Tuesday, June 28, 2016

pioneer

noun  pi·o·neer \ˌpī-ə-ˈnir\

:someone who is one of the first people to move to and live in a new area

On June 10, 2016, a warm Friday Morning, Sister Anderson and I visited the Malasiqui 2nd Branch.  They were hosting their “FamilyOlympics”.  They had all kinds of games to play, relay races to run, just a great family day including Fun, Family, Friends and Filipino Food.  Wow I like that 5 F’s --- Fun, Family, Friends and Filipino Food.  What could be a better way to spend the day. 

We were on our way to another appointment so were only able to stay less than an hour.  We watched the children run a relay race where they had a row of 7 glass pop bottles lined up on the grass about 3 or 4 feet apart from each other.  The first relay runner was given 7 straws and had to run down the line and place a straw in each bottle, run around a chair, shake their body and run back collecting all the straws.  The next person followed the same.  So much fun.





When we were visiting with the members who were sitting the shade watching, we met Sister Ballesteros.  She is 82 years old, Beautiful and full of spirit.  When she introduced herself she said, “I am a Pioneer”.  She told me that she was one of the original members in this area and helped to build it into what it is today.






















I asked Brother Eric and Sister Janice Gatus to help me get her story to share with you here.  

These are her words.


Faith…  How can we say we have, and how firm or strong it is?  In my everyday struggle faith has been my powerful armour.  In  many years,  being  a member  of  the  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,  I always  look ahead  and with full strength and  keep my hands holding  to the iron rod  which  brought me endurance  in sailing this narrow path towards eternal life.

September 3,1933 was the day I was born, the  eldest and  the  only  daughter  among  4 kids of  Nicanor Sabado Graneta  and  Dominga  Balaba Tangunan.  I grew up going to a Methodist church. My father was a minister in this church.  After high school, I went to National University and took up Bachelor of Secondary Education.  After college, I met a man, Calixto Domantay Ballesteros who was working that time at the Atlantis Grief and Pacific Corporation.  He won my heart’s attention and finally got married at a Protestant church on April 15, 1953.  He was a pure catholic from Malasiqui,Pangasinan.  We were blessed with 10 children, 6 boys and 4 girls.  They were all baptized in Roman Catholic Church.  As we work together in nurturing our children, I was worried since we came from two different churches.  I really love our family and I wanted to be with them eternally.  So I always prayed to God to help us worship all together one and true church where we can exercise our faith.  We have a big family.  And as we go along, my heart started to look for more since Protestant has knowledge about salvation but I felt insufficient in doctrines that I was longing for.





With that being said, we found the Church through my eldest daughter Zenaida who worked in Barcelona Spain for 7 years.  She was converted and brought home the complete gospel of Jesus Christ.  My daily prayers were answered.  Significant changes occurred after our conversion. We’ve learned that Heavenly Father had plans for us.  Where we came from?  Why we are here?  Where we are going?  Our family stayed close to the church as we spent our daily lives and learned that He loves us.  Through prayers we can constantly talk to Him.  And by obedience it brings blessings beyond compare.  By reading scriptures together, we managed to strengthen our faith.  We felt assurance of safety, peace, inspiration and courage which significantly helped us in making it this far.  
My faith stays stronger for I know I found the true church.  Nowadays, I still continue to influence and give comfort to my family especially my grandchildren by renewing my covenant every Sabbath day and displaying teachings from the book of Mormon all the time.  I can no longer remember one by one the challenges we encountered, nonetheless, one thing is for sure, it made us believe that death is not the end but rather the start of eternal life.  I know my faith will bring our family eternal blessings.  We continue to press forward in living the gospel.  My 4 daughters served full time mission and married in the temple.  At my old age, I witnessed families on and off the church.  Let my piece of advice for these younger generations to stay in the church, be obedient to laws and commandments, be humble and love your neighbors, be honest, attend church every Sabbath, read the scriptures, go to temple, get involved to missionary work, do the family history and endure to the end.  I know that heavenly father lives and loves us so much.  I know the gospel is true.  I know that Joseph Smith restored the gospel, and we have a living prophet Thomas S. Monsoon and the book of Mormon is another testament of Christ… In Jesus name, Amen


Last week we visited Sister Ballesteros in her home and took these pictures.  

Family Pictures & Memories


She told us how the members in this branch met every Sunday for 4 years in their home for Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School and Primary, Priesthood and Relief Society.  Every Sunday for 4 years and then Heavenly Father blessed them with the beautiful building where they now meet.  When we sacrifice and serve, when we pay our tithes and offerings and keep the commandments, God truly “Opens the Windows of Heaven, and Pours out Blessings”.  Malachi 3:10


Sacrament Meeting was held here for 4 years!

"Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God, to be more like Him in our daily walk, to feel His persence with us constantly?  If so, then the Book of Mormon will help us do so more than any other book."

Ezra Taft Benson






The Ballesteros’ Family are Pioneers.  Just as my Pioneer ancestors traveled from England and Europe to Utah and Idaho and built a heritage for me, Sister Ballesteros and her family have built a heritage which will reach generations past, present and future.  This family is what our Philippines Area Goals describes as a, “…strong, self-reliant multi-generational Filipino family.”









 Memories




May you draw comfort and strength from your memories.  

President Gordon B Hinckley

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