When the missionaries came to her door two years ago, Thembi Zwane hid and told the children to tell them she was not there. But she still remembers how patient the missionaries were when they spoke to the children. The next time they came, she decided to sit down and listen. It took her four months to accept the gospel, but she finally realized she needed to make a change. “I never knew I had this kind of love for my family. I grew up with the word ‘love,’ but now it is more of a feeling deep inside me. I feel more sensitive to the things of God since joining the Church.”
As she raises ten children, finding a way to make ends meet becomes a priority for this single mom. Sister Zwane has two children, plus she is raising four nieces and nephews, and four orphans, while also caring for her disabled uncle, who has a room in her garage. “I teach my children we must have a life, not a life style,” Sister Zwane affirms. “We have to be resourceful, and at times life is very hard. I knew I had to work out a plan.”
At 38 years old, she decided to go back to school part-time to support her family. Three years later, she received her degree and became a grade one teacher at a local school. “I used to have someone take care of the house, but as more and more children were added to our family, we had to learn to do things on our own.” Now the family has a garden, where they grow spinach, cabbage and beets. The children help with the laundry and cooking. They explain, “Before we go to bed, we prepare for tomorrow. That is our secret for a successful morning.” To help save expenses, she drives an older car that is paid for. “I don’t complain. It runs.” The family also cuts back by serving meat only two nights a week, when the missionaries come to dinner.
Sister Zwane credits the Church for the many lessons she has learned about living a self-reliant life style. “The Church has taught me so much. You can [be self-reliant] even if you are single.”
President Titus Egwuatu of the Ezakhini Branch says, “When Sister Zwane is taught a principle of the gospel, she puts it into practice. She is a good example of self-reliance.”
President Thomas S. Monson has taught that self-reliance is “the ability, commitment, and effort to provide the necessities of life for self and family.” When you speak with Sister Thembe Zwane, you can feel her sense of peace as she and her family apply these skills in their daily lives.