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How the Church of Jesus Christ Is Blessing God’s Children in the Philippines

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Elder Neil L. Andersen’s nine-day stop in the Philippines has been filled with teaching and service opportunities. From a walk with youth through the under-construction house of the Lord in Alabang to a wheelchair distribution ceremony to a visit to a homeless shelter for youth to a housing project and more, the Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Kathy, have shared messages of love and hope with many.

The Alabang Philippines Temple

On the morning of Tuesday, February 20, 2024, Elder and Sister Andersen spent an hour walking through the rooms of the unfinished Alabang Philippines Temple with six youth ages 16–18.

“Everything in here speaks to the power and the truthfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ,” the Apostle taught. “Without Him, we wouldn’t have our resurrection, we wouldn’t be able to live with our Heavenly Father, we wouldn’t be able to anticipate all the blessings and power that will come because of His divine life.”

In the sealing room, where marriages are performed, Sister Andersen reflected on the miracle of love continuing to grow even after their 49 years of marriage.

“Many, many years have passed, and I can tell you that I love him infinitely more today than I loved him on [our wedding] day,” she said. “The most extraordinary blessing we can receive from our Heavenly Father is to kneel at the altar in the temple and be sealed to receive blessings here that we can’t receive anywhere else on the earth. I look forward to the next 49 years and then for all eternity because I’m sure my heart is going to grow even more.”

In the celestial room, Elder Andersen told the youth that here they are as close to heaven as they will ever be while on earth.

“We almost have one foot on the earth and one foot in heaven [in this room],” he said. “We feel the Lord’s presence and we feel the presence of His angels and His influence.”

Speaking at the Manila MTC

On Wednesday evening, Elder and Sister Andersen spoke to the 206 missionaries stationed at the Manila Missionary Training Center (MTC).

“At any time, day or night, [we can] reach out to [God] and say, ‘Father, are you there?’” Sister Andersen said. “We don’t have to have an appointment. We don’t have to schedule it in advance. We just simply have to pray to Him. To me, that is one of the most wonderful, sublime blessings of our mortality.”

Elder Andersen taught missionaries how to overcome the difficulties of their missions.

“You do exactly what Sister Anderson taught you,” the Apostle said. “You get on your knees and you say, Heavenly Father, I feel I feel so alone here. I feel uncomfortable. Please, please, Heavenly Father, help me. Help me. And as you prepare and pray with a sincere heart and obey your mission commitments, He will bless your life and you will become more than you’ve ever been.”

He emphasized, “The most important thing you can do as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as a servant of Him, as a visionary of His message, is proclaim and teach who He is and what He can bring.”

Wheelchair and Prosthetic Distribution

Also on Tuesday, Elder and Sister Andersen participated in a handover of wheelchairs and prosthetics from the Church and collaborators to those in need at the San Juan City Hall. Sixty-seven people received wheelchairs and 19 others got a needed prosthetic.

“This is simply an act of love. We believe in Jesus Christ, and we believe in the two great commandments,” Elder Andersen said. “When our neighbors are hurting, when they need help, our donations are not from this big church. It’s from local people, people here in the Philippines, People who want to share what they have with those who have needs. Those from all over the world have contributed to these wheelchairs from all ends of the Philippines, from the continents of Africa and North America, from South America, from Europe.

“We pray,” Elder Andersen continued, addressing Mayor Francis Zamora, “that this will not be just a one-time experience, but that as long as there are people in this community who need help, and need help with wheelchairs or other special things, that you will call on us, let us give of our time of our money. We believe in sharing what we have.”

Elder and Sister Andersen then distributed a small image of Jesus Christ to the wheelchair and prosthetics recipients.

“This little image reminds us that one day He will return to earth,” Elder Andersen said. “Those who have cared and watched over others will be blessed beyond measure. And those who have suffered here in this life and have taken their cross with dignity and with strength — they will be blessed. And I leave a blessing upon all of you who are here to receive these chairs and pray that your lives can be a little bit better because of this sacrifice of so many across the world.”

The Church collaborated on the wheelchair project with Physicians for Peace, the University of East Ramon Magsaysay, and the city of San Juan.

Donations to the Girls’ Home Boys’ Town Complex 

On Wednesday, February 21, 2024, Elder and Sister Andersen visited the Girls’ Home Boys’ Town Complex in Manila, where the school and hygiene kits were distributed. The school kits had backpacks, notebooks, pads, pens, crayons and pencils. The Church also gave the shelter air conditioning chairs, clothing, computers, dryers, freezers, mattresses, pillows, sound systems, tables, TVs and washing machines.

The Apostle taught those in the complex — orphans, challenged teens and others — of their eternal worth.

“Our Heavenly Father loves you and He knows you exactly like He knows the prime minister of the Philippines,” Elder Andersen said. “Everyone in His eyes is equal. I have a big responsibility in the world. He does not love me more than He loves you. And He does not know me more than He knows you. Don’t ever forget that. And though you’re going through a little bit of a transitional time now, as you grow up to be able to contribute to a family, be married, have children, love other people, don’t ever forget: You are a child of God. And He loves you. And you can appeal to Him. He will hear your prayers. And you will feel feelings from Him.”

As the event closed one of the young women who lives in the shelter offered a prayer and gave thanks for the visitors. She added, “Even though we are not with our families, you have sent us love that is more grateful, more powerful, a family that is filled with love. And Lord, we don’t know what our future holds for us, but we have trust in you. We are not here today if it weren’t for you.”

On the way out, Elder and Sister Andersen met a girl who has been in the facility since she was a newborn. She is unable to speak. But during her visit with Elder Andersen, she smiled warmly.

A Visit to the Holy Spirit Elementary School in Quezon City

On Monday, February 19, 2024, Elder and Sister Andersen visited the Holy Spirit Elementary School in Quezon City to share a brief message with students. The Church has partnered with this school to develop a classroom curriculum that reinforces important principles — such as the importance of families — for children of all faiths.

“What a touching experience it was for us to be with these amazing children,” Elder Andersen said. “Although the family situation of children may not always be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because of his or her true identity is as a son or daughter of God.”

As Elder and Sister Andersen left a teacher commented, “I’ve never seen these children this excited and so happy.”

Later in the day, Elder Andersen spoke with Ms. Samira Gutoc of the Manila Times.

Visit to Youth Assembling Items for Those in Need

Late day on Tuesday, Elder and Sister Andersen visited two chapels (one in Taytay, the other in Quezon City) where youth were assembling 1) 250 mother and child kits for Manila’s Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and 2) 250 school and hygiene kits for the Manila Boys and Girls Town homeless shelter.

“We try so much to help those who need the blessings that we can give them,” Elder Andersen told youth. “You can think of a mother with a little baby. Maybe she isn’t married. Or maybe she’s in prison like some of these mothers. Or maybe she’s in the hospital and she doesn’t have much of anything. And if we could give her just a little something, the baby will be happy.”

Elder and Sister Andersen then handed out an image of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

“We just wanted each one of you to have a picture of the Second Coming as the Savior because that’s what you’re doing is you’re preparing for His return to the earth through your righteousness and your goodness and kindness and your faith and your testimonies,” Sister Andersen said.

Repair of Water Tanks at Jaime Cardinal Sin Village 

In the afternoon of Thursday, February 22, Elder and Sister Andersen visited the Catholic-run Jaime Cardinal Sin Village in Manila. The Church repaired three of the facility’s water tanks to bless the lives of the 1,200 families in 980 units who live in the housing development.

“I hope you realize how grateful we are for constantly extending your support for the communities who are in need,” said Fr. Mark Munda, who serves on the board of directors of Serviam Foundation. “You are a really good example of witnessing to the care and love of Jesus.”

“We look for opportunities and privileges to bless other people’s lives,” Elder Andersen said. “How could we do a greater blessing than to give water here? Our Savior gives living water. We give water from a tank — yet water from a tank is important, is it not? We love you. We count you as friends. We pray for this village and pray that we can always be connected with you.”

Light the World Giving Machine Donations

Thursday night, Elder and Sister Andersen gathered with several dozen others in Manila to celebrate with and present Light the World Giving Machine checks to organizations from Cebu and Manila.

In addition to the ₱736,000 brought in by the Light the World Giving Machines in the Philippines, the Church is giving an additional ₱500,000 to each of the six organizations that it collaborates with in the area. These are UNICEF Philippines, Feed the Children, Cebu Caritas, Mabuhay Deseret Foundation, HERO Foundation and Caritas Manila.

“My dear friends,” Elder Andersen said, “we love you and we admire you because you are the beautiful people of the world who give of yourself, give of what you have. And we acknowledge all the wonderful people who gave to those Giving Machines and all the wonderful people who gave to this additional amount to add to those Giving Machines, the thousands and thousands who gave of what they have. And we love them because we have the privilege, Kathy and I, to travel the world and see those people who give and love in every nation, in every culture, in every race, in every language. And we love them. And I have to say honestly, in the many times I have been to the Philippines, there are none better than the good and giving people of the Philippines.”

Elder Andersen will wrap up his nine-day ministry in the Philippines over the weekend with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square as their world tour in Manila begins.

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