This is a contribution from the files of President Mark Albright of the Washington DC South Mission.
It was a bitterly cold December day in 2009. Elder Curt Anderson, a missionary from the Washington DC stake who was serving in the Manchester England Mission, decided to go with his companion to the Bolton shopping district to try and find people to teach. Busy with pre-Christmas holiday shopping, person after person passed by the two, but no one was willing to stop and listen to their message. Elder Anderson and his companion were getting very discouraged when Christine Rohkele, an African woman who had moved to England in 2004, rounded the corner and headed for a store. As the elders approached her, she gave them a glare that said, “I know you’re trying to sell me something–-but whatever it is, I’m not interested.”
As she brushed by them, Elder Anderson blurted out, “Well, can I just say one thing?” She stopped, turned to him and said impatiently, “I really don’t have time, but go on then.”
Now that he had her attention, thoughts quickly raced through Anderson’s mind of all the possible things he could say that might get her to listen for a few minutes. While she stood impatiently waiting, the words came to him and he suddenly blurted out: “I want you to know that I REALLY MISS MY MOM!”
All of a sudden, she stared intently at this young man and realized that, like her, he was far away from home. Before his eyes, the woman’s face transformed from agitated to emotional. She then explained that she hadn’t seen her own mother in more than 12 years because she had died in a car accident and, in spite of all the time that had passed, the memories of that were still really painful.
Elder Anderson then felt inspired to bear a personal witness to her of why he had left his own mother behind to come here to talk to people like her about the Plan of Salvation, the restoration of the gospel and the Book of Mormon, concluding with an invitation to attend Church the following Sunday.
To his surprise, when Sunday came, Christine walked into the chapel, followed by her two little boys, dressed in their Sunday best. After the service, the elders asked her how she had felt. She responded, enthusiastically, “I’m home. This is where I belong!” Baptized seven weeks later, she then began preparing to go to the temple. Because of the gospel, she knew that she would see her mother again.
Since then, Christine began raising her boys in the church and the oldest one was baptized. Church members helped her find a different job that allowed her to partake of the sacrament each week and still support her family. She has given the church many referrals that have been sent back to the missionaries in serving in her homeland in Africa. She helps the sister missionaries in the ward fellowship people and plays an active role in the Relief Society each week. She is truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ–all because Elder Anderson felt inspired to share his honest, yet heartfelt longing for home.