The magazine left behind by an American serviceman in his shop was a little worn-out, but the young Filipino still found it inviting to read.
As if by design and not by pure chance, his fingers flipped the pages to an article about a prophet who died a hundre years before. In 1946, during the early days of the Republic of the Philippines, any story about as modern-day prophet would sound preposterous, but not for this young Pampango who became oblivious to the passing of time as he became deeply engrossed with the article on Joseph Smith and the Mormons who were, to him, a strange and unknown people.
The story he read lingered in his mind and there were searching questions he wanted to ask. There was the compelling need to know more about Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He had to find out, but there was no way to do it. … and nobody to turn to for enlightenment.
Then, one Saturday afternoon, he noticed an American captain from Clark Air Force Base who appeared to be completely different from the others during off-duty hours in matters of pleasure and other mundane activity.
The thought raced in David’s mind that the captain could be a Mormon, and he debated with himself on whether to ask him or not. How embarrassing it would be if the captain was not a Mormon and be offended by his impertinence. But an unseen force seemed to direct David to him, and he slowly approached the captain with faltering steps.
“Sir, may I ask you a question?” David shyly asked. The officer nodded. “Are you a Mormon?” he continued.
The officer’s lips broadened to a wide smile, and David almost shrank with shame with the thought that he had asked a silly question.
But the chance meeting and the unikely question proved to be the turning point in David’s life. The captain was a Mormon!
A strong bond of friendship was immediately struck between them—and, not long thereafter, David became a convert to the Church.
This episode came to life again on Sunday morning as Elder Gordon B. Hinckley highlighted the May 29, 1977 Special Combined Conference at the Philippine International Convention Center.
Elder Hinckley’s opening statement was a vividly recounted narrative on how David came as the only Filipino member early in the morning of May 28, 1961 to the American Battle Memorial Cemetery at Fort Bonifacio, where a small LDS group led by Elder Hickley gathered to initiate missionary work in the Philippines.
As he listened to Elder Hinckley’s testimony about him, tears welled in the eyes of David, recalling that thirty-one years before, a worn-out magazine and a chance meeting ushered into his life the greatest moment of truth.
This is the story of David D. Lagman of San Fernando, Pampanga and how he found it—the truth—long before we did.—P. Ocampo, Jr.