want to rest.
2. You share by inviting others to hear your message. You do this by putting away your fear and putting away your desire to stay in your comfort zone. You share in a friendly, natural way, always praying to find those who have soft hearts.
3. You share by teaching the doctrine of Christ. You prepare well, becoming a master teacher of the gospel. You listen to the needs and questions of those you teach. You teach with the power of the spirit and with great love. You are not afraid to ask people to change their lives. You promise them great blessings that will come as they become disciples of Christ.
Every day as you put on your badge, take a look at it. Thank the Lord for the privilege of wearing it. Live to be worthy of it.
Remember the simple but powerful declaration of the prophet Mormon in 3 Nephi 5:13:
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
This is your calling and your privilege.
May the Lord bless you and strengthen you in His holy work.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler

Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016-12 First Annual Coron Branch Christmas Nativity Celebration

This year, our sons, Benjamin, Daniel, and Josh along with Josh's wife, Jenica and their three children, as well as Caleb's friend, Adam, visited us after Christmas.  Because they are all musically talented and especially because they are willing to support the branch's efforts to share the joy of Jesus' birth, they helped us join the Coron Branch in presenting the first annual Coron Branch Christmas Nativity in the large town square.

It was an amazing experience to have the branch members show up early on the morning of the day we were to present the program, to clean the public stage area and make sure we were prepared for the show.  Others had worked tirelessly for weeks with the mayor to get a location, sound system and stage arranged.  Sisters and brothers came together to help make costumes.  Elder and Sister Adduru and Susie and Arnold Nepomuceno along with the sister missionaries somehow pulled it all together, and we all enjoyed a wonderful evening of music and testimony under the stars, remembering the holy birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, so many years ago.

 A beautiful beginning of a wonderful Christmas in Coron tradition.  Thank you everyone!