“From Zaire to the Lord’s House,” Ensign, July 1998, 66–67
I live in the central African nation of Zaire with my wife, Nambwa Mbo, and our two sons, Kabamba and Kamulete. Our third son, Vumbi, died in December 1996.
Our home in the city of Kinsuka is far from South Africa, where the nearest temple is. I had often thought, Why should I bother to get a temple recommend? I can’t afford to go. But in 1994 President Howard W. Hunter advised all worthy Latter-day Saints to get a temple recommend, even if they lived far from a temple (see “The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 2). His words touched my heart, and I asked my branch president for an interview.
I work for a man who serves in the parliament of Zaire. Late in 1995 he received an invitation to go to North Korea, filled out all the necessary papers to have this official assignment approved, and included my name on the list of those who were to go with him. However, our government did not approve the plans. This refusal began a lengthy period of negotiations as my supervisor continued to try to get approval.
I asked my priesthood leaders to pray with me that the plans would be approved and that my name would remain on the list. Four months later, approval was given. Only two names remained on the list—my supervisor’s and mine.
When I received the news that the trip had been approved, I was elated. However, I knew there was no temple in North Korea. Then I heard these words whispered quietly in my heart: “Do not delay! Make sure Switzerland is included on your travel route.” I realized that perhaps I would be able to go to the Swiss Temple!
I immediately went to my supervisor and suggested that we fly to and from North Korea through Switzerland. He had no objection, so I arranged for the tickets and for visas for all the countries we were to travel through. Incredibly, when the visas arrived, I discovered that all of the countries had sent us only short-term transit visas—except Switzerland, which had sent us tourist visas good for a month!
We left Zaire and arrived safely in North Korea. I felt strengthened by Heavenly Father to live according to his word and to be a good example of the restored gospel. It was wintertime, and we were often offered a hot cup of tea. But I was always obedient to the Word of Wisdom. When we sat down at a table with the North Korean officials, they would all raise teacups, coffee cups, or wine glasses while proposing a toast. I would drink a glass of water or a cup of milk.
At the conclusion of our assignment in North Korea, we flew to China and then on to Switzerland, landing in Geneva. My Church leader in Zaire had suggested that I contact a member of the Church named Brother Rimli as soon as I arrived in Geneva. I planned to meet Brother Rimli the following day and go to the Swiss Temple with him. However, my supervisor told me he wanted me to accompany him to Lausanne, another city in Switzerland. I explained that I had a very important appointment the next day and would not be able to accompany him. But he insisted that I go to Lausanne with him instead.
I retired to my room and offered a prayer. Not long after, my supervisor told me he had changed his mind—I didn’t need to go to Lausanne with him after all.
When I traveled to the city of Bern and met Brother Rimli at the Swiss Temple the next day, how humble and grateful I felt! I was impressed by the beauty and stateliness of the building. The temple workers were expecting me and made me feel welcome. I felt at home there. I will never forget the love the temple president and his wife, President and Sister Mario V. Vaira, expressed for me. I received my endowment that day, and it has been the greatest gift in my life. I pray for the day when I can take my wife and be sealed to her and to our sons.
I did not think I would ever be able to go to the temple, but I obtained a recommend as the prophet had counseled. And my Father in Heaven prepared a very special way for me to receive temple blessings.