We are sent here to Earth to gain experience and to progress. We are here in this mortal probation to learn. Learning can occur in different forms but we are admonished to gain a formal education. We are encouraged to gain all the education we can in our personal circumstances. I see a lot of students in different circumstances – some are living with ease and some have to fight tooth and nail to get by. It is very inspiring to see students who, despite their dire situation, strive to achieve their educational goals. While some take for granted the opportunities they have to go to school, there are people who inspire us to aim a little higher and gain our desired education.
“Education is Very Important”
One of the stories that inspires me in the pursuit of education is that of two women – sisters who held on to their desire to attain that which they deemed to be of great importance.
Sister Cherry Lyn Morin-Elem and Sister Yolindina “Jona” Morin-Javaluyas endured a lot of challenges during their younger years. Their family joined the Church when they were in high school and the things they learned at Church helped them carry on despite the loss of their father and the inconvenience of sending themselves to school. Despite all the hardships, they graduated with their desired degrees and are successful in their fields of expertise – business and finance – while serving as wives, mothers, and servants in the Lord’s Kingdom.
This is their story:
”Even when we were very young, we already knew the importance of education. Maybe because we’d heard from our parents that it was one way we could improve our lives. The teachings of the Church also played a major role in how we viewed education. We always knew that education would play a big role in what we would become in our future life.”
“Our father died when I was 18,” Sister Jona explained. “I was a 3rd year College student at Mindanao State University (MSU) in General Santos City. Life became more difficult without the breadwinner of the family. Shortly after his death, my mother got sick and was temporarily paralyzed. Her small ukay-ukay business, which sold ready-to-wear clothes and second-hand garments, was closed. We had to move to MSU Iligan City, then eventually to MSU Marawi City to continue our studies because my father’s sister offered us some allowance and food assistance so we could continue to go to College. There were days when I went to school without food in my stomach because many times we hesitated to ask assistance from our Aunt because of “kaulaw” (embarassment). Hunger was an ordinary thing for me. Life was very difficult, we couldn’t afford to buy new clothes. New shoes were already a luxury. But hunger was the most difficult thing we experienced. It almost made me quit school.”
The Value of Hard Work and Grit
Sister Cherry recalled that they stayed focused on the goal in mind. To earn, she approached her landlord and asked if she could babysit his two-year-old child and do the laundry in exchange for free food and board for her and her sister. She even made fruit salad and “binignit” (a Filipino delicacy made from sticky rice and root crops) that she sold for profit. Sister Cherry acknowledged that part of their staying power was their desire to work hard so they could also pay their tithes. She even taught institute classes on campus where she had 6 students whom she remembers very vividly until now. The sisters make it a point to keep the Sabbath Day holy by not doing school work on Sundays even if it meant they had to settle for a lower grade. There were people who saw how Sister Cherry and Sister Jona worked and stayed focused and these people helped and supported them in whatever means they could afford. This gave them hope that if they stay faithful and if they help each other, they’d be able to rise above every difficulty.
Lessons Learned More Precious Than That of Their Degree
“We learned many things as we went through those tough times: patience, faith, perseverance, humility, contentment, hard work, and endurance are a few of them. We needed to be patient and have faith that the Lord would bless us in His own due time. We knew that as long as we did our part with patience, all our efforts would be rewarded. The only reward we asked for was to finish a College degree which was eventually given to us. But during the process, we needed the principle of perseverance and endurance. We needed to keep on holding to the faith that we were in the Lord’s hand and that He would carry us through all of the hardships. We needed to be humble when at times we saw our roommates having good food while we could only eat a humble meal wrapped in a plastic bag. We needed to be humble when we couldn’t have nice clothes while others were well provided and we needed to borrow clothes for special events like our graduation. From our shoes to our dresses, almost everything was borrowed. Life was really hard but the Lord taught us that as long as we desired to do what was right He would bless our efforts. We learned and those experiences have blessed us beyond our comprehension. It has made us better versions of who we were. We are now able to teach our children that sometimes it’s okay not to be okay. We have become more compassionate of others who are going through hardships and share whatever we can give however little. It made us more grateful for all the blessings that we now enjoy. It taught us to keep ourselves grounded because we know that all of these blessings come from the Lord.”
Doors of Opportunities Opened
“Finishing school gave us better opportunities when it comes to work.” added Sister Jona. “It also gives us an edge in regards to our work now. Me being a Financial Adviser and my Manang (elder sister) being a Businesswoman. I can better present my product because I am more confident. It has boosted my self-esteem. But more importantly I can teach my children the importance of education and to make sacrifices whenever necessary to achieve it.”
I am grateful to know these remarkable women. Their story made me realize that there is a silver lining, even in the bleakest of times. They are undeterred in their efforts to graduate and make their lives better.
When I look at my children and all the other students in their schools who graduated, I think of Sister Cherry and Sister Jona and tell myself that the future is bright. So whatever challenge you are facing right now in your pursuit for a good education, grow through it! Someday when you have crossed the bridge, you can wear it as a badge of honor – that you have hurdled the hardships. You have paid the price to better yourself by getting educated.