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Pure Religion: Rabbits and gardens

Not long after arriving on the island of Samar in the Philippines, Henry and Janice Peacock of Lindon, Utah, described the island: "There are no jobs, no industry, no trade. The people live on a diet consisting almost completely of rice. Although fish once were plentiful, due to fishing practices that damaged the surrounding reefs, few could be found now. And because there is little capacity for refrigeration, meat cannot be stored easily. The lack of protein has left many of the children with severe learning disabilities."

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As humanitarian service missionaries, Brother and Sister Peacock knew they were supposed to find ways to help, but the need seemed so great it all but overwhelmed them. Sister Peacock had worked as a sales clerk and hair stylist, and while these jobs had provided income and experience, she felt inadequate standing in the face of such massive need. Why had the Lord sent her to the Philippines, she wondered? What could she — a housewife and a mother — do to help?

Then Sister Peacock thought back to her childhood in Lindon. She remembered a neighbor who had an orchard of fruit trees. There he raised rabbits. Dozens of them. Hundreds of them. They bred quickly and provided an excellent and inexpensive source of protein.

Brother and Sister Peacock went immediately to work on the idea. "Meetings were held, people were taught and motivated, information was gathered and published, bureaucracies were approached and influenced. Miracles began to happen," Sister Peacock later wrote.

The Peacocks not only introduced rabbits to the people of Samar, they began encouraging people to grow vegetables as well. "Vegetables appeared on the tables where once only rice was present," Sister Peacock said. "People were nourished and budgets were supplemented. Sales of vegetables, meats and hides started."

At the end of the Peacocks' missions, more than 700 families were raising rabbits and more than 1,000 had gardens. Looking back on the hundreds of lives that had been blessed by their service, Brother and Sister Peacock began to understand why the Lord had sent them to the Philippines.

— Neil K. Newell, Welfare Services

Another in the series "Pure Religion," showing the principles of welfare service at work.

Illustration by John Clark.

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