Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat! Ito na (This is it). I can’t say the smallest part of what I feel. I’m grateful for all of the experiences that the Lord has given me, whether or not I saw those experiences as trials at the time. I know that they are all blessings. As I look back on the time that I spent here in the Philippines I know that this was not a sacrifice, but one of the most amazing blessing that Heavenly Father has ever given me. I would not trade anything for the experience that I’ve had. Thank you so much to everyone who had a part in helping me get here, especially my family.
I had a really spiritual experience this past week while on exchanges with Elder Cooper. Elder Zeyer and I had been approached by an inactive member named Brother Ariel a week before who told us that we could come to his house to teach him and his “son” (he’s just taken him in as his own even though he was never legally adopted) who is a non-member. Elder Cooper and I went to teach Brother Ariel and Brother John this last Tuesday and I learned a lot from the experience. Brother John is a very muscular guy and while we were getting to know him at the beginning of the lesson we asked, almost jokingly, if Brother John spent a lot of time in the gym. He told us a kind of sad story that was not only about him growing physically, but emotionally and spiritually too. He told us that when he was young his parents split up. His mother and most of his siblings came to manila, but he was left with his father in the province. You could see in his face that he was remembering the pain that he had experienced as he told us about how his father had treated him. Even from the time that he was 6 years old he was being forced to work hard and carry heavy loads. He told us of one instance when he had to carry a large sack of kamote (sweet potatoes) up part of a mountain to their house. He fell and tumbled down the mountain a few times before he finally made it. Once he got to the top his father was angry that the kamote was damaged. I felt so bad for him and for all of the things that he had to go through. Then he said something that taught me about what kind of person he is, “Now I’m strong. I’m used to carrying heavy things.” I realized that he had learned through literal experience how trials help us to grow. I know that our Heavenly Father is nothing like Brother John’s father, but he does allow us to go through trials so that we can grow. If we choose to come unto him, he will support us in our trials and we will be lifted up at the last day. I know that He loves. He gave us his son so that we would never have to face any trial alone. Jesus Christ carried it all, every single “heavy thing” that there is to carry in this life. He wants to help us. Brother John is now progressing and came with Brother Ariel to church. Yesterday was Brother Ariel’s first time at church since 1999.
I just want to end with my testimony:
I know that God lives. I know that he is aware of us. I know that he loves us perfectly and completely. He is truly our father and wants to give us all that he has.
I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know that he lives and that he gave his life for us. I have felt the power of His Atonement in my life so many times. It is infinite and eternal. “Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows… he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” He can heal any wound, lift us from any depth.
I know that God continues to reveal his word to his prophets today. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. That he saw the Father and Jesus Christ. I know that he translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. It has blessed my life over and over.
I know that Thomas S. Monson is a living prophet. I know that the quorum of the twelve and the first presidency are also men called of God to guide us in these last days.
I now know that this is truly the Lord’s work. That we can have true, everlasting joy and live eternally with our families in the presence of God if we live the restored gospel and bring others with us.
I love you all so much and I hope that you will come unto Christ so that he can bless you.
Mahal na mahal ko kayong lahat!