By Cindy Tutsch

Patrano Diaz had just graduated from an elementary school in the Philippines when both his parents died. He had hoped to be the first in his village to go on to high school, but now that Mother and Father were both dead, Patrano and his seven brothers and sisters wondered how they would manage to eat, let alone go to school.  

One morning Pat awakened to the smell of smoke.  Running outside, he found his older brother and sister tearing up their elementary school diplomas and throwing them into a fire.

“Stop that!” Pat yelled.  “How can you go on to high school without your diplomas?” 

“Forget it,” his siblings answered determinedly. “There’s no way any of us will ever study again.  We’ll do well to stay alive. Burn yours too, so you won’t be unhappy every time you look at it.”

But Pat had a dream to get an education, and he would not let that dream die.

One day a friend sent Pat two books by Ellen White, Early Writings and Messages to Young People.  Pat was thrilled!  Perhaps he couldn’t go to school, but he could read.  He would learn all that those two books could teach him.

Those two books became Pat’s greatest treasure.  Before long he had nearly memorized their contents. And best of all, Jesus became a wonderful friend to whom Pat began to pray continually.

Soon Pat became a student at the new Adventist school, West Visayan Academy. He didn’t care that he was wearing old hand-me-down clothes and sleeping on the utility room floor—he was in school! Pat worked several jobs, sometimes even working all night on guard duty to make a few extra pesos.  He studied hard—especially for his bookkeeping class.  Before long, he acquired enough skill to keep the account books for the academy, assisting the treasurer.

After Pat graduated from academy, he was invited to become the accountant for the West Visayan Mission. Thus began a long life of service in business and administration for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Patrano Diaz told his own children, “Take the Holy Bible and Ellen White’s books as your guide.  Following their counsels; you can be anything you want to be, and God’s blessing will be with you.”

I think that’s good advice for us too!

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--Adapted from Spirit of Prophecy Emphasis Stories vol. IV, p. 187-190