We have a song in our hymn book on page 152 titled God Be With You Til We Meet Again. The night before I left for the Philippines, we sang this very song in the training center in Provo. As we did, I begin to cry. I knew what I was about to go through, and I felt the significance of truly leaving everything behind. I knew the separation I would face shortly after. From family and friends, and from my home. I never expected that I would be physically separated from my family at a time like this. And though I wish there was a way to be there physically, my heart and prayers are truly with you at this time. The separation I face from home as a missionary is much like the separation we all face from our home in heaven, and right now from our dear Mamay. I am sad that Mamay is gone out of this world now. I don’t think I have ever gone through anything quite as hard as this in my life. We were all incredibly privileged to have known him. If there is one word I could describe for him, it would be very simple: HAPPY. There was not a moment I saw my Mamay where he wasn’t either smiling, laughing, or sleeping. It is truly incredible the kind of light and happiness he emulated. My Nanay and Mamay went through more than their face share of challenges in this life. And yet they not only endured, but endured well. Being here in the Philippines now, I more fully appreciate and understood the kind of sacrifices they made that changed all of our lives. Maybe you have never been here. Or maybe over time you have forgotten what it is like. Suffice it to say, the minute I was born, I was born into circumstances that most people only dream of here. Besides making the choice to come to States in 1978, there was another choice my Mamay made before that that would change not just his life, but the life of his family as well. My Nanay just told me this beautiful story on Mother’s Day. I was able to hear her tell it in Tagalog and understand. Truly a gift. I will try now to tell it in English. Bear with me, as that is fading now.Story of Nanay coming home from Palenke. How Mamay had such great faith to accept the Gospel immediately. In choosing to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, my Mamay left me a legacy of faith that will always carry on with me. He was a wonderful example of great faith. Before my mission, I did not ask or pray to come to the Philippines. But my dear Mamay did. And because of him and his faith, I am here.More than just his choice to become a member, his example of how to lift and love in life will forever remain with me. If you will all picture now his face in your minds, I know you will see him smiling ear to ear. His smile and laugh would fill any room he entered. That’s why he was always little Maya’s favorite. Because he would always laugh and smile with her. I wasn’t able to be there, but I heard that right in the hospital before he died, he was carrying on the same way, joking with the nurses and making everyone laugh.My Mamay did not just choose to join the Church of Jesus Christ, he chose to live the true message of the Gospel. That is to be happy. Our dear Bapa’s favorite scripture illustrates this perfectly: Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy. We exist in this life to be happy. That is our purpose. I go around every day, riding jeepneys, walking down the streets, talking to hundreds of people each week. I tell them: God has a plan for us. It is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This plan will make you happier. And though I say it over and over, it never diminishes that simple truth: Our loving Heavenly Father provided a perfect plan for us. The plan of salvation. Also called the plan of happiness. Before this life we were all prepared to come to this world and to prepare to meet God. We were set apart for specific callings and responsibilities. Abraham 3:22-23I know that Mamay was one of those chosen souls as he exercised a very special and divine gift during his life. That gift is called the Priesthood. This week, I was able to meet with my mission president, President Dahle. He gave me a very sweet Priesthood blessing that I will never forget. As he laid his hands on my head, I remembered all the times in my childhood that Mamay would do the same. Mamay was not perfect, none of us are. But he remained worthy throughout his life to exercise the Melchizedek Priesthood and to serve his family through it. In D&C 121 it states:“no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness and by love unfeigned, by kindness, and pure knowledge, reproving at times with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.”On the last Sunday before I left for the Philippines, Mamay invited each of his children to attend Sacrament meeting at the Church. We had all just come together for the previous Sunday for my farewell talk, but Mamay told me that he wanted to bear testimony in particular to his sons. Not very many of them came. I know he felt disappointed that they were not there. But my dear Mamay still made his way to the stand and bore powerful testimony of a specific experience. I wondered then why he felt so inclined to share this particular experience, but as I have been on my mission, his words have rung more than once in my mind. He told a story about one of his sisters who was very sick. He said she was acting very strange and that everyone around her felt as if she had been possessed. He then said how he went to her and gave her a priesthood blessing. He blessed her in the name of Jesus Christ. Through the power and authority given to my Mamay, that evil spirit was cast out of her body. The power of the Priesthood is held by all worthy males in the Church above the age of 12. We believe it is the power and authority of God to perform His work. As Christ did when he was on the earth, miracles like the one Mamay performed can still be performed today. It says something very incredible about my Mamay that he was worthy at that time and at all times to exercise this very special divine power. He possessed in no small measure all the virtues associated with the Priesthood as I quoted from D& C: love, kindness, gentleness, pure knowledge, and long-suffering. I am devastated that as a family we have lost our patriarch, our personal Priesthood leader for the Arcibal family. However, I know that Mamay was foreordained in this world to accomplish a great work. His work has now been accomplished and he is at peace and rest with Our Father in Heaven. As I said earlier, the purpose of this life is to have joy and to prepare to return to live with God. We can have perfect peace knowing that Mamay had both joy and preparation to meet God in this life. The best way we can carry forward now is to have joy ourselves and to further prepare to meet God. After we die our body stays in this world, but our spirit goes to the spirit world. Mamay’s body is still here on this earth, but his spirit is there in the spirit world. In the spirit world there are two states: spirit paradise and spirit prison. If our choices are good we will be in spirit paradise, if they are bad, we will be in spirit prison. Depending on our choices in this life, we will either live in a state of perfect happiness or misery. Alma 40:11-12We will stay in this place until we are resurrected. The spirit world is not our final destination. Here in the Philippines sometimes we go to a place called a waiting shed to wait for the bus or the jeepney to come. The spirit world is like that, a place for us to wait before we are resurrected. That is where Mamay’s spirit is now. We can be assured that like in the words of Alma his spirit is now in a state of rest and peace from all troubles, cares, and sorrow.Like I said the spirit world is not our final destination. Eventually we will leave. When Christ comes again, we will be resurrected. Or our bodies that we left here on this earth will again be reunited with our spirits. Alma 11:43-44As Alma says in these verses, we will all face a final judgement at that time according to our works. If they be good, we will have the opportunity to dwell with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ in perfect happiness. We will go to one of three kingdoms, either Celestial, the highest, Terrestrial or Telestial. The greatest gift is to go to the Celestial Kingdom. D&C 14:7 This gift to have eternal life is only given to those have accepted and followed Christ’s plan. Christ’s plan is this Gospel. Like it says in this verse we must keep His commandments. Or in other words: In order to receive the gift of eternal life, we must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. Without every one of these steps, we cannot dwell with God. Being baptized by someone holding the correct authority is vital to inherit eternal life. Besides making the choice to be baptized, Mamay also made the choice long ago to go to the Oakland temple with his family and to be sealed there. In the temple, there is another sacred ordinance that is vital in order for families to dwell forever with God after this life. The choice that Mamay made to be sealed to his family in the temple of God gives his family the promise, that if we are faithful, we may all dwell with him in the highest state of glory, the Celestial Kingdom. Think now for a minute about what you really want. Is this what you want? If so, it is possible through this Gospel. My immediate family has not yet had this opportunity. But I feel confident that we will someday. John 17:3We can as a whole family someday do as it says “know God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” We can again see our Mamay and dwell in perfect happiness with him in the mansions of heaven. Absolutely none of this, the promise of eternal life with our families is possible if not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I would now like to read briefly from a section of Preach My Gospel that has become deeply personal to me here on my mission.Pg. 52 Preach My GospelI invite all of you who may be less than familiar with the words I have spoken about the Plan of Salvation to find out for yourself if the things I am saying are true. Will you go home tonight and pray and ask God if this is His plan? I know if you do, you will feel the same burning peace that I feel in my heart. That is the peace of God.John 14:27
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ.