As a young girl, Florence Nwanishet developed a plan to seek a better life. “I determined to break from poverty by seeking God earnestly,” she recalled. She also resolved to respect her parents, take her education seriously, and work hard with her hands. With the help of her family, Florence became a nurse and a midwife. She also wanted a family “that would really be anchored on the Savior.”
In 1972 she married Christopher Chukwurah, who shared the same desire, but for 10 years they struggled to find the right church. After fasting and praying for guidance, they both felt prompted to visit a friend, who introduced them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One month later, they were baptized in a stream in Aba.
At the time, Christopher recalled, there were many new members and few experienced leaders. There were no temples in Africa yet. “We didn’t have the hopes of going,” Christopher recalled. “We knew very little about the temple.” In 1992 Christopher and Florence were given an opportunity to gain leadership experience when they were called to preside over the Ghana Accra Mission. During their training, they attended the temple for the first time.
As a mission president, Christopher focused on strengthening families by setting goals to help couples get their marriages legally recognized. Florence focused on connecting with children, especially those who lived in poverty. “The Spirit said, ‘Tell them the story of your life,’” she recalled. “I told them that I grew up in similar circumstances. I told them that I was able to overcome my shyness,” she said. “The Lord heard my prayers. … He understood my struggles and my search for a bright and happy future [and] crowned my efforts with blessings too many for me to express.”
Once during the Chukwurahs’ mission, while Christopher was away on assignment, their young son Uchenna grew so sick that Florence thought he would die. “I had no hope anywhere except from the Lord,” she said. As she held Uchenna in her arms, Florence prayed fervently for healing and received impressions about how to care for him. As she followed the promptings, Uchenna’s health improved. “The Lord saved him,” she affirmed.
After returning home from their mission, the Chukwurahs helped build up the Church in Nigeria—and rejoiced in 2005 when a temple opened near the banks of the very stream where they had been baptized. For Christopher, the temple affords Church members an opportunity to put aside concern with worldly appearances and honors and focus on spiritual matters. “If you feel that way, and you can carry it along with you even outside the temple,” he said, “then you will be at peace.”