After the eruption of the Taal Volcano, located about 35 miles south of Manila, Elder Quentin L. Cook has turned the focus of his visit to the Philippines to ministering. The volcano, which erupted for the first time in 43 years on January 12, 2020, created a large plume of dangerous ash, steam, and rocks.
Elder Cook, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, arrived Saturday with his wife, Mary, to spend a week ministering to Church members and leaders as well as meet with various top religious leaders, members of the media, government officials and humanitarian partners and recipients. His schedule to be part of today’s Light the World humanitarian aid donations in the Philippines has been postponed.
While residents throughout the greater Manila, Philippines area are preparing for various risks associated with the volcanic eruption, members and friends of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are gathering in local meetinghouses for precautionary measures. This includes the cities of Lipa, Tanauan, Balayan, and Agoncillo. All missionaries in the impacted area are safe and have been relocated or are staying in their homes. Government officials have issued an alert 4 level ( 5 highest) meaning moderate volcanic ash is threatening the warned area, which includes the greater Manila area, the capital city of the Philippines with a population of more than 21 million people.
Elder Cook met with prominent Manila area interfaith leaders at a luncheon held at the Philippine Area Offices on Monday and “expressed our concern as a Church over the Taal [Volcano]. We’re concerned about everybody that’s affected and we hope that we can contribute to anything that’s necessary to bless all faiths. They have our prayers and our faith.”
Prior to the escalated threat from the volcano, Elder Cook praised the resilience of Filipinos due to frequent disasters in the Philippine Islands at a special devotional held for members and friends of the faith from the Mandaluyong area congregations on Sunday, January 12, 2020.
He said, “I know that there are a lot of trials and hardships. The Filipinos have always faced those in such a glorious way. I was here not too long after Mount Pinatubo (1991) had blown up and almost a million people had to leave their homes. But there is something about Filipinos that even when bad things happen, they rally, and they lift their spirits and they smile and they go forward.”
He blessed them with “the assurance of the Savior’s atonement which gives peace regardless of what we are faced with.”