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This is truly a gift, free to us, without conditions, to bring Christ into our home this Christmas.

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(Photograph by Melanie Gapiz)

After three years of planning, preparation, and thousands of cumulative hours of participant rehearsals, the Jubilee celebration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has finally come!!! 🙂


As I sat on the edge of my seat watching the festivity and cheering the other participants, I was extremely grateful and my heart was overcome with emotions for having had the privilege of being part of the momentous occasion! 🙂


Throughout the course of the rehearsals, I witnessed how the opposition worked his way through various means, using different people and their weaknesses, to try to stop this effort from progressing.  I have seen many frustrated faces, and people quitting in the midst of all the preparations due to disappointments and discouragement. Some left simply because they got exhausted and did not see the grand outcome that was meant to be. Many cynics doubted and some begrudgingly supported the event.


Yet a great majority withstood the test and endured to the very end. These are the ones who enjoyed their journey and learned the sweetness of its value as they looked forward to their destination. These are they who, despite their mortal differences, learned to exercise the virtue of patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, and humility. They are the ones who experienced the joy of service, unconditional love, and found among themselves new and lasting friendships.  


At the end of the celebration, I realized that all the grand preparations made were befitting the occasion. It was a token of gratitude from the Filipino people to our God and King, for all the blessings we received on this land since the preaching of the gospel 50 years ago. It was worth all the hard work putting everything together—our talents, our time—to come up with the best that we could offer Him. Hence, I was moved and most grateful to hear, by the mouth of one of His servants, that our offerings had been accepted.


I think that life in general will be like this Jubilee celebration. The preparations will not be easy for the glorious end. Many will fall and lose their way. Yet those who will endure to the end will receive their sweetest reward—much more than they have ever imagined.

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It’s December!!! Woohoo!!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!! And the happiest season of all!!! 🙂 We are celebrating the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!!! And the whole wide world rejoices!!! 🙂 The child in me leaps with great joy and awe at the lights that brighten up the darkness of the night everywhere I go! I delight at the Christmas music I hear all around me and décors that don most homes and buildings—otherwise standing bare and cold in the midst of the concrete jungle in the city where I work. I was touched by the Christmas carols that were sung and Christmas story that was read last night during the opening ceremonies of the Manila Philippines Temple lighting. It is indeed a season of joy, hope, and love all around the world!!! 🙂


I wish all of you a wonderful month ahead as we commemorate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ! May we all find the true meaning of this season and may our hearts be found in the right place as we follow His examples.


I find that the video below is appropriate for this occasion. May we all find room in our hearts for Him, our Savior:

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This video made me smile, so I am sharing it with the rest of you in the hope that it will make you smile too! 


It’s a music video of a record-breaking water balloon fight last year on the BYU campus that has become one of the favorites on YouTube.  Enjoy watching!!! 🙂

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(Photograph by Eunice Ruth Barilea)


I am not even a good singer, but I courageously joined the choir that will be singing for our stake conference on the first weekend of March. I find that singing hymns with other people who can actually sing 🙂 invites the Spirit. The experience gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling—something that I can never trade for anything else in this world!! 🙂


I love the words of one of the hymns we will be singing. It goes:

Have I done any good in the world today?

Have I helped anyone in need?

Have I cheered up the sad, made someone feel glad?

If not, I have failed indeed.

Has anyone’s burden been lighter today

because I was willing to share?

Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?

When they needed my help, was I there?

Then wake up, and do something more

than dream of your mansion above.

Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure,

a blessing of duty and love.

(“Have I Done Any Good?” Hymns #223)


I watched part of the Grammy Awards yesterday and was touched by the song number of Andrea Bocelli accompanied by David Foster and a lady singer. They sang to raise funds for the Haiti people. It never stops to amaze me how generous people can be of their time and talents in order to extend help to the needy.


We don’t have to be excellent singers or musicians such as them to make our own contribution to society and the community we live in. In our own little ways, we can do something good in the world today. Be it helping an old lady cross the street, visiting people who are sick and lonely, or offering rides to people when they need it—no matter if they’re our friends or foes!


I think the hymn says it all. Nothing compares to the happiness that comes to those who do good towards their fellow beings. It is a Christ-like attribute worthy of emulation which pleases our Father, and consequently obtains great blessings from above. 🙂

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lake

(Photograph by Franco Advincula)

 

I had a wonderful privilege of observing a 3-day youth conference last week. Not only did it remind me of how fantastic it is to be young and carefree, but I learned something from it that helped me choose the right path when I was put to a test over the weekend!

 

For this youth conference, a theme song was composed by a talented young composer which she taught the youth on their first day. The song goes:

 

 

There is a tiny spark in me;

I’ll make it grow for others to see.

My family and my Savior, I will not fail;

‘Though others may forget to walk the path that’s straight,

I will keep the faith.

 

In the darkness, I’ll be the light.

When others falter, I’ll be the guide.

When things are tough, I’ll choose the right.

I may be young, but I can choose,

To take the courage to live the truth.

 

I have been taught the gospel truths;

I will choose to live a righteous youth.

My family and my Savior, I will not fail;

‘Though others may forget to walk the path that’s straight,

I will keep the faith.

 

Born of royal birthright,

Trusted by the Lord,

To help build His kingdom,

A light to all the world.

 

(Music and Lyrics by Diana Valencia Cruz)

 

 

How grateful I am that I listened to the melody and words of the song as they practiced singing it over and over!! Because that weekend I was tempted to act irresponsibly in reaction to another person’s conduct. I went to bed contemplating rebellious thoughts that must’ve been displeasing to our Father’s eyes. So I was really amused when in the middle of the night I suddenly woke up with the tune and words of the song filling my mind:

 

“In the darkness, I’ll be the light.

When others falter, I’ll be the guide.”

 

I didn’t catch up on my sleep after that, but it was a humbling moment for me to be chastened by the Lord in such a sweet and gentle way! J  Needless to say, I immediately got my act together and chose the right thing to do the following day!! J

 

I know, without a shadow of doubt, that we are all children of a loving Heavenly Father who loves us despite our weaknesses and shortcomings. I am a living proof of that tender mercy. He is there watching over us even when we falter—yes, especially when we falter! And just as the song says, may we always keep in mind that we are of royal birthright! That we can choose the right even when things are tough, and that our tiny spark of light may be used as a guide by those who are in the darkness—indeed, a light to all the world!!! J

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