It was Sister Kalonihea’s dream to serve her mission in a place she could, ‘roll up her sleeves and get to work’. A mission call to the Philippines was exactly what she hoped for.

In the Tacloban Mission, she was regularly tending to crops, helping to fix up homes and clean out rubbish. Fire fighting wasn’t uncommon in these tightly packed communities. Many times missionaries would run to get buckets of water, helping as the entire neighbourhood would assist in fighting the flames of a kitchen fire or electrical failure.

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One very hot Tuesday afternoon, Sister Kalonihea and her companion, Sister Dumas, were having lunch after district meeting. From their apartment they saw smoke coming from another neighbourhood. Normally someone, somewhere was having a fire, but this time the smoke was thick and black. Upon hearing the sirens she knew it was a house fire, so immediately they packed up and rushed toward the direction of the smoke.

On arrival there were people everywhere. Two houses had caught fire and the fire department didn’t have enough water from the trucks to put out both the fires. Sister Kalonihea said:

“We just knew they needed our help, so we filled up buckets with water. There were people everywhere scrambling to help put out the fire, we got right to the front of the crowd”.

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“After the fire had been extinguished and everyone left we went to locate the family and offer our assistance. They were all just heart broken to see their home burned and wondered why God would allow this to happen”.

It then dawned on Sister Kalonihea that they had visited this home, just the week previous. This same family had told the missionaries they weren’t interested in hearing their message.

“We asked if we could help with the clean up, but they refused. Seeing the great need, and sensing the family’s pride, we insisted and just started hand washing some of their clothes, they were full of smoke and ash from the fire”.

“We weren’t washing for a long time, when one of the family members called us over to come and look at something, what we saw was amazing”.

The gentleman was clearing out a stack of completely unidentifiable burnt belongings, including papers and books. He knew the sisters were missionaries and knew their connection to the Book of Mormon. He said,

“Look, look, it’s the only book that’s not burnt, and look it’s not even wet”.

 

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Somehow this Book of Mormon, sandwiched in with a pile of ashes and burned books had survived the fire, practically untouched.

Totally unbeknown to these Sisters, this family had been looking into the church with other missionaries, years previously, and had been given the book that had remained on the shelf since.

The sisters began regularly teaching this family who saw the spared book as a miracle, and a sign from God that it was time to listen to the missionary message.

A week after Sister Kalonihea moved to her next area, the whole family was baptised members of the church and said that losing their home in the Philippines may have been the only way to find their new home and eternal place with God.

 

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