When someone is baptized into the church, do we just stop right there? As a new missionary in the Philippines Cauayan Mission, all I wanted was to baptize people with no thought of their potential to be the templeworthy. I did not have an eternal perspective with exaltation as the end goal. In His perfect timing, the Lord paved the way for me to meet a family whose conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ changed their lives and mine.
I was in my fourth and last area, my goal to baptize an entire family had not yet been realized. I was feeling the pressure. I met a couple of families in previous areas, but my companions and I were only able to baptize mothers and children. I was about to give up hope, until the Lord directed my companion and I to meet the Cadondon family in Cauayan City, Isabela. They were eagerly waiting for the restored gospel to nourish their souls and quench their thirst for the truth.
One day, after several rejections, we just kept walking and ended up in an unfamiliar place – a tiny, secluded settlement with a few small houses huddled together. A kind man let us into his hut. As we were preparing to teach him, curious neighbours walked in including Juanita Cadondon, a 45-year-old mother. She agreed to see us again and was excited for our visit the following day.
After our first lesson with them, we felt impressed to continue visiting the place though it was very far from the meetinghouse. One might think it’s impractical, but we felt good about it. As we taught them, we gradually got to know the rest of the family and discovered their various concerns. The 51-yearold husband, Ernesto, had joined various churches and drank alcohol. The 22-year-old daughter, Mary Jane, was abandoned by her live-in partner and was raising her two kids out of wedlock. The youngest, 15-year-old Michael, stopped going to school.
They were prepared to receive the restored gospel. When we invited them to attend Church, they all came. We coordinated with our branch leaders so they will be fellowshipped both in and outside the chapel. We helped cultivate their vegetable garden and clean their backyard. We treated them as family, taught them to hold Home Evenings to have a Christ-centered home.
With proper application of the principles found in Preach My Gospel, and effective coordination with our mission and branch leaders, our game plan worked! We started teaching them on February 21, 2018, and they were baptized as a family on May 12, 2018.
Going back to my original question: if you are a full-time or a returned missionary, do we just stop after someone is baptized? The answer is a big NO. President Thomas S. Monson taught, “We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become.” In Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s words, we must “see the end from the beginning.” The end is to see the converts wearing white again, this time inside the temple. How do we achieve that when we have already gone home from our mission? The missionary handbook says “When you go home, do not forget those you have taught. At all times live worthy of their trust. Write them occasionally and encourage them to be faithful.” This has been a constant reminder to me after my mission. I feel happy and uplifted whenever I called the Cadondon family. In difficult times, they are my source of strength.
On May 16, 2019, the Cadondon family was sealed in the Philippines Manila Temple. I can’t possibly describe the joy and gratitude I felt inside the sealing room.
I am so grateful that I developed a good relationship with my branch leaders while still in the mission field. They helped the Cadondon family be ‘nourished by the good word of God’ (Moro. 6:4) after I left for home. Truly, “The relationships you establish with Church leaders will bless you for the rest of your life. These are important relationships as you and Church members seek to bring the restored gospel to Heavenly Father’s children” (PMG, page 215). ◼︎