Dear Sisters and Elders,
This past week Sister Ostler and I were in Cebu for training with the Area Presidency along with the other mission presidents and their wives. We were blessed to be able to attend the beautiful Cebu temple and to receive instruction and inspiration.
The seminar was a wonderful combination of spiritual teaching and motivation to do better. One of the mission presidents said that when he arrived in the Philippines in 1975 as a young missionary there were 2 missions, 20,000 members and no temples. Now we have 700,000 members, 21 missions and 2 temples. In spite of this remarkable growth, the Area Presidency said that we have barely begun to establish the Church in the Philippines. "We will see the membership of the Church go into the millions. Many more temples will be built here. You are doing well. But you can do better. There are millions of people prepared in the Philippines."
We were taught that the Lord will bless us to find many more converts if we exercise more faith. I look forward to working together during the coming months to claim the blessings of obedience and faith.
I also spoke at two stake conferences this weekend. Elder Ardern presided at one of the conferences. After observing the wonderful missionaries in that stake he stood up and said: "The Spirit has prompted me that you can trust these missionaries." He told me privately afterward that our missionaries look very, very good. He could see that you love the Lord and that you are working with all of your hearts. (You know me. Of course it brought tears to my eyes when he said this. I told him that you are not just good. You are great!)
Elders and Sister, I know that missionary work is not easy. Every day you face rejection. Every day you put your faith on the line to teach the gospel.
I don't want to sound mean or insensitive, but I am glad that it is hard. I am glad that we are tested and tried. How else can we really show our love for God? How else can we truly follow Jesus Christ? How else can we strengthen our faith?
"For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same." (Luke 6:33-34)
"But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven..." (Matthew 5:44-45)
"The winds of tribulation, which blow out some men's candles of commitment, only fan the fires of faith...of special men." (Neal A. Maxwell)
"Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." (Isaiah 48:10)
Enduring hard things for a good cause is the sign of spiritual maturity.
Sacrificing yourself for others is the true sign of discipleship.
Every act of obedience, every act of service, every act of sacrifice changes your soul and draws you closer to God.
Every sacrifice for the Lord is your way of saying "I love you" to our Heavenly Father.
May the Lord bless you my dear friends. Live your lives so that you will be trusted by God. Live your lives so that God can work through you to save many souls.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler