News Release

Elder Stevenson to Philippines MTC Missionaries: “You are called of God. Your call came from heaven.”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expressed his love for the missionaries gathered at the Philippines Missionary Training Center on May 30, 2024, and assured them that their missions would “shape” their lives.

“My mission shaped my life. My life would not have been the same had I not served. Your mission will shape your life. Had you not chosen to serve as you are, the trajectory of your life would be very different,” Elder Stevenson said.

Elder Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, are in the Philippines for a nine-day ministering visit. They have traveled to all three major islands of the country – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – ministering to as many Latter-day Saints as their schedule permits.

Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Presidency of the Seventy, along with his wife, Sister Shelley Nash, also joined them. Elder Stevenson’s brother Doug and his wife Kim are also part of the trip. Doug, 42 years earlier, served as a young missionary at the Philippines Davao Mission.

During the MTC Devotional, Elder Stevenson invited Doug to reflect on his mission experience in Davao and share his testimony. Doug recalled meeting some of the people he had the opportunity to baptize and teach during his mission and the joy he felt knowing they were progressing along the covenant path.

“Now, this happens to every missionary who serves. You might find yourself alone and discouraged. Think of this: ‘Lift up your heart, and rejoice, for the hour of your mission has come’ (Doctrine and Covenants 31:3),” the Apostle said.

“Think of the great blessings and the opportunity to share the restored Church of Jesus Christ with Heavenly Father's children. His love for His children is manifested through you,” Elder Stevenson added. Elder Stevenson served in the Japan Fukuoka Mission as a young service missionary many years ago.

After counseling the missionaries to teach from their hearts “as guided by the Spirit” and to “create a personal relationship” with their Preach My Gospel manual and the scriptures, Elder Stevenson left his apostolic blessing to all missionaries in the Philippines MTC who will be reporting to their areas in 45 countries across the globe.

“I bear my testimony that you are called of God. Your call comes from heaven. I testify of that to you. Each of you is going where the Lord wants you to be,” the Apostle emphasized.

After the devotional, the missionaries in attendance shared their reactions to the talks they had heard and felt. Many of them renewed their commitment to teach and serve the people they would meet in their respective areas of service as representatives of Jesus Christ.

"As a missionary who transferred from teaching to service, I was profoundly moved by Sister Stevenson’s message. She conveyed that wherever I am, it is where Heavenly Father wants me to be and that the shoes I’m wearing help me represent the Savior in His vineyard. This message assures me that my missionary life is in the hands of my Savior, and He knows that I am doing His work," Sister Celindro, a service missionary serving at the Area Office said.

"When Elder Stevenson addressed us, the Spirit testified to me that he is indeed an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. It told me that what I am hearing from him are words from Him," said Sister Baylon, who is preparing to serve in the Philippines Baguio Mission.

"The devotional made me realize that I do have a purpose and why I am called to serve in the Jamaica Kingston Mission," said Elder Villaver, who is from Cebu and had the privilege of attending the devotional a day after entering the Philippines MTC. "Whatever challenge I experience here and in the field, I know I can endure and overcome it because I have a purpose – and that is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ."

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