As life became challenging in Amanda’s teenage years, she fell away from the Church looking for new experiences. After several years, Amanda felt empty. Finding happiness began with an important question.

Cody Bell, photographer

Jiri family

The Jiri family of Cape Town, South Africa, loves to spend time together. Parents Taona (right) and Amanda (center right) play games and share the gospel with their children, Tariro (center left) and Tendai (left).

My family was baptized in 1993. My parents divorced several years later, and slowly my three siblings fell away from the Church. In 1998, when I was in 11th grade, I stopped attending too.

I promised myself that I was going to experience new things and look into other churches. I received several invites from friends to go to their churches, but I didn’t go often. It wasn’t because I still felt any connection with the Church. It was just that for some odd reason, things got in the way. Either I wouldn’t wake up, or I had other plans, or I made excuses.

I was inactive for about eight years. During this time, I got mixed up with the wrong friends. My mom was terminally ill. I was quite down. I felt an emptiness in me. I started wondering, “When was I last truly happy?”

If you looked at my life from the outside you would think, “She’s got one of the coolest lives!” I surrounded myself with popular people and appeared to have a nice life. But I still felt empty and incomplete.

Then I thought about when I was in Young Women. I realized that’s when I last felt true happiness. I decided to go back to church the following Sunday. I met with the branch president and began my journey of repentance.

A short time later, I was called to work with the Young Women. When we recited the Young Women theme, I remembered it instantly! Today, each time I recite the theme, I receive a confirmation that the Church is where I belong.

father and daughter

Taona listens intently to his daughter, Tariro. Taona is grateful for his marriage and for the blessings of fatherhood.

Jiri family at the beach

After Taona and Amanda had dated for 10 days, Taona told Amanda that he was done dating. “I thought he was dumping me!” Amanda said. Instead, he asked her to marry him. “I thought he was joking, but he had a ring!” Taona and Amanda were sealed in the temple 10 months later.

Tendai at the beach

Tendai hoists a strand of kelp during a family trip to the beach. Tendai recently turned eight years old and was excited to be baptized and confirmed a member of the Church.

Tariro at the beach

The beach is a great relief from the heat. Just ask six-year-old Tariro, who loves playing in the water.

Tendai playing at the beach

With lots of room on a paved terrace near the beach, Tendai perfects his football skills as he bounces a ball off his head. Table Mountain, a prominent landmark in Cape Town, is in the distance.