My dear brothers and sisters, today marks a new beginning as we recommit ourselves to stay on the covenant path and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ with a renewed enthusiasm. The “Come unto Christ: I Will Go, I Will Serve” initiative launched today will usher in a new era of increased spirituality and lifelong discipleship, not just among our young people but in entire families as well.
Elder Renlund described what is happening in the Philippines as an inflection point in the History of the Church here in our beloved land. Inflection point in mathematics is the point where the curvature of a function changes direction. In the real world, an inflection point could also be described as the beginning of something new and that things are beginning to change. The inflection point can mark the beginning of momentum.
President Nelson talked about Spiritual momentum in his April 2022 General Conference address. We have momentum here in the Philippines with the historic number of men and women who had responded to the call to serve a mission. Aside from the increased numbers, we have also seen better prepared missionaries going into the field.
In that same message he gave last April, President Nelson said that one of the actions we can take to help us maintain positive spiritual momentum is to “get on the covenant path and stay there”.
For those who may still have questions about what the covenant path really means, let us break it down and analyze each word.
A “covenant” or “tipan” in Tagalog is a sacred agreement between us and God. God sets the specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions.
A “path” can mean a physical walkway leading to a certain destination, but in this case, covenant path refers to the different ordinances that mark the way for us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. Covenants mark the path back to God. These sacred acts are performed by the authority of the priesthood and are scattered throughout our lifetime as milestones. All the saving ordinances of the priesthood are accompanied by covenants.
The covenant path includes:
Receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Priesthood ordinations; and
Going to the temple to receive our endowment and being sealed in marriage
Just remember that as you continue your life’s journey today, Jesus Christ is walking with you. He loves you and he provides you with helpers along the way in the form of your parents, your leaders, and your friends. We do not walk this path alone. Covenants binds us to our Savior Jesus Christ. As Elder Bangerter wonderfully taught us earlier, we receive the strengthening and enabling power of Christ as we bind ourselves to him through these covenants.
As the Savior promised us in John 15:10-11 --- “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”
I invite you to put his promise to the test. Stay true to your covenants. Keep the commandments. Join the Youth Battalion of the Lord and help others get on the covenant path by sharing the gospel with them. In doing so, you will abide in His love, and your joy will be full.
Looking back, I can see that the different chapters of my life and my journey on the covenant path can be compared to our new logo:
I grew up in a Latter-day Saint home where the example of my parents inspired us to come unto Christ,
Being active in Church helped me gain a testimony and a desire to serve others,
I went to the temple and served a full-time mission,
I married in the temple and served the Lord in various callings,
In every step of the way, no matter what country we lived in, our Church family was there to help us overcome whatever challenges we faced
And the journey on the covenant path continues. We want to make sure that the gospel traditions we have are passed on to our children, their children, and so on.
As we all do our part in supporting this new vision, I can imagine more and more of our young people having the same experiences I had, enjoying the same blessings I received, and similarly doing their best in building up the kingdom of God in this part of the vineyard.
As parents , how can we prepare our children for a lifetime on Gods covenant path? Because He loves us, trusts us, and knows our potential, Heavenly Father has given us the opportunity to help our children enter and progress along His covenant path, the path to eternal life (Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28).
There are many ways to prepare our children for this journey on the covenant path, and Heavenly Father will help us discover the best way to help them. As we seek inspiration, keep in mind that not all learning happens during scheduled lessons. In fact, part of what makes learning at home so powerful is the opportunity to learn by example and through small, simple moments—the kind that occur naturally in the flow of daily living. Just as following the covenant path is a consistent, lifelong process, so is learning about the covenant path.
Here are some things we can do in our family to get into and stay in the covenant path:
Whenever we have an experience that strengthen our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, share it with our children.
When our child makes a wrong choice, speak joyfully about the gift of repentance.
Whenever we notice our child doing something that he or she promised to do, give sincere praise. Teach that keeping commitments helps us prepare to keep covenants.
Make the sacrament a sacred and joyful event in the family.
Make priesthood ordinances be part of our family.
As parents, show the example by holding current temple recommends and going to the temple regularly.
Teach our children what they need to do and how they should live to receive a temple recommend and participate worthily in proxy baptisms.
Display a photo of the temple at home. Always talk about the temple in our Come, Follow Me study sessions and during family home evening.
Receive a patriarchal blessing. Share our Patriarchal Blessing with them and help prepare them to receive their own.
Serve a mission. If you served a mission, talk openly and often about your experiences. Or invite friends or family members who served missions to talk about theirs. We could also talk about ways we have shared the gospel with others throughout our life. Help our child think of ways he or she can share the gospel.
Involve your family as you minister to others. Magnify your callings.
A gospel-centered home, established by righteous parents, is the best place for the rising generation to get into and stay in the covenant path.
A fine example of this are Erick and Gloria Corazon Andrada from San Fernando, La Union. Their two sons are part of the 4600 missionaries whose desire to serve is not deterred by the pandemic.
As parents, they naturally felt some fear for their health and safety, but their faith is stronger, and their trust in God full, so they gave their sons their full support and encouragement.
Their older son Alvin Joshua came home in July 2022 after serving for two years in the Philippines Baguio Mission. He was originally called to serve in Manchester, England but due to travel restrictions he was reassigned to his home mission.
Their second son Dallin Ivan is currently serving in the Philippines Quezon City Mission. I have met Elder Andrada when I recently toured their mission. He was doing very well training a new missionary.
Brother Andrada says: “As parents we only want our children to be happy, and they found it while serving full-time missions. We can never exchange the joy they feel and gain from serving the Lord for anything. Sending them to serve missions despite the pandemic has been a wise and inspired decision.”
For Brother and Sister Andrada, the best way to prepare their children to serve missions is by being examples of covenant keepers who serve and minister joyfully. They would invite the missionaries for family home evening, provide them with referrals, and they would help and support young adults in their ward as they prepare to serve missions.
They counsel parents not to prioritize academics and careers over seminary, attending FSY, and serving missions. According to Sister Andrada, “school will prepare them for life, missionary service will prepare them for eternity. Our son returned as a more loving and caring person. He was totally transformed by his mission, and he found the kind of joy that any parent could only wish for their child.”
Thank you to all the Erick and Gloria Andradas in the Church for preparing and helping your children to come unto Christ, make and keep covenants and serve a full-time mission. I invite all of us to follow their examples.
This is a special time in the history of the Church in the Philippines. The Lord has poured out His blessings and bestowed many miracles to us. I witness that as we come unto Christ, make, and keep our covenants with Him, and Serve Him, we will overcome the world and find greater peace and true joy in our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.