Making Friends:

Wallace Githehu of Nairobi, Kenya

Written by Barbara Jean Jones

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To see lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, monkeys, and other wild animals, most children go to a zoo. Not Wallace Githehu. He lives in Nairobi, Kenya, and these animals roam freely in a game park just outside the city! “You can see lions, snakes, cheetahs there—my favorite is the lion,” Wallace said.

Part of the game park is an “animal orphanage.” Baby animals who have lost their parents, or animals who have been hurt, are cared for here until they can take care of themselves. Wallace especially loves to visit the animal orphanage.

But there is another place he likes to go to even more. He loves to go to Primary. His favorite Primary songs are “The Golden Plates” and “Love One Another.”

The Church was registered in Kenya only a few years ago, in 1991. Wallace is one of the pioneer members in his country. At six years old (when this story was written), he is almost as old as the Church in Kenya! His parents were baptized when he was just a baby.

Wallace’s heart is a lot like a lion’s—brave and strong. Even though he and his older brother, Brian (10) are the only Latter-day Saint boys in their school, they are not afraid to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. In the morning, when he puts on his school uniform, Wallace thinks of being a good example to his teachers and classmates. He works hard at school. Even though he is only six, he already speaks two languages fluently—English and Swahili. Swahili is a major language of East Africa.

Loving others is important to Wallace. He tries to be good to his friends and family members, especially to his three-year-old sister, Sharon. “When she is sad, I make her laugh,” he said. He also makes his family happy by playing music and singing and dancing with them.

Every evening before dinner, Wallace and his family read the Book of Mormon together. Each person reads one verse out loud. Then the family members talk about what those verses mean to them. “If we read the scriptures every day, then God will bless us,” he said as he shared his testimony with his family.

Wallace also reads the scriptures on his own. He explained that Nephi is his favorite prophet “because he is a man of God and he does good things. I also love Joseph Smith because he translated the Book of Mormon.”

Not long ago Wallace and his family were able to see and hear a modern-day prophet when President Gordon B. Hinckley came to Nairobi. “I could not believe I was seeing the prophet,” Wallace said. “I thought I was going to faint!” At the meeting, he felt the Spirit tell him that President Hinckley is a prophet of God. He also heard President Hinckley tell the people that if they will be faithful, someday there will be a temple in East Africa.

Right now the nearest temple to the Githehu family is thousands of kilometers away in Johannesburg, South Africa. It is very difficult and very expensive to travel there from Kenya. A temple is planned for West Africa, but Ghana, the site of that temple, is still thousands of kilometers from their home.

Wallace and his family are living the commandments of the gospel so that they can be sealed as a family in the temple someday. His parents are working hard and saving all they can so that they can travel to the temple. Just as pioneer children of old walked many kilometers to a promised land, the Githehu family will someday travel many kilometers to receive the promised blessings of the temple.

When he is old enough, Wallace wants to be a full-time missionary so that he can help share the blessings of the gospel with others. He is already working to build up the membership of the Church in Kenya today. He and his family, along with other courageous Kenyan pioneers, hope that there will be a temple in their beautiful land, soon.

Wallace (right) and his family read the scriptures together each day before their evening meal. From left: Wallace’s mother, Jennifer; a family friend, Dorcas; Wallace’s sister, Sharon, with their father, Patrick; and his brother, Brian. The family enjoys going to see the animals that roam free in a game park outside Nairobi. (Photographed by Barbara Jean Jones.)