Because of the strength and resilience of Filipino members, the Philippines now has more than 100 church stakes.
The growth of the Church in the Philippines has been a miracle. Since the first missionaries arrived in 1961, more than 100 Church stakes have been organized in the Philippines. It’s the the first nation in the eastern hemisphere to reach that milestone.
This growth is no accident. In the article “Pioneering Members Help LDS Church Reach 100-Stake Milestone in the Philippines,” Sarah Jane Weaver outlines the history of the Church in the Philippines and highlights some of the church pioneers there. In reading the article, it quickly becomes clear that Filipino members have shown just as much resilience in their faith as they have in the face of natural disasters and other difficulties. I saw this first-hand as a missionary in the Philippines. I arrived the same day that hurricane Yolanda did. Although the area I was in was not hit by the hurricane, it was amazing to see how people rallied together to help in whatever way they could. Members met together to send food and other supplies to affected areas. Though this island nation is afflicted by tropical storms, volcanic eruptions, political unrest, and poverty, Filipinos do not appear to be troubled. They are joyous and faithful.
In fact, one of my favorite memories is singing “Once There Was a Snowman” (complete with actions) together with a group of Filipinos ranging from 2 to 60. They all had huge grins on their faces as they tried to imagine a man made of snow melting into a puddle. I spent many Monday evenings singing songs and playing games with Filipinos. All were welcome to join in the fun.
In the article, Weaver mentions various examples of faithful Filipinos, including Ruel E. Lacanienta, the mission president in the Philippines Olongapo mission. He was introduced to the missionaries just two years after the first ones came to the Philippines in 1963, and he was baptized with his family in the swimming pool of another member, Maxine Grimm. “In his lifetime, President Lacanienta has watched the Church grow from one branch, meeting in a rented building, to 100 stakes.”
When I think of faithful Filipino pioneers, I think of Brother and Sister Ruaburo. They were taught more than 20 years ago by missionaries who only spoke English. Even though the Ruaburos didn’t understand much English, they felt something special about the missionaries. The couple read what little of the Book of Mormon they could and, finding that it was true, were baptized against the advice of their family. I met the Ruaburos far from where they were baptized; they had left the area after Sister Ruaburo’s brother became violent in his opposition to their new faith. Brother Ruaburo was the first branch president in Santa Ana, and Sister Ruaburo was the Relief Society president when I arrived in the area. They brought the church to Santa Ana, and in a matter of a few years increased the average sacrament meeting attendance to about 100.
The Ruaburos and President Lacanienta are not the only members to have lived through all of these changes and growth; there are many more stories of faith and miracles in the Philippines. These faithful members are the reason the Church has grown and seen so many miracles in such a short time. Elder Neil L. Andersen says it best: “The most important part of the Philippines is the people.”
To find out more about the Church in the Philippines, read “Pioneering Members Help LDS Church Reach 100-Stake Milestone in the Philippines,” by Sarah Jane Weaver.
—Laura Fuchs, Mormon Insights
feature image by sasin tipchai
Find more insights
Experience some Filipino joy by watching the music video “Love at Home.”
To see a miracle that one faithful Filipino girl witnessed, watch “Pure and Simple Faith.”
To find out more about the history of the Church in the Philippines, read “Timeline of Key LDS Church Events in the Philippines,” by Sarah Jane Weaver.