The Real Elder Price
The Real Elder Price, Part 7: To Boldly Go
Missionary work is very "here and now." Mormon missionaries preach, work, and learn to care about those they teach. They seek to baptize converts and thus invite them into the community of Latter-day Saints, where they will assume responsibilities of their own.
|Jared Wigginton baptizing Carmella|
One such convert was Bala Foe Crepin, who joined the Church in 1993, and later became one of Cameroon's greatest missionaries and the branch president in Yaounde.
President Bala participated in the arduous pilgrimage of Cameroonians to the Nigeria Temple, two weeks after it was dedicated. Among other challenges, these Mormon pilgrims had to rescue their mini-buses from wheel-engulfing mud on slippery, unpaved roads, and to walk when necessary. (See it on YouTube here.) The journey lasted nearly three days. President Bala, his shirt completely caked with mud, smiled as he helped push his mired bus.
Such are the journeys and sacrifices Mormons make to get to sacred ground. Sometimes these journeys are physical, and sometimes they are spiritual. They may include wading through real mud, or symbolically washing away the deep dust of tradition and cynicism.
|Elder Price with President Bala|
The essential counsel to all who accept the name of Christ through baptism—to bear one another's burdens and stand as witnesses of Christ—is the starting point of membership in the Church, and the context for all that comes afterward. Both tragedy and miracle are inevitable. Tragedy is usually apparent. Miracles can be harder to identify, though they often shine when considered in retrospect. Some miracles, however, are clear and even astonishing.
Elder Lisowski reported on a polio epidemic in November 2010—just a month before his mission ended. Over a hundred people had been affected; most had died. Government officials were dispensing vaccinations in a three-part series. Doctors would simply stand in a street and yell "Vaccinations!" and lines would form.
On Sunday, November 28, the branch president in Pointe Noire (Pres. Caillet) announced that one of the members—Prince, a young man the missionaries' age, had become seriously ill with polio. He had been admitted to the small hospital with another stricken man—both the same age and at the same stage of the disease—but only one oxygen mask was available. The other man got it, and died soon afterwards The doctors expected that Prince—already becoming paralyzed in all four limbs—would also die.
Elder Lisowski describes the scene:
The front door to one of the wings was locked shut with a big iron bar door, and people were sitting on the grass outside, because their family members were in quarantine. We were told no one was allowed in. We kept pushing for authority to go in, and we eventually were allowed two people. . .
Margaret Blair Young is the president of the Association for Mormon Letters and has published eight books—six novels and two short story collections. Three of the novels were co-authored with Darius Gray and give the history (documented) of Black Latter-day Saints. She and Gray made the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, which is currently under contract with the Documentary Channel and showing nationally. She has written six encyclopedia articles and other scholarly papers on Blacks in the western United States, and particularly Black Mormons. She teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.