Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Starting and Growing my Business Group in Pozorrubio

In September we were invited to present a My Path Devotional to the Pozorrubio 1st Ward.  There were 17 who attended that meeting and 14 of them joined a Starting a Growing my Business Group.  The group began having weekly meetings in October.  Of the 14 who joined 11 of them graduated and all started or improved a business.  On February 4, 2015 we had a Graduation where they all received a Certificate from LDS Business College for Applied Self-Reliance Principles and Business Entrepreneurship.  It takes 12 weeks of hard work to accomplish this goal.

This past week we visited several of the businesses and interviewed some of the graduates.  

This Ward did several unique things which have added to their success.  Bishop Viernes sent reminder and follow up texts each week to every member of the group.  During their research to find good businesses they decided having an organic piggery was a very good option for them.  Because of limited funds they started one of the piggeries with 4 members contributing capital and labor to get it started.  They also found that feed companies were will to work with them and help train them for no cost.  They received the instructions need to build the pens and take care of them in such a way as to have almost no bad odors.  They arranged with the bishops brother to put the piggery on his land.  They are now ready to sell their third batch of pigs ready for market.  They have made customers of local restaurants, members of the church as well as friends and neighbors.  When they have an excess beyond what they can sell locally the feed company has agreed to purchase the excess.  Currently they have more orders than they are able to fill.  

Another member of the group, Sister Campos who is 72, has worked abroad for many years.  Her and her husband were scratching out a small living selling in the market before joining this SGMB group.  They have had a few pigs all along but never been very successful.  They have now expanded the size of their piggery to three times the size it was and another member of the group helps run it.  They are supplying the piglets for the other group members piggeries.  They have also started growing vegetables for their own use and to share with others in the ward.

We also visited sister Martinez, who started a new cooking business where she sells hot food along the highway where she lives.  She needed capital to build and start so borrowed 13,000 pesos from the bishop with no interest and quickly paid it back.  She now makes between 700 and 1000 pesos per day and is now self-reliant.   

Finally we visited Brother Tolentino who has started a welding business to supplement his other income.  He currently has many jobs lined up and is working hard to fulfill his customers’ requests.  He is using a borrowed electric welder and saving to purchase his own.

Another unique thing this group has done relates to the My Foundation principle of Managing your Money.  When they worked on the principle of savings they found that while they could save a little it was too easy to also spend it when they needed or wanted something.  So they decided to open a bank account in the name of the group.  They elected a President, Secretary and Treasurer of the group and they opened an account that requires the signature of all three to withdraw money.  In a few short months they have already saved over 15,000 pesos.  They keep a ledger and everyone signs it whenever they deposit or withdraw money into the account.  They are also able to make no interest loans to members of the group who might need some extra capital for their business.

They continue to meet every week even though they have graduated.  They discuss what has happened in the past week, share stories to motivate and take care of business items such as their savings account.  Bishop Viernes still sends text messages weekly to his group to check and motivate.

They have a second group of Starting and Growing my Business that has recently started and plan to continue more groups until the whole ward is self-reliant.


San Isidro Group, Kuliglig and Exercising Faith through Action

On January 24, 2016 Theron and I were asked by Elder Ator and Elder Mikaele if we could join them in San Isidro and teach "My Path" to a group of members and non member investigators.  We were lovingly welcomed by a group of 15 Brothers and Sisters plus 8 Ward Leaders. We started teaching the principles of "My Path" and we were greatly touched by their willingness to accept the principles we were teaching.  We worked on their self-assessment but realized that they needed a greater understanding of why they needed change.  We committed to return within the week and teach the second step of the self-

We knew of the burden caused by the distance to travel 25k into town to attend meetings. 
The Bishop had committed them to attend on the first Sunday of the month so they could partake of the sacrament.  The assessment asks that we partake of the sacrament weekly.  As we talked about faith and trust in the Lord I was prompted to tell them that if they showed their desire to be obedient to attend church they would be blessed with a way to get there. I told them that the Lord had blessed them with two able feet to step forward in going to church. I challenged them to prepare themselves on Saturday and make themselves ready to go on Sunday morning even if it meant using their two feet to get there.  I told them they would be blessed in a way to make it possible for them to prove their desires.  I went so far as to tell them they could even ride on the farmers kuliglig.  For a week I worried that I may have said something more than I should.  My faith was weak but theirs wasn't.  

On Sunday morning they all gathered onto the farmers kuliglig and proceeded to church.  They proved their desire to be faithful and they were provided with a blessing that it could happen.  Not just one week but they attended four weeks in a row.  

The Brothers and Sisters of San Isidro have now been blessed with the forming of an official Group in their own area where they can partake of the sacrament and the burden of travel to church has been lifted.  San Isidro has 3 new convert members and we are praying for many more.

I now quote from Elder Ator and Mikaele's account.  "Who could have thought that the often ignored and farthest barangay was a gold mine?  

December 2015... the time when the members of Rosales 2nd ward, together with the missionaries, decided to visit and hold a family home evening in their farthest area.  That evening sparked a light of hope for the missionaries and members to take courage, that they could mine souls.  But, one problem occurred, in order for the investigator to be get baptized they needed to attend Sacrament in Rosales 2nd Ward Chapel, 25 kilometers away, unfortunately their barangay is lacking in a regular public transportation, save you are willing to pay expensively.  And since most of the people in that barangay are farmers they can't afford to pay for it.  Then, one scripture gave hope to all of us where it states; "For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith."  Ether 12:12  So we took counsel what we could do and an answer came.  Go to the chapel with your "kuliglig".

After they did, Sister Teresita Mina, an investigator who was recently baptized said, "while we were traveling with our kuliglig for the first time, a few kilometers from our barangay our tire went flat."  They didn't know what to do, they were in the middle of the rice fields and they needed to keep moving to get to the chapel on time.  Then one of them said, "let's pray".  They prayed, pumped the tire with a hand pump, started the engine and made their way to the chapel.  We all saw a miracle that when when the tire held for the entire trip to church and home again.

Because of the faithfulness we can see the hand of the Lord manifested on that area.  

Sister Rachelle Abalos her baby and Elder Mikaele
Elder Mikaele carries Brother Bulatao across the uneven ground

One of the sweetest experiences we had was to hear their testimony after their baptism.  Sister Rachelle Abalos said, "because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I found my life and it completely changed me."

And because of the faithfulness of the people in that area, On February 28, 2016 the San Isidro Group formally formed with its first Sacrament meeting.  Sister Vilma Bulatao, a recent convert says, "Truly the Lord remembers everyone and no matter where His sheeps are, when they hear His voice, they will come."