Editor's note: This article used information from Church Newsroom Philippines, which originally published a story on July 6, 2020, about pioneers in the Philippines. Since publication, it has been brought to our attention that some of the information in the Church Newsroom Philippines article is outdated, including the fact that Ruben Gapiz passed away in 2013. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused and still acknowledge the remarkable contributions of these pioneer Latter-day Saints.
Latter-day Saint pioneers aren’t just those who crossed the plains and settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Church members who have established the gospel in their native countries have also been pioneers in important ways. Here are two Latter-day Saint couples in the Philippines who have played an integral role in the Church since it was first established in that country nearly 60 years ago.
Nenita Reyes and Ruben Gapiz were some of the Church’s early converts in the Philippines and they became the first Filipino Latter-day Saint couple to marry.
Years later, when Ruben was diagnosed with cancer in the nasopharynx, doctors did not expect he would live long. But after receiving a patriarchal blessing, he found peace and determination to serve tirelessly in the Church.
“In August 1978,” he told Church Newsroom Philippines, “I received my patriarchal blessing from Patriarch F. Briton McConkie. My wife was in the room with me. . . . [The patriarch] did not have any prior knowledge of my affliction. Toward the end of the blessing, he pronounced these words, which brought tears to my eyes and caused my wife to sob softly: ‘You will live your life to the fullest and will be called to serve in many leadership positions.’”
Brother Gapiz's blessing was fulfilled as he served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, mission president, and as the chair of the committee which translated the Book of Mormon into Tagalog—a predominant language in the country. He also served as an Area Authority Seventy before his death in 2013.
Augusto Lim had been listening to the missionary discussions for nine months when the missionaries challenged him one last time to be baptized, according to ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
“I believed the principles of the Church, but I found it difficult to accept that Joseph Smith was a prophet,” he said. “I hadn’t really read the Book of Mormon up to that point, so I finally decided to follow the admonition of Mormon and read the book seriously. Things started opening up, and the Spirit was leading me to understand; I didn’t want to stop reading.
“I realized I had to be baptized, so I called up the missionaries and told them I was finally ready.”
At his baptism in October 1964, Augusto promised God that he would be active and do all he could to help with the work, Church Newsroom Philippines reported. His wife, Myrna Lim, was baptized one month later.
Since that day, Elder Lim has served in many callings, including branch president, stake president, mission president, and regional representative. He was also the Church's first General Authority to serve from the Philippines. Elder and Sister Lim served as president and matron of the Manila Philippines Temple in 1996. They were the first Filipino couple to lead the work at that temple.
Learn more about Elder Lim at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
See more photos of these Filipino pioneers and learn more about their stories at Church Newsroom Philippines.