Dear Brother Albright,
I want to share my story with you that begins in my home country of Ghana. I feel very blessed to have found the gospel there by sheer “luck” and to have won the U.S. visa lottery in Ghana which allowed me and my family to move to America. Indeed, you may say that I feel I have won the lottery twice in short order.
I was raised in Ghana as a Catholic. My mother is from the Ewe tribe and my father is from the Fanti tribe. Because they spoke different tribal languages, my parents conversed in English when they met and fell in love.
My family was active in the Catholic faith, in fact my father was a former Catholic priest and my uncle was a Catholic Bishop in Cape Coast, Ghana. We attended church regularly with many of our neighbors at a Catholic church located just two miles from our home. Because there were few cars in our neighborhood at the time, the sidewalks were busy on Sunday mornings with many families walking to mass.
On New Year’s Eve when I was 18, while I was walking with some friends and members of the congregation to attend New Year’s Eve Mass, I persuaded two of my friends from our all boys’ school to skip mass and go for a walk. After about three miles we came to a nice LDS Chapel. It appeared dark and empty late on New Year’s Eve. This surprised us, so we resumed our walk but we felt impressed and determined to return again on Sunday morning to investigate this church. We were all curious to learn about this new religion in our neighborhood.
The following Sunday the three of us returned to the LDS chapel. This time it was buzzing with activity at 9 a.m. We saw some Ghanaian men in white shirts welcoming everyone into the chapel so we got in line and found a seat. It was called a sacrament meeting. Afterwards the bishop invited me into his office. Out of curiosity he asked for my full name and my parent’s names. I was shocked when he told me that he was my first cousin. He explained that he was the son of one of my aunts, and as a gift he gave me a Book of Mormon to take home and read.
To try and avoid being detected by my parents, each Sunday morning I would secretly drop my Book of Mormon (protected in a leather pouch) from my bedroom window into the garden below. Then I would leave with my family out the front door of our home as if walking to church with my family and neighbors. Once my family was lost in the crowd, I would quickly run back and retrieve my scriptures from the garden, catch a cab, and attend the LDS church services. Both the Catholic and Mormon church services started at 9 a.m. and ended at noon, so I could return home at about the same time as my family. This covert activity worked for a while.
Eventually my parents got suspicious about not seeing me in Mass and so my father came into my room and discovered my hidden library, the Book of Mormon, and two other books: Jesus the Christ by James Talmage and the A Marvelous Work and a Wonder by LeGrand Richards. Over several days he read carefully from each book, and finally said I could continue to investigate the Mormon Church if that is what I wan ted. He apparently could find nothing dangerous in the LDS church literature he had found hidden in my bedroom. After a year of missionary lessons and much study, my two friends and I were all baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was 19 years old.
After graduating from a polytechnic school, I became a teacher at a Technical School in Accra, Ghana. I soon met Rose, a sister of one of my fellow teachers. We fell in love and were married three months later. She quickly accepted the restored gospel and was also baptized. When our son was born, I felt the need to try and obtain a visa to America. I applied for the U.S. Visa Lottery. I knew that my odds of winning the prize of a lifetime to move to America from Africa was far less than 1%, but I felt I needed to try. That year (2002) there were over 8 million applications for the 50,000 visas granted for individuals living in under-represented countries. After I won the visa lottery, we moved to New York in late 2003. This was just three months before the Accra Ghana temple opened, but I felt God was leading me to a new home. We eventually made our way to Nevada.
I thank my Heavenly Father often for the blessings of finding the restored gospel, finding a wonderful wife and finding a new home in America. I know it was not a coincidence that I found an empty LDS chapel late New Year’s Eve and received such a strong impression to return on Sunday!