CAMILING, Philippines A few pesos saved can be a powerful motivation for a young man preparing for a mission in the Philippines. So a project evolved for the young men of the Camiling Philippines West District to make bamboo coin banks as part of their commemoration of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood in May.
District president Herbert Blas Lugo said during a Church News interview in his office on Saturday, Aug. 6, that since then, youth have dropped as much as 300 pesos (about $5.40 U.S.) into the banks, taking seriously the challenge to do what they can to help finance their own missions. He said that economic challenges in the rural area about 75 miles north of Manila where incomes are very low make it a real sacrifice for the youth to put money into their banks.
Jared Sisson, 16, was one of about two dozen youth who traveled as many as 12 miles to join their district president and show off their banks on the Saturday morning. Jared said the coin-bank project made him happy because it would help him be able to "help the Lord find His lost sheep." He expects that saving will not only prepare him for his mission but will also increase his consciousness of the value of money throughout his life.
Young men and young women displayed their banks proudly. Some had decorated or labeled their banks.
The idea to make coin banks out of bamboo was spawned by a training video produced specifically for leaders and members in the Philippines. In one video's scene about holding family home evening, a young man was given a bamboo bank by his parents so he could save his missionary money in it. Recalling the scene during a leadership meeting, then-Philippines Angeles Mission President Grant R. Brimhall suggested making banks would be a good project for the young men, according to President Lugo.
The young men of the district traveled to a farm and cut large bamboo stems from two trees on a Saturday in May. Then they sawed off each closed hollow section at the joints of the stems, cut a slot into it and had a bank. The banks are about 18 to 24 inches long and 3 to 6 inches in diameter. Actually a grass, mature bamboo is a very hard wood, making for durable banks.
The coin bank activity, which included snacks provided by the branches of the district, lasted about six hours, President Lugo said. It was followed by a Missionary Training Center experience for the young men during the afternoon at a nearby meetinghouse.
Through the generosity of those in a position to help, the first 20 pesos in each bank were donated, according to President Lugo, with the expectation that the young men would quickly match that amount to seed their mission savings. President Lugo said that about 60 youth have committed to go on a mission.
Since the Aaronic Priesthood project, many young women and young single adults have also obtained the banks and are saving.
The missionary zeal in the district of six branches is growing, President Lugo said. He noted that while only a year or two ago the area had just one full-time missionary in the field, the district now has four missionaries serving with two more elders and a sister waiting for their calls.
"We are challenging each branch to prepare at least one missionary in the next year," he said.
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