Tuesday, August 5, 2008
For the last two weeks I have had the amazing opportunity to travel with a Salt Lake City based humanitarian group called YouthLinc to a small village in Kenya called Kiamuri. It was an absolutely wonderful experience that was rewarding, fun and profoundly life changing. Our group of about 40 was involved in several things, which we all participated in with ernest.
1. We all taught Kenyan school children different lessons, such as American holidays, music, science, wildlife, rudimentary English, etc. I was assigned to teach about oceans and aquatic creatures, which was very fun, considering that most of the kids I taught had never heard of some of the animals mentioned.
2. We all as a group worked at a construction site in which we built an add on to a small school and help dig a foundation for a wall to go around the school. I even had the opportunity to learn how to chisel stone from professional Kenyan Stone Masons.
3. Our group taught at a health care seminar at the local hospital. We taught everything from hygiene, AIDS/HIV prevention, nutrition, etc.
But perhaps one of the most profound things that happened to me while I was in Kenya was when I presented Books of Mormon to two men; a older gentleman and local herbalist named Dominick and a 13 year old orphan boy named Phineous. The story behind these experiences has strengthened my testimony in the Book of Mormon as the Word of God considerably.
It should be noted that when I travel, I like to take copies of the Book of Mormon and other scriptures with me to hand out should an opportunity present itself. Twas no different in my trip to Kenya. I took a copy of the Book of Mormon, a Triple Combination and my old KJV Bible.
On the first Sunday in Kenya our group split up and headed to Church with a local family. I went with a gentleman named Jacob to his local Methodist Church. It was absolutely amazing to attend this Church service, since not only was it all in Swahili with some smattering English here and there but we arrived during a testimony meeting in which patrons of the Church would sing their testimonies in Swahili hymns. What's more, the Pastor asked me to preach a sermon on the spot. Startled, I stood up and began to read from and elaborate on 2 Nephi 25:26 and bore my testimony of Jesus Christ. The Pastor, thankfully, was kind enough to translate to the congregation.
Before this happened, however, I spoke with the before mentioned Dominick, who, upon seeing my scriptures tucked away under my arm, asked if I was a pastor. I responded in the negative and explained that I was simply a devoted member of my Church. He was still curious about my scriptures, so, upon further inquiry I presented him a new Book of Mormon. Dominick quickly snatched the book and began to investigate it with a fiery curiosity. In broken English he read the title and articulated upon the subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ".
"Oh!" he exclaimed. "Another testament! Like the New Testament?"
In response, I gave a quick introduction and explanation of the Book of Mormon to Dominick, who was absolutely enthralled. He asked if he could keep the book, since he wanted to use it in his sermons at his Church. He said how any book like the Bible that testifies of Christ is good enough for him, and thus, he was excited to read and ponder over the Book of Mormon. I have no way of knowing for sure, but I sincerely hope that Dominick is reading the Book of Mormon right now and pondering it's words and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Later that week I met 13 year old Phineous, who was orphaned at 8 years old when his family, everyone save his older brother Nicholas, was killed in an automobile accident. Phineous and I became quick friends and began striking up conversations about everything and anything about our lives, cultures, countries and religions. Phineous and his brother, since the death of their parents, had been living in St. Francis of Assis Parish and thus explained that they had been raised Catholic. Phineous explained, however, that he was not particularly inclined to Catholicism and was still searching for the fulness of the truth of God. When he asked me about my faith, I began to elaborate on the Church and its teachings, including the Book of Mormon and the story of the Restoration and Joseph Smith.
Like Dominick, when Phineous was presented with a set of scriptures (this time a Triple Combination and my KJV Bible) he eagerly began to investigate them and read through selected parts. He was not just interested in the Book of Mormon but particularly the Pearl of Great Price as well. Later that week he explained how he had read parts of the Book of Moses as well as the Book of Mormon and was overwhelmed with joy because, in his own words, these books of scriptures "explained so much" and "clarified many issues" that he had been grappling with. He literally threw his hands in the air in describing his fascination for these books of scripture and I could see his face light up with joy as he promised to read more.
On our group's final day in Kiamuri, I spent some time alone with Phineous and talked more on the Book of Mormon. I mentioned Moroni 10:4-5 and the promise that Heavenly Father will grant a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to sincere searchers by the power of revelation and the Holy Ghost. Shortly after that, our group departed.
In short, my experience with the Book of Mormon in Kenya was simply amazing. I was touched by the spirit deeply, which testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am so grateful for being able to talk with these two good men about the Book of Mormon and I sincerely hope that they will indeed read an ponder the words of the most correct book.