I am writing this insert on behalf of the Area Presidency knowing that by the time it is published I will no longer be in the Philippines; a place and people I have come to love. I am a New Zealander, but over the last five years my heart has become Filipino and I am pleased with that. Thank you for all you have shared with me and taught me; my Filipino heart will always have a place for you.
I leave with some words of encouragement. You have an inspired Philippines Area Plan in place, which encourages you to OBEY, COVENANT and ESTABLISH. At the center of the Area Plan is an invitation for each of us to exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and to work together to accomplish His will. I promise you that as you act on the lessons and invitations in the Area Plan, you will have an increase of joy and peace.
My second plea of encouragement is about mission preparation. Growth in the Philippines will flourish as we increase the number of young men and women serving honorable missions who then return home to marry in the temple and serve in their communities and local Church units. We must have more strong multi-generational self-reliant Filipino families to establish a growing Church. We need more and better-prepared missionaries.
Scripture talks of this being the day of our preparation and it certainly is. We need to be earnestly preparing ourselves today for our tomorrow and for the eternities that await us. A genuine effort in self-improvement is a prerequisite to the peace of mind, which the Savior spoke of while He ministered to His followers.
The Lord has made it clear that every worthy young man is under priesthood obligation to serve a full-time mission and that sisters may choose to do likewise. Preparation, in its many facets, for this period of faithful service begins well before one’s eighteenth or nineteenth birthday.
To understand and have a testimony of the doctrine of Christ, which missionaries teach daily, requires an early commitment of study, pondering and prayer. None of us can successfully teach that which we do not understand, have not lived and about which we do not have a testimony. Regular lessons in the home from parents who are the first teachers and attendance at seminary and institute classes helps prospective missionaries better understand what they will teach, as does attendance at Sunday school and young men and young women classes.
To teach the law of tithing or about the power of the atonement of Christ with any degree of convincing power you must have lived what you teach. Can you imagine trying to teach repentance if you have not repented or teach about the payment of a full tithe if you have not done these things yourself? It simply will not work. We do them now in preparation for teaching them tomorrow to others.
Missionary service also takes financial preparation and in times of economic uncertainty and hardship, saving to serve should start early. Just a few pesos put away in a bamboo bank soon add up and make a difference for good. You may not be able to save enough to fund all of your mission, but each personal peso saved and paid is one that will bless your life. The Area Presidency encourages you to save now to serve later.
We are grateful for families who commit to a monthly payment for their missionary children. We ask that the monthly commitment be a true sacrifice on the part of the family. The amount of the sacrifice will differ from family to family, but in each case it should be a sacrifice, a sign of your willingness to establish the Church by giving. Of course, a commitment made needs to be a commitment honored and so each month the family must honor the commitment. Honoring the commitment is about your personal integrity and you must guard it well.
It has been my privilege to see Filipino families of meager means saving just a few pesos each week for the future missions of their children. I have seen the joy this has brought these families as they unite in a noble cause. These same families have agreed to sacrifice, to occasionally go without something, and to put the money not spent towards a mission fund. I have found that personal sacrifice by potential missionaries helps mold the great missionaries. Finally, I have seen many Filipino families remain true to their missionary commitment for each month that their missionary is serving.
We encourage you as an Area Presidency to prepare today for your missionary service tomorrow as a young missionary or as a couple in the years to come. Remember to save, sacrifice and honor your commitments and our promise is that the Lord will honor you.
Know you are loved and will be forever remembered.