Thursday, May 17, 2012

Missionary Story

Note Mawethu Dlepu's pastor father paid for his LDS mission to Kenya.  Dlepu stands second from right in the photo above.


Last Friday we scheduled ourselves to attend the 1st session of the "Planning for Success" Workshop taught by brother Luvuyo Ntshebe at the Kamagxaki ward.  We were told ahead of time by our senior couple neighbors, the Taylor's, that in Africa people come to church, seminary and institute according to African time - which can be from on time to 1 and 1/2 hours late.  So we jumped into our economy Nissan and headed for Kwamagxaki some 45 miles away out in the rural countryside.  

It is a pleasant drive on good roads aligned at times with government built houses 12' x 12' and 12' x 16' for families mingled with "shanties." People are walking every where, walking for miles - young, teenage, adults and the aged.  I feel bad for the people and the distances they walk.  I can tell those that are tired, those that are struggling as they limp along, and those that are strong running with athleticism.  I feel bad for the young children 3, 4, 5 years old that have to walk these long distances.  The mission rules is, "Giving rides to people in your vehicle is prohibited."  There are valid reasons for this rule.  Anyway, the drive is one I enjoy and we have a GPS to guide us.

The class was to start at 5 pm.  At 5 pm one student was present, Mawethu Dlepu, a young man about 23 years of age, and so sister S. struck up a conversation with him while awaiting more arrivals.  It would be 30 minutes before the next person arrived so it was a long conversation.  He told an interesting story that I want to share,

He grew up in a religious family.  His father was pastor in a African protestant church.  As the son of a pastor there were certain expectations of him to include spirituality, obedience, and being a good example. He went through the local elementary school system and eventually into high school. There he became acquainted with some LDS teenagers, and as their friendship grew, they invited him to go to church with them.  At the time not everything was well between him and his family. The parents had reason for alarm and concern.  His attitude and behavior was rebellious, he did not always listen to what they said, he had a mind of his own and did whatever he pleased.

This young man started attending the LDS church on a regular basis.  He participated in church activities during the week, and attended meetings on Sundays.  His interest in the LDS faith grew.  He was offered a Book of Mormon and began reading it.  The more he read the more intrigued he became with the content.  He began to study and ponder it on a daily basis and it started to have a profound affect upon him.  He developed a genuine desire to learn more.  The full time missionaries asked if they could teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ and he willingly accepted.  During this period of attending the Mormon Church on Sundays and and participating in its weekly activities, a change began to come over him. He became more humble, more teachable, more thirsty for spiritual knowledge.  He was willing to listen, study, be guided and follow the doctrines of Christ.  He became a happier person, more considerate, amiable and pleasant to be around.  His parents noticed the change in him.  They were encouraged, pleased and joyful.                    

The day came when the missionaries asked him if he would be baptized.  For the son of a protestant father this could be a difficult decision.  His parents were devout protestants, they were regarded with esteem in the community, and cherished as exemplary spiritual leaders.  For their son to forsake the religion and parish over which his father presided as pastor, could be controversial and cause negative vibrations in his family and among his father's flock.  He prayed about his decision and received his answer.  He would ask his parents if he could be baptized in the LDS church.

It was a congenial meeting, one where the love of parents and the love of a humble, obedient, and spiritual son was manifested. Pleased with the change that had come over their son since attending the LDS church, they consented to his baptism and attended the special occasion. After a year of college and growth in the church, this young man received the Melchizedek priesthood and was called on a LDS mission to Kenya which was paid for by his father the Protestant pastor. 

Elder S.  

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