News Release

Recently Baptized Member Finds the Church in Her Family History

I Can Feel Their Arms Around Me

Madline Balbastor© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

When Madline Alifios Balbastor was baptized in Guam in 2018, she had no idea that her roots in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ran deep. Not long after her baptism, Madline called her sister in Chuuk State of the Federated States of Micronesia, to share the exciting news, only to learn that her sister was also attending the Church. That only added to Madline’s excitement. But Madline would soon learn that her family’s connections to the Church ran even deeper.

Madline thought her journey to Christ began in 2018, when her nephew called her saying that he had accepted the Gospel and asked if she would listen to the missionaries. Madline said no, but her nephew was persistent, and “wore her down.” Soon two sister missionaries – Sister White and Sister Newyear – showed up at her door. Madline keeps a picture of the missionaries teaching her that first day. She was nervous and excited at the same time, and wondered if she would open up her heart to this new Gospel. The answer was a resounding yes. In that first lesson, she was extremely quiet on the outside, but her heart was pounding on the inside. Madline knew this was God speaking to her, and Madline started asking lots of questions from the second lesson on. She made changes in her life and was prepared to be baptized on August 5, 2018.

Madline Balbastor with Sister Jillian White.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

The plan was for her to be baptized in the ocean that day, but the weather was extremely windy and rainy. Madline asked the missionaries if she should postpone her baptism. Sister White told her she just needed to pray to see the blessings in her life every day. So Madline put Sister White to the test and prayed, asking for forgiveness, and giving thanks for guiding her to the Church. When she went outside to go to the baptism, the wind and rain stopped and the sun came out, another blessing and testimony for Madline.

A few months after her baptism, Madline started working with senior missionaries Dean and Janet Buck, who were serving as Family History missionaries in Guam from Loveland, Colorado, to learn about her ancestors. One day while they were doing research together, the FamilySearch program indicated there could be a duplicate record for Madline's parents. They determined it must be her parents because a lot of the information matched. The record showed that her parents’ baptism had been completed. This surprised everyone because they assumed the work would have to have been done in the Temple after the parents died. They then looked at the date of the work, and the baptisms were performed in 1979. Madline's parents died in 1993, so they had been baptized before their deaths, which could only mean they had been members of the Church. Since the first missionaries arrived in Chuuk in 1977, Madline's parents were probably some of the first members of the church there. The membership records also showed that Madline had been named and blessed in church by her parents. It was only at that point that Madline began to recall going to church at the LDS Chapel in Chuuk. Madline was stunned! She was so excited that she started to cry.

Sister and Brother Balbastor with Dean and Janet Buck.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

What Madline learned next about her siblings was just as startling. After her baptism, Madline visited her sister in Chuuk, where her sister was also attending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her sister thought she was a member from long before, but there was no record of her baptism and she soon began taking missionary lessons. After her sister’s baptism, Madline asked the missionaries in Chuuk to visit her older brother and teach him the Gospel. When the Elders showed up at his house he said, "Why are you visiting me? I'm already a member." Evidently, he had been baptized as a youth and was less active and Madline didn't know he was a member. While researching her family history with Sister Buck, Madline also discovered another brother who had immigrated to the U.S. and joined the Church there before he passed away. Madline says her heart is full of joy when she thinks about her family’s ties to the Gospel.

Madline continued working with the Bucks to find out more about her parents and other ancestors. Without a temple nearby, her parents were never endowed or sealed in the temple, and Madline felt so blessed when she learned that a temple was being built on Guam. She can’t wait for the dedication so she can go to the temple for her own endowment, and to be sealed to her parents, as well as her husband and son who were also baptized. When Elder Buck told Madline that her parents are gathering her family from the other side of the veil, Madline said “I can feel their arms around me.”

For their part, Elder and Sister Buck we extremely grateful to work with Madline. “On our first visit to Madline she was in her yard, excited to see us, making sure we found her home. Helping Madline with her family history was like hunting for treasure, and we always found something precious. Each session we began with prayer and were inspired by Madline's testimony and love for the Savior and the Gospel. The directing influence of the Holy Ghost was evident with each new piece of information we discovered together. We know Madline will feel the loving arms of her Savior around her and her family as she takes their names to the new Yigo Guam Temple and is sealed with them as an Eternal Family."

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