Due to the rising threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Church headquarters instructed all foreign full-time missionaries in the Philippines to return to their respective homelands.
The departure of these young servants of God was a very sad moment not only for the Church here in the Philippines but also for them whose missions were abruptly ended by the health crisis. As a former missionary, leaving a mission you loved for two years can cause a heartache only those who have experienced it can understand. It is one of the most difficult separations one will experience. What’s worse is that these young men and women who have not yet completed their service were told to pack up and go home unexpectedly. The tears. The pain. It must have been really difficult for them.
“It was heartbreaking to leave the place that I learned to love like my own home. I’m so grateful and blessed to have served the people there for as long as I did and although I left before I wanted to, I trust that God has a plan for his missionaries and his sons and daughters in the Philippines.”Bryan Holgate of West Jordan Utah
To you who have served the beautiful people of the Philippines with all your heart, might, mind and strength: THANK YOU!
You sacrificed and selflessly served a people with a culture so different from your own. You left your families and the comforts of your homes in exchange for a life you knew would be less convenient. You endured the sweat and exhaustion of walking daily when you could’ve been home driving your cars. You met individuals that forever changed the way you see life. But they also met YOU and their ETERNAL lives are forever changed!
Right now, perhaps you are all home. But I have a feeling that your hearts will continue to linger in the beautiful islands where you worked so hard everyday.
You may be reassigned back or get reassigned to a place or country closer to where you live once this threat is over. Some of you may not be able to return to service and will just receive an honorable release. Please know that we are thankful for all the things that you have done. The people that you have met and helped will always remember you.
While all foreign missionaries left the country, Filipino missionaries serving overseas were asked to come home.
“I didn't know what to feel when we were informed that non-Japanese citizen missionaries will be reassigned to their home country, but one thing is for sure: Heavenly Father loves us all and He has a plan. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to learn what I can only learn in Japan, meet different kinds of people and teaching them about Jesus Christ. Maybe I need to serve my fellow Filipinos for now. I’m so excited for my next area!”Elder Yukio Estrella, Japan Tokyo North Mission
These faithful and obedient Filipino missionaries go home in bittersweet circumstances. Like their foreign counterparts, they are happy to be back home but sad that it was so sudden. They will join the local missionaries who were asked to remain. While on quarantine, the desire of these young missionaries to reach out and share the gospel of Jesus Christ is as fervent as ever.
“Right now we can only proselyte via Messenger and Facebook, and we are teaching a Puerto Rican brother who is so interested about the Church. Online missionary work is progressing and we are truly grateful to have technology that we can use to further hasten the Lord's work, no matter what the situation is. I know that NOTHING can STOP HIS WORK!”Elder Romeo Du, Philippines Cebu Mission
We salute all our Filipino full-time missionaries for following the instructions, both to come home from abroad and to stay in the field. Thank you for accepting the challenge to MAN the Lord's vineyard until this storm is over. God bless you and your families!
Full-time missionaries all over the world are undaunted as they continue to serve, following the counsel of the prophet and keeping the guidelines set by the government in their area. They join everyone in prayer and fasting so this crisis will be over and they can walk the streets again. Truly, this work shall go forth... until the great Jehovah shall say 'The work is done'. ◼︎