News Release

Blessings From the Lord Come When a Young Widow Prays

A young mother hears about the gospel and learns that the Lord answers prayers

Yanruw from Yap 2023
Yanruw from Yap 2023
Elvira & Sylvester Yanruw from Yap © 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Elvira Reeniyan Matam Yanruw is from the island of Yap, a small island which is part of the Federated States of Micronesia.  She became a widow at a young age and was left to care for their five young children. Life was hard.  There were many times where they didn’t have enough to eat.  She was blessed with a wonderful grandmother who came to her aid often.  Her oldest son found a job after school to help buy food for the family as well. 

One day while visiting her sister, two missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints came by to teach them.  She listened to what they had to say.  She was a Catholic at the time.  The missionaries told her that she could pray.  At her church, it was just the “Father” who prayed while everyone else listened.  When she returned her home, her youngest daughter kept crying.    One of her sons would put his sister in the car and drive her around until she fell asleep.  This continued for several days.  In the morning Sister Yanruw discovered that her little girl kept crying because she wanted to see her father.  Sister Yanruw told her: “You cannot see your father because he passed away.  If you want to see your father, you have to ask Jesus.”  After that, her daughter stopped crying and began to pray: “Jesus, I need my father because I don’t have money.  I don’t have cookies.  We don’t have food.”  That afternoon this same little girl was playing outside and got sick.  Her feet became swollen.  She had scratched a sore and it had become infected, making her sick.  Sister Yanruw took her to the village hospital, and they wanted to cut off her feet.   She refused to let them do that, so she took her back home.  She cut down a traditional plant used for medicinal purposes, put the leaves in water and boiled it.  She let it cool slightly and then washed her daughter’s feet in it.  She prayed for her daughter’s feet.  That evening a lady came by and gave her twenty dollars for gas and food in a small box.  In that box were the items that her daughter had prayed for!  Sister Yanruw was so touched that she broke down crying. She told her daughter to thank God for answering her prayers.  They were able to buy some meat and, with the okra in her garden, were able to have a nice meal.  Her daughter’s feet healed.  She gathered her children together and told them: “From now on, we will pray to Jesus about the things you need like clothes and food to eat.”  And they did, morning and night! 

Several years later, Elvira got really sick and was told that she had a blockage in her heart.  She was sent to the hospital in Palau.  One of her daughters had met and married a young man from Palau and they lived there.  This daughter took care of her until she recovered.   Elvira had developed the habit of drinking and chewing tobacco like her previous husband. The doctors told her to stop doing those things because of her heart condition.  The night before she went into the hospital for her heart, she had a dream. In her dream she saw a man in a white robe with a staff.  He was standing by a big door knocking on it.  She woke up not knowing what that dream was about.  On her way to the doctor, she noticed a small picture on her daughter’s wall that she hadn’t seen before.  It was a picture of Jesus standing at a door knocking!  She got excited and said: “That was my dream!”  The next morning, two missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knocked on their door. They talked to her about the Church. She was interested in hearing more  about the gospel.

The following Sunday, her daughter and son in-law went to work, and she stayed home with her two grandchildren.  She really wanted to go to the church that the missionaries told her about.  She said a prayer saying: “Heavenly Father, I want to go to church but I don’t have a way to get there.  I am too weak to walk, and I don’t have a car.”  Shortly after her prayer, her son in-law’s brother knocked on the door.  He asked her if she needed anything.  She told him that she wanted to go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He drove her and the grandkids to the Church and dropped them off at the door.  She stood at the door not knowing whether she should open it or wait for someone to open it for her.  Suddenly, the door opened, and she was invited to come in!  She and the children enjoyed the sacrament meeting.  The branch president talked to her after the meeting and showed her and the children around the building.  He told her about Relief Society and Primary.  He offered to take them home when the meetings were over.  About two hours after returning home, two sister missionaries showed up at the door.  They taught her more about the Church.  They also taught her daughter and grandchildren about the gospel.  At one lesson, they brought a hymn book to the house and asked Sister Yanruw what kind of hymn she’d like to sing.  Her granddaughter quickly said: “I Am a Child of God!”  She laughed and told the missionaries that there probably wasn’t a song about that.  Smiling, the missionaries opened the hymn book and showed her that there actually was a hymn called “I Am a Child of God.”  They sang it for her.  Tears filled her eyes and she felt warmth in her heart.  After hearing the song, she knew that she wanted to quit drinking and chewing.  The missionaries helped her and encouraged her to pray to the Lord for help.  She said: “I know that I am a child of God because the Lord helped me to stop doing those things that were hurting my body.”  Her and her daughter were soon baptized and became members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Sister Yanruw said that when she came up out of the water, it felt like she was floating.  She said: “I don’t think my feet even touched the gound!” 

She asked her son in-law, who she learned was a member of the Church, but not active,  if he would start going to church again and take his family.  He kept his word and began attending church once more.  The missionaries continued to come by and teach them.  She never learned to read, so they would come over and read the Book of Mormon to her.  She learned how to speak English by watching programs on her daughter’s television.  She taught the missionaries how to speak Yapese. 

When she returned to Yap, she taught her children the gospel.  Several of them have now joined the Church.  She continues to pray for those that have not joined yet.  She prays that they will someday.  She has tried to teach her older brothers and sisters.  They are happy to help her, but they have never wanted to listen to what she had to say about the gospel.  She has hope that one day they will accept the gospel. 

She was able to go to the temple, receive her own endowments, and be sealed to her first husband.  About three years ago, she married Sylvester A. Yanruw.  In December 2023, they were able to go to the temple for him to be sealed to his first wife.  Because Elvira was already sealed to her first husband, she became the proxy for his first wife.  This was his first time to come to the temple and it was a wonderful trip!  They were able to perform baptisms for the dead.  She said that the first time she was baptized in the temple, she had the same experience that she had when she was baptized.  She felt like she was floating!  Describing her experience, she said: “I felt like I could fly!  I waived my arms, but of course of could not fly!  I don’t think my feet could even touch the ground! I could feel my family very close to me in the temple.  I could feel that someone was there helping me even if I couldn’t see them with my eyes.  The Spirit was very strong.  It’s a special place.  The Spirit in this Church is very strong.  This Church is true.  I have faith in Jesus Christ and in our Father in Heaven.  I have a testimony of prayer.” 

Sylvester said that before he was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he always drank and chewed tobacco.  Elvira introduced him to the Church and like her, he was able to quit doing those things.  His life has really changed since becoming a member of this Church.  He said: “The gospel has made me very happy.  My body is even better and seems healed since I quit drinking and chewing.  Before I joined the Church, I was blind in one of my eyes.  Now, even though it’s not really clear, I can see out of that eye!  It was hard to change, especially chewing tobacco.”  The missionaries helped him to stop chewing by teaching him to come off of the tobacco a little bit each day until he was finally able to quit completely.  To this day, he has never chewed again.  The missionaries blessed him and his wife to have no desire to chew again.  His wife prayed for him to quit as well.  Sister Yanruw said: “I know that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. I know that I am a child of God and that He helped me to live after my heart episode.  The Lord healed me and made me strong.”  She knows that the Lord has done the same thing for her husband.    

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