Sunday, May 31, 2015

In Memory Of Sister Michelle Oliva Victorino

We are feeling great sadness in the Philippines Angeles Mission this week.  One of our missionaries had a short severe illness and passed away on May 14, 2015.  

Her cousin is a visa waiting missionary in our mission (going to New York Rochester Mission) and they arrived together in March 2015.      

 Sister Victorino was greatly loved by her companions.  Sister Gamolo was her last companion in San Jose.  The two of them were a dynamic teaching pair and were having wonderful success.

  Each companion wrote memories of their times with Sis. Victorino.  
She definitely left an impact on their lives.  

These beautiful sisters were Sis. Victorino's housemates.  She crossed through the veil on Thursday and they had a baptism on Saturday.  She was definitely felt in spirit and a powerful baptismal service took place.  We know Sis. Victorino is teaching truth in a grand way.

May 18, 2015 
Last Thursday night Sister Michelle Victorino’s life and mission service were abruptly cut short by illness.  For unknown reasons, Sister Victorino contracted a severe, fast moving infection in her body which led to septic shock and failure of vital organs.  Extraordinary medical efforts were made to preserve her life but to no avail. 

At times like these we are left to mourn and wonder and hope.  Our mourning is natural; a product of insecurity about life after life and sadness over separation.  Our wonder is often self-examination; thinking of what might have been or what we could/should have done differently.   Our hope is found in the exquisite power, breadth and promise of the Atonement.  We find succor in the scriptural promise, “it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them. (D&C 42:46)

It is particularly painful and puzzling to witness the death of a young missionary.  As Latter-day Saints, we rejoice in life and missionaries typify the joy of young living.  Death is so dark so contrary to this.  In remarks delivered several years ago at the funeral of a young missionary Elder Russell M. Nelson reflected on the importance of having a gospel perspective about death.  "As mortals we think of his death as premature," Elder Nelson said. "But from [the lost missionary’s] heavenly perspective, death is not premature. It is not premature for one who is prepared to meet God. Death is only premature for one not prepared to meet God. Our existence in this period of mortality allows us to get a body, to develop faith and to prove ourselves.” We can celebrate in knowing Sister Victorino has done that.  While here we weep for the loss of this dear young woman, on the other side of the veil, there are tears of joy.

Elder Nelson also taught of the sweet assurance that the death of a young missionary does not bring her work to an end.  We can be certain that Sister Victorino is part of missionary work to those already in the spirit world. Her mission will continue there.  It is left to those of us who remain in the Angeles Mission to fulfill our duty to bring souls unto Christ on this side of the veil.

Trusting in the Lord’s will and timing is essential to build faith. We are challenged now to trust that Sister Victorino has returned to her loving Heavenly Father to continue to serve and worship Him.  In the words of Elder David Bednar, this experience we are having is not primarily about living and dying; rather, it was about learning, living, and becoming.”  Our love and concern for Sister Victorino need not end with her departure.  Our learning of the gospel and God’s ways can increase from this experience if we trust in His goodness and grace.

God be with us to have the faith to learn, live and become a better disciple and missionary from this experience.  May we, as children of God, know of his great love and trust in His ultimate knowledge of what is best for the eternal welfare of all his children.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Always Remember...

We had a pretty amazing experience in the Philippines Angeles Mission.  A Sisters Conference!  This had been in the planning for a few months.  Originally it was going to be two separate Conferences on the same morning and one afternoon.  It would have been great.  The prompting to have just one Conference with all of the sisters would not leave my thoughts.  I knew this would make arrangements more difficult because a few of the sisters would need to travel quite far.  With lots of prayer, thoughts of how it could be done without much disruption, and approval from the President, a date was set.  The Sister Training Leaders assisted to pull it all together.  

When the date for the conference arrived, it was clear why we needed to all be together.  We enjoyed a spiritual, fun and unifying time learning that we need to Always Remember, You are Braver Than you Believe, Stronger Than you Seem, Smarter than you Think, and Loved more than you know!  

The Agenda:  Theme Intro Speaker - Sis. Clark, Musical Number - "Someone Needs Your Star", Getting to Know You Activities, Match the Message Missionary Fashion Show and demonstrations , Lunch, Speaker - Sis. Naegle, Slide Presentation of all of the Sisters, Concluding Speaker - President Clark.  

During my talk, I had a good friend of President Clark and mine, Mila, speak to the Sisters about the powerful influence and example they are to others.  It was a real highlight of the meeting.  

It was a true tender mercy that we were able to enjoy this Conference together.  Chances are the following Sisters Conferences will be divided in 2 areas but oh how we rejoiced in being Sisters as one.   This will always be a cherished memory.  

                                                          Singing to Sis. Lopez for the delicious food!

How Our Mission Learns...

 May 5, 2015
It is MLC time again.  And it's summertime in the Philippines.  These two events collided as the temperatures were hot and a brownout occurred.  Brownouts are caused by the reallocation of limited electricity. On this particular date, electricity was allocated away from our location in Tarlac.  We were informed that there would be 2 hours without power.  It turned out to be almost the entire day.  No power meant no air conditioning on a very hot humid day.  Every hand fan we had was put to good use.  "But don't you have an emergency generator?" you might ask.  Yes we do.  But even large diesel powered generators can be over loaded and over heated.  Needless to say, we felt a warm spirit in the room during MLC.

The purpose of Mission Leadership Council takes place for two main reasons.  One, to train our young mission leaders and 2. To share information throughout the mission.  Our young mission leaders take the information from 8 hours of meetings out to their zones to teach the other missionaries.  We do this the first week of every month.   The process is quite amazing.  My desire is to one day be there when the Zone Leaders teach.  I'd love to watch them share what they've learned.  Whenever I ask how Zone Meetings are, the main reply is, "So Spiritual!"  You can see why we need our Mission Leadership Council!

Much of what was taught at the MLC was information we learned at the Mission President's Seminar.  The topics were:  Humility, the Power of the Book of Mormon, 'Lack I yet?', Faith, Dress and Grooming and Mission Culture.  President Clark gave a powerful presentation on the Sacrament.  Songs were sung, scriptures personalized and the spirit was strong.  We ended the day with a testimony meeting of those new and departing mission leaders.  The warmth of the day did not distract from this incredible meeting.

Reenacting a Pineapple Planter
Pineapple Planter debrief
Beautiful Sister Training Leaders clad with fans to stay "cool."
Zone Leaders unite!
Elder Dejino and Elder Watkins - our Assistants.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Incoming Batch #7

April 22, 2015
Yes...there is a photo bomber in this picture!
 9 more full-time missionaries arrived last week.  It seemed like an easy group to manage since many of the past batches have had over 20 missionaries.  We are going through a planned draw-down of our mission compliment.  Our missionary count will decline from 250 to 200 in the next 5 months.

 Our trainers are the BEST!  I can tell as soon as I walk in the room for our trainers meeting that they are really special.  Trainers and Trainees form a unique bond as they work through the 12-week training program together.
Elder Doma with trainer Elder Drake
Elder Faamafu and trainer Elder Leocario
 Trainer Elder Llona and Elder Farish
 Trainer Elder Vave and Elder Fresnoza
 Trainer Elder Green and Elder Neri
 New Assistant Elder Dejino and Trainer Elder Watkins
 Short term Sis. Benito and Trainer Sister Mahe
 Sis. Johnson and Trainer Sis. Talento
 Short-term Sis. Matteo and Trainer Sis. Tui Tuilaepa
 Sis. Ramos and Trainer Sis. Koford
 Sis. Roxas and Trainer Sis. Shipley
 Sis. Tabay and Trainer Sis. Tinio

  Our newest addition to the Philippines Angeles Mission...Where the Finest Serve!