As part of a service project, I traveled to Rwanda along with a few other physicians to help with medical needs. After two weeks, near the end of my trip, homesickness crept in. I missed my family, my comfortable bed, and my home.
On my last Sunday in Africa, I was able to coordinate my schedule so that I could attend church. Though the Church was not yet formally recognized in Rwanda, I was able to find a meeting time and directions on the Church’s website.
And what directions they were: “Walk down the cobblestone road across from the Ministry building. Look for an open gate. Then walk down the steps.”
As I followed these directions, I began to hear the distinct refrain of a familiar hymn. I descended the steps, and the words of “How Firm a Foundation” (Hymns, no. 85) reached my ears. The steps ended at a small building, where dozens of smiling people were milling around the entrance. Despite the fact that I was a stranger to the congregation, I felt immediate kinship. Dozens of Rwandan brothers and sisters stepped forward to shake my hand, and as they did, an oppressive load of loneliness lifted off my back—I was home!
Entering the building, I attended a typical three-hour meeting block that was no different from the one in my home ward in California. Holders of the Aaronic Priesthood passed the sacrament, the talks centered on the Savior, and even the Sunday School lesson was the same one taught in my home ward that week.
Most important, the Spirit of the Lord permeated the services. Clearly, the Lord smiled favorably on these good people trying their best to serve Him. I learned that during the previous year, only a handful of Rwandans attended services here. Yet I counted more than 100 attendees, half of them smiling children.
Now that Rwanda has been opened to missionary work, I suspect the missionaries will find great success as the Spirit testifies to increasing numbers of Rwandan investigators that the restored Church is the kingdom of God for the entire earth—for every continent, for every people, and for every child of God. How grateful I am for the Church, whether found on the central coast of California or down a cobblestone path in central Africa.