In December seven years ago, a 33-year-old mechanical engineer who was then maintenance manager of a big industrial enterprise in Manila seriously thought that a bad joke was being played on him. Someone had placed a copy of the Book of Mormon squarely on his desk while he was away for lunch.
Known in his company as a faithful member of a Christian sect with followers next in number only to the Catholic majority, he dismissed the situation with the contemptuous feeling that a slur was being made on his religious beliefs. The blue-covered book, however, looked good as a bookcase decoration, and he took it home only for that purpose.
Two months later, in February 1971, two young American missionaries knocked on the door of his home at 1558 de Pinedo street in San Andres Bukid, Manila. He was more than glad to let them in, not to listen to what they had to say but to debate with them. Counting on many years of Bible study behind him, he felt superior over the pair in terms of Biblical knowledge. He now recalls with a chuckle that, when the two missionaries began unfolding their message to him, he looked like Goliath in the face of two Davids (Elders Ferguson and Mortensen) as his offensive and defensive strategies crumbled away.
On May 15, 1971, barely three months afterwards, Felipe Guerrero Odulio was baptized at the Buendia chapel by Elder Kent Langston and confirmed by Elder Dean Cardoza.
From then on, Bro. Odulio fulfilled callings in the Church as Branch Clerk (Manila Branch), Elders Quorum President (Central Philippines District), Mission Councilman, Branch President and then as Bishop, Manila Ward, Manila Philippines Stake. On May 29, 1977, he was called as First Counselor to the Stake Presidency.
But, our story does not end there. It goes on to an event in his life and that of his wife, the former Aurelia Campo Barata of Llorente, Samar Province, in the setting of the Rocky Mountains, U.S.A.
Sometime in the first week of September, 1977, Bro. Odulio took a long lingering look at his car—a car that served him well and one that he had taken care of with his own hands as an experienced mechanic. It had to go to the best offeror at a price dictated by a quick-sale situation. Other personal effects also had to go at bargain prices. The reason: he had a goal to be sealed with his wife in a temple of the Lord, and the opportunity to go came when he was designated a participant in the October 1977 Conference in Salt Lake City.
On September 27, Bro. and Sis. Odulio left Philippine soil for the first time in their lives. On October 5, the very day Sis. Odulio celebrated her 40th birthday, they were sealed for eternity in the Salt Lake Temple together with their unborn child (she was then 7 months pregnant). Three days later, on October 8, Bro. Odulio also observed his 40th birthday. Husband and wife had the best birthday celebration ever in a setting that had been their cherished dream since their conversion to the Church.
Back home, on December 20, Sis. Odulio began to experience labor pains. She was rushed to a downtown Manila hospital, only to be turned away for lack of accommodations. Rushing again, this time to a city-owned hospital along Roxas Boulevard, they faced the same situation. The labor pains were coming at short intervals, and the only alternative left was to proceed immediately to an expensive private clinic. Though hard-pressed financially, Bro. Odulio had no other choice. On December 21, another boy was added to his family of 3 boys and 2 girls. He was named Jacob.
Our story goes on. Three days before Christmas, two friends unexpectedly came to the clinic bearing goodwill and love which the Odulios will long remember.
Without a word being said by the Odulios that their savings were not enough to cover the maternity bill, the two gentlemen left the clinic only after assuming a major portion of the bill—truly a gift of the magi for a couple turned away by two hospitals for the birth of their sixth child, Jacob, who was sealed with them in a temple of the Lord.