“I Felt Comfort—but Why?” Ensign, Jan. 2001, 72–73
In 1980 I was a missionary serving in the Philippines Cebu Mission when I was transferred to a city called Ormoc. This district had normally shown steady growth, but for several months there had been very few baptisms. I arrived in Ormoc on 28 October and met my new companion, Elder Alexander. The first few weeks were extremely slow for us. We had few teaching appointments and almost no referrals. In spite of working long hours and praying to find people to teach, we met with little success. I remember praying for guidance and receiving confirmation that the Lord was preparing people for us to teach.
On 15 November Elder Alexander and I were tracting in the Barrio Isla Verde, a community on a small island in the Ormoc River. To get there we had to cross the shallow river some 75 feet (23 m) on stepping stones, which proved to be a feat in itself. However, the local residents traveled the path with ease.
While there, we met Petronilo and Andrea Ygonia and their grandson Allan Sueto Sungahid. They accepted our invitation to hold a family home evening in their home. That evening was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. After playing some fun games, we introduced a gospel message and bore our testimonies.
Our visits continued with this family for the next two weeks. It was exciting to watch as their countenances began to shine. By the end of November all three had committed to be baptized the following month.
I will never forget the teaching experience we had in the Ygonias’ home on 2 December. President Loa, the ward mission leader, came with us to a neighborhood meeting at the Ygonias’. More than 30 neighbors had accepted the Ygonias’ invitation to come and listen to the first discussion. As we taught and bore testimony, the Holy Ghost filled the room and became so strong that I believe everyone present was touched.
We explained that the warm, peaceful feeling each person was experiencing was the presence of the Holy Ghost. Prompted by the Spirit, we invited each person in that room to continue investigating the Church and commit to baptism. All 30 neighbors accepted the invitation.
Brother and Sister Ygonia, their grandson, and seven others were baptized in December. The work in Ormoc had begun to prosper once again, due in large part to the faith of this good family. Shortly thereafter I was transferred from Ormoc. Although I had spent only six weeks there, these weeks were some of the best of my life. Never had I worked harder for such a worthy cause. Never had I felt closer to the Lord. During the six weeks I served there, the Lord had allowed us to teach and baptize 9 souls, and another 30 individuals were preparing for baptism.
Eleven years later, in November 1991, I was sitting in my office at work and suddenly felt the Comforter’s influence. It was a strong feeling of peace and love. The impression came to me that someone had died, but I could not think of who it might be. I called my wife, Susan, at home and asked if everything was all right. She reassured me, but I still felt the same way.
That evening, I felt impressed to pick up one of my journals. I turned to the pages where I had recorded my missionary experiences in Ormoc. As I read, the Spirit grew stronger and tears came into my eyes. I thought of the wonderful people I had seen embrace the gospel there. Could it be that these strong feelings of comfort were related to my Ormoc experience?
Later that month I read of a devastating typhoon that had hit Ormoc. Listed in the 30 November edition of the Church News were the names of 22 members who had died in the flooding. Among the dead were Brother and Sister Ygonia and their grandson Allan. I also saw the names of other people I had known while serving in Ormoc. Again the familiar warmth and peace of the Comforter entered my heart, and I understood why I had felt His influence earlier.
This tragic event had taken the mortal lives of many beautiful families. While I grieved their deaths, I knew they had returned to Heavenly Father’s presence, where they continue in the work they began here on earth.