BETA

Sacred devotion

Setting example by watching general conference leads to family conversions

TACLOBAN, PHILIPPINES

Though she was visiting family in the Philippines for the first time in more than 10 years, Zenaida Miller's determination to go to a Church meetinghouse and view April 2007 general conference in Manila has led to a flood of baptisms among her relatives.

Zenaida Miller's niece, Arlene Pilande, standing left, was among those baptized in August 2007. She now helps full-time missionaries as a ward missionary where she lives in Cebu while awaiting the chance to serve a full-time mission herself.
Zenaida Miller's niece, Arlene Pilande, standing left, was among those baptized in August 2007. She now helps full-time missionaries as a ward missionary where she lives in Cebu while awaiting the chance to serve a full-time mission herself. Photo: Photo by courtesy Zenaida Miller

Sister Miller of the Danville 1st Ward, Danville California Stake, has lived in the United States virtually her entire adult life. She married successful stock broker Rodney Miller and they began raising a family in Alamo, Calif. Through their own searching, combined with member-missionary efforts, their entire family was baptized in 1988.

It was two years after her husband passed away in 2005 that Sister Miller decided to go to the Philippines for a family reunion. She flew many of her relatives to Manila, primarily from her native island of Leyte to the southeast of Manila's Luzon Island.

Her relatives were enjoying her company so much that, though not members of the Church, when she said she was going to the Church to watch the conference broadcast, they had a desire to accompany her. She said they heard just what they were supposed to hear and were receptive to learn more about the gospel.

"After we got home," Sister Miller recorded in a letter shared with Church News, "we sat down and we discussed about the general conference. Then I proceeded to talk about the Church and bore my testimony about what God has done for me since I left home at the age of 14 and what the Church has done for me since I joined the Church, and especially after my husband, Rod Miller, died."

She studied and prayed with about three dozen family members for the six remaining days of her visit and told them she would return in August for their baptisms.

Many of the families who have joined the Church  are from Leyte Island villages such as bay-side Talisay.
Many of the families who have joined the Church are from Leyte Island villages such as bay-side Talisay. Photo: Photo by Eunice Ruth Barilea

She kept her promise and returned with a group that included Dave Hunt, an instrument in the conversion of the Miller family in California.

Brother Hunt recorded, "During the week of August 5, 2007, President Richard Trask of the Philippines Tacloban Mission arranged details of the Tuesday and Saturday baptismal services for all 36 of Sister Miller's family members, including her brothers, Artemio and Danilo Pilande, and their families."

There were 25 baptized Tuesday, Aug. 7, and 11 Saturday, Aug. 11. On Wednesday, a fiesta — complete with roast pig — was held to celebrate the baptisms at a family bay-side home in Sister Miller's native village of Pinamapooan.

The spreading of the gospel on Leyte continued among Sister Miller's family as well as among her childhood classmates and others. Sister Cherry Baluyot of Philippines Area public affairs recorded, "People in this area literally come up to the missionaries to set appointments so they could also hear the message of the gospel."

Sister Baluyot continued writing: "'The people are humble,' said President Trask about the people in Talisay, a small town in Capoocan, Leyte, where farming and fishing are the main sources of income. 'They have such a neat family setting. They're good people. They come (to Church) as a family. They love the whole concept of families being together forever ... and so they're working hard toward that."'

According to Sister Baluyot, "The new converts travelled by rented bus and open truck for about an hour and a half from Talisay to the Capoocan meetinghouse for their baptisms."

Some of the candidates, as they arrive by bus at the Capoocan meetinghouse for their baptism, are greeted by local members.
Some of the candidates, as they arrive by bus at the Capoocan meetinghouse for their baptism, are greeted by local members. Photo: Photo by Eunice Ruth Barilea

There were 21 adults, 19 young men and women and three children baptized in 40 minutes, she stated.

Sister Miller reported by e-mail: "In the baptismal fitting room, sister missionaries helped the women, member sisters helped the young women, and elders helped all the men. We were worried about the sizes and the amount of baptismal clothes they had to gather. Seven or eight stakes had to help with the baptismal clothes."

A humble person, Sister Miller acknowledges the hand of the Lord in the blessings that have come to her family. But she is a testament of the impact a simple righteous decision can have, such as participating in general conference despite outside distractions. — Greg Hill

Baptismal candidates, missionaries and other members gather prior to the baptism of more than 40 converts.
Baptismal candidates, missionaries and other members gather prior to the baptism of more than 40 converts. Photo: Photo by Eunice Ruth Barilea
Sitting with missionaries and other members, some relatives of Zenaida Miller await their baptism at the Fatima meetinghouse in August 2007.
Sitting with missionaries and other members, some relatives of Zenaida Miller await their baptism at the Fatima meetinghouse in August 2007. Photo: Photo by Dave Hunt
Having gained testimonies, a group of investigators from Talisay arrive by bus at Capoocan meetinghouse for their baptism.
Having gained testimonies, a group of investigators from Talisay arrive by bus at Capoocan meetinghouse for their baptism. Photo: Photo by Cherry Baluyot

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