“Josephine Scere: Pennsylvania, USA,” Liahona, December 2017
Portraits of Faith
The dedication of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple in 2016 has given Josephine the opportunity to attend weekly. In the temple she finds strength and healing for dealing with the trials of life.
Leslie Nilsson, Photographer
I was born into hardship. My mother was an immigrant from Liberia, we were poor, and I was abused as a child while left in the care of people my mother thought she could trust. That has made certain things really hard in my life.
When your trials start before the age of accountability, I think there’s a depth of a relationship with the Savior that can come. That relationship was the sweetest blessing for me, and there’s no way I could turn my back on that.
What has kept me so determined to live the gospel is my trials.
The African culture instills a love for the Lord inside of you from an early age. I remember my grandmother teaching me the Lord’s Prayer when I was four. She ingrained in me just how important it is to have a personal relationship with the Savior. It was such a tangible thing for me.
The gospel came into my life at an opportune time. I was 14. It came at the hands of a senior missionary couple, Glenn and JoAnne Haws, who lived every single word they taught me. They took me under their wing.
My mother had become a member in 1995. That was during the civil war in Liberia. She lost some siblings in the war. Then my younger brother’s father, who my mother was with at the time, was killed here in the states. It was a really hard time for her, and she became inactive.
My mother didn’t share with us that she was a member of the Church. I just remember seeing some extra scriptures on her lamp desk. When Elder and Sister Haws came to fellowship and teach her, they said, “Don’t you want your daughter to know what you know?” I was baptized on May 21, 2000.
Life is hard whether you’re a Latter-day Saint or not. My strength comes from my relationship with my Savior and with my son, Enoch. Keeping the covenants I made in the temple also gives me strength.
The temple here in Philadelphia has changed the face of this city. I was at the temple almost every day during the open house. People would stop and stare and just gawk at the temple. I was working security one night, and this lady stopped and asked me, “What is this building?”
I said to her, “This is a building where faithful members of the Latter-day Saint Church can go and make covenants with the Lord.”
She looked down and said, “I have goosebumps.”
At that moment it struck me. This lady was a regular Philadelphian. She had no idea what was going on, but she could feel the Spirit just as strongly because the gospel is true.
Truth is truth, regardless. You don’t have to argue it. You don’t have to prove it. It just is. It’s real, and it’s real for everyone. It’s real for people who live in Salt Lake City, Utah, and it’s real for people who live in the slums of Philadelphia. I think that’s what should carry us.