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.

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