Area Presidency Messages

Have you noticed that there is Christmas tinsel all around right now? Flashing lights crowd evergreen trees, Christmas carols fill the air, malls are humming with people and they seem to be jubilant in their expectation of a joyous Christmas Day. These are the days when memories are made and so I pause to ponder what memories I will help to make for those all around me right now. They must surely go beyond a plastic toy, a new shirt, an intriguing novel or a favorite food. Lasting Christmas memories are those that touch your soul and the souls of others. 
The temple ordinances and attendant covenants are ancient. They began with Father Adam and Mother Eve. What was God’s purpose in providing a plan whereby his children could exercise agency and enter into covenants with Him, or by that same agency chose not to follow Him?
In Section 101 of the Doctrine & Covenants, there is a parable that the Lord declares as His “will concerning the redemption of Zion.” As we consider the 2015 Philippines Area Goal to “feast upon the words of Christ,” the imagery in the parable takes on added meaning, particularly in light of the need for us to prepare to receive the teachings and testimonies of prophets, seers, and revelators during the upcoming October 2015 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  
As I write this article I can see out of my office window the hustle and bustle of people moving along the road and sidewalk outside of the beautiful Manila Temple. Most of those passing by are oblivious to the importance of this sacred edifice and what it represents. You and I know the temple is a holy place where sacred ordinances are performed through the restored Holy Priesthood. What happens in the temple is yet another manifestation of God's love for us.
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