The Real Elder Price
The Real Elder Price, Part 3: Companionship
Such self-awareness and humility are rare in one so young—and were rare in Henry Lisowski's pre-mission life. The mandate to serve in the name of Christ leads us to hard epiphanies.
Another African/Anglo companionship, between Elder Daniel Kesler (Utah) and Elder Aime Mbuyi (Congo), shows how service and honest conversation can fill the gap of a cultural divide.
Elder Mbuyi reported on how he and Elder Kesler learned to bridge their differences:
|Elder Henry Lisowski with Africans (dancing at a well dedication|
There were surely challenges. First, Elder Kesler and I tried to understand the differences in our culture. We talked openly about these differences and about how we cannot let them distract us or bring conflicts.
We learned to serve each other. For example, one day, my companion made my bed when I was working out. I started doing it too for him, and then we were doing it for each other. We were always looking for something to do to serve each other.
In the center of all this is the will to live the gospel. When we truly live the gospel we continually strive to become like Jesus Christ. My companion had this desire and I had it. And we became friends.
They all became a "band of brothers," these missionaries. Elder Seth Lee once referred to them with that very descriptor. I told him I'd send him a candy bar if he could identify which Shakespearean play it was from. He gave me the correct response (Henry V), and immediately confessed that Elder Price had given him the answer. I sent them both Snickers bars, which arrived three weeks later. Shakespeare's words do describe these missionaries, coming from all over the world and managing to bind themselves together: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers!" (Act IV.iii)
|Elders Daniel Kesler and Aime Mbuyi|
Chiloba Chirwa's entry into the band was heralded by Elder Wigginton: "We received a new Elder from Zambia! He just arrived today seems very sweet and funny. He also is a hugger! Awesome!"
Over the course of their missions, those two, Chirwa and Wigginton, would be paired twice, and would have their friendship cemented in some of the hardest hours either would endure.
On January 25, 2009, I received a strange email from Elder Chirwa, whose writing was usually well-phrased. This email was disjointed and full of misspellings.
dear sister young
thnkyou for your help. I am feeling terribly ill. I think i may have chicken pox. I hate bein ill its such a shady experience especially on a mission.
I cant wait to gt to the temple again. I may not remeber all the deatails but the warm feeling of being there is still with me.
|Missionaries praying before a soccer game|
We have had a busy week. we are wiorking on a teaching plan to focus on famillies and build a foundation for the district.
Thatnks again i am having a hard time concenrating on the screen, i mus t go .
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.