Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017-02-27 A Few More Pictures

                   Elder Guzman and Elder Dequito baptized a wonderful sister.

Senior missionaries are the greatest!  How grateful we are for all of them....those that served in past years, those not here and those who we hope are yet to come!

                                              Elder Saclot and his beautiful fiance.

                                             The wonderful Ugalde family.

                                                  Jazmine and Mark and their new baby girl

                                                                    Priceless moment.

2017-02-27 President's Message

Dear Sisters and Elders,
We have just finished a sacred time together. All 200 missionaries of the Philippines Manila Mission gathered together to learn from, and learn with, an apostle of the Lord. We have been greatly blessed. I want you to know that I am grateful for you from the bottom of my heart. When I had a few minutes to speak with Elder Bednar privately he asked me what has affected me the most during my time in the Philippines. I told him how much I love you. I told him how much I respect and admire you. I told him how precious you are to Sister Ostler and to me. I also told him how much I love the Filipino people and what a chosen, special people they are. And then we went in for our group photo and you were singing "We Thank Thee O God for A Prophet." The Spirit filled the room. We then went into the chapel for our meeting and you sang our mission song: "A Marvelous Work." Your testimony and spirit filled the room. Many of us were in tears. You bore your testimony and showed your faith through your song. And then I watched in amazement as you courageously shared your insights, asked questions, and answered questions. Thank you for being the best missionaries in history!
In my brief testimony during the meeting I shared about a similar training meeting with Elder Bednar several years ago when I was serving as a stake president. During the meeting he mentioned that someone had asked Elder Packer to share with them what he had learned about the Atonement of Jesus Christ during his 40 plus years as an apostle. Elder Packer said: "No. I cannot. I could tell you some things, but you would not really learn what I have learned." Elder Bednar then suggested taking a fresh copy of the Book of Mormon and marking every mention of the Atonement. He then said that we should go back and review what we had marked and write down what we learned. I did this and my understanding of Jesus Christ and His Atonement were changed forever. My testimony of the Christ became much deeper and more meaningful. My life has been changed forever.
After the meeting on Saturday, we distributed special hard-bound copies of the Book of Mormon along with a bookmark and marker. I now invite you to TAKE ACTION to do something similar to what I did. Here is the invitation:
Read the Book of Mormon cover to cover before May 30. Please start no later than March 1st. The bookmark you received with the special copy of the Book of Mormon shows you what you need to read each day for 90 days to reach the goal. You will need to read about 6 pages per day.
Choose ONE topic to mark in this special copy of the book:
1. Faith: This includes marking Teachings about Faith and Stories of Faith
2. The Atonement: This includes marking everything you see about atonement and grace, as well as the blessings of the Atonement: forgiveness, redemption, peace, healing, etc.
Choose one of these two topics and make this your "Faith Copy of the Book of Mormon" or your "Atonement Copy of the Book of Mormon."
I promise that, if you will do this, your life will be changed, your teaching will be much more powerful, and you will have a much stronger testimony of the gospel.
President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: "Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."
President Ezra Taft Benson taught: "There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path."
President Thomas S. Monson taught: "Read the Book of Mormon. Ponder its teachings. Ask Heavenly Father if it is true. During that process you will feel the Spirit of God in your lives. That Spirit will be part of your testimony that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's true Church on the earth today. That testimony will help you resist temptation."
President Marion G. Romney, formerly a member of the First Presidency: "I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes and all who dwell therein...The spirit of contention will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom. Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity--the pure love of Christ--will abound in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."
May the Lord bless us as we read the Book of Mormon together and as we serve the Lord with all of our hearts.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler

2017-02-25 After The Conference

2017-02-25 In the Presence of a Prophet

Excitement filled the air and everyone had a hard time sleeping the night before Elder Bednar arrived.  Missionaries had flown in from Palawan on Thursday and were staying in apartments all around the mission.  The rest of the missionaries flew in on Saturday morning and made it in time for the catered lunch we enjoyed before our meeting with Elder Bednar.

This is the first and last time our entire mission will be together.  It truly was like a family reunion or Christmas where everyone comes home and we get to remember how much we love and enjoy each other.  These are a few pictures of the missionaries during the luncheon. They are just the greatest missionaries ever!

We were hoping to be able to get a mission picture with Elder Bednar, but didn't know if he would have time.  So we lined everyone up height order and "practiced" where everyone would stand.  It's a good thing we practiced, because Elder Bednar arrived an hour earlier than expected, and we just had to tell them to go get in place while we went to greet the Bednars and Bowens.

 This is one of the practice pictures Caleb took to check the lighting. It doesn't have us, the Bednars or the Bowens in it, but it has everyone else.   Once Elder Bednar arrived, the Area had their own photographer who took a picture with the mission.  We will post pictures as soon as we get them. 

I have to say that it was one of the most incredible experiences of a be with such a wonderful group of Heavenly Father's dedicated children....imperfect...yes! but all trying in our own way to serve the God we love and to be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  Just think of it, an apostle....just like Peter, James, John. 

The Bednars and Bowens arrived straight from the airport.  They had already been traveling around the Philippines for a week meeting with members and missionaries every day in many different cities.  The flight arrived early, but they ate lunch in the van on the way to the chapel.  We greeted them and they only took a few minutes to use the CR (restroom) before they were ready to meet the missionaries.  If anyone thinks an apostle's life is ever would be amazed at the pace at which they serve.  There was never a wasted minute. 

After they got ready, we entered the stake center and were thrilled to hear the missionaries singing, "We Thank Thee O God, For a Prophet".  I wish you could have heard them.  It was marvelous.  I get teary just remembering what it felt like to hear them.   As we walked in with Elder and Sister Bednar and Elder and Sister Bowen, the missionaries all stood to greet them.  We took our place in the picture and the photographers took a few pictures, then we all went to the chapel.

Elder Bednar allowed us to sing our mission song for the opening song as a gift of testimony for him. They truly sang with their hearts and had many of us in tears.  The Bednars and Bowens were moved by the spirit and shared that feeling as they began the meeting. (We recorded it later after Elder Bednar left so the missionaries will have a copy.  They were pretty tired after a long day, travel and lack of sleep, so it wasn't as energetic as when they sang it for Elder Bednar, but I will try to post it on facebook or youtube just so you can get a glimpse.)

You would have been really pleased and grateful for the way your sons and daughters handled this whole experience.  They were respectful, reverent, teachable and courageous in participating in the presence of an apostle of God.  Elder Bednar invited all of them to have the faith to participate.  He told them he would not ask anyone directly to answer a question, nor would he ask a question where he expected a specific answer.  He helped everyone feel safe to share what they were learning and feeling as well as their questions.  President and I were amazed at how many of them, with their limited English, were willing to share.

We spent three hours together learning about how we were created differently from every other of God's creations....we are agents that can act not objects to be acted upon.  We have the ability to chose what we will do not just have to controlled by things around us.  We learned that true faith includes ACTION.  There are many other things he taught, but it was amazing to watch as the Spirit taught the missionaries during the question/answer type discussion Elder Bednar led.  Elder Bednar stressed that the purpose of the speaker is to be a conduit for the spirit to communicate the Lord's will to the people.  Elder Bednar demonstrated that by his own actions.  He was a conduit, and we are hearing even now about how the spirit worked on the different missionaries to make changes in their lives. We all learned so much, from his teachings, from his wife and the Bowens  and from their examples.  Truly the Bednars and Bowen are consecrated to the Lord.  There is no doubt about that.  They are not in it for their own glory or benefit.  They seek only to serve their Master.  And they do so graciously, courageously and humbly.

We all felt the power of their witness, and at the end, Elder Bednar gave an apostolic blessing upon us.  He first blessed the seniors with a beautiful, powerful and specific blessing that touched our souls. He then blessed the precious missionaries.  I pray it is a day they will never forget and that they will never forget the blessings he pronounced upon them.

When the meeting was finished, he lovingly waved to the missionaries and was off to the van to get ready for the next meeting which was an entire Philippines area broadcast!