In 1964, two missionaries knocked on the Lims’ door. After meeting with the missionaries, Elder Lim, an attorney, realized that what the missionaries were teaching “was what I believed in the first place. I just knew this was it; this was something I could understand.”
In 1973, when President Ezra Taft Benson organized the first stake in the country, Elder Lim was called to serve as its president. He did not have a car and accomplished the great majority of his Church work on public transportation. He remembers when Church leaders found and purchased the site for the temple in Manila and when the temple was dedicated.
Elder Lim credits much of the growth in the Philippines to the fact that the majority of the people in the nation were already Christian before being introduced to the gospel. And, he said, missionaries could teach discussions in English because many Filipinos speak the language.
Church leaders and missionaries, he said, focused on “real growth” — on converting members who would stay in the Church.
As a result, he said, the Church in the Philippines “is moving forward.”
Mary Cone M. Cabahug is the only member of the Church in her family. Last year when she was diagnosed with cancer, her bishop promised, “We will be there for you.”
Each day, Sister Cabahug writes in her journal as a way to share her testimony with her children; she wants to record for her family the blessings of being a Latter-day Saint in the Philippines.
Renaldo and Rosario Lasa both sang in the choir at the dedication of the Manila temple in 1984 and participated in the 50th jubilee cultural celebration.
They recall, during their 46 years of Church membership, seeing more and more LDS chapels in the Philippines.
Some of those chapels provided refuge for Latter-day Saints and others in the country on Nov. 8, 2013, when Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines, destroying more than 1.1 million homes. The deadliest typhoon on record in the country, the storm left more than 6,100 people dead, injured 28,000 and displaced 4.1 million.
The Church helped the members in the devastated area rebuild.
Working with the local Self Reliance Center and with the Perpetual Education Fund, local members entered a Church-sponsored vocational program training them as carpenters.
The Church also helped them obtain basic tools. Each trainee built his or her own house — about 12 feet by 12 feet in dimension — and nine more homes. They received a trade certificate that leaders hope will help them qualify for the some of the 250,000 construction jobs available in the area.
Elder Ian S. Ardern of the Seventy and president of the Church’s Philippines Area said in the weeks and months after the storm, the Church attended to not only the physical needs of the people, but also to the spiritual ones. “I see an increase of faith rising out of this tragedy,” he said.
Elder Echo Hawk agreed. “Morale is very high,” he said. Members of the Philippines “know how to bounce back.”