“If you go preaching, no come back. If you come back, I go break your two leg.” Wetin my papa talk come still dey ring for my ear, but I still choose to comot for house. Na 16 years I dey that time. This na the first time wey I leave something to follow Jesus, the Master.
MAKE I tell una how e take happen. Na July 29, 1929, dem born me. I grow for one village for Bulacan, wey dey Philippines. Because things hard that time, everybody for our area come dey live simple life. When I dey young, dem come dey fight war. Japan soldier come enter Philippines. But the war no too affect us because our village far from where the war for dey happen. We no get radio, television, and newspaper, so na from people mouth we take hear about the war.
Na eight children we be, and na me be second pikin. When I dey eight years, my grandpapa and grandmamma come carry me go stay their place. Even though sey we be Catholic, my grandpapa get open mind about religion and e dey collect book about religion wey im friends dey give am. I remember one time wey e show me some small books for Tagalog language. Their name na Protection, Safety, and Uncovered. * E still show me Bible. I dey like to read Bible well well, especially Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This one come dey make me want follow Jesus example.—John 10:27.
I LEARN TO FOLLOW THE MASTER
Na 1945 Japan soldier comot for Philippines. Around that time, my papa and mama come sey make I come house. My grandpapa come tell me sey make I go. So I come go.
E no tey, for December 1945, some Jehovah Witness people wey dey the town of Angat come preach for our village. One Jehovah Witness wey don old come preach for our house. E tell us wetin Bible talk about “the last days.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) E come invite us go one Bible study for one village wey near our own. My papa and mama no go, but I go. E reach around 20 people wey come, and some of dem ask question about Bible.
I no really understand everything wey dem talk for there. So I tell myself sey I go comot. As I want comot, dem come start to sing Kingdom song. The song really sweet me, so I come stay. After dem sing and pray finish, dem come still invite all of us for another meeting for Angat the next Sunday.
Na for Brother Cruz house dem do the meeting, and some of us waka about five miles (8 km) before we reach there. Na 50 people come the meeting. E surprise me to see how small children take dey answer question for deep Bible topic. After I don go meeting for some time, one old brother wey im name na Damian Santos come sey make I come sleep for im house. Im na pioneer, and na mayor e be before. We nearly use the whole night take talk about Bible.
That time, many of us never learn plenty things for Bible. But, even with the small wey we know, we quick change many things for our life. After small time wey we go meeting, the brothers come ask us whether we want baptize. I come talk sey, “Yes, I want baptize.” I know sey I want work for Jesus, wey be the Master. (Col. 3:24) So, for February 15, 1946, dem baptize me and another brother for one river wey no far from where we dey.
We know sey as we don baptize, we suppose preach everytime the way Jesus do. But my papa no happy for wetin I dey do. E come tell me sey, “You too small to preach. Dem put you inside water no mean sey you don turn to preacher.” I tell am sey God want make we dey preach the good news about im Kingdom. (Matt. 24:14) I still tell am sey, “I want do wetin I promise Jehovah.” Na that time my papa take threaten me sey, if I go preaching, make I no come back. E sey if I come back, e go break my two leg. E really serious for wetin e talk, and e no want make I preach. And that na the first thing wey make me leave everything, so that I go fit do God own.
Brother Cruz and im family come sey make I come stay with dem for Angat. Dem advice me and one of their daughter wey im name na Nora, to do pioneer work. Na for November 1, 1947 we start to pioneer. Na another place Nora for serve. But I continue to preach for Angat.
ANOTHER THING WEY MAKE ME LEAVE EVERYTHING
For the third year wey I dey pioneer, Brother Earl Stewart from Bethel come visit Angat. And e give talk for one open place for Angat. E pass 500 people wey listen to im talk. Na English e use give the talk. After, I come use Tagalog language take explain am give the brothers. Na only seven years I spend for school. But wetin help me sabi speak English be sey, our teachers dey always use English teach us. Another thing wey help me be sey, since Jehovah organization no too get books for Tagalog language, na English own I come dey read pass. So with the English wey I learn, I come fit interpret the talk. And as time dey go, I come still dey interpret other talk.
That day wey I interpret for Brother Stewart, e tell the congregation sey dem want one or two brothers wey be pioneer for Bethel. This na because the missionaries dey go the Theocracy’s Increase Assembly for New York, U.S.A. for 1950. So dem dey invite the brothers make dem come help dem for Bethel. I dey among the brothers wey dem invite. I come comot from the place wey I know well well again. This time, na to go work for Bethel.
I start to work for Bethel for June 19, 1950. Na one big old house dem use as Bethel. Na big big tree surround the house, and na two-and-a-half acre (1 ha) of land dem use. About 12 single brothers dey work for there. For early morning, I go work for kitchen. Then around nine o’clock, I go come go dey iron cloth for laundry. Na so I still dey do for afternoon. Even when the missionaries come back from the international assembly, I still continue to serve for Bethel. I do any work wey dem sey make I do. For example, I wrap magazine wey dem want send go congregation. Na me dey care for the order wey people make for book, and I still work for reception.
I COMOT FOR PHILIPPINES GO GILEAD SCHOOL
For 1952, I happy well well when dem invite me come the 20th class of Gilead School for United States. We be seven for Philippines wey dem invite. For there, we see many things wey we never see before, and we learn new things for there. The things for there really different from wetin I know before for my small village.
For example, we learn how to use things like cooker, and washing machine. We still learn how to use fork and knife chop. Even the weather for there different from our own! E get one morning wey I go outside, everywhere white and e fine. Na the first time wey I see snow be that. Everywhere cold well well no be small!
As time dey go, all this new things no come be anything to me again. I come dey enjoy the fine fine things wey dem dey teach us for Gilead. The way dem take teach us for the school really make sense. We learn to do better research and study. The training wey dem give us for Gilead School don really help me near Jehovah pass before.
After the school, dem come send me go do special pioneer work for small time, for Bronx wey dey New York City. So for July 1953, I come go the New World Society Assembly wey dem do for the same area for New York City. After the assembly, Jehovah organization come send me go do another work for Philippines.
I LEAVE THE BETTER LIFE FOR CITY
The brothers for Bethel come tell me sey, “Na circuit overseer work you go do now.” This one give me another chance to do the same thing wey Jesus do. Jesus travel go far far place to help Jehovah people. (1 Pet. 2:21) The circuit wey I serve cover plenty area for central Luzon. Luzon na the island wey big pass for Philippines. Some of the area wey I go for central Luzon na, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, and Zambales. Na Sierra Madre Mountains I dey pass if I want go visit some town. The road no smooth at all, and na so so stone full am. No bus or train dey carry person reach all this area. Because of that one, I go beg the people wey dey use big truck carry wood if I fit sitdown ontop the wood wey dem carry. Dem dey let me sitdown many times, but e no easy to sitdown ontop the wood.
Many of the congregation dey new, and people no many. So when I help the brothers arrange meeting and preaching well, e dey make dem happy.
Later, dem come carry me go another circuit. The circuit cover the whole Bicol region for Philippines. Na different different group, wey never reach congregation, full the circuit. Special pioneers for all this group dey preach for territory wey dem never preach before. E get one house wey I stay, and for this house, better toilet no dey. The only toilet wey dey na one hole wey dem dig for ground. Dem use two wood take cross the center of the hole. When I stand ontop the wood, me and the wood come fall inside the hole. E take me time to wash my body well before I chop morning food!
Na when I dey this circuit I start to think about Nora. Nora first start to pioneer for Bulacan. Later, dem send am go do special pioneer work for Dumaguete City, and I go visit am. After that one, we continue to dey talk to each other for some time, and for 1956, we come marry. The first week after we marry, we visit one congregation wey dey Rapu Rapu Island. We waka well well, and we even climb mountains. But e sweet us for body well well as we serve our brothers for all this village as husband and wife!
DEM INVITE ME COME BETHEL AGAIN
Me and my wife do circuit work together for almost four years. Dem come invite us come Bethel. So, from January 1960 come reach now, na Bethel we still dey. All this time, I don learn many things as I dey work with brothers wey dey do plenty work for Bethel. Nora self don do different different work for Bethel.
Jehovah don really bless me. As I dey serve for Bethel, I don see how Jehovah people don take plenty for Philippines. The first time wey I come Bethel, I dey young, and I never marry. That time, na about 10,000 publishers dey Philippines. But now e don pass 200,000 publishers wey dey Philippines. And the Bethelite wey dey there many reach 435. The work wey dem dey do for Bethel dey support the preaching work for Philippines.
As time dey go, the work for there come dey increase. So, Bethel come too small. Governing Body come tell us sey make we find land buy so that we go build new Bethel wey big well well. Me and the brother wey be overseer for printery come dey go from house to house around Bethel. We dey ask people if dem go like sell their land. But nobody want sell. One Chinese person wey get land even tell us sey: “Chinese people no dey sell. Na buy we dey buy.”
But, one day, one man wey get land come ask us if we go like buy im land; the man dey pack go United States. We no even expect am at all! Wetin that man do come make other people do the same thing. One person come talk sey e go like sell im own. E even advice other people around am make dem still sell their own. Even the man wey talk sey “Chinese people no dey sell,” come still sell im own give us. E no tey, the size of Bethel come big pass times three of how e be before. Wetin happen really surprise us, we no fit believe our eye! I know sey, na Jehovah make am happen like this.
That time for 1950, na me young pass for Bethel. But now, na me and my wife old pass for Bethel. I go anywhere wey the Master sey make I go, and I no regret am at all. Na true sey my papa and mama drive me comot for house, but Jehovah don give me plenty brothers and sisters wey dey serve Jehovah with me. Na dem be my family. I know sey no matter the assignment wey dem give us, Jehovah dey give us everything wey we need. Me and my wife really thank Jehovah well well for the better better things wey e dey give us. We dey advice other people sey make dem do wetin go make Jehovah bless dem.—Mal. 3:10.
E get one time wey Jesus invite one tax collector wey im name na Matthew Levi. E tell am sey: “Come follow me.” Wetin Matthew do? “E get up leave everything wey e dey do, come follow [Jesus].” (Luke 5:27, 28) Me self don get that kind opportunity. And I want tell other people make dem do the same thing. If dem do am, Jehovah go bless dem well well.
^ par. 6 Na Jehovah Witness people print am but we no dey print am again.