News Release

Philippines Area Presidency Invites Young Latter-day Saints to Serve Missions

The Philippines Area Presidency launched the I Will Go, I Will Serve campaign, during a special missionary fireside that premiered on Facebook on 16 May 2021.

The “I Will Go I Will Serve” campaign is an initiative with the goal of having 4,600 Filipino full-time missionaries serving in the Philippines by December 2022. The Philippines Area Presidency was inspired to organize this campaign after the pandemic and increased health and safety restrictions saw 1,700 foreign missionaries serving in the Philippines repatriated to their home countries, which prompted a need for new missionaries in the Philippines to be self-sufficient in local missionary numbers.

There are currently 1,900 Filipino missionaries serving currently amidst pandemic restrictions, and only half of all branches and wards are covered by these missionaries, many of whom are already scheduled to finish their service.

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Elder and Sister Wakolo, Elder and Sister Bangerter, and Elder and Sister Choi all answered questions from young Latter-day Saints about missionary service amidst the pandemic and shared special messages. Elder Carlos G. Revillo, a newly called General Authority Seventy, also shared a special message in the fireside.

Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, Area President, expressed his confidence in the missionary spirit of the youth of the Church in the Philippines and invited them to take part in the campaign. He said, “We are confident that the rising generation of Filipino Latter-day Saints will step up to the challenge as their forefathers have been doing since the Church started here 60 years ago.”

“There is a great need for Filipino men between the ages of 18 and 25 to step up and serve the Lord full time as disciples of Jesus Christ,” expressed Elder Steven R. Bangerter, First Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency.

Sister Wakolo added, “Together, we will work to strengthen and build the Lord’s battalion of missionaries. Opening your mouth and sharing your testimonies to friends and family will prepare you to go and serve as one of 4,600.”

In inviting the youth to be part of the 4,600, Elder Choi introduced the I Will Go, I Will Serve baller wristband which bears the words “I Will Go, I Will Serve” and “I Am One of 4,600” which reminds the wearer of their mission and their part in the Lord’s work. Every young man and woman who submits their mission application and is interviewed by their bishop and stake president will be sent a baller wristband by the Area Office.

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, Second Counselor in the Area Presidency, said about the timing of a mission amidst the pandemic, “You don’t have to postpone your mission because of the pandemic or other challenges.” He further reiterated President Kimball’s teaching about the chain of exaltation, emphasizing the importance of Seminary in helping young men and young women to serve a mission. He said, “As you strengthen your faith and testimony in Seminary, you are preparing for your mission. Your mission will prepare you more fully for your eternal marriage. Your temple marriage will help you stay on the covenant path, and your family will go together to the presence of Heavenly Father.”

Addressing fears about serving amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Sister Choi shared how missionaries have adjusted to the tightened safety regulations by using smartphones and the internet as well as social media to proselyte and to teach, as well as how the Church cares for its missionaries and their health. She said, “The mission field is the safest spot in the pandemic since the Church is very carefully caring for the safety of the missionaries.”

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President and Sister San Gabriel from the Philippines Butuan Mission and some of their missionaries affirmed this, sharing how missionary work has found success through the inspired adjustments that the Church has made to the way missionaries teach the Gospel amid the pandemic.

They shared that despite the severely diminished number of missionaries, the number of baptisms in the Butuan Mission increased 1000% from the lowest month in 2018 to the highest month in 2021, testifying of the miraculous progress of the Lord’s work in spite of the pandemic.

“Individuals and families are joining the Church in greater numbers every month. What we lack in numbers of missionaries, we compensate for with faith, greater hope, and the pure love of Christ,” said Sister San Gabriel.

Elder Dariagan, a missionary assigned to the Philippines Butuan Mission testified, “Fear at first entered into me... fear that who will now receive us? Fear that the sickness would spread more... Washing away those fears, I realized by working that many are still willing to receive the message that we bring.”

Sister Choi also acknowledged that parents are anxious about sending their children to the mission field at this time because it is natural for parents to protect their children from the threat of illness, but addressed the youth and their parents to ease their fears. “There is nothing you need to worry about in serving the Lord as a missionary. The only concern you should have is being prepared to be worthy to be called to serve with faith to act.”

“Even if you cannot serve a full-time mission because of your physical and emotional challenges, you can still serve a mission as a service missionary. In the eyes of the Lord, He sees your sincere desire to serve in the Kingdom of the Lord,” added Sister Choi.

Elder Choi, “My friends, let us have faith so that we can see miracles in our lives. I promise that the Lord will pour out abundant blessings upon you over the course of your precious life through your faith and obedience in missionary service.”

Elder Revillo in his message echoed the blessings of serving a full-time mission and recounted stories from his childhood and how his parents taught him and his siblings that serving a mission would bless their lives. He said, “My parents loved the missionaries, and they would feed them every time they visit our home. We get to mingle with these missionaries and learned to admire them. They became our models, and we dreamed of growing up to become like them.”

He and his siblings would all serve a mission, of which he testified, “My mission blessed me eternally... It was the single biggest decision I made that made me who I am today and gave me all the blessings I have... I would not have my dear wife and my wonderful family if I did not. I would not have been blessed with a good professional career if I did not. I would not have been blessed with opportunities to serve in Church including leadership positions if I did not serve.”

Elder and Sister Bangerter in their message recounted the stories of Jesus Christ’s visit to the ancient Americas in 3 Nephi and His feeding of the 5,000 in responding to a question about how parents can properly raise their children in the light of the Gospel in a period of uncertainty, especially in a pandemic. “He taught us to act in faith,” Elder Bangerter said.

Offering counsel about acting and praying in faith to both parents and their children, he further said, “The Lord counseled in our day that children and youth should prepare financially while in their childhood and in their youth to serve their mission. They should prepare while young to make a meaningful sacrifice.”

Elder Bangerter introduced a bamboo bank in the same fashion as the baller wristband, bearing the same words, and will be available to all children as they turn 8 years old and are baptized to encourage parents and children to work together to save up for missionary service. He said, “Help your children experience the blessings of the Lord that will grow within them as they sacrifice to save for their missions.”

Reassuring parents of the blessings that will come from helping their children to prepare for a mission even in the midst of a pandemic, he further said, “The Spirit has awakened the area presidency to this great need to grow a strong righteous army of Filipino missionaries… For that to occur, it must begin with our youngest of children… As your children to one day receive their call from a prophet, you will remember this pandemic and the days you turned to the Savior and sought first the Kingdom of God. In this pattern, you will come to exclaim as did the apostle John, ‘I have no greater joy than to see my children walk in truth.’.”

Just as with the baller wristband and the bamboo bank, Elder Wakolo introduced a t-shirt in the same fashion and bearing the same words as the two other pieces of campaign memorabilia, which will be given exclusively to incoming missionaries who have completed their second interview with their stake presidents.

Repeating the counsel shared by Elder Choi and Elder Bangerter before him not to delay missionary service, Elder Wakolo shared the story of the boy Jesus who was left behind in Jerusalem, teaching at the temple as a twelve-year-old.

He said, “When they found Him, they were amazed. Remember at first, they were sorrowing because He was missing. This will be the same response for us as parents. We will be sorrowing at times, but seeing them after 24 months or 18 months, we will be amazed because that is what they do, they teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, every day."

Sister Wakolo said, “The Lord did not say we can do it tomorrow, or the next day, or the next month, or the next year. The time to act is now.”

Elder Wakolo shared the story of Erlinda Manosig and her family of 13 children, who all served missions. The Manosig children’s attendance in Seminary and Institute and the good example of the elder Manosig children strengthened each one of them and their testimonies and inspired them to serve full-time missions.

He said about the blessings of a mission on the missionary’s family, “A mission is not just for them, it is not just for the people they will teach, it is also for their future family: their posterity. Their spirituality will be strengthened, and they will develop a deeper relationship with the Lord.”

Elder and Sister Wakolo then went into the specifics of the actions taken by the Church in accordance with local health and safety regulations to keep its missionaries safe and healthy and minimize the risk of their exposure to the virus in response to a question about the safety aspect of serving a mission at the present time.

In closing his message, Elder Wakolo testified, “Brothers and sisters, as parents, as nanays, tatays, lolos, lolas, and to the rising generation… we have knelt in prayers. We have fasted specifically… about this goal of establishing the Church in the Philippines and aiming for, praying for, seeking out for 4,600 sons and daughters of God who know and understand the Priesthood duty to serve as well as sisters who are willing to serve. We promise you that your lives will be blessed... even multiple generations up to the third and fourth generation as you willingly submit your application to serve.”

The fireside was filled with music from youth and mission choirs, as well as more powerful, faith-promoting testimonies from young children, youth, and parents and may be viewed on Facebook and Youtube, as seen below:

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