This is Elder Bowen Calunod Toledo. He is a native Philippino. He lives in Zamboaga Del Sur. That is on the island of Mindanao. That is the most southern group of islands in the Philippine Islands. The Philippines is divided into three groups of islands. Mindanao is in the south, Visagas is the center group and Luzon is the northern group. We are on Luzon.
It would not be safe for us to go to Mindanao. The church has three missions on Mindanao. All of the missionaries that serve there are native Philippinos. I am told that it is a beautiful place. Much of the agriculture is grown there. Elder Echo Hawk told me that he has been to Mindanao on church business, but he was escorted by armed guards. This is Elder Toledo's home.
He is the only member of the church in his family. He himself has only been a member for just under three years counting the time he has served on his mission. I have only known him for about two weeks. But the smile on his face, the light in his eyes and the firmness of his handshake tell me that he is a special soul. I asked him for permission to post about him. He wrote a little of his story for me. I have written it below. English is not his language, but he does well. I helped edit his story a little, but only with his approval. In my opinion, this young man is a modern day pioneer.
I am Elder Toledo. I was baptized on June 12, 2012. This is my conversion story
I visited the house of my cousin. He was a new member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During this time the missionaries visited my cousins home. I met the missionaries at that time. This is the start of my conversion. It was not always easy. Sometimes I did not want to accept them, so I would hide from them. My cousin invited me to a few church activities like basketball. One of these activities that I will not forget was a Youth Conference. I learned so much at this Youth Conference, especially an activity called mini MTC (Mission Training Center). One Brother asked me at what age I wanted to serve a mission. I did not even know what a mission was. I answered, "I think at 21 years old". They did not know that I was not a member of the church.
After that the missionaries taught me in the house of my cousin every day at 6:00PM. I invited my friends and my brother and a few of my cousins. I was baptized on June 12, 2012.
After a month I did not attend church anymore because my parents were against it. My father told me that we had lots of things to do. Many times I did not follow what he said because I love God more than my father.
At about one month the missionaries found me on the basketball court on a Sunday. They taught me in the barangay hall about the Sabbath day. I remember the scripture they used,
16. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
17. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work.
18. But the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.
19. For in six days the Lord made the earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it".
After that I attended church meetings and was active. I did not do what my parents told me to do, I attended church and I always prayed that God would help me.
After 6 months I received the priesthood, on November 18, 2012. After ten months of being a member, I prepared to serve a mission. I received many trails and challenges from my friends, my family, my uncle and from other cousins. But they did not win because I have a great desire to serve a mission.
I started my mission on July 4, 2014.
I am here to serve the Lord. I have no contact or support from my family. I am the only member in my family.
I love this work.
This is his story. I feel humbled as I walk and work with such people. God truly is blessing the people of the Philippines.