Her eyes sparkled and she clasped her hands in excitement when she hear the news. Then, in spite of her age, Nanay Mendosa ran to find some young people to send on an errand.
Quick! Run to the mountain sides and tell all the members to come home. No work today. The missionaries are coming!
The sisters vied to see who would cook for the missionaries. Nanay P took the honor of preparing a noon meal. Nanay Rico planned another meal for later. Nanay Mendosa hurried to start her washing.
Nanay, or “mother” is used as a term of respect for older women. The men are Tatay or father. Children are taught from a very young age to take an older person’s hand and lift it to their small foreheads in a respectful blessing.
We arrived at the barangay of Bagakay with two young elders at about 11 AM. We parked the truck at the end of the road, forded the stream and began walking up the steep rain-slick paths. After several almost-falls and many twists and turns, we met Sister Mendosa. Her speech was rapid and excited. She obviously knew Elder Rose and was overjoyed to see him again.
She says we should go up the hill to see Sister P. Sister Mendosa still has washing to finish.
Up the hill? We have already been literally climbing up hills. Surely it won’t get worse.
Sister Mendosa guided us up the path, then returned to her laundry. Washing clothes is an almost every day labor where all clothes are washed by hand, rung out by hand, and rinsed before being rung out again. The clothes are hung to dry on every available line, fence and bush. The older sisters often have sores and white spots on their lower legs from the bleach in the detergents.
Sister P greeted us warmly and sent her daughters scurrying to a small building near her house. We realized the building was her kitchen when the daughters returned carrying plates and containers of food. There was a large bowl of cooked ground corn, sweetened rice wrapped in pieces of banana leaves, meat filled pastries, two platters of meat, fresh and cooked bananas, and a large bottle of Coke. She set two chairs and a scrap-wood bench around the table and invited us to sit and eat. The family would not eat with us; they showed their respect by letting us eat the special food first.
After the delicious meal we moved to the small entrance porch. The mother and another woman with a small baby sat on the bench. The two daughters sat in the doorway to the house, and we sat on the low concrete wall of the porch. We started with prayer to invite the Spirit to testify of the truth of the principles that we had come to share with them.
The lesson was long with many questions, a few tears, and a powerful outpouring of testimony, but the people clung to the words of Elder Rose, and did not want to have us leave. We finally pulled ourselves away about 3 PM; Sister Mendosa was waiting. As we walked down the paths, other people were waiting to meet us.
Sister Mendosa was waiting to take us to her house. Her enthusiasm had not waned in spite of the long wait. We walked into the entryway of the house and up narrow steps to a room with a floor of split bamboo. Brother and Sister Mendosa, her son and a friend, and the elders easily sat cross-legged on the floor. We took our seats on the floor with a good deal less grace.
The Spirit guided Elder Rose to talk about understanding and keeping baptism covenants. He taught the importance of repentance and the miracle of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was getting dark as we left the house, but Sister Rico was waiting for us. She took us to meet her family who were gathered in front of several houses. Two little boys were busily playing in a mud puddle until their mother came and encouraged them to leave it.
Elder Rose explained that most of the people in the barangay were related, but the people we had greeted were not members. Sister P’s husband was among the group.
We climbed the steps into the house of Brother and Sister Rico. They turned on the light and gathered up two chairs to set on the dirt floor for us; the others sat on a sill by the window and on the steps leading to the sleeping quarters. As Elder Painchard gave the lesson, several more people slipped into the house. We thought of the words of the prophet Amos (Amos 8:11).
Behold, the days will come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine for bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord…
These beautiful people are truly of the House of Israel, and have long waited to receive the word of the Lord.
As we left the house, a sister or a brother took each of us by the hand, and led us carefully down the mountain and across the water to the pickup. We felt their love and were touched by their service.
We want to come back again.
We want you to come with us. The people feel your testimonies and are honored to have an older couple visit them.
These people need to have the church here. They need to become a branch.
Yes, they do.