Archive for the ‘persistence’ Category

By Elder Justin Charles Baluyot, Philippines Bacolod Mission, June 24, 2019

elder baluyot2

“I bet we’ll get at least 25 people at church today,” said my companion, Elder Wright, as he was making his tie. I had just put on my socks, when I answered back with a big smile: “Oh, I’d push for 30.” It was Sunday, the Sabbath Day. We were just about ready to go to the chapel. We were so excited for this Sunday especially. Elder Wright and I have been companions for 2 weeks now, and we’ve been working hard, as in hard gid, for the time we’ve been together. So hard, that I got sick for the whole of last week, still went to work everyday, but just stayed home for Pday, when my fever was at its highest. We’ve given over a hundred Books of Mormon, a plethora of pass along cards, and countless church invites to all the people in our area. The fruit of our labors, would surely reflect through the sacrament attendance today.

Every Sunday morning, our bishop has us send him the names of our investigators who might attend sacrament. He does this so that he can announce their names in front of the pulpit, and welcome them, as a sign of fellowship. We texted 20 names to him, that we were “sure” to come, as they gave their commitment they would, and left a note at the end that “Pero batyag namon basi mas madamo pa magkadto” Or: “But we feel that there are more that might come.” Bishop replied with: “Great job, Elders!” A short message, but to us it meant a lot. As we feel that we did. Do a great job, that is. There was an energy of excitement as we were on our way to church. It was as if everything seemed a little nicer. The sun was shining a little brighter; breakfast was just corned beef from a can, but it tasted a little better; when we saw ourselves in the mirror, it’s as if mas gwapo kami today; we dunno why, the world was on our side. Today was definitely going to be: Perfect.

We arrived at the chapel 8am, 1 hour before the service, just in case some of them decided to show up early. There we were, in front of our chapel, two big young men, chin up, chest out, with the biggest smiles you’ll ever see from a Filipino, and a Samoan. Just standing in anticipation to welcome all the people we invited, to shake their hands, look them in the eye, and just express our gratitude and love for them for accepting our invitation. 20 mins passed by, no one yet, but it was okay. Who comes to church 40 mins before sacrament anyway? There was plenty of time. Then another 20 mins passed by, and some people were starting to come in. But not our investigators. But it was okay, we told them service starts at 9am. Filipinos, they’ll probably come in 5mins before. Then, I remember, looking at my watch, the time said: 8:58am. The chapel was full of people already, but not a single one of the people we invited came. With our chins no longer high up, and our chests no longer out, we went inside the sacrament hall, where we were greeted by our bishop by the door. He asked, who among our investigators came to church, so that he can have their names announced. With a sigh of defeat, we answered: “Wa’ay.” Our bishop then patted us on the back, as if to give us a gesture of comfort in the little time he had, as our meeting was about to start, then he started to make his way to the pulpit.

We then took our seats, and the sacrament meeting started. With lowered heads, we just sat quietly, and started to contemplate on what a failure we were as missionaries. Usually, I’m always the optimistic one, when we have mishaps, I would be the positive Elder, and comfort my companion, until he got back to being the happy Samoan that he usually is. But not this time, my whole body language just exclaimed defeat.

“Not even one?” I kept thinking to myself.


“What did I do wrong?”


As each minute went by, the more discouragement, and confusion just filled my whole being. I didn’t even hear what Bishop’s announcements were. Was there an activity next Saturday? Was there a meeting later? I didn’t know. Honestly, at this point, I didn’t even care. All my attention was on why all my efforts were going to waste. Why I wasn’t making a difference. Why I wasn’t the missionary I hoped I’d be.

The Sacrament Hymn started, and I was still indifferent. I was supposed to be preparing myself spiritually, as the most important hour of the week was happening, this is what we teach our investigators. But I had not the energy to sing any songs, not even the energy to open the hymn book. “What’s the point?” I started to think. I even started to boast to myself: “I work harder than any other missionary I know! Why would this happen to me? Of all people?” Then, just as I was about to begin another rant in my head, on how I was an exemplary missionary, and how I don’t deserve this,” I was interrupted, by a familiar face, my companion, Elder Wright, as if he could read my mind, put his hand on my knee, and said: “Stop.” “It’s not about us, we did it for Him”

For Him.

For Him.


I then remembered, why I was on the mission in the first place. It wasn’t to get baptisms, it wasn’t to get to say I was an RM. It wasn’t even to get people to come to church. I did it… For Him. And as I contemplated on that, my whole attitude changed. I started to focus on Him. His sacrifice. His Atonement. My love for Him, and His love for me. I then pondered on the words that we were singing:

‘I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.
Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!’

I was filled with gratitude, and love, and joy. I was filled with comfort. I was filled with His spirit. I truly, stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. As the prayer was said, and the deacons started to pass His sacrament, I sat there, just smiling, awaiting my turn to renew my covenants with Him. As the tray was passed to me by the deacon, I felt this strong impression to look up, as if someone said it to me, just as I can hear you, and you, me. I then saw him, Anton. Anton was a young man, who’s been inactive for close to two years, the 1st task I had when I came to the ward, was to reactivate him, and his family. And here he was, an active deacon, passing the sacrament, a worthy priesthood holder. An immense feeling filled my whole being, it grew exponentially, I can’t even define it. “Joy” for me, would be an understatement, but that the closest word I know of, that can compare to what I felt. I felt a glimpse of the promise in Doctrine & Covenants: “And if it so be that you should labor.. and bring, save it be one soul unto Me, how great shall be your joy..” At that moment, I knew that I was making a difference. That my efforts were not going to waste. That my Heavenly Father was proud of me. That He, was proud of me.

Whatever you’re doing, no matter what the result, do not be discouraged, nor dismayed.

Just do it, for Him.

For Him.”



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I’m one of the few people who still play Candy Crush. I know there are a lot of other interesting games out there, but this game is something that I like keeping at. There are times when I get stuck at a certain level and can’t seem to move on for several days, or weeks (I once got stuck at a level for a couple of months!), but I just kept playing it; and when I was not expecting it, I passed! All I needed was to persevere and I made it!

I think that such is life as well. Sometimes we get into a level of trial that seems to be most difficult, but we just have to keep at it, and persevere, and then when we least expect it, we get to pass it—to our surprise!

Sometimes we just need to be still and let all the chaos around us flow. And we stand our ground. And remain patient. And try to learn our lesson from the experience. Sometimes we even have to close our eyes to concentrate and not let what’s happening around us affect us. And just focus on all the positive things in life and keep going. Because just like playing a difficult level at Candy Crush, we will one day pass it (trust me!)—even if it takes many days, or many months, or even many years.

Have a fabulous week everybody! Keep on  keeping on. 🙂

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So, I said I was gonna be back, but it’s been over a year and I haven’t written anything on this blog. Yet today, I got a nudge from a dear friend encouraging me to start writing again. I told him I would make it as a goal in 2017, so here I am, trying once more to pour my thoughts out through the written language. And I hope this time, I can make it work—consistently.

Isn’t that how life really works? We set ideal goals and we imagine how things will turn out for us if only things were perfect? And then real life happens and we sometimes find ourselves lost and our ideal goals unachieved.

But I believe there is a time and a season to every purpose under the heavens, as the scriptures say. We might not achieve our ideal goals at the time that we want to attain them due to various reasons, but we shouldn’t give up. We should never give up! We should just keep trying—especially if our goals are righteous ones.

Most recently, the Miss Universe pageant was held in the Philippines and the reigning Miss Universe joined the local beauty pageant multiple times before she finally won. She persisted and didn’t give in to discouragement despite all the negative things people were saying to dampen her spirit. She just kept coming back and worked harder each time. Finally, after three tries, she achieved her goal and left everyone a lesson about perseverance that is worthy of emulation.

We can be like her.  In our diverse situations in life where we sometimes feel like we failed, we can always get up and keep trying to achieve our worthy goals—again, and again, and again. Even if it takes forever.

Have a great week ahead everybody!! 🙂  Talk to you soon!!! 🙂

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Photograph by Reddie J.

This morning I read in the news that the husband of an old lady that has been missing was finally found. The old lady put a paper sign on her clothes, front and back, with the photo of her beloved missing husband and sat for many days around the area where he was last found, hoping someone would recognize him. I was moved by the gesture and thought it was such an adorable way to show how much she really loves him. Someone posted that photo on a popular network site and somehow paved the way for them to find each other again. I’m glad they are back together in each other’s arms. They deserve to be happy.

Similarly, on my drive to work, I always see a homeless man sitting or sometimes lying down on the pavement of a certain street of a posh subdivision. He seems like a tall guy to me with a good posture. I know that some people driving by give him food and clothing, and today it made me smile to see him wearing a decent haircut!! Such a wonderful way to show love and kindness towards a fellow human being. This time I could see his face and I had to take a second look to view it. May the generous person who did it for him be abundantly blessed.

While waiting for my daughter to arrive for our movie date on Monday, I asked my son how his day was. He said nothing much happened in school. Same old, same old. Then I asked if he had done any good to anyone that day. He paused. I guess he was surprised that I deviated from the drill—and I suppose I was surprised too. But it got me thinking.

It’s a shame that sometimes a day passes by and we miss the chance to do something good to anybody. Sometimes we get too caught up with our own world and activities that we forget there are people around us whom we can serve in many little ways. Yet I know that it is when we go outside our comfort zones and make others happy that we experience true happiness.

May we open up our hearts and hands to those who need some type of comfort or help. May we learn to give more of our time, talents, and resources liberally that we may experience the real meaning of being happy.

Have a great week everybody! Let’s try reaching out to others and experience the joy and happiness that it brings! 🙂

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The way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life.

I’d like to share these excerpts taken from a general conference talk of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin as he spoke of an advice given him by his mother when as a young man he came home discouraged after losing a game of football.

The complete transcript of his talk may be found in:


Enjoy watching!! 🙂

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I was once enjoying late lunch with a friend when out of the blue a large fly swirled around us trying to get its share of our exotic meal! The waitress at the restaurant was embarrassed yet attentive enough to see our situation and immediately brought a medium-sized candle on our table –apparently to help shoo away our uninvited guest.

But instead of avoiding the clear sign of danger, the impulsive insect dove straight into the candle light as if toying with its fate. It naturally burned its wings and within a blink of an eye dropped onto the plate of my horrified friend. We couldn’t believe how fast things happened. We found ourselves trying to get the fly off the table while its body wiggled and struggled to get out of its predicament. It dropped onto the floor and while my friend told me to step on it, I only watched it literally “walk” its way out of our presence, limping and squirming with pain. It must’ve been terrified by the thought of its imminent death as well. We never knew if it made its way back home, or if its wings ever healed again, but it certainly suffered the excruciating consequence of its action.

We paused for awhile and thought how foolish that fly was for going straight into the candle light without thinking of the consequences. Yet between the long pauses, all my friend could utter was this: “Temptation.”

How many times in our lives have we acted like this foolish fly? We recognize danger and yet we sometimes think we are strong enough to withstand it so we head straight towards it and eventually burn our “wings.” Hopefully when this happens we won’t be placed in a situation where it’s too late to turn back and like the foolish fly suffer the consequences of our actions. I pray that in our dealings with our weaknesses and temptations we can gather the essential courage to mend our ways, get back on the right path, and be given enough time to eventually make amends and set things right.

Enjoy the weekend everybody and keep these thoughts in mind the next time you see a fly swirling around a candle light.

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(Photograph by Melanie Gapiz)

After three years of planning, preparation, and thousands of cumulative hours of participant rehearsals, the Jubilee celebration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has finally come!!! 🙂

As I sat on the edge of my seat watching the festivity and cheering the other participants, I was extremely grateful and my heart was overcome with emotions for having had the privilege of being part of the momentous occasion! 🙂

Throughout the course of the rehearsals, I witnessed how the opposition worked his way through various means, using different people and their weaknesses, to try to stop this effort from progressing.  I have seen many frustrated faces, and people quitting in the midst of all the preparations due to disappointments and discouragement. Some left simply because they got exhausted and did not see the grand outcome that was meant to be. Many cynics doubted and some begrudgingly supported the event.

Yet a great majority withstood the test and endured to the very end. These are the ones who enjoyed their journey and learned the sweetness of its value as they looked forward to their destination. These are they who, despite their mortal differences, learned to exercise the virtue of patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, and humility. They are the ones who experienced the joy of service, unconditional love, and found among themselves new and lasting friendships.  

At the end of the celebration, I realized that all the grand preparations made were befitting the occasion. It was a token of gratitude from the Filipino people to our God and King, for all the blessings we received on this land since the preaching of the gospel 50 years ago. It was worth all the hard work putting everything together—our talents, our time—to come up with the best that we could offer Him. Hence, I was moved and most grateful to hear, by the mouth of one of His servants, that our offerings had been accepted.

I think that life in general will be like this Jubilee celebration. The preparations will not be easy for the glorious end. Many will fall and lose their way. Yet those who will endure to the end will receive their sweetest reward—much more than they have ever imagined.

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