Chiloba Chirwa returned to Zambia, and began his studies in architecture soon thereafter in Malaysia.

Chirwa returning to Zambia

Elder Henry Lisowski wrote this on his last day in Africa. His plane would leave just hours after he sent these words:

Well, that's about it. Last lessons have been taught, pictures have been taken. Goodbyes have been said, and tears have been shed. And though I've still got some long, exhausting hours ahead, crammed with last minute notes, packing, and just plain reflection left to do before my plane leaves at 4 in the morning, I feel at ease, like I've done all I could. Then I will be off, on my way to Morocco, to share a brief layover with my MTC companions [Kesler and Coburn] before again parting ways, me heading to Quebec, then finishing off in Toronto. It has not yet hit me yet, that I will be leaving. It's a fact there, floating in the top of my mind, and I know it exists and I can see it there, but I don't yet understand it. And yet I know, the time will come that that fact will be processed, that intelligence will become wisdom, and that simple piece of information will become a reality. And then I will realize that I am no longer in Africa; that the many people I have met and gotten to know and love so dearly will no longer be just a bus ride away; that my only concern will no longer be the welfare of souls, and that the incredible promise and power of guidance that comes with this calling will disperse, and I will be left, once again, just another normal person.

Growing up, the gospel was something I was taught while young, something I followed, well, just because; something that was nice, but just kind of meshed in with everything else. However, I understand now. The gospel has become a living, breathing reality for me, and in me as well. I've seen people change. I've seen lives blessed, I've seen miracles performed, and I myself have been changed.

Henry returned to Whitby, Canada, but a few weeks later came to Provo to begin university life—which included a creative writing class from me and meeting the young woman he married on December 17, 2011. He and Kendell Coburn accompanied my family to the BYU art museum, where the Carl Bloch exhibit was up, depicting scenes from the Savior's life. Kendell loved the spirit of the art, and said, "I haven't felt this so strongly since my mission. It's beautiful."

Returned DRC missionaries at Henry Lisowski's wedding luncheon

I was privileged to be in the "audience" for the real stories of Elder Price and the Mormon boys. I wrote this to them as I contemplated their work:

People tell pregnant women that the time will just fly by. They're lying. The last three months of a pregnancy actually last a year. But when you look back on it with the babe in arms, you realize that they were right all along. It was only a moment. Or a few moments. And your whole life changed. Then you start telling other pregnant women that it'll just fly by . . .

It all does. Childhood. The teen years. Missions. The trick is to notice the details. Look at the veins of the leaves. Listen to the music of the animals; of your own tired feet (and your companion's) trudging through the sludge of rainy season; of women singing by citronella plants; of children giggling at some missionary's attempt to speak their dialect. Add a line of melody and a bridge, and it becomes the song that will play itself in your dreams for the rest of your life.

Elder Price homecoming

The songs in The Book of Mormon Musical are all catchy and clever. But the songs a real missionary in Africa learns will abide with him for the rest of his life. They are not just the hymns—sometimes sung like dirges and other times with unexpected, improvised harmonies—but drums being played on a bus; old women singing in Lingala; chickens cackling; grief-weighted parents wailing; children laughing; men and women speaking the rich French that the continent has grown in its fertile soil and its ancient tears. For the rest of his life, a missionary who has served in the DR-Kinshasa mission will turn whenever he hears the distinctly accented French that whispers through the years, "Remember me." He will look for a familiar face, and almost certainly greet the speaker. In his older years, the face he finds might be his own, regardless of where he stands in his faith at the moment. He will see his own earnest eyes from years past, when he served God in Africa, and hear himself say something in a language he didn't realize he still knew.