News Release

Elder Carl B. Cook's Message to Youth and YSA Focuses on Serving Missions

It was a different kind of youth and young single adults devotional in Davao City on 24 May 2019 as Elder Carl B. Cook, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led an interactive discussion on helping young Latter-day Saints serve missions instead of just sharing a talk.


He first shared about President Russell M. Nelson’s invitation to take part in the “gathering of Israel.” Elder Cook pointed out that the number of missionaries serving from the Philippines has declined since 2013.

He then asked the youth to participate in a revelatory experience by helping him identify problems, concerns, and hindrances that resulted in the decline in numbers.

The youth and YSA enthusiastically shared their insights and cited examples, such as spending too much time on social media, lack of understanding on the purpose of missionary work, lack or absence of support from parents, the new ROTC requirements, lack of desire to leave one's comfort zone, and school curriculum changes among others as the culprits.

What happened next was even more interesting as Elder Cook then asked his young and eager audience to offer solutions to all of the concerns they had.

Some replied that they will recommit to read and study the scriptures regularly. There were others who shared that they will start working with the full-time missionaries, start saving for their mission fund, attend seminary and institute classes, and stay strong in their commitment to serve missions.

Following the short open-forum discussion, Elder Cook asked the young audience to have them find answers to his question. “President Nelson would want to have more missionaries serve. How can we do this in our unit at this time?”

He further asked them, "What is the potential on the number of missionaries that would serve if we were to apply these solutions? What is the potential here in the Philippines?”

As he concluded, he extended an invitation and added his testimony and promise. “If you are of missionary age, I would invite you to ask your Father in Heaven, ‘would the Lord have me serve?’ If you’re in your youth I would invite you to ask your Father in Heaven, ‘what may I be able to do to prepare to serve?’ And I promise the Lord will bless you.”

Elder Cook went on to encourage the young women to be an inspiration to the young men they are dating or are in a relationship with to serve on missions.

He also advised the young men of missionary age to look at their relationship and their education, and counseled them to seek the Lord first when an opportunity comes for them to serve a mission.

To address the audience who were past the missionary age, Elder Cook reminded them that it’s okay. “The Lord would have you look forward, staying on the covenant path, continuing to make the right choices, working towards temple marriage and establishing families.”

For those who felt unqualified to serve a mission, Elder Cook invited them to talk to their priesthood leaders and to discuss with them if it's still possible and best to serve a mission.

“I believe, whether we have made the choice to serve a mission or not to serve a mission, that our dear prophet would want all of us wherever we are in life, to encourage others to serve missions and to gather Israel,” he said.

Elder Cook then shared about the positive influence people have on others, especially the youth, to serve on missions. He concluded his message with his testimony about missionary service and how it has changed his life for the better.

For the youth and young single adults present at the devotional, it was a day to remember. Many of them shared their positive response after listening to Elder Cook’s message.

EJ Salvana, a young single adult, remarked, “Maybe someday, or this day, I can help the youth especially my brother, so he could serve a mission."

Andrea Caparas, one of the young audiences, shared her experience. “I feel inspired to serve a mission,” she said. Meanwhile, Daryl Reveche, another young audience, shared, “I felt the spirit… I learned that we need to serve a mission to fulfill the gathering of Israel.”

Elder and Sister Cook were on a 10-day visit in the Philippines together with Elder Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Renlund. At the conclusion of their assignment in the Asian archipelago, Elder Renlund remarked about the Philippines’ key role in the future of the gospel in Asia.

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