Share My Comings And Goings

Sunday, May 30, 2010

12 Journal Entries For Our Posterity

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

For today's Sunday School Old Testament Lesson 18: ''Be Strong and of a Good Courage''Joshua 1-6; 23-24,I used half of class time focusing on the twelve (12) stones that the Lord asked the Israelites to leave at their lodging place based on LDS writer Ted L. Gibbons suggestion.

"I believe the book of Joshua gives us a wonderful pattern for the kinds of things we ought to record xxx.We all ought to leave such a memorial - a record of some kind that will encourage our children to ask us about the great things the Lord has done for us in our lives. Sometimes those memorials might be something like the pile of stones. But the clearest way to leave such encouragement is to leave a record. We ought to have a history in our journals of what God has done for us, one that our children can review and cherish, one that will bring them to us in their longing to hear the stories and feel the power of our testimonies".

Those who keep a book of remembrance are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives. Journals are a way of counting our blessings and of leaving an inventory of these blessings for our posterity (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 19821, p. 349).
"We hope you will begin as of this date. If you have not already commenced this important duty in your lives, get a good notebook, a good book that will last through time and into eternity for the angels to look upon. Begin today and write in it your goings and your comings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies. We hope you will do this, our brothers and sisters, for this is what the Lord has commanded, and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives" (Spencer W. Kimball, "President Kimball Speaks Out on Personal Journals," Ensign, Dec. 1980

Ted Gibbons suggested 12 things (one for each stone) that might be worthy of an entry in the inventory of blessings that we ought to leave for our posterity.

ROCK #1: Be strong and courageous.

What a blessing you will be to your children as you tell them of the times when you went forward with nothing but your faith in God to sustain you.

ROCK #2: God will qualify you
"On that day the LORD magnified Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they feared him, as they feared Moses, all the days of his life" (Josh. 4:14).

ROCK #3: Walk to the edge of the light: God had promised to divide the Jordan, but when did he do it? (Read Joshua 3:13, 15-17, when Jordan is divided as the priests barely set foot in it.)

Sometimes we must move forward when the end is invisible and all that we can see is the next step.

'You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and then a few steps into the darkness; then the light will appear and show the way before you'" ("The Edge of the Light," BYU Today, March 1991, pp. 22,23).

Your journal should contain stories of the times you moved forward in faith, waiting for the waters to part before you.

ROCK #4: Blessings come as needed

ROCK #5: One man matters
Just how much difference can one man make when that one man righteous? if wicked?

ROCK #6: We can learn lessons from our enemies

Seek the counsel of the Lord before you make important promises. But when you make them, keep them!

ROCK #7: I will fight your battles

ROCK #8: Nothing is too hard for the Lord

We need to have greater faith in this reality.

ROCK #9: Characteristics of a faithful servant

• (Josh 22:2) "Ye have kept all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, and have obeyed my voice in all that I commanded you"
• (22:3) "Ye have not left your brethren these many days unto this day"
• (22:3) "[Ye] have kept the charge of the commandment of the LORD your God."
• (22:5) "But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law"
• (22:5) "love the LORD your God"
• (22:5) "walk in all his ways"
• (22:5) "keep his commandments"
• (22:5) "cleave unto him"
• (22:5) "serve him"

ROCK #10: Build an altar

"But that it may be a witness between us, and you, and our generations after us, that we might do the service of the LORD" (22:27) In fact, the altar was much like the pile of stones mentioned in Joshua 4.

"Behold the pattern of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made . . . it is a witness between us and you" (22:28). Are your home life and your work ethic and your interpersonal relationships witnesses of your love for the Lord?

ROCK #11: Remember

Poor memories are a major problem in the standard works, where the word Remember appears 12,899 times! One of the blessings of a journal is that it helps us and our children to remember what the Lord has done for us.

ROCK #12: Choose you this day. It was time to make a choice.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer 2010 Splashes in the Flash!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Summer 2010 is really really hot! So more than ever, my swimming skills come in handy every time that spells of sunshine appear in the horizon. Splash! splash! splash! And as a shutter bug, all those splashes in the pool, water park, waterfalls and beaches have not escaped my camera. Flash! flash!flash!

1. May 22,2010 at Nova Romania Swimming Pool with Tess and Raffy

2.May 20,2010 at Tambuli East Wing Beach Club (Cebu)

3. May 1,2010 at Paradise Ranch Montana Pool with my family

4. April 28,2010 at Camarines Sur Water Complex with my parents

5. April 19,2010 at Nova Romania Swimming Pool for James 9th Birthday Swimming Party

6. April 16,2010 at Nova Romania Swimming Pool for Delilah Fernandez Birthday Night Swimming

7. April 3,2010 at Nova Romania Swimming Pool for Holy Week Family Activity

7. March 26,2010 at Nova Romania Swimming Pool as Family Summer Kick - Off (Graduation Day celebration)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Month of May:National Heritage Month and the Book of Joshua

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I waited awhile at the NAIA 3 airport last Friday (May 21) because Friday is my coding day and couldn't drive until 10 in the morning. I looked around and found this tarp advertisement. By virtue of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Proclamation No. 439 which took effect last August 11, 2003,the month of May was constituted as the National Heritage Month. National Heritage celebration aims to create among the people a consciousness, respect, and pride for the legacies of Filipino cultural history, and love of country.

It was so fitting that my Sunday School lesson for next Sunday, May 30 also deals with leaving a "beautiful" legacy. In the scriptural account in the Book of Joshua (Old Testament), the Lord announced that Israel would cross the Jordan as they had crossed the Red Sea 40 years earlier. The Lord gave special instructions about what was to happen during the crossing:

"Take you twelve men out of the people, out of every tribe a man, And command ye them, saying, Take you hence out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood firm, twelve stones, and ye shall carry them over with you, and leave them in the lodging place, where ye shall lodge this night" (Josh. 4:2,3). That lodging place was Gilgal (4:20).

"That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever" (Josh. 4:6,7).

The stones were to be a monument and a memorial, providing an opportunity for Israelites to teach their children what great things God had done for them at the Red Sea and at Jordan (4:7,23)".

For this year's National Heritage theme “Preserving the Gift of Faith”, the stones (or memorial or monument) that were left for Filipinos to remember and preserve the legacy of faith are the thirty - three (33)churches built during the occupation of the Spanish missionaries that comprised the National Cultural Treasures.

I had been to a few of them (the pictures are mine but captions were copied from Philippine Daily Inquirer article "National Heritage Month trains spotlight on conservation of 33 ancient churches" by Lito B. Zulueta)

Cagsawa, site of the ruins of an old church buried by the eruption of Mayon Volcano in the early 19th century.

Balayan, Batangas—Parish church of the Immaculate Conception, built in the early 19th century by the secular clergy, with later additions by the Augustinian Recollects

Boljo-on, Cebu—Parish church of Patrocinio de Maria, built in the late 18th to the early 19th centuries under the direction of the Augustinians

Loboc, Bohol—Parish Church of San Pedro and San Pablo, built in the 17th and 18th centuries by the Jesuits, enlarged in the 18th and 19th centuries by the Augustinian Recollects

Majayjay, Laguna—Parish church of San Gregorio Magno, built in the early 18th century by the Franciscans

Maragondon, Cavite—Parish church of the Assumption of Our Lady, built in the early 18th century by the Jesuits, with later additions by the Seculars and the Augustinian Recollects

Tanay, Rizal—Parish church of San Ildefonso, built in the second half of the 18th century by the Franciscans

Daraga, the Nuestra Señora de la Porteria (Our Lady of the Gate).Built in 1772, it is the oldest church in Albay, noted for its vibrant baroque façade with intricate designs carved from volcanic rocks.

Tayabas, Quezon—Basilica of Saint Michael, built in the 18th-19th centuries by the Franciscans

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cebu Wishlist Checked Off: Tambuli Beach Club (East Wing)

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Not having available room at Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort led me to check the other recommendation - the Tambuli Beach Club. I learned from the website that this natural shoreline coral sand beach, is now known as the Tambuli Beach Club's East Wing . It is located on the east part of the historic Mactan Island, facing the sea on its east side; and its sister resorts Tambuli Beach Club West Wing and Cebu Beach Club East Wing on the west side.

I booked for a standard room with basic amenities - two beds (single and matrimonial), television set, AC and hot and cold water for P2,800 (which already includes breakfast). And since I am leaving before breakfast is served,the staff offered to pack my breakfast. It is a four - piece clubhouse sandwich which is really yummy.

I was impressed with this resort hotel with cabana units nestled on a white coral sand and the calm turquoise waters. Also, my room is facing the beach which was great because I was able to view the setting sun and welcomed the break of dawn the following day.

The beach is small but water is really cool.I just sat on the water for hours,wading through it while enjoying some peace and quiet. This resort is just what I was looking for to enjoy life's simple pleasure!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cebu Wishlist Checked Off: Maribago Bluewater Resort!

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Cebu is known for its pristine white sand beaches. But with my nth visits there, to be in the crystalline waters, and luxurious resorts remained on top of my summer wishlist for this Philippine paradise. I am glad I was finally able to mark this off last May 19-21,2010.

Immediately after attending a business meeting in Cebu City, I asked around for recommendations on good beach resorts.Cebu is a long narrow island surrounded by 167 neighbouring, smaller islands so choosing did not come easy. I chose Mactan island since it is located only a few kilometers from the island of Cebu and only 15 minutes away from the airport,perfect for my early morning flight the next day. Mactan Island boasts of a diverse tourist spots and attractions and home to all the major beach resorts in the province. For starter,I visited two deluxe beach resorts namely Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort and Tambuli Beach Club.

Maribago Bluewater Beach Resort, is a lush 5-hectare paradise of pure intimate pleasure. Too bad, there is no available room for me. Oh well, their rooms are quite expensive (five figures hmmm)for a solo traveler who is staying overnight only so I guess that's a blessing in disguise (haha). Good thing, my friend whom I was meeting in person for the first time invited me for lunch at this gorgeous resort.

With Atty.Michelle Mendez - Palmares and her hubby Francis , I had lunch at an open air pavilion in front of an inviting swimming pool on which Michelle's boy waded in no time when we got there.The food was pretty good, and I loved their free bluewater (which is actually lemongrass and lemon). I also met Dra.Iris Jakosalem, Michelle's good friend who happened to be the resort's resident doctor and Watsu instructor. She is a such a darling.We had a lively conversation and enjoyed her jokes. She also treated us to a nice ice cream.

Maribago Bluewater has an amazing spa called Amuma (visayan, meaning: pamper, indulge with every attention, comfort, care; spoil). As a massage and spa fanatic, the Maribago Bluewater spa to me is the highlight of the resort. I was very lucky to have met Dra.Iris coz she gave us a tour at this amazing place. Simply said, the Amuma Spa has the gracious pampering I am looking for. The environment and massage treatments really will rejuvenate the body and spirit. Total relaxation!

Another one of a kind massage that Maribago Bluewater offers is the Watsu or shiatsu on water treatment. Since I love the water (yea,I am a swimmer) and love a weekly massage,Watsu sounded really fantastic. Downside is,only Dra.Iris is the licensed doctor to do the Watsu.So if ever I am back in Cebu,you know the reason why!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fond Recollection: Billiards and Best Friends

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

I read from the news report by Anthony Suntay in the Manila Standard Today that Billiards will once again come to the forefront of the sporting world this month with the 2010 World Pool Masters to be held on May 12 to the 16th. This event, he wrote is the 17th edition of probably pool’s most prestigious invitational event, which by the looks of things, could be regarded as a world championship. The Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada will host this year’s spectacle.

The news report took me back down on memory lane on two fun times with my best friends - when I was in Las Vegas Nevada with my best friend Dearie in 2002 and when I used to practice billiards with my Korean student turned best friend Michael(oppa Ji Bong Gyu).

taught me how to play cueball to prove that Math ( my not so fond subject) has a lot to do with our skills in billiards. I remember that every Tuesday we would go to Ever Gotesco Mall in Don Antonio (Commonwealth) to practice. The practice is a two - way thing - he practices his English as he shows me the shots and I learn a new skill.

It feels good recalling fond memories with my best friends. Being with them spells FUN. And you can just imagine how fun it was being with both of them in Korea. As the old adage by W.H. Auden "Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh".

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sacrament Talk: Preventing Personal Apostasy

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

As I was preparing for today’s talk, I remember President Brigham Young’s quote where he compared the Church or Zion into a ship. He said
“You know we are on the “Old Ship Zion.” We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, he labors very hard. “I am not going to stay here,” says one; “I don’t believe this is the ‘Ship Zion.” “But we are in the midst of the ocean.” “I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.” Off goes the coast, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the “Old Ship Zion,” let us stay in it."

My topic is about those go off the coast, and jump overboard or those who leave the Church and went to Apostasy. Will there still be apostasy? Yes, according to Elder Claudio D. Zivic of the Seventy, But “We need not be concerned about the possibility of another apostasy of the Church of Jesus Christ. However, we need to be concerned and watchful that we do not fall into personal apostasy, which can result from several causes. Brigham Young said “Yes, brethren and sisters, you may expect that people will come into the Church and then apostatize. You may expect that some people will run well for a season, and then fall out by the way (DBY, 85–86).

I am not here to get you thinking of others, of your friends and neighbors who left the Church or apostatized. Enough to say about them that we are strongly counseled to love them, and to encourage, plead, and work with those who have strayed, inviting "the lost sheep" back to the fold (Luke 15:3-7). But mainly my focus this morning is to remind ourselves of the need to re-evaluate our own commitments and direction to ensure we do not lose our way. My topic is PREVENTING PERSONAL APOSTASY.

Personal apostasy is a spiritual cancer, unpredictably yet continuously destroying the spirituality of a person. But like physical cancer, the sooner apostasy is detected and the sooner steps are taken to counteract apostasy, the easier it is to overcome. The key to full and complete recovery is early recognition and quick personal effort to regain spirituality. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 514.).

To avoid losing our way to apostasy, we must understand the STEPS that lead to apostasy. These steps are usually gradual and All members are counseled to guard against all manifestations of personal apostasy (DS 3:293-312; Asay, pp. 67-68). A]ny person on the path toward apostasy can stop at any of the steps and turn back toward full activity.

Steps to Apostasy
The steps that lead to apostasy are as follows:

1.Complacency—a Symptom of Laziness or a Sign of Pride
“The lack of personal holiness is the major factor in backsliding and falling away from the Lord.”

The hare in Aesop’s fable provides a classic illustration of such pride and complacency. In the well-known tale, a hare and a tortoise agree to race. The hare scampers off, leaving the tortoise plodding slowly behind. Eventually the hare becomes tired and, sure of victory, decides to stop and rest. He falls asleep, and the steady tortoise quietly passes by, going on to win the race.
The hare’s problem was not that he lacked the ability to finish the race. Far from it. His problem was that he thought he had the race won. If we, like the foolish hare, think we have it made, there’s no need to keep working then we will fall short of the finish line. So if we stop now and go to sleep, no matter how far along the path of spiritual progress we have come, we will not cross the finish line. As soon as we start focusing on how far behind our spiritual competition is, we divert energy needed to further our own progress and are liable to forget the whole purpose of the race. (quoted in Mark Chamberlain’s talk The Spiritual Hazards of Fault Finding)

Sometimes people do not do anything really wrong; they just get spiritually lazy. They may commit small acts of omission by failing to do their home or visiting teaching or not diligently fulfilling their Church calling. If we are in this stage, we are in danger of gradually slipping away as our faith and testimony weaken.

Nephi warns us of this first step toward apostasy: Wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion! Wo be unto him that crieth: All is well! (2 Ne. 28:24-25.) As soon as a righteous individual feels that all is well, or it is enough, he no longer feels the need to repent and progress, he is in danger of falling into error.

Thus, the first step to personal apostasy begins with our attitude. Complacency, the lack of zeal for spiritual things, is the warning signal that the first step has been taken. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 188.)

2. Making Personal Exceptions—Setting Oneself Up for a Fall
“As worldliness gets its claws into a believer’s life the joy of serving Jesus departs. There is no longer a drawing near to God and His Word. The things of God begin to take second place until they become the last thing on our mind.”

If the Saints neglect to pray, and violate the day that is set apart for the worship of God, they will lose his Spirit. If a man shall suffer himself to be overcome with anger, and curse and swear, taking the name of the Deity in vain, he cannot retain the Holy Spirit. In short, if a man shall do anything which he knows to be wrong, and repenteth not, he cannot enjoy the Holy Spirit, but will walk in darkness and ultimately deny the faith (DBY, 85).

In this stage, we begin to weaken in our spiritual commitment. This may begin very subtly, as our religious duties and observances lose priority in our lives. It might begin with acts of omission as we consistently or deliberately neglect our Church calling, personal prayer, or gospel study.

For example, schooling, work, or even family may be used as an excuse for not attending church on Sunday. Or, acts of commission may result in disobeying some of the commandments. A teenager might become too intimate during a date. A worker could borrow something from the job site. In an important social setting, an individual might go against Church and personal standards and drink an alcoholic beverage. The list of possibilities continues, but somewhere the person takes a spiritual detour by making an exception for him- or herself in one area of spiritual behavior. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 189.)

So, if we find ourselves looking for excuses not to be faithful to the Gospel or our respective callings, or to find justifications for our deviations for the teachings of the Church, we must examine our lives to determine what we are doing that is leading us down the path of apostasy.

3.The Exceptions Become the Norm—One’s Slippery Slide Swiftens
“Is it not amazing that what Christians once called sin is now tolerated as acceptable behavior. Christians, like the world, are no longer ashamed of their sin but openly flaunt it in the guise of so-called Christian Liberty. What really happens in this case is that righteousness is no longer loved.”

Very trifling affairs are generally the commencement of divergence from the right path. If we follow a compass, the needle of which does not point correctly, a very slight deviation in the beginning will lead us, when we have traveled some distance, far to one side of the true point for which we are aiming (DBY, 83).

Soon the exceptions made under unusual circumstances become the rule, and behavior that was once sporadic becomes periodic and then habitual. Not only does one lose the Holy Spirit as a constant companion, but the person rejects the promptings of a conscience calling one to repentance..

This step is sometimes difficult to recognize, either by the person or others. It takes a while to realize that the few, earlier, justifiable exceptions have now become the norm of one’s behavior. This is when daily prayer, weekly sacrament covenant renewal, monthly fasting, and periodic interviews with priesthood leaders should help Church members evaluate their faithfulness and stop any problems before they become difficult habits to break.

4.Seeking Justification—Finding Excuses Everywhere
“Through hardening of the heart the ways of God are rejected. Soon the still small voice of God’s Holy Spirit is drowned out with the world’s multitudes of voices offering a more enlightened, liberal way. It is then that the Holy Spirit of God is grieved and quenched in our lives. The temple He came to inhabit has been violated by sin”

Having changed the patterns of our behavior for the worse, the fourth step is to free ourselves from guilt by justifying our behavior. The easiest way to do this is to blame someone else.

It is also at this stage that some individuals begin to think the Church is not true when they feel that a leader did not treat them well. They become offended and, without considering what they are losing, they stray from the Church. So when a person commits serious sin but does not repent, the individual moves away from the truth, looking for imperfections in others or questioning Church doctrine with which he no longer agrees.

Faultfinding also characterizes this step. When we look for faults in others or begin to think we could make better decisions than our leaders, we should remember the experience of Oliver Cowdery, the second elder of the Church.
In Doctrine and Covenants 28:2 Oliver Cowdery is told through revelation given to Joseph Smith, “No one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun.” In time, sadly, Oliver rebelled against Joseph, saying, “If I leave this church, it will fall.” Joseph responded, “Oliver, you try it.” Oliver did try it, and he fell. The kingdom of God, however, remained firm".

5. Hypercriticism—Dissatisfaction with God’s Servants
“If apostasy continues its course unchecked, an individual may eventually reach the point when no second beginning is possible. Continuing to wilfully sin is so dangerous yet pastors and teachers do not warn their flock.”

Once people blame their own transgressions on someone else, the next logical step is to belittle others as they transfer their dissatisfaction of the Church and the gospel as a whole. This fifth step reflects universal human nature: we try to bring others down to our own level when we do not live up to expected standards. The individual in this stage criticize Church leaders, considering their real or imagined weaknesses as legitimate reasons to deny their priesthood authority. They also dispute the revealed doctrines because they no longer live them. If such individuals look into the scriptures, they find fault with the teachings because of supposed awkwardness or ambiguity in the style of writing, irrelevancy, or some other historical or literary quirk. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992],191.)

One of the first steps to apostasy is to find fault with your Bishop; and when that is done, unless repented of a second step is soon taken, and by and by the person is cut off from the Church, and that is the end of it. Will you allow yourselves to find fault with your Bishop? (DBY, 86).

We must always believe in and follow the living prophets of God. They are His mouthpiece on earth and are inspired of Him to teach and direct all of us in righteousness and truth. No one will go astray if he follows the teachings and examples of God’s anointed here on earth. People who criticize, find fault, and fail to support God’s appointed leaders, lose the Spirit and fall into error and apostasy. Elder Delbert L. Stapley, May 5, 1964, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1964 5.)

Whenever a person is called, and during general, stake, and ward conferences, we sustain our respective Church leaders. To what extent do we sustain our leaders?

The obvious solution at this step is to humbly recognize God’s power and to turn to his servants and the scriptures for counsel; otherwise, as Nephi warned: Wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God! (2 Ne. 28:26.) When people reach this step, they are under the influence of those outside God’s realm. Indeed, they are beginning to turn against God, his teachings, and his representatives. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 191.)

6. Withdrawal from God—Losing Fellowship in His Church
“ It must be made clear that while apostasy is a danger for all who drift from the faith and fall away, it is not made complete without constant and willful sinning against the voice of the Holy Spirit.”

After denying the fundamental authority of Church leaders and the power of God in the Church, the sixth step to apostasy is complete withdrawal from the Church and inactivity. Personal behavior and attitude make the individual feel awkward associating with other Latter-day Saints. Some apostates simply disassociate themselves from any kind of religion, while others seek out religions that may promise as much or more than the restored gospel but make fewer demands on their behavior.

Men begin to apostatize by taking to themselves strength, by hearkening to the whisperings of the enemy who leads them astray little by little, until they gather to themselves that which they call the wisdom of man; then they begin to depart from God, and their minds become confused (DBY, 84).

Whether Church disciplinary action is sought or given, the inactive person feels alienated from the Church. At this stage, family and ward members also recognize the obvious signs that the person is outside the circle of Church association. Concerted efforts of fellowship and counseling are necessary to help the individual turn his or her life around. Fellowshipping must be undertaken with pure motives. A wave of disproportionate friendliness by the masses upon recognition of a person’s inactivity will never substitute for the consistent encouragement of close friends. Such a turnabout, though very difficult, is not impossible. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 191.)

7. Despondency and Antagonism—The Final Fruits of Apostasy
“Those who by an unbelieving heart depart from God may think they are Christians, but their indifference to the demands of Christ and the Holy Spirit and to the warnings of Scripture points otherwise. Because of the very real possibility of self-deception, Paul exhorts all those claiming salvation to “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5.)”

The final stage of apostasy is reached when the person gives up and becomes despondent about ever finding peace and fellowship in the Church. This bitter despondency may turn to cynical attacks against the Church or its members, including relatives and former close friends. It is plain to see how accurately Nephi describes Satan’s influence on the primrose pathway to apostasy: Others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, . . and [he] leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains. (2 Ne. 28:21-22.) Not only will some people give themselves over to Satan’s influence, but they may also go one step further and actively persecute and fight against the Church. In other words, they may leave the Church, but they cannot leave it alone. (Victor L. Ludlow, Principles and Practices of the Restored Gospel [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 193.)

8. Conclusion

In closing, I want to re-echo Pres. Brigham Young’s testimony “This Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the “Old Ship Zion,” Let us stay in it by avoiding the mist of darkness that Lehi saw in his dream; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost” (1 Nephi 8:23).
I testify that we can avoid the mists of darkness that lead to personal apostasy by humbling ourselves , repenting of our sins, keeping our covenants, partaking of the sacrament worthily each week, strengthening our testimonies through prayer, daily scripture study, temple attendance where possible, magnifying our Church callings, serving our fellowmen, overcoming offense, eliminating faultfinding, and following our Church leaders.

Deparo Ward
Novaliches Stake
May 9,2010

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fish Feeding: Another Family Service Project During Family Reunion

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

Another truly unique experience and opportunity for service to the environment that Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park, has to offer is fish feeding and rafting around the lagoon. There were thousands of fish - kois and carps inhabiting the lake inside the ranch,looking for a free meal from those rafting who are willing to buy fish pellets at P20 per pack. According to the guides, the fish farm started as a mix of small and adult carps and they just flourished rapidly.

Right after our tree planting activity last May 1,2010, we headed to the lake area and divided the family - 9 persons in one raft and the other 8 in the other raft. As soon as we get to the middle,everyone started sprinkling little food over the water surface. Fishes and ducks consumed the food in less than a minute. The guide said that most fish’s stomachs are about the same size as their eyes.(cool)

We really had fun sprinkling the sinking type pellet foods, which is good even for those bottom dwellers. After 30 minutes,all of us have sprinkled our fish feed. This is a family experience not to be missed with adults and children alike sharing in the action.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Day We Started A Family Tree Planting Tradition

by: Mhe-anne L. Ojeda

"This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in." -Theodore Roosevelt

The Tradition.

Inspired by this quote and as part of our family contribution to the Deparo Ward's community service projects for the Church Jubilee celebration, we included a tree planting activity in our annual Family Reunion on April 30-May 1, 2010.

The Venue.

Paradise Ranch Nature and Conservation Park
is a perfect venue for the kick - off of the family tree planting tradition. Paradise Ranch is a 100-acre environmental project design to educate children and the general public on protecting the environment and saving wildlife. It is located on the hills of Clark Air Base,Angeles,Pampanga overlooking the Sacobia River, Mt. Pinatubo, Mt. Arayat and other mountains and majestic sceneries! The ranch has a massive reforestation and environmental conservation areas.

The Cause.

For a fee of P50 per tree, we started a tree planting tradition at the occasion of our annual family reunion. Since we paid for 300 mahogany trees,the ranch give us a special marker sign that will be placed along the road as a memorial for the family being 'Friend of the Forest'. Then we plant the trees in the area designated for us. We took a photo of the entire family standing next to the place where we planted the trees. We will make it a tradition to take a family photo with the tree every year on that date - May 1.
It is good to know that with the amount we paid, the ranch can hire one Aeta (native of Pampanga) who will take care of the trees for at least three months,until the trees can grow on their own.

The Tree Planting.

Everyone participated in the tree planting - young and old - (KIDDOS) Mikaelah Alliune - (2), Shanara Mae (2 1/2), Franchette Anne (4),Shaznay Anne (4 1/2), John Anthony (5) ,Francine Kyle (5), James Bernard (9),Jay-M (9 1/2),Ian Benedict (10 1/2) and Michellyn (11) (ADULTS) - Belenda, Imee,Amelyn,Allan,Mhe-anne and Michael Anthony and even our SENIOR CITIZENS - Papa Lito and Mami Tita.

The Legacy.

We started a scrapbook with the family photos during the tree planting. Each year,we will take a photo of the trees and will place the new photos in the book.By doing this we can watch the trees and our family grow over time.

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