Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017-05-29 President's Message Foundation of a Great Work

Dear Sisters and Elders,
This has been a momentous and historic week. On May 21, 2017 the first stake in Palawan Province was created. I wish that every one of you could have been there. Elder Shayne M. Bowen presided, assisted by Elder Jairus Perez. They fasted and prayed and interviewed 26 brothers to find who the Lord had chosen as the new stake president. As 800 saints gathered on Sunday morning from all over the northern part of Palawan, there was a feeling of excitement and a feeling that the Lord was pleased. As we sang "The Spirit of God Like A Fire Is Burning" it truly felt like angels were singing with us. As Elder Perez presented the new stake presidency, the new bishops and the new wards for a sustaining vote, Elder Bowen leaned over to me, with tears in his eyes and said "Isn't this wonderful!" The Spirit was so strong--confirming to everyone there that this was a huge milestone in the progress of the Church on the Island. President Larry Caduada was sustained as stake president, with Presidents Baniago and Cauilan as counselors. President Leo Mosquera, the former district president, was sustained as the new second counselor in the Manila Mission presidency.
As I sat on the stand waiting for my chance to speak, I thought of all of the hundreds of missionaries who have served in the Puerto Princesa District over the years. I thought of the rain, heat, rejection and mud. I thought of the special people that they taught and baptized over the years. Maybe a missionary felt that he or she only baptized one person during their time, or maybe they felt that the less active member they brought back might not make a big difference. As I looked out a 800 beautiful, spiritual faces I realized that all of those missionaries, except for the 30 now serving there, were not able to experience this wonderful day. Those hundreds of missionaries served faithfully and well but they could not have even really imagined that day--2,300 members, 5 wards, 2 branches and many baptisms every year.
Sisters and Elders, this is a pattern for serving in the Lord's Kingdom. When you are actively engaged in finding, teaching and saving souls, it often seems that the fruits of your hard work are very small. But this is not true! THE LORD COMBINES THE EFFORTS WE EACH MAKE TO MAKE A HUGE HARVEST.
Never become discouraged when you great efforts yield small results. Be faithful, work with all of your heart, and trust the Lord.
"...And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things." (1 Nephi 16:29)
"Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37:6-7)
"Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great." (DC 64:33)
You will be amazed in future years to see the result of your efforts to serve the Lord. You are not the scorekeeper. You are not the Lord of the Harvest. You and I are the simple laborers in the Lord's work.
I promise that you are "laying the foundation of a great work." And the greater the sacrifice, the sweeter the fruit.
"For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.
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 cometh the blessing..." (DC 58:2-4)
May the Lord bless you to work with faith and to work with trust in the Lord so that someday it may be said of you "how great shall be your joy with [your converts] in the kingdom of my Father." (DC 18:15)
Let us work with ALL of our heart, might, mind and strength. Let us pray specifically, with great faith, four times every day for the Lord to bring us baptisms.
Let us put away all disobedience, distraction and pride.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler