About forty years ago, I was attending a Catholic high school in a rural area of the Philippines. I was 14 when my sister introduced me to the Gospel, and the missionaries taught me the discussions. They answered many questions I had had since I was a small child, and I decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From then on, I would visit the homes of less-active members and young investigators with the missionaries.
I knew that my classmates saw me with missionaries, but because I was determined that I would “never change my faith, no matter what,” I did not worry.
I wondered, “Why is she doing this?” I felt angry inside, but I had been taught to show respect to those senior to me, so I pushed it away. In my heart, I exclaimed, “You can say anything, but I’m not going to change my mind!” I’m sure the principal would have been very surprised I had such strong determination in such a circumstance.
Since that day, word spread to the whole school that I was a Latter-day Saint. My peers started calling me names. It was a difficult time for me, but my best friend never called me names. After a while, my friend asked me if I was still a Mormon. I said without hesitation, “Yes, and I will be for the rest of my life!”
During that difficult time, I received much encouragement from the Young Women’s Theme, to “stand as a witness of God at all times and in all thinks, and in all places.” This phrase always came to my mind and sustained me, and I continuously felt God’s hand helping me.
I was only able to go to school three days a week, due to family circumstances, but my grades were at the top of the class. One day, the principal came to me and said, “Would you like to lead the choir at the graduation ceremony?” I was flattered that she had extended this offer despite that she knew I was a Mormon. I decided to accept her offer. Since then, she never said anything bad about the Church, and we became very close.