“Amanda Jiri: Cape Town, South Africa,” Ensign, January 2018
As life became challenging in Amanda’s teenage years, she fell away from the Church looking for new experiences. After several years, Amanda felt empty. Finding happiness began with an important question.
Cody Bell, photographer
My family was baptized in 1993. My parents divorced several years later, and slowly my three siblings fell away from the Church. In 1998, when I was in 11th grade, I stopped attending too.
I promised myself that I was going to experience new things and look into other churches. I received several invites from friends to go to their churches, but I didn’t go often. It wasn’t because I still felt any connection with the Church. It was just that for some odd reason, things got in the way. Either I wouldn’t wake up, or I had other plans, or I made excuses.
I was inactive for about eight years. During this time, I got mixed up with the wrong friends. My mom was terminally ill. I was quite down. I felt an emptiness in me. I started wondering, “When was I last truly happy?”
If you looked at my life from the outside you would think, “She’s got one of the coolest lives!” I surrounded myself with popular people and appeared to have a nice life. But I still felt empty and incomplete.
Then I thought about when I was in Young Women. I realized that’s when I last felt true happiness. I decided to go back to church the following Sunday. I met with the branch president and began my journey of repentance.
A short time later, I was called to work with the Young Women. When we recited the Young Women theme, I remembered it instantly! Today, each time I recite the theme, I receive a confirmation that the Church is where I belong.