As the rising sun flickered its way into your life on the first day of January this year you may have asked yourself what happened to last year. As we grow older the words of the familiar hymn seems to ring true “Time flies on wings of lightning, we cannot call it back” (“Improve the Shining Moments,” Hymns 226). 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. Rich or poor, none of us can buy time at the local sari-sari store for time is never for sale yet when we wisely use what each of us has been allocated wonderful things can be accomplished.
So what will change for you this year? The answer depends on you more than anyone else. Like an autumn leaf you can float gently down a stream and be pulled and pushed one way and another by the ever changing current or you can act for yourself and determine your outcomes for this New Year (see 2 Nephi 2:14). Create a vision of the things you wish to achieve, write them down, make plans on how to achieve them and then go to work. (See Moses 1:4-8)
With the demands being made on your time by family, friends, school, employment and your Church callings and perhaps even barangay issues, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being in the very same spot next year as we are this year. For some, this could mean spending less time watching telenovela, malling, and texting or being on Facebook and spending more time on the things that matter. Yes, this could be the year you decide there are other priorities in your life that are of great importance which deserve more of your time. We are well taught about priorities by the Master Teacher when He declared in His Sermon on the Mount (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, May Ensign 2001) “Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God and to establish His righteousness.” (JST Matthew 6:33)
A key priority, as shown in our Area goals, for this year must be nurturing the family. My time in the Philippines has taught me that the demanding and busy lifestyle here robs too many of quality time with their families yet it is the reality most live within the Philippines. Long work hours that are often spread over six days of the week, coupled with slow and long jeepney rides on clogged roads to and from work make it difficult for many family members to be together at important times such as family meals, scripture reading and prayers. Such as it may be, the circumstances we live should not change our priorities but make us more adaptive to our circumstances so we can always be true to our family priority.
Another key priority is the call to go to the rescue. We talk so often of rescuing another and that continues to be important yet I cannot brush past the feeling that perhaps the greatest rescue that needs to be made this year is the rescue of oneself. There are some of us who need to be rescued from the trap of falling behind in the payment of tithes and fast offering, poor attendance at sacrament meetings, not fulfilling our calls and even not holding a current temple recommend. As each of us makes such things a priority in our lives we will be richly rewarded with an increase of the Spirit and an increasing sense of peace in our lives.
These are the best of times; our Church membership is growing in numbers and in strength. It is a time of excitement as we respond to the Prophet’s call to increase the number of missionaries serving and as we reach out to others. The Church is bursting out of obscurity in the Philippines and is being recognized for good. Thank you for being part of this great coming forth, for being the examples that others can point to and acknowledge as being good. As we each set our priorities and use our time wisely we will find that this time next year our feet have moved and be happy for it.