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Testimonies of Seminary From the Largest Seminary Class in the Philippines

                                                       

The seminary program of the Matnog Branch (congregation), Bulan District of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown phenomenally during the last six years. Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year with 23 students enrolled to the 2016-2017 school year with 82 students enrolled.

Hearing testimonies of students, teachers, leaders and parents is the best part of this phenomenal success.

                                            

Seeing the potential in each of her students, Margie Adiong (Home Study Teacher) is committed and willing to go the extra mile to help her students have a positive and effective learning experience in seminary.

Because of the conflict of schedules and the inconvenience of convening the students at one place every Saturday, Margie thought of a way where she could still teach each of her students at a time that works best in their schedule and in a setting that is comfortable to them. She groups some of her students into clusters. With those who are in remote locations who could not afford to join the clusters, she goes to their houses and teach them in their homes. Not only does her effort enable her to work with her students closely but allows her to involve their parents in the learning process as well.

                               


Driven by his sincere desire to help the youth prepare to serve missions and become great leaders in the future, Alex Castidades (Daily Seminary Teacher) is brave enough to accept the call as a daily seminary teacher in the Matnog Branch and to travel far distances just to teach.

When asked what he thinks motivate the youth to keep attending seminary, he said that it is because they understand how important the program is in their own individual lives. As a gospel teacher, he believes that when you teach by the Spirit, both the students and the teacher are edified. He explains, “The more I teach these students, the more I see the future of these young people and the things they can do to help build the kingdom of God. I pray for my students and help them see that what they learn in seminary will greatly help them develop Christ-like attributes and equip them with the right knowledge for their future mission.”

Influenced by her cousin May-Anne’s love for seminary and the positive changes it brought in her life, Jonalyn Genodipa (Seminary Student) also took the same path and is now one of the active seminary students in the Matnog Branch.

She considers seminary as a blessing in her life. She shared that despite some of the opposition within her family, she knows that what she had learned and will continue to learn will benefit her in the succeeding days and for all eternity. She said that the seminary program has helped her re-affirm the truths she had learned since she was baptized. She now knows without a shadow of doubt that God is our Father in Heaven, that Jesus Christ is His Son, and that He came to earth to redeem us from our sins and mistakes.

Due to the new education program implemented in the Philippines, 11th Grade high school student May-Anne Gabelo of the Matnog Branch had the option to enroll in the seminary program again even though she had already completed the courses previously.

When asked why she opted to re-enroll in seminary, she explained that she wanted to set an example to her fellow youth. This way, they can understand and appreciate the importance of seminary in their lives. She also said that the decision made a positive impact in her life, which also led to other amazing changes such as a more loving relationship with others, balanced and wise use of time, increased desire to invite others to enroll in and attend seminary classes, and most importantly, being more worthy of the Spirit.

Sister Gabelo expressed, “For me, attending seminary is not just an ordinary activity but I consider it as a commandment from the Lord. It’s not a time to escape from the daily chores from the home but an opportunity for me to rest myself from the rigorous work in the school and to feed my spirit with the words of God. I love attending seminary for it does not only strengthens me to make correct decisions but more so, is the peace and tranquility that come every time I am inside the class and as I listened to the promptings of the Spirit.”

              

       

 Now preparing to serve a full-time mission, Marlo Tanedo of the Matnog Branch is a consistent and dedicated seminary student then and now. She had graduated from seminary but still chooses to attend seminary daily to help her increase her knowledge of the gospel, to strengthen her testimony, and to better prepare her to become the best missionary that she can become.

Marlo shares that at one point she did not like attending seminary. A second chance at it became a major turning point in her life. She remembered that a good friend invited her to go to class with her and felt that the lesson for that day was meant for her, which rekindled her desire to attend seminary and to continue to learn. She said that her parents' loving support has greatly made an impact on her dedication to attend seminary classes. Marlo shares that has developed a greater love for the scriptures as she participates in the program and learn with other youth. She also feels her faith growing.

She said, “I know Heavenly Father loves me and he cares for me every time I am in seminary! I feel closer to Him. There are things that I cannot express in words and it’s more of a feeling so unique that I can feel a connection with Heavenly Father and to the Saviour Jesus Christ.”

“Attending seminary has blessed me with a clearer understanding of who I am and the purposes why I am here. I enjoy the fun, the excitement and, above all, the associations I had with seminary classmates. The principles and doctrines I have learned in seminary class has helped me make righteous decisions. I am more resolve now to serve a full-time mission and excited to share the gospel with others.

Wanting the best for her children, Analyn Mendoza (Parent) of Matnog Branch supports her daughter Trixie in her involvement in the seminary program. She said that after class, usually at around 6:00 in the evening, she reminds Trixie to go to seminary and prepares her things. She also helps Trixie with her reading assignments and helps her understand some areas in the lesson she does not quite comprehend.

According to Analyn, there have been remarkable changes in her daughter since she started going to seminary. Trixie doesn’t gallivant as much as she used to. She became more refined in her speech and in the way she communicates with others. She surrounds herself with people and friends who uplift her and are great examples to her. She has also increased her knowledge and understanding of the gospel. She also said that even though her daughter is doing really well, it is still part of her responsibility to set a good example and to provide the best support for her.

Viewing from the lens of a parent and a priesthood leader, President Gabelo knows the significant contribution of seminary in the spiritual maturity and growth of the youth today, and its importance in a world of changing values.

He said that the principles and skills the youth learn in seminary, whether those are doctrines outlined in the manual or just simply life skills they obtain as they make seminary a priority, will benefit them for the rest of their lives. That’s why he does his best as a priesthood leader to take an active part in helping the students love and enjoy seminary. He shared that one of the things he does to determine the areas that students need help with is by conducting interviews with them individually and then mobilizes the branch council to come up with solutions to help resolve the concerns of the students. He added that he visits all the students in their homes personally to talk to them with their parents.

The Matnog Branch has followed the example of Jesus Christ by seeking out the "one" and helping each seminary student to be successful.

Reported by Richard Manahan and Joan Azucena

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