Area Presidency Messages

    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.