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 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.