Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Amazing story of a man from Saipan!

Elias Magabo, “Hope in the Ordinances of the Gospel,” Ensign, Sep 2010, 36–38

My wife assured me on the phone that she was feeling better and that everything would be all right. Three days later everything changed.

I was born and raised in the Philippines, where I met and married my wife, Monina. It was there that our son, Mark, was born. In the mid-1990s, our family moved to Saipan, which is a small island in the Pacific. There, we were active members of another church. Occasionally, I’d see pairs of young men walking around the island, dressed neatly in white shirts and ties. I knew they were Latter-day Saint missionaries, but I had no plans to join another church. When I saw them coming my way, I would literally turn and run in the opposite direction.

My attitude toward the missionaries changed when two friends, Mel and Soledad Espinosa, were baptized into the Church. They encouraged our family to meet with the missionaries, and mostly out of curiosity, we agreed to do so. Our first meeting was in August 2007, and as the missionaries shared their message, I felt something powerful. My heart beat faster, and I felt a tingling sensation throughout my entire body. I later learned that my entire family felt inspired and uplifted. Our feelings intensified in the ensuing months as we learned more about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

About the time we began meeting with the missionaries, Monina’s energy began to decrease, and strange bumps started appearing all over her body. Her arthritis flared up as it never had before. We sought medical help, but none of the tests gave us any answers. As the months passed, her health deteriorated to the point that she needed additional medical attention. In December, Monina flew to the Philippines to meet with doctors there. I stayed in Saipan so I could continue to work and care for our teenage son.

Before she left, Monina told me that she wanted to be baptized when she returned to Saipan. She also asked me to continue meeting with the missionaries even though she would be missing some of the lessons. I promised her that Mark and I would do so.

During her time in the Philippines, we talked regularly so that I could hear about her doctor visits and she could hear what we were learning about the gospel. My wife reported that she was feeling less and less pain every day, and I was glad that the medical attention was working. In early January 2008, I purchased a plane ticket so I could go visit her, but she felt certain that she would be back in Saipan soon and that there was no need to waste money on the trip. She told me she loved and missed our son and me but assured me everything would be all right.

Three days later she died suddenly. The cause: undetected leukemia. Mark and I were stunned—and heartbroken. We immediately traveled to the Philippines for the funeral and then returned to Saipan. This was the most difficult time of our lives.

The sorrow I felt was profound, so much so that I found it hard to get out of bed each morning. One particularly difficult day, Mark reminded me of something the missionaries had taught our family. He said, “Dad, don’t cry too much. Mom is in a place of God. She is in the spirit world.” How grateful I felt that a just God had provided a way for Monina to continue to learn about the gospel, that everyone who has ever lived will have a chance to either accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ—either in this life or the next.

As I continued to learn the teachings of Jesus Christ, I realized that Heavenly Father had provided much more than that: He also made it possible for her to receive essential ordinances like baptism. Before my wife left for the Philippines, she and I had started talking about being baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though she wasn’t able to be baptized in this life, Heavenly Father had not left us without hope.

Mark and I faced several trials in the following months. After returning to the Philippines for my wife’s funeral, I lost my job. I sold our car to pay Monina’s hospital bills. Plus, Mark and I had to adjust to life without Monina. Despite the adversity, Mark and I found hope in our newfound faith, and we were baptized in April 2008. In the months that followed, I was able to find another job and pay the hospital bills. Mark and I made a goal to attend our branch trip to the Manila Philippines Temple so we could be sealed together as a family.

After saving all our extra income and preparing ourselves spiritually, Mark and I traveled with our branch to the temple in May 2009. As we prepared for the trip, we saw firsthand the destructive hand of the adversary as well as the strengthening and uplifting love of our Heavenly Father. I got extremely sick the day before we were scheduled to leave for the temple. Some members had unexpected immigration problems, while others had trouble obtaining passports. Our friends who introduced my family to the gospel, the Espinosas, lost their jobs the week we were scheduled to attend the temple. Even worse, a member of our branch presidency who was scheduled to attend the temple for the first time lost his father to a sudden illness three days before our trip. But in the end the Lord strengthened each of us and made it possible for 42 members of the branch to attend the temple. Sixteen of us attended for the first time.

May 13, 2009, is a day I will never forget. When I arrived at the temple, the weight and pain of my wife’s death immediately vanished. Although I was initially nervous about the temple because I didn’t know exactly what to do or where to go, I was struck by the calm, peaceful presence I felt once I stepped inside. It was very different from the busy streets just outside the temple doors.

As the day progressed, my temple experience became only more meaningful and more powerful. In the morning our branch participated in baptisms for the dead. As I watched, I found myself thinking of my wife, who a year and a half earlier had expressed her desire to be baptized. I then witnessed the fulfillment of that desire as a friend was baptized for and in behalf of Monina.

The most significant portion of my trip, however, came later that afternoon when I walked into the sealing room. My wife and I were married years ago, but we were not married in the temple by Heavenly Father’s priesthood authority. When my wife died, I thought I had lost her forever. But as I met with the missionaries, I learned that in the temple, families can be sealed together for eternity.

As I walked into the sealing room at the Manila Temple, I was overcome with emotion. Ever since my baptism, I had known the blessings of the gospel were real, but in that instant I truly witnessed their worth. As Mark and I knelt at the altar to be sealed as a family, I felt my wife’s presence. I could hear her voice, and it was as if I were holding her hand. I felt Monina’s presence with every feeling in my heart. I knew then that we were an eternal family.

The missionary lessons helped our family feel uplifted and inspired. Little did we know how much we would need that comfort in the coming months.

At the temple with my son, we regained what I thought we had lost forever

Friday, July 30, 2010

Let There Be Light...

I read Genesis chapter 1, verse 3 saying:

'And God said: Let there be light. And there was light.'

I stopped reading and I reread the verse. Then I stopped to really understand the weight of this scripture.

1. God 'SAID'
It was a command OR a commandment for the elements as they are and were to listen and obey the Ultimate Architect.

2. God say's: 'Let there BE...'
to BE means to exist, to live, to become, to fulfill. It's an active verb. In essence a living thing - a beautiful fulfilling statement...'TO BE'...even Shakespeare in Hamlet quotes...'to BE or not to BE' - what an awesome question; and God states it within the first 3 verses of the first Book of Moses.

3. God invites or commands -
'let there BE light' to BE LIGHT. It's a source, a comfort, a guide. Everything on earth; EVERYTHING NEEDS the essence of light. To grow, to live, to 'BE' or in a spiritual undertaking; CHRIST is the light of the world(Matt:5:14) and Heavenly Father allows him, his son 'TO BE' a source, a comfort, and a guide.

4. 'and there was light.'
meaning: with the ultimate creator, architect OR BEing; how much we as individuals have power to shine - we all have to 'obey' the command or the rules to please. Progression comes by how faithful we can be by becoming...God has already chosen our paths because he knows whom we are and have the potential to become, it is our lack of faith that halts our progression to excel and succeed in whom we can ultimately be. And when God stated, 'let there BE light' and it was - I don't imagine it was a dying star or a flicker of a wavering flame but a perfect harmonious alignment with the Savior - 'the LIGHT' - shined so brightly that any darkness from the void hid itself. For there is no place for darkness in the brilliance of light. Therefore to please the Absolute Being: the Savior - when he asks and states his words, we should BE ready and willing as it was from the very first verse in Genesis chapter 1, verse 1.


'For God said, let there be light and there was light."

I was carried away in this amazing insight and if it means nothing to anyone else - it doesn't matter because to me - it was as if someone had opened a window and in came an outpouring of light and allowed me to see in a a way that has been dimmed over the years.

'let YOUR light, shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.' (Matt5:16)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I wrote this for a class....

My Life's Metaphor

"My life is a blueprint and God is my architect."

I feel this expresses my life's meaning and purpose. I kept pondering this great question for many days and my spirit continued to prompt me, that what expresses me best is the way I give my will to God. My life and body are His for the molding. From the very beginning of my life, he has used different materials to build me a strong foundation that would withhold and outlast the elements of time. My feet are firmly planted in cement to help me stand tall and proud. My legs are built with great metal beams to hold strong, but my knees are on hinges, so I will be quick to fall to my knees and call upon my architect, to render gratitude or when things get to be too much.

He used strong bricks and beautiful rock for my torso and exterior; to shield me from the ways of the world and the hurtful things that are thrown at me. He was wise to leave plenty of room on the inside for my heart and organs that are passionate, warm, and inviting. He also built magnificent spaces in my soul, that I keep things sacred and wonderful to me. I have a vast family room where much laughter and joy takes place. The spirit abides there and I feel safe when I visit that part of my innards. I have a melodies' music room, where there is no roof so I can sing praises up, up and out, so I can give glory to my God.

Then there is my bedroom; oh what a sacred place. This is where I build on my testimony and read His holy words, and converse with my architect. He is never too busy to hear my pleas. He built me a special front porch, where I can step outside of myself and be vulnerable to the world. When I walk out and look at his vast creation, He assures me that he chose this location especially for me. You should see the view. He built my arms firm and outreaching, able to envelope others but also to be able to work hard and keep my home clean and pure. He took a great deal of time on my hands. Oh so carefully he built them out of soft materials that I may use them as tools to cultivate my life along with those in need of tender care. To be able to wipe away tears without scratching a face, or to clap loudly when giving praise of encouragement and cheer. Most importantly to clasp one in the other, offering thanks for the tender mercies given. My neck and spine are made of hard materials to make my center core unyielding and tough. My neck then holds my head up high proudly displaying the final touches of my home. My eyes are my windows green and fierce able to distinguish the storm approaching. Also able to witness the miracles that my architect gives so often and freely. He built my mouth and lips to sing and laugh and give wise council, but again to give thanks for my bounteous blessings and spread the joy of faith and hope. Watching myself be built from scratch was a miraculous journey.

The meticulous care and all knowing design He made, was just for me. The end result is a perfect infrastructure built and molded into who I was supposed to become. He made me capable and strong; to withstand a variety of storms, floods, fire and heartache. He gave me safe havens within myself that protect me, and sustain my longing soul. If you are lucky enough for me to let you into any of my rooms, you will find that in every single one, the spirit and presence of the architect abides. He built me up. He is in every nook and cranny of my being. I readily gave my will and life to him, to become not only who I should be, but who He needs me to be. I am grateful…..I am His…..He is my everything!