Manila, The Philippines—The first Filipino missionary couples are now serving in their native land.
Elder and Sister Carmilino Cawit serve in the Philippines Davao Mission and Elder and Sister Ramon Mariano serve as temple missionaries in the Manila Temple.
Elder Cawit, 66, was the president of the Cadiz Stake before his call. He and his wife, Alicia Lim, are retired public servants.
Members of the Quezon Fifth Ward, Elder Mariano, 34, and his wife, Annabelle Asilo, were professional entertainers at the time of their call.
Vasterhaninge, Sweden—Audiences of 100 to 150 people gather in the Vasterhaninge meetinghouse on the grounds of the Swedish Temple each Sunday evening for music performances hosted by local Church members. The programs include adult and children’s choirs, and soloists presenting operatic and classical music befitting the Sabbath, reports Bo G. Wennerlund, Swedish Public Communications director.
“This has become one of the main cultural events for the entire community,” Wennerlund explains. “Community officials have attended several concerts.” Newspapers and radio stations in the community regularly report on the programs. In September the concerts began to be recorded and are now broadcast on the radio on Monday mornings.
Abidjan, Ivory Coast—The first sacrament meeting presentation by fourteen Primary children in Abidjan included three nonmembers.
“For the majority of the children, this was their first experience presenting a program,” says Chirley Arnold, who is living in Abidjan with her husband, Doug, and their three children: Crystal, Spencer and Sarah. “We are a small unit of the Church with about seventy-eight members. Because there are very few children, some had three or four parts on the program.”
The presentation was in French, the official language of the Ivory Coast. Since the French version of the Church-produced sacrament meeting presentation was not available to them, it was translated from the English by the Arnolds and Pangu Okito, a local member. Terry Broadhead translated two additional verses of the song, “Book of Mormon Stories,” to which the children enjoyed doing the actions.
São Paulo, Brazil—Increasingly larger groups of local missionaries are being prepared at the training center in São Paulo, Brazil, reports President C. Elmo Turner. President Turner and his wife, Lois, say many of the missionaries make great sacrifices to serve. One young man gave up an offer of a 120 percent salary increase and a scholarship to serve a mission, and another sold a large truck that he used in his business to finance his mission. A sister, an attorney, left her busy law practice to accept a mission call.
President and Sister Turner give each missionary a copy of the Book of Mormon to place as they leave the training center. Many of the books were donated through the Family-to-Family Book of Mormon Program, said President Turner.
São Paulo, Brazil—Jose Evandro Pontalti was close to fulfilling the dream of most Brazilian boys to become a professional soccer player, when he decided to serve a full-time mission.
Jose was playing for a minor league soccer team in Cambara, Brazil, when the team trainer, Brother Alcides dos Santos Goncalves, introduced him to the Church. Brother Goncalves would discuss the Bible, family relations, and similar topics with the team. Then he moved away.
Jose began to read the Book of Mormon and soon gained a testimony. The Church was not organized in Cambara so he had to travel to Bauru, near São Paulo, and to be baptized.
While in Bauru, he played in a soccer competition, was named the team’s best player, and received an offer from the Regatas do Flamengo, a professional team. After some months as a reserve team member preparing to turn professional at age twenty-one, he decided to serve a mission. Despite arguments from the club owner and coaches that he could be giving up a promising career, Jose would not change his mind.
Even though some people don’t understand his decision, says Elder Pontalti, “I am very happy to be serving in the São Paulo South Mission.”
Badalona, Spain—Service and love cannot be separated when you talk about the young women of the Badalona Ward in Badalona, Spain, a suburb of Barcelona.
The Young Women take it upon themselves to see that each girl is contacted about every activity, although most do not have telephones and live more than 48 kilometers from the chapel. If ever a girl is absent, the others make sure that nothing is wrong.
Their service is not restricted to Church members. The girls agreed to help at a home for handicapped (both children and adults). Sara Lopez Garrido, 15, echoes the thoughts of the other girls when she says, “I was scared at first because I didn’t know how I would react, but I soon realized how much love these people need. It’s helped me be a better person by giving of my time and getting involved in their lives.”
The gospel has blessed the lives of these young women, and they are blessing the lives of others through love and service.