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Archive for March, 2008

He Is Risen!

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN!
Tell it out with joyful voice.
He has burst His three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice.
Death is conquered, man is free.
Christ has won the victory.
(“He Is Risen,” Hymns no. 199) 

As the whole Christendom celebrates Easter, let us keep in mind the reason for the season! Let us remember with rejoicing and deep gratitude the Atoning sacrifice that the Savior of mankind has made for all of us. He, being spotless, has taken upon Him the sins and infirmities of the world—so that you and I will not suffer as He did if we would repent. He summons us to come unto Him and accept the selfless gift He has to offer.  
 
            
Indeed, I echo the words in the hymn: 
                             

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Sons of men and angel say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heav’ns, and earth reply, Alleluia!
(“Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” Hymns no. 200)
  

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A few weeks ago, I caught a reflection on our tinted car window of what I thought was a little child in white shirt and tie walking down the Manila Philippines Temple grounds. I thought the body of that child was not proportionate to his height so I turned around to have a better view. I was moved by what I saw.  
                                
It was a young man walking on his knees.

I remember watching him in awe as he walked past everybody standing in the long aisle that connected the visitors’ center to the temple. He walked with his chin up, making no display of shame or excuse on how he physically appeared. His countenance shone and his spirit soared.

When I came to his town to interview him, I learned that he is a man highly esteemed by those around him. Being the Sunday School president and a counselor in the Young Men presidency, he exemplifies the true meaning of selfless service. He gives more than he receives, despite his physical handicap. He is grateful for the life given him and looks forward with faith to that day when his body would be restored to its perfect form and he would be able to enjoy “walking” the way most people do. 
                                  
Yet to me and to those who know him, he is already walking ten feet tall! His example of service and faith is something to emulate. I hope to be able to serve my fellowmen as he does—-selflessly—-with the complete faculties given me, in the period time that I am granted in this earthly life.

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Last weekend, I had the privilege of seeing some things that I’ve never seen before. I was sent, together with a colleague, to a sleepy town called Talisay to cover a story on 40 baptisms that will occur that Saturday. That baptismal number is huge, even for a country like the Philippines where baptisms in double digits are not unheard of.  
                                                    
I was astonished at the mere thought of it. I imagined how it would be like to see them get baptized and wondered what made them accept the gospel as they did.  
                                             
As we drove down the countryside, the one-way winding dirt road that had the ocean on the right hand-side and the lush mountains on the left-hand side made me and my colleague look forward to whatever else laid ahead. Little did I expect that I would be in for one of the greatest lessons of my life.

Having the ocean in their front yard and the mountains in the backyard, the people in Talisay live simply. It’s a common thing to see people walking, sometimes barefoot, for kilometers to get to where they are going. They are void of the modern technology that I thought I couldn’t live without back home. Some of them don’t even have electricity in their homes. They live in nipa huts and their main source of living comes from small-boat fishing and their little rice fields.  
                                                 
In my eyes and in the eyes of the world, these people might appear poor, but I’ve learned first hand that they have the riches of eternity. They are humble and teachable people. Free from the aspirations of the outside world that make some people forget who they really are. They are not puffed up or obsessed with worldly success and wealth. They acknowledge that their Maker provides for their needs and that they are nothing without Him. When they first heard of the message of the gospel, they acknowledged the sweet whisperings of the Spirit and like little children recognized that this message is something they’ve heard of before—only in a place beyond this earthly existence. Hence, it was easy for them to accept the gospel and decide to get baptized.  

As we boarded the plane that would take us back home, our hearts were filled with gratitude for the experience that we’ve had. We had more appreciation of the blessings that were given to us, an increased desire to extend love and selfless service to our fellowmen, a keen realization that these things that we have in this world are just that—temporary—and that the more important things are those that we can bring with us beyond the veil.   
                      
It was a great learning experience. One that I am hoping not to ever forget in my entire life.

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