But things changed after I met the missionaries and decided to join the church. My uncle was deeply unhappy with my decision. He asked me to quit. This placed me in a difficult position. Many times I knelt on my knees and asked for guidance from my Heavenly Father. The answer was 'never let go'.
I continued to be faithful in the gospel and decided to serve a mission. However, as I was preparing to leave for my mission, I received new direction. I was called to be the branch president for the newly-organised Kawama Branch in the Kitwe district of the Zambia Malawi mission. I was 24 years old at the time.
When I received the call I didn't know what to do. I was speechless and couldn’t believe it. Instead of serving a proselyting mission, the Lord had called me to serve a mission at home. With the call, life got even harder, as my responsibilities at church grew.
A few weeks after my call, I attended some leadership training. My counsellors and I went home very late that night. But when I got to my uncle’s house, I found the doors locked. I knocked until midnight. There was no response.
There was nowhere else to go, so I decided to go back to the church meetinghouse. It was locked as well. I knelt on my knees in prayer. Upon opening my eyes I saw the baptismal font in the garden. I pulled the cover aside, placing a brick at one end to allow air in. That night, I slept in that font. This happened to me three times. Uncle Christopher was punishing me for my decision to stick with my faith. But I never gave up.
I began to pray that the Lord would help my family understand my decision to join the church. I tried to explain my feelings to them, but my words made no difference. It was only as I lived gospel standards that I slowly began to sense a change in my uncle’s attitude. Finally he began to realise that I was on the straight and narrow path. He accepted it.
My uncle's change was not sudden. It came from observing my commitment to the work and my unceasing desire to serve. The last time he asked me to stop going to church, I shared my testimony. He looked at me, laughed, and said: 'I will accept your church only if I continue to see a positive change in you'. To this day I believe he saw that change.
The Lord blessed me to meet a wonderful returned missionary who helped me live the way of discipleship. Last year, four years after I was called as a branch president, Ireen and I were married. On our wedding day my uncle gave a very touching speech. At the end of it all he testified that the church is true and can change lives. Three months later he passed on.
Although he never belonged to the church, I am glad that Uncle Christopher discovered in his last days that it is true. I will forever be grateful for that never-ending hope the Lord planted in me.