True Stories from South Africa


Gwen lived in sunny South Africa with her parents and four younger sisters. Each week she and her family traveled a long distance to attend their meetings. They rode part of the way on a double-decker bus until they reached the Mowbray station. Then they walked several blocks up Grove Road to the chapel.

Gwen especially enjoyed the beautiful scenery on Sunday mornings as the family walked along together under the shade of the huge gum trees. Towering above the road like a big giant lifting his head to the blue sky was Devil’s Peak. In September when it was spring, the hills were alive with thousands of colorful proteas, daisies, crassulas, and other wild flowers.

Gwen was grateful for the beautiful world in which she lived. And because she was always happy, everyone enjoyed her special smile.

One day Gwen did not feel like smiling. That day she could not help but cry because she had severe pains in her head, her back continually ached, and she had a high fever. Her parents immediately called their family doctor.

After his examination, the doctor reported that all of Gwen’s symptoms—especially the rigid condition developing in her back—indicated she had meningitis. He suggested that a specialist be called in to consult with him.

Her parents agreed to have the specialist come, but as soon as the family doctor left, they called “Cumorah,” the mission home, and asked LeRoy H. Duncan, who was mission president at the time, to come with another elder and administer to Gwen.

When these brethren arrived, Gwen was so ill that she could not smile. President Duncan and his companion placed their hands on the girl’s feverish forehead and gave her a blessing, praying that she would be made well if it were according to Heavenly Father’s will.

Even before the elders left, Gwen began to feel better. By the time their family doctor returned with the specialist, she seemed almost well. After another examination, the specialist turned to the family doctor and said, “Sir, you must have been unduly alarmed. This child has no symptom whatever of meningitis. All she needs is a few days of rest.”

Although neither doctor could understand the great change in Gwen, she and her family knew they had all been blessed through the power of the priesthood. And once again Gwen’s face was radiant with the happy smile that everyone loved!

* * *

The little boat had been tossed by storms for more than six weeks as it made its way slowly from England to South Africa. Aboard was Elder Franklin D. Price, a young Mormon missionary.

Each day Elder Price became more worried, for food and money were scarce. According to the law of the Union of South Africa, no one was permitted to enter that country unless he had at least twenty dollars with him. Elder Price did not have the required sum.

When the boat finally docked, the young elder decided that he would board a train and go as far as he possibly could. As he walked off the ship, he noticed a small folded piece of paper lying at the foot of the gang plank. Without thinking, he stooped over, picked it up, and automatically slipped the paper into his pocket.

In no time he was on a train, speeding down the tracks toward the Union of South Africa. At the border, immigration officials came aboard to check all entry papers. Elder Price was worried about what would happen to him when the officials discovered that he had no money. When the men approached, Elder Price felt a moment of panic. Then, without even knowing why, he reached into his pocket and pulled out the piece of paper that he had found earlier. Elder Price handed the paper to one of the officials. The man nodded his head and returned the paper to the astonished young elder. That paper was an endorsed check in the amount of twenty dollars with the stamp of the Union of South Africa affixed.

As Elder Price told his story at the mission home, tears of gratitude streamed down his cheeks. The mission president suggested that the check be locked in a trunk for safekeeping. A few days later when Elder Price unlocked the trunk to show the check to some of the other elders, it was not there! It had disappeared as mysteriously as it had come!

* * *

The sunny skies of Cape Town were dark with rain clouds. Why, oh why, the children thought, would it rain today?

The special afternoon the boys and girls had been working and waiting for had finally come, and now it seemed as if their bake sale would be ruined by the storm. But they knew that Ouma (Grandmother) Fourie would expect them regardless of the weather, so they all splashed through the rain to be at the chapel at the hour she had set.

Sister Ouma greeted them in her usual loving way and then explained that the sale must be held that day since the baked goods could not be kept over. She also said the sale must be held outside so people would stop to buy.

“We’ll all pray for the rain to stop,” she directed, “and we know it will, for we need the money to continue holding our Primary. This is what our Father in heaven wants, so of course He will help us.”

There was so much assurance in Sister Ouma’s voice that as each child bowed his head and she prayed for the rain to stop, everyone just knew it would.

And it did!

The rain that had pelted unceasingly for several days stopped almost at once. The sun smiled on the children as they carried tables outside and placed on them the baked goods they had brought. After a most successful sale, the empty tables were carried back into the chapel, and the rain began again and continued steadily during the next three days.

“But what would you have done, Sister Fourie,” asked a Primary worker later, “if it hadn’t stopped raining?”

This woman, who for thirty-four continuous years loved and taught the boys and girls of South Africa, answered very softly, “But we all knew that it would!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Ron Crosby