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Filipino Youth Respond to the Prophet’s Call to Serve

The recent lowering of the age limit for missionaries has reached the Philippines. President Thomas S. Monson announced in the October General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that 18-year-old young men and 19-year-old young women could now serve the Lord by fulfilling 18-month to two-year missions. Locally, the numbers of missionaries entering the Missionary Training Center in Quezon City has increased dramatically since that announcement.
Interviewing two of these young people provided valuable insights into their motives, reactions and feelings about the opportunity they have for service at an even younger age. Once the missionaries reach the MTC, they are referred to as ‘Sister’ and ‘Elder.’
Sister Tiffany Alicando is from the Makati East Philippine Stake (diocese) and will be serving in the Cauayan Mission in Northern Luzon. The following is her statement: “I was attending conference when the age change announcement was made. Later, when I slept, I even dreamed about it.  It was actually an answer to my prayers. I know I will be more blessed if I follow the Prophet’s words.”
Both of Tiffany’s parents had previously served missions in Baguio.  Her mother speaks Ilocano so she can speak that as well as Tagalog and English. She will only be in the MTC for two weeks before going to her assigned  Cauayan Mission.
“This experience to go early is perfect for me.  Now I have the desire to serve, but later I might have lost some of it because of getting so involved in my college, learning accountancy. I know the Lord will be on my right side and on my left to bear me up.”
What did Tiffany learn in the MTC that she did not know before she came?
“There are lots of prayers here that invite the Spirit.  I have learned how I can help others to be converted to the gospel.  I can’t convert if I’m not converted.  Church Institute classes in Makati helped so much to get me ready… and all six of my friends are going to go now.” Tiffany also added that it was difficult for her to leave the comforts of home.  She is the second oldest in her family and has a 21-yr-old sister who is working.  Sister Alicando wants to set a good example for her 13-year-old brother so he can prepare to go on a mission when he turns 18.
Elder  Jarom Bangal is from Lucena City Philippine Stake (diocese) in San Pablo. He will also be going to the Cauayan mission after two weeks in the MTC.  Jarom was in the middle of his first year of college studying aeronautics when he decided to go on a mission for the Church.  He has always been dependent on his parents and has never worked and felt he needed his parents’ guidance. He will miss them! Jarom is the fourth child in his family and has five brothers and one sister. He is the fourth sibling to serve a mission.  
Elder Bangal was watching General Conference on his birthday, October 14, when he heard the Prophet’s announcement.  He submitted his mission application November 6 and received his call November 30.  Jarom’s brothers also have served in the Cauayan Mission, so it has become almost a family tradition of service to that part of Luzon.  
In the MTC, Elder Bangal has learned how important it is to “love and serve your companion and work with him.” Missionaries go out in pairs and receive no pay for their service, teaching the Gospel and helping those in need in the areas to which they have been assigned.
Soon the MTC in Quezon City will be filled to capacity with these outstanding young men and women eager to serve their Lord and the Church by giving freely of their time and talents. In addition to lowering the age of the missionaries, the amount of time in the MTC was shortened from 19 days to two weeks. Now more missionaries can come more often. In response to the change, administrative assistant, Liel Maala said,"We have the same amount of work to get done...just in half the time."


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