“Finding a Gem,” New Era, June 2004, 10
I am a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and my father felt that it was my duty as the oldest boy to master his Christian church’s doctrine. By the time I was five years old, I was accompanying him when he would preach door to door.
When I was nine, my father took our whole family to a region of high mountains. Often he and I would travel on foot for days to reach villages where we were to preach.
People were always amazed to see such a young child preaching. But I kept telling my father I was not ready to be baptized myself. I was not convinced that his religion answered the most important questions.
But I went on as an obedient son, converting people to a church I was not converted to myself. When I turned 18 I began looking for something more.
One Saturday a schoolteacher knocked on our door to talk to my father about my nephew. I found myself looking at a book he held, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Seeing my interest, he offered to leave the book. He also said I could attend a study group.
I spent almost the whole night scanning the book, stopping to take notes whenever I came across something new. Although I did not fully understand the doctrine, I felt no doubt about its truthfulness. I had a feeling of joy—as if I were discovering a genuine gem among thousands of imitations.
The next evening I joined five other people in a study group at the home of Mr. Kasongo. He had been doing research when he came across a book about American churches. “My heart pounded as I read the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” he said. After writing to the Church’s headquarters, he received some literature—including A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by Elder LeGrand Richards (1886–1983) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
For two years, our group met twice a week. When missionaries, Elder Roger L. and Sister Simonne B. Dock, arrived in March 1987, 50 people were studying together.
The Docks began teaching the missionary discussions in French in the public school. Because some people spoke only Swahili, I interpreted. I heard the missionary discussions for the first time myself while interpreting.
On 9 May 1987 I was one of 80 people baptized in a pool at an abandoned copper mine. For me, baptism was an outer confirmation of an inner conversion that had taken place years earlier. I had been waiting for this sacred ordinance so I could become a member of the Church.
I have received so many blessings—among them the time I spent translating for couple missionaries. They are as dedicated as if the Master Himself were physically beside them.
I thank my Heavenly Father for these rich experiences and for the opportunity my wife, Jolie Mwenze, and I have to raise our son in the Church. And particularly I thank Him for sending me the gospel—a gem beyond price.