Sunday, May 14, 2017

2017-05-14 President's Messages "Become a Miracle" and "You are a Pioneer"

Dear Sisters and Elders,
I met today with Manila Mission Coordinating Council. In attendance was the Area Seventy assigned to the council plus the 5 stake presidents and 2 district presidents in our mission.
One of the stake presidents asked me to "share the greatest miracles you have seen on your mission." After he asked the question I stopped and pondered in my mind the miracles many I have seen. I then told him: We have seen 2,000 people baptized, many temple ordinances performed, branches created, a district about to become a stake, the sick healed and much more. But these are not the greatest miracles. Tears came to my eyes as I told them that YOU (my missionaries) ARE THE GREATEST MIRACLES I HAVE SEEN. I have seen young, inexperienced, partially worthy, immature, nervous new missionaries enter the mission field. I have seen proud or insecure or impatient missionaries enter the field. And then I have watched in amazement as you have changed. I have watched as you have repented of past sins and weaknesses. I have watched as you have changed from somewhat self-centered to completely focused on others. I have watched as you have consecrated your minds, your hearts, your actions and your lives to the service of God. I have watched as you have learned to love and live with other cultures, languages and backgrounds. I have watched as you have completely and totally changed into a Woman of God or Man of God. I have watched as you have become exactly obedient, completely hard-working and very effective servants of the Lord.
I told them that each of the hundreds of missionaries I have served with has strengthened my testimony of God and of His Church. Thank you for being an inspiration to me.
During the final interview with a departing missionary I will always ask: "How have you changed during your mission?" Often, the missionary will start to list many different things and then finally give up and say: "Lahat!" (everything).
Of course the next question would be: How does this great change happen?
When the prophet Enos felt this change happen in his soul he asked the same question: "And I said: Lord, how is it done?"
"And he said unto me: Because of thy FAITH IN CHRIST." (Enos 7-8)
Faith in Christ enables you to become a Man or Woman of God.
The people of King Benjamin also felt this huge change as they became converted: "WE BELIEVE all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.... And it is the FAITH which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy. And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God..." (Mosiah 5:2,4,5)
How does having faith in Christ enable you to change?
1. Your faith will HUMBLE you more deeply than you ever thought possible as you realize the great sacrifice and suffering that Christ endured so that your soul could be saved.
2. Your faith will give you the CONFIDENCE that you can truly be clean of all of your sins because your soul is worth so much to God.
3. Your faith will give you the strength and motivation to serve the Lord with all of your heart. Your faith will lead you to ACTION.
4. Your faith will fill your heart with LOVE for our Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, for your companion and for everyone you meet.
5. Your faith will move you to follow the example of Christ in becoming TRULY SELFLESS.
Acting in faith transforms you. And then YOU become the greatest miracles I have ever seen.
Last week, after the testimony meeting with departing missionaries, we all knelt down together and I offered a special prayer. There were many tears. Why? Not because the missionaries are relieved to be done. Not because they are excited to see their families. Not because they are sad to leave their mission. THERE WERE SO MANY TEARS BECAUSE WE WERE PRAYING TOGETHER WITH ALL OUR HEARTS FOR THE INVESTIGATORS AND RECENT CONVERTS WHO THEY LOVE SO MUCH. In other words, the tears were not for themselves, they were for others. This is the true test of discipleship. This is the sign of a truly changed woman or man.
My dear fellow-servants, I invite you to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. I invite you to follow Him with all of your hearts. I invite you to become a miracle.

Mahal ko po kayo,

President Creg Ostler

Dear Elders and Sisters,
One more note for you this week...All of you are now putting together your "My Family Booklet." This booklet includes the names of all of the ancestors you can find as well as any stories or memories that you have of these people.
A few of you have felt a little be sad that you do not have pioneer stories or conversion stories from your grandparents or great-grandparents. You have felt that maybe your family book is not as good as the others that you see.
Most of the missionaries in our mission are converts to the Church or you have a parent who is a convert to the Church. I think that your family history is amazing and wonderful! YOU ARE THE PIONEER! You are the one that your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will look up to!
Most of you are the first missionaries to serve from your family. That is wonderful! Take pride in being a pioneer! Write your story so that all of your descendants will come to know you and love you! You have a great responsibility to be faithful throughout your life. The eternal life of thousands of people depends on you.
My family is mixed. My father comes from a long line of members going back to the 1830's. My mother joined the Church as a teenager. I honor and respect both sides of the family equally but I feel that it is extra special to be so close to my mother, a pioneer in my family.
The other thing I want you to remember is that all of us are literally brothers and sisters. You are part of the history of the Church. I am part of the history of the church. My mother's story and my father's story are woven together with the story of every member of the Church to create a wonderful family history of faith, sacrifice and devotion.
I feel so honored and blessed to know you. I have great love and respect for you.
I love you my pioneer friends and I look forward to seeing your My Family books.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler