22985_000_008I thought it was just a broken brake, but it was really the beginning of a journey of much happiness.
In October 1980 I was riding my bicycle when I suddenly realized my foot brake was not working. I panicked, not knowing when or how I would be able to stop. When my wild ride ended and I finally coasted safely to a stop, I ended up next to Rodico Flores, a good friend and high school classmate. I explained what had happened, and then we chatted for a little while. During our conversation, he asked if I had time to come to his church. Since I knew he was a good person and I admired the other Latter-day Saints I knew, I decided to go the next Sunday.
On Sunday I noticed that the building his church met in was clean and beautiful. I felt something different there. I was met by a person who shook my hand and even put his arm around me, telling me he was happy to see me. I felt good, even though I was a bit shy and nervous. This brother took me to a class for investigators.
After the lesson two young women introduced themselves as full-time missionaries. They asked if they could visit me at my home. I quickly told them I was busy and started giving them excuses. But they still asked me to tell them when I was available, and I responded that I was available early Monday morning. I said they could come but only if they wanted to come at 4:00 A.M.
To my surprise, they looked at each other and said, “Brother Solomon, we will be there.” Then I insisted that it was hard to reach my family’s house, that it was located in the middle of a fishpond, that we had a lot of dogs. I told them they would have a hard time getting there. But they said again, “Brother Solomon, we will be there.” After I left, I forgot all about our appointment because I didn’t believe they would be coming.
Early Monday morning I was surprised to hear the dogs barking and a voice calling, “Brother Solomon! Brother Solomon!” I looked out the window, and I started to feel differently about the missionaries. I felt a confirmation that they were true servants of God. I invited them in and listened to their message. After a while I told them to come every day with a lesson, which they did. They taught me until I was prepared for baptism.
Just after my baptism on 31 October 1980, a friend invited me to a ward party. I said to myself, This Church is nice; they even throw a party for me. I later realized I wasn’t really the guest of honor. But at the party my friend introduced me to a young woman and told her to take good care of me. Annie Ortiz was indeed a good fellowshipper. At this time, she is still taking good care of me. We were married in 1985 and sealed in the Manila Philippines Temple.
Since my baptism, I have grown in the gospel as I have been given opportunities to serve. In 1983 I was called to serve full time in the Philippines Davao Mission, and four months after my marriage I was called as a bishop. I also served as a stake president and in a mission presidency. My wife and I are happily married and have two children, Ezra and Brigham, and we are looking forward to a lifetime of service.
I am grateful for the happiness I have found in the Church, for the dedicated missionaries who persevered, and for the broken bicycle brake that actually helped send me on my way.