On March 31, 2019, a Tagalog-speaking ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formed in Calgary, Alberta. The Memorial Ward boundaries will encompass the eight stakes in the city and will be a part of the Bow River Stake. Filipino members of different wards all throughout the city can decide whether they want their records transferred to the Memorial Ward. They are encouraged to ponder prayerfully what the Lord would have them do. The Memorial Ward will greatly bless the lives of the Filipinos in the Calgary area. The Lord is hastening His work in the gathering of scattered Israel by providing the gospel to His Saints in their respective languages.
Inviting All to Come unto Christ
The inaugural meeting consisted of a one-hour sacrament meeting. Those attending filled the chapel and even the back of the gym. Many Filipino brothers and sisters in the gospel along with their children were there to witness the creation of this new ward. The spirit at the meeting was powerful and incredible to feel.
The stake president of the Bow River Stake, reminded those in attendance of the purpose of the newly created ward—“to invite all to come unto Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:59). He explained that we do this by bringing people into the waters of baptism and into the holy temple to be sealed as families eternally.
For example, when Joseph Smith organized the restored Church of Jesus Christ on April 6, 1830, it was revealed to those who attended that initial meeting: “And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37). Cultures and times may be different, but the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the same as any other ward in Calgary or anywhere in the world.
New Leaders and Opportunities to Serve Others
Rodel Albello was called as the Memorial Ward’s bishop and his counsellors are Noel Acido and Jeffrey Aldea.
Bishop Albello is excited for this opportunity to serve the Lord and his fellow Filipinos. These men have been called of God to help everyone who attends the Memorial Ward to be worthy to partake of the sacrament, to help many enter the waters of baptism, and to guide all to the doors of the temple where they can receive sacred ordinances and covenants that will help them return to the presence of God.
For the past several years, and especially in the last several months, many leaders in the Calgary area have been fasting and praying about how they can help Filipino members of the Church. Calgary has been a wonderful place for many individuals and families from the Philippines to come and to establish their homes. These brothers and sisters of the gospel can now worship in a better way and be strengthened by one another. The hand of the Lord is clearly evident in bringing His children together.
New Opportunities for Tagalog Missionaries in Calgary
Elder Alan Hernández and Elder Arthur Fortes were designated to serve as the first Tagalog missionaries in the Memorial Ward. They explained that being present during the setting apart of Bishop Albello and his counsellors strengthened their testimonies in the priesthood. It was a privilege for them to observe how priesthood authority is conferred by the laying on of hands under the direction of those who have priesthood keys.
These missionaries have greatly enjoyed looking for new ways to reach out to the Tagalog community and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the Tagalog language. It has been an amazing experience for them to see the work of the Lord progress.
In mid June 2019, two new Tagalog-speaking missionaries arrived to further the work in the Memorial Ward: Elder Roberts and Elder Macabugao. Like Elder Hernández and Elder Fortes, they are eager to continue pioneering ways of helping this new ward and new language program in the Canada Calgary Mission. All four of them agree that they “are beyond excited and grateful to be serving here.”
Elder Alan Hernández Bids Farewell to the Canada Calgary Mission
Elder Hernandez states, “Serving in the Canada Calgary Mission has been such a blessing. There are so many different types of people here from all over the world and from every kind of background. I have taught people in English and also in Spanish about the gospel of Jesus Christ and the love that Heavenly Father has for all of us.
I started out my mission teaching in English and then switched to Spanish-speaking a couple of times. Cultures are different, but the gospel stays the same, and that’s what I have come to learn. We are all sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father.”
He concludes, “I can testify like Nephi: ‘For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding’ (2 Nephi 31:3). The gospel will be preached to all nations and to all tongues.”