Usually missionaries arrive at the Manila Missionary Training Center from 12 countries for about three weeks of training and then return to their respective countries. These missionaries come from India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and from throughout the Philippines — and now, for the first time, from Bangladesh.
Unlike his missionary counterparts from countries other than the Philippines, Elder Isaac Hawlader will not return to his native country but will serve in the Philippines Cauayan Mission. He is learning Tagalog, the major language of the Philippines.
Elder Hawlader is from Dhaka and joined the Church four years ago after encouraged to read the Book of Mormon by a relative. According to Elder Hawlader, his parents, not members of the Church, have been very supportive of this young missionary. When asked, he said his decision to serve a mission was “because Heavenly Father has a special plan for my life. I want to share my personal witness.”
Bangladesh has not officially recognized the Church but allows members to meet. Elder Hawlader has been meeting with a congregation of 43 members, including Americans working at the U.S. Embassy.
After arriving in Manilla, Elder Hawlader said, “The MTC is really good for me.” After four days, he had learned several sentences in Tagalog. Elder Hawlader learned English in college before deciding to serve a mission. At the age of 15, he participated in a work-study program for his schooling, having spent 11 years prior in an orphanage.
Elder Hawlader had been placed in the orphanage, along with his younger sister, after his father was injured in an accident and his mother was unable to care for the two children.
During his time in the orphanage, his desire was to know more about his family. A friend encouraged young Isaac to read the Bible and Isaac’s response was, “there was no God in the whole world.” One evening Isaac opened the Bible and read Matthew 6:6, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Isaac received a personal confirmation that Heavenly Father lives and knew him personally. After he was encouraged to read the Book of Mormon, he found in 3 Nephi 13:6, a similar scripture and continued to study. He was later baptized. One of his realized blessings was to reconnect with his parents and then to attend college and then qualify to serve a full-time mission for the Church.
In the MTC, Elder Hawlader has been complimented on his ability to learn Tagalog and for his desire to serve in the Philippines as a missionary. He is eager to join with other dedicated young missionaries whose greatest desire is to serve the Lord and share their witness of the truthfulness of the gospel.