Missionaries find way to heart of cook, resulting in baptism

It's not uncommon for a good cook to capture the stomachs – and hearts – of those she or he cooks for.

But the roles were reversed for Obdulia "Delia" Coquia when the recipients of her cooking captured her heart instead, which resulted in her baptism.

CIt began in July 1989 when mission Pres. Donald L. and Sister Irene Hilton began their service in the Philippines Manila Mission. The mission was in need of a cook.

Delia, not a member of the Church, had an impressive resume, having worked in several embassies, as well as in Europe and Asia.

"With her sweet disposition and her culinary skills she quickly won the hearts and stomachs of the missionaries," Sister Hilton explained.

One example of her kindness occurred when the Philippines entered a civil war on Dec. 1, 1989, following an attempted coup by rebel soldiers to overthrow the government.

Five young sister missionaries were in the mission home at the time, preparing to return home after completing their missions. They awoke that morning thinking they were going home, only to learn that they could not because of the danger.

"It was a time of great anxiety and also a time of closeness and dependence upon Heavenly Father," Sister Hilton said.

One particular sister missionary was from a village near Delia's home, and the two quickly felt a special bond and love between them.

They enjoyed discussing the gospel, and when the missionaries were finally able to leave, they arranged for Delia to receive the discussions. She also prepared her husband and sons to be taught.

On July 29, 1990, Delia and four members of her family were baptized.

"Delia loves the gospel and wants everyone else to have this opportunity," Sister Hilton said. "She is not afraid to open her mouth and give family, friends, neighbors and fellow jeepney passengers a chance to listen to the missionaries."

Many times Delia would mention to Sister Hilton the people who were taking the discussions following her contact. "We began to wonder after a few months how many there actually were," Sister Hilton said.

Sister Hilton asked Delia to write a list of all those who had been baptized as a result of her referrals, and in less than a year there had been 41 direct referrals baptized.

"The list is still growing because Delia loves people and is not afraid to talk to them," Sister Hilton remarked.

Delia is now looking forward to receiving her temple covenants and eventually hopes she and her husband can serve a full-time mission.