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Area Presidency Messages

Elder Evan A. Schmutz reminds us of the blessings that come when we love others first.
Elder Taniela B. Wakolo counsels that we can commit to making a fresh start, to follow God’s prophet and focus our lives on the Savior through home-centered and Church-supported gospel learning and living.
Elder Michael Teh reminds us that the correct name comes a correct understanding of the reason for the season.
Elder Evan A. Schmutz shares how the Holy Ghost can change our countenances, fill our bodies and our minds with light, and refine our attitude and appearance so that we can be seen by others as disciples of Christ.
Elder Shayne M. Bowen of the Seventy reflects on the four years he and his, Sister Lynette, have lived and served in the Philippines.
Elder Evan A. Schmutz shares how each of us must become the ministering brothers and ministering sisters that President Nelson has envisioned.
Elder Allen D. Haynie of the Area Presidency talks about the significance of our agency, the freedom to choose, and how sin robs us of our freedom.
Elder Shayne M. Bowen testifies of Christ and defines more clearly who He is.
Elder Evan A. Schmutz recounts his experience when he first met a living Apostle. And how this experience taught him to sustain and live by the words and counsel given to the Church by prophets, seers, and revelators who are chosen to lead us in these latter days.
Elder Allen D. Haynie explains that in Moroni’s writings, we find one of his most profound teachings about the importance of possessing charity.
The ultimate end of Temple and Family History work is to vicariously provide the saving ordinances of the temple to all of our ancestors who have gone before us and who have prepared the way so that we can be where we are today. Our families need us, and we need them.
In this generation, the Lord expects each able young man to be worthy and prepare for missionary service. We know there are some who are honorably excused from service due to health or other reasons. To each of you that cannot serve in a full-time capacity, the Lord loves you as we do and we know that compensating blessings will be yours as you worthily serve the Lord in any capacity that fits your circumstances. The Lord also invites young women to serve, when they feel prompted. He knows that young women are equally capable of performing miracles in his name.
It was a very cold winter day, there had not been much snow that year in Idaho. I remember entering the Idaho Falls temple early that morning thinking, I am about to enter into a covenant with God and with the woman that I love and adore, which is eternal and that will bind us together forever.
One of the most compelling reasons to pay a full tithe is to invite God to prove Himself, to experience how He will “open the windows of heaven” on our behalf and “pour [us] out a blessing” that will exceed our capacity to receive. That is a promised blessing worth claiming from a loving Heavenly Father who also happens to be the creator and ruler of all things.
I still recall an event and a conversation that occurred shortly after my 12th birthday. It shaped the direction of my life. After Sacrament Meeting on the Sunday following my birthday, my family gathered in the Bishop’s office. The Bishop said a few words concerning the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood, and then invited me to sit on a chair while several men in the ward surrounded me and placed their hands on my head. My father, acting under the direction of the Bishop, conferred upon me the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained me to the office of Deacon.
As an Area Presidency, we too have strong feelings about the importance of the temple and of the great privilege of becoming worthy to receive a temple recommend. Elder Haynie counsels members of the church in the Philippines to make the necessary change and sacrifice to make themselves worthy of a temple recommend.
The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infinite. It applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means—total, complete, all, forever. Elder Bowen shares how the Atonement can make us clean again if we accept this gift that Jesus offers us.
In January 2016, the Philippines Area Presidency introduced the Philippines Area Plan.  The Area Plan sets forth an inspired Vision Statement for all members of the Church: “By exercising faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, members will obey the commandments, make, honor and renew sacred covenants and more fully establish the Kingdom of God in the Philippines.”  
The more we understand who Jesus Christ is, the greater will be our desire to keep His holy day sacred. He is the Lord of the Sabbath.
It is never too late to return and receive the blessings of the restored gospel. Through the atoning power of Jesus Christ, all wounds can be healed. However, it is of great importance that we hasten the work of the rescue. 
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. 
We should desire the promised protection from the adversary that comes from our yielding to the influence of the Spirit of Elijah, which is the Holy Ghost’s ability to focus us on the eternal principles associated with the family and in turn family history work.  
What if there were a way to overcome any bad habit, addiction or burden that you have? What if there were a way to gain such confidence in the Lord that you could call down the powers of Heaven and know that He is there guiding your footsteps?  There is a way.
Marriage is an important and an essential step in our eternal progression. It is one of the most important decisions of your mortal life. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has taught us that, 'Marriage is the most trusting step in any human relationship. It is a real act of faith. The very nature of the endeavor requires that you hold onto each other as tightly as you can and jump.' 
“What changes have we made as individuals, families, and wards or branches in order to better honor the Sabbath day since being invited by prophets, seers, and revelators to do so?”  Elder Haynie challenges us to think of how we can make the Sabbath day more meaningful for us. 
The Philippines Area Presidency presented the Philippines Area Plan in a nationwide broadcast last January 10, 2016. 
Everyone who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a descendant of Israel either by bloodline or adoption. If you magnify your callings and receive all of the ordinances offered by our Father in the temple, you are entitled to all the promised blessings—the inheritance. What is promised to the faithful, obedient seed of Abraham, the inheritance received together by a worthy priesthood bearer who magnifies his calling and a worthy woman who magnifies her calling?
Have you noticed that there is Christmas tinsel all around right now? Flashing lights crowd evergreen trees, Christmas carols fill the air, malls are humming with people and they seem to be jubilant in their expectation of a joyous Christmas Day. These are the days when memories are made and so I pause to ponder what memories I will help to make for those all around me right now. They must surely go beyond a plastic toy, a new shirt, an intriguing novel or a favorite food. Lasting Christmas memories are those that touch your soul and the souls of others. 
The temple ordinances and attendant covenants are ancient. They began with Father Adam and Mother Eve. What was God’s purpose in providing a plan whereby his children could exercise agency and enter into covenants with Him, or by that same agency chose not to follow Him?
In Section 101 of the Doctrine & Covenants, there is a parable that the Lord declares as His “will concerning the redemption of Zion.” As we consider the 2015 Philippines Area Goal to “feast upon the words of Christ,” the imagery in the parable takes on added meaning, particularly in light of the need for us to prepare to receive the teachings and testimonies of prophets, seers, and revelators during the upcoming October 2015 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  
As I write this article I can see out of my office window the hustle and bustle of people moving along the road and sidewalk outside of the beautiful Manila Temple. Most of those passing by are oblivious to the importance of this sacred edifice and what it represents. You and I know the temple is a holy place where sacred ordinances are performed through the restored Holy Priesthood. What happens in the temple is yet another manifestation of God's love for us.
While serving as Mission President in the Spain Barcelona Mission, one of my favorite times was each six weeks on a Tuesday morning when we would go to the airport and pick up our new missionaries. They had made the short one hour flight from the Madrid Missionary Training Center (MTC) and were anxious to enter the life of a real missionary.   
The 2015 Philippines Area Goals focus on four divinely appointed responsibilities that will help individuals and families qualify for eternal life and exaltation. “Gathering Israel through Missionary Work” is one of these four area goals.
Like me, you will have noticed that being a true disciple of Christ is demanding; there are commandments to keep, meetings to attend, tithes and offerings to donate, service to be given, lessons to be prepared, personal goals to be achieved, scriptures to be studied, and faith in Christ to grow to name just a few expectations.
This is the fourth Area Broadcast that I have participated in and the first as your Area President. While my assignments in the Area Presidency have changed over the years what has not changed is my love for the people of the Philippines. Sister Ardern and I treasure our many friends throughout this country. 
What if there were a way to overcome our habits, addictions, and burdens? What if there was a way to gain sufficient confidence in the Lord that you could call down the powers of heaven? What if there were principles you could teach your loved ones that, if applied, would allow them to overcome personal weaknesses and draw closer to God?
The month of December is upon us and the carols of Christmas echo around us. Children seem to have bigger smiles and an abundance of good will permeates the air. We just love Christmas and the joy of the season and I have come to believe that nowhere in the world is Christmas more anticipated and loved than in the Philippines. Few people decorate better than Filipinos and so in this joyous season, decorations abound, lights sparkle and a chorus of carols fills our homes, hearts, markets and malls. 
In the October 2012 General Conference President Thomas S. Monson announced a change in the age of missionary service for both young men and women.  At a press conference held immediately thereafter, Elders Russell M. Nelson and Jeffrey R. Holland explained that the purpose of this historic revelation was the “Hastening the Work of Salvation.”
I would like to talk to you about three spiritual laws God has given to purify our lives.  If we are going to reach out to others and rescue them, we need to be at a place spiritually where we can lift them.  These three laws have nothing to do with money, but have everything to do with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Living these three laws faithfully will put us in a position to lift others
We have much to celebrate with the good being accomplished by the rising generation of young men and women in the Philippines. More of them than ever before are serving missions, marrying in the temple and serving in the wards and branches throughout the country. 
There is also cause for celebration in the Philippines.  In the month of July members of the Church in the Philippines should pause to reflect on the journey taken by about 70,000 Mormon pioneers who crossed the Great Plains and mountainous territory to relocate to the Salt Lake Valley where the Church would grow and prosper.  It is a great heritage of faith and sacrifice that now blesses all members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The members of the Church in the Philippines should also remember and celebrate “pioneers” who have worked to establish the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the Philippines.
The Lord knew that our earthly existence would not be without its challenges; they were always going to be part of the 'Great Plan of Happiness' which we welcomed with cheerful hearts when it was presented to us in the pre-existence. And so, with the 'sweat of our brow'  (Moses 5:1) we work our way through concerns knowing that where there is no struggle there is no growth.
One of the Philippine Area Goals in 2014 is to establish the Church. As we ponder the concept of establishing the Church, we often think about stakes and districts and wards and branches.
The Philippines Area 2014 Broadcast - Hastening the Lord's Work was conducted last January 18, 2014. It details the goals of the area for 2014 with emphasis on how each member can help in hastening the Lord's work of salvation. Leaders and members ages 12 and older were invited to attend. 
When super typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines with the resultant loss of thousands of homes and lives many had cause to reflect on the tragedies we experience.  The loss of employment, the death of a loved one or the missing out on a job opportunity; in their own way they are ‘typhoons’ that cause some pain and anguish.
As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we understand that the precious gift inside the box is described best in John 3:16 in the New Testament, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  The gift that was given to us by the Father is His Son.  
“Rescue the One” is listed as one of the four “2013 Philippines Area Goals.” This goal has special meaning to me because of my personal background.  I would like to share the story of my rescue as an example of how important it is for us to do everything we can to bring back to the fold those that have lost their way.
We spent a lot of our trip in roundabouts. In fact, we noticed that we could stay in a roundabout as long as we liked; there was no requirement to get out. So as we were trying to determine directions, we found ourselves stuck in roundabouts, going in circles.
When we hear the word feast, only one thing comes to our minds - food.  When we feast upon something we don’t just nibble or take a bite, we partake of it freely and thoroughly enjoy the experience. It involves not only the sense of taste but involves other senses as well.  When one feasts upon the words of Christ, the experience transcends from that of a physical and intellectual to one that is emotional and spiritual.
How very fortunate we are to have two temples in the Philippines and another announced for construction. To be so blessed is a mark of the growth of the Church in the Philippines, the Lord’s love for the people and of the faith of many members. The Lord is establishing His Church on these Islands and yet there is still much to do. 
Because the “traditions of our fathers” can have such a powerful influence on future generations, we must develop traditions in our families, wards and branches that will help our children and grandchildren see the path that leads to eternal life and stay on that path.  
God often tests His people.  He wants to find out if we will put him first in our lives.  Letting go of money and other material things in exchange for intangible spiritual or temporal promises is often difficult. It is a good test whether our loyalty is to God or to material things.  
The Philippines Area 2013 Broadcast details the goals of the Philippines Area with messages from Elder Michael John U. Teh, Elder Brent H. Nielson and Elder Ian S. Ardern. The goals focus on daily scripture reading, strengthening families, saving the rising generation, establishing the church and rescuing the one. 
Like the white sands of Boracay running through our fingers, unless we are very careful time will escape us and we will be left with so much to do.  I encourage us to be sure that beginning this year we are all engaged in making better use of our time by doing the things that matter most.