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At sixteen, Gerald was the picture of a healthy young energetic teen with his beautiful smiles, shouts and laughter. He loved seeing movies, courting ladies, splashing in the white beaches with friends though when he reached seventeen in 1994, a difficult task has changed his whole life.
He was the eldest son of a brood of seven. His parents were Roman Catholic. He was energetic, smart and friendly type of a person. He only finished his third year at high school. He was a loving son. He lived with his family in Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur, Philippines.
During his training Gerald learned that the Mormon religion started 400 years A.D. when a Mormon who lived in the ancient America had compiled the writings of other prophets written on metal plates. When Prophet Mormon was dying, he passed on those plates to his son Moroni, who eventually became the messenger of God. Moroni kept those metal plates at the hill of Cumurah and later he passed away of old age.
On September 22, 1823 Prophet Moroni, was believed had resurrected and visited a young boy named Joseph Smith and told Joseph about the revelation of God, written on metal plates in an old Egyptian’s language. He guided Joseph to the place where he kept the Holy Writ and instructed Joseph to translate those writings to English language.
Joseph Smith took those plates but was confused. He had no idea what to do with them. He could not read and understand those writings but the Holy Spirit inspired him. With the help of Oliver Cowdery, his close friend, who was a teacher; Joseph started translating the Holy Scripture.
After many years in translating the Holy Writ that took place from 1827-1830, the whole writing of the Holy Scripture was prosperously done. Joseph Smith testified that the Mormons have important role in preserving those old writings. This had become the official Book of the Mormons, which was officially believed that it was another covenant of Jesus Christ.
And this book became the identity of each member of the Mormon Church, a sacred book, believed by Mormons to be an abridgment by a prophet (Mormon) of a record of certain ancient people in America, written on metal plates. This religion has boosted in America and exists on these days. And it is estimated that there are about more than 20 million members around the world with more than 65,000 evangelists. And in the Philippines there are about more than 400,000 members recorded in 1999 from the year it started in 1951.
“With the newfound church, I devotedly spent most of my time with our prayer services but the fact was, it made me sick for a while: no more good times with my young friends added that my family had opposed my decision though it did not alter my willingness. I willingly served my newfound church and religion,” he said.
All Mormon believers as stated in the Book of Mormons must believe
- in God, as the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost;
- that man will be punished for his sin and not for Adam’s transgression;
- that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind will be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Repentance, Baptism and laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost);
- that a follower of this church must believe in prophecy, revelation, healing, interpretation of things and so forth;
- that the Bible is to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly and the Book of Mormons is also the word of God;
- that God has revealed all that he does now revealed and He will reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God, that the gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the 12 tribes and the new Jerusalem will be built with glory;
- that the privilege of worshipping to our Almighty God is according to dictates of our conscience and claimed others to do the same privilege of worshipping (how, where, or what they may);
- that a believer must believe in being subject to Kings, Rulers, Presidents as well as to the Magistrates in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law; that a believer must be honest, true, chaste, benevolent and upright.
“For knowing this creed, I joined the mission wholeheartedly. On July 08, 1995, I received the approval from Honorable Gordon B. Hinckley, the over all president of the Mormon Church, USA for missionary mission through the branch president in Manila to be assigned in Leyte and Samar, Philippines.
“On September 04, 1995, I entered to the Missionary Training Center in Manila. There, I was taught on how to communicate people effectively, how to response the people’s inquisitions. I was also taught to become spiritually, emotionally and mentally fit and I was advised to read the book of Mormons from cover to cover.
“It took me 16 days training before I left for Tacloban, Leyte with other four companions to serve my two-year mission,” he said.
Tacloban is a seaport on NE Leyte, in Central Philippines. It is a prosperous City, peaceful and beautiful. The people are hospitable. The place was totally different from Gerald’s home province. But it did not diminish his willingness to serve his mission. He studied the condition of the place, the life style of the people including their local language. He was prepared with weapons: the Holy Scripture and his Faith. He started his preaching career at Capoocan, Leyte.
“My first week in Leyte was really difficult. I’m not familiar of their language but I worked hard. I made friends with the people. And I succeeded. There were many people have joined the Mormon Church. I was happy to see hundred of townsfolks accepted the words of God. It’s a successful endeavor. I proudly reported it to our Headquarters’ office in Manila,” he said proudly.
As recorded in his journal, there were about eleven areas where his courage and devotion to preach the Gospel have pondered.
- In Capoocan, Leyte I stayed two months
- In Allen, Samar one month
- Merida and Ormoc City three months
- Catbalogan, Samar one and one half month
- Baybay, Leyte two weeks
- Calbayog City, one and one half month
- Dagami, Leyte four months
- Tanuan, Leyte one month
- Burauen, Leyte four months
- Macrohon and Maasin Leyte three months
- and in Hilongos, Hindang, Leyte one month of preaching
“It was really difficult to handle the job. I had to preach inside bus, food houses, waiting shades, at the markets where most people gathered and as well house-to-house preaching,” he said.
On the second year of his mission he was 19year old. He became the Zone leader. One of his duties: visiting newly converted brothers and sisters and lead the prayer meeting. At that time he met an accident that he couldn’t forget.
He said, “It was late in the evening when suddenly six men armed with bolos and pointed knives surged from nowhere and surrounded us on the road where we were walking on. We spotted them drunk. They attacked us. We were not equipped with weapons to fight back. What we have in our hands was the Holy Scriptures. We prayed to God to save us. Miraculously, we were left by them unconscious lying down on the ground.
“Next morning our elder brothers found us unharmed. And I remembered the testimony of Prophet Joseph Smith said, ‘No unhallowed hands can stop the work from progressing. Persecution may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calamities may defame but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent, until the plan of God passes and shall be accomplished and the great Divinity shall see that the work is done.’
“There was a time I blamed myself too because I ignored the whisper of the Holy Ghost, directing me what to do. I was the zone leader at that time and there was a seminar and other activities to be attended by all of us – zone leaders. My companion and I have reported to our mission office to get cash supports for us zone leaders.
“My companion suggested that he was the one to keep those stuffs. He placed them in his bag and decided to leave them to the personnel in the office and then we proceeded to attend the seminar but inside me opposed his decision. I wanted to bring those stuffs with us though I did not insist it to him. After the seminar we went back to our mission office, took our stuffs and went home. When we got home my companion was shocked after he found out that two of the envelopes were lost.
“How often I was grateful too because I followed the spirit’s instructions. Like what happened to one of our councilors for elders forum, who suffered from the severe infection of his wounded leg and eventually died. I was the ward bishop at that time. We, the members of bishop council visited brother Tabuso in his home. Brother Tabuso was lying in his bed, pale, weak and almost dying.
“It was a Sunday afternoon. We gave him our emotional supports to ease his pains. After our conversation, we decided to leave the house but suddenly I suggested that brother Tabuso should be given our priesthood blessing but neither of us brought the anointing oil, though we still gave him our priesthood blessing. The next morning we were informed that brother Tabuso died that night. I realized then he was blessed. He received the most important blessing in his life – the blessing of the priesthood. And I was grateful too, I listened the Spirit’s whisper.”
During those periods of his preaching career Gerald learned many things such as, to retain faith, humility, charity, righteousness, prayers and love. He said, “All these virtues are factors to become Good Samaritan.”
After finishing his two-year mission he went back to his home province and there he became the ward councilor. In 1998 he married. He said, “This woman is a blessing from our Almighty God. We vowed to each other to be together ’til eternity. I promised to myself to become a responsible husband to my wife and a responsible father to my future kids.”
When the former ward bishop had finished his term in November 2000, Gerald occupied the seat for that position. One of his major responsibilities was to settle disputes equally among its members. But he gave up his position for good.
“When I decided to work abroad I carefully thought about it for a hundred times and it is for my family, to support them for a better life in the future. I am also aware to the condition of our country, which is having a hard time. Jobs are hard to come by,” he said.
In Saudi Arabia, Gerald and other Mormon members are having a weekly gathering at the US Embassy.
“It is important to open our ears, hearts and our minds to hear the call of the Spirit and with often communication with our Creator. We should be encouraged and continue restudying and rereading our Bible because every page of it lays the Spirit of God, to guide us to the rightpath, to inspire us to live in peace, hope and happiness and help to strengthening our faith on the Lord Jesus, our church and religion, wherever we may be,” he said smiling.
Note: This article was written with permission from Gerald.