News Release

“Staying the Course” and not “Sliding Backwards”

A bishop and his wife find joy in staying true to the gospel as they walk the covenant path

Orlando's 2023
Orlando's 2023
Caroline and Simon Orlando© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Simon and Caroline Orlando are from the island of Pohnpei.  Their journey to get to the covenant path was a difficult one, especially for Simon.  He grew up in a protestant home where his father was the pastor.  They were taught to hate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints known as the “Mormons”.  He was taught that this church worshipped Joseph Smith, so Simon grew up hating Joseph Smith as well. He would later learn that this was incorrect.

After Simon’s parents passed away, he finally allowed his wife, Caroline, and their three children to be taught by the missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their home.   Simon had many bad habits such as alcohol and drugs.  He was not interested in what the missionaries had to say.  Whenever they came, he would leave.  He didn’t want to be in the house when they were there. He allowed them to keep coming and teaching his family in spite of his feelings towards them and the Church. 

Their two sons, who were about thirteen years old and ten years old, were baptized first.  Because they were both under eighteen years old, they needed at least one parent’s signature to give permission.  Sister Orlando said that she agreed and signed the form.  She was invited to their baptism and to attend church as well.  She did go to church and their son’s baptisms.  The sister missionaries continued to come over to their house and teach them the gospel.  She enjoyed listening to them and learning more about the gospel.  Her sons were good examples.  One day the missionaries asked her if she wanted to be baptized.  She said: “I told them yes!  I want to take Jesus as my Savior.”  She and their daughter were baptized in the Church.

Simon was not upset when his wife and children joined the Church, but he still had no interest in it.  He did watch them and witnessed how they were changing for the better.  Caroline and their children asked Simon to quit doing the drugs and alcohol and come to church.  He told them to not force the church on him.  This was a decision that he would make on his own.  He began to slowly wean himself off the drugs and alcohol but found it difficult.  Around this time, he was riding in the back of a pickup truck with some of his brothers and fell out, breaking his leg. The break was bad, making it impossible for him to walk.  He did not want to go to the hospital or to any doctors.  He tried using traditional medicine and remembered the massage and oil technique that his father had used before.  (His father was treated like a doctor in their village.)  His wife would hold his foot and pull in an attempt to reset his leg.  It was very painful.  Caroline suggested that he ask the missionaries for a blessing to be healed.  He was hesitant and decided to wait until he could be with the missionaries alone to ask them.  He didn’t feel good and was in a lot of pain.  One day while his wife and children were at church, he asked the missionaries to come over to see him.  They came and read the Bible to him and passages from the Book of Mormon.  As soon as they mentioned Joseph Smith, he said: “I hate Joseph Smith!”  Over time, Simon softened and began to read the Book of Mormon.  He realized that it was scripture just like the Bible.  He was familiar with the Bible because it was taught in his home growing up.   He began having questions such as: “Where did I come from?  Why am I here?  Where am I going after I die?”  The missionaries taught him that we lived with our Father in Heaven before we came to earth.  We were sent down to earth not only to receive a body, but to do a work given to us by God.  He learned about baptisms for the dead.  This doctrine was powerful to him, and he knew that it was true.  He remembered reading in 1 Corinthians 15:29 about baptisms for the dead.  Through Joseph Smith he learned that if you lack wisdom, you can ask God in prayer for the answers.  Simon’s heart was touched and was changing.  He asked the missionaries for a blessing for him and for the healing of his leg.  After the blessing, he threw away his sticks/crutches and walked on his own!  He began attending church, learning more about God, and was eventually baptized. 

His first calling after getting baptized was as a counselor in the young men’s presidency.  He was only serving in that calling for a short time when he was asked to be the first counselor in the bishopric.  This call came as a surprise to him.  He didn’t feel ready for such a call because he was still new to the church.  He didn’t speak, write, or read English very well.  He also did not feel confident on the computers.  As a counselor, it was his job to enter things into the computer.  This was difficult for him, but he said: “God helped me.  I learned how to enter and make expense reports for the tithing and fast offering funds.”  He ended up serving in another bishopric before being called as the bishop of his ward. 

He has witnessed people who were once strong and active in the Church stop coming and “slide backwards”.  With conviction in his voice, he said: “If I slide backwards, the ‘door’ may close. I had made a promise to my brother that I would not slide backwards.  I know the importance of setting a good example, particularly over the pulpit.  I preach against those things and if I turn around and do them, what kind of example am I?”

 He has seen many blessings that have come to him and others by paying an honest tithing. He and his wife taught their children the importance of paying their tithing saying: “The Lord only asks for ten percent, not fifty or seventy-five percent.” 

Their oldest son is currently serving a mission for the Church in Rwanda Africa and planning on attending BYU-Hawaii when he returns.  They were able to be sealed as a family in the Yigo Guam Temple last year.  Simon and Caroline have strong testimonies of the scriptures and listening to the prophet and apostles on the earth today.  They said that the gospel gives them hope.  When a loved one dies, they know that this life is not the end.  Simon had the opportunity to be proxy for his parents and a few of his siblings who have died.  Sister Orlando said that they have family members who don’t believe these truths.  “We pray for them and hope that one day they will accept the gospel.” 

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