Area Presidency Messages

    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.