How the Restored Gospel was Reborn in Kenya

By Sister Marilyn Middleton

"Thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people" (Alma 14:55)

The truth of this scripture was made known to me through several recent experiences. A friend, Donna Comfort, and I planned a safari to four African countries the fall of 1992 to see the marvelous wild animals that live there. Our trip included Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. We also wanted to contact any Church members living in any of the countries which we would be visiting. We wanted to share some of the exciting things that were happening in the Center Place and encourage and support the saints to hold fast to those things we know are true. we prayed that God would use us to minister in this way.

All of our attempts to find someone in Africa were to no avail. Then five days before we were to leave Independence, I had occasion to talk with Seventy Frank Frye and I mentioned to him that a friend and I were going to Africa. When Frank learned that we would be in Nairobi, Kenya, he was quite interested because he had received a letter in August from pamela Agwanda Odida, a Church member, who lives in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa, asking for Church materials and information about Restoration reunions. He shared her letter with me, and I wrote to her the next day telling her when we would be in Nairobi, where we would be staying, and asked her to get in touch with us there so we could arrange a meeting. On this particular tour we had booked months earlier, we were to be at the same hotel in Nairobi on three consecutive Wednesdays. This is the only place in Africa that we returned to so many times. Coincidence? Chance? Or God's work?

The first Wednesday in Nairobi we missed Pam, for my letter had not arrived in time. The second Wednesday when we arrived at our hotel, Pam was waiting for us in the lobby. Meeting her was like meeting an old friend. We talked, gave her the materials that Frank Frye, Price Publishing Company, and others had assembled for her, and arranged to see her again the following Wednesday.

While visiting with us, Pam shared her testimony as to how she came to write Frank Frye. Pam and her family were baptized in the early 1970's, but in the many years that followed there had been little contact with the Church. She became increasingly dissatisfied with this situation and prayed that somehow she could reestablish contact and receive materials about the gospel. There were no Church groups or Church members in Nairobi that she had knowledge of. She was visiting her parents, Sam and Judith Agwanda who live in Kisumu, Kenya. While there, she saw a copy of the Visioin magazine, read it, and felt this was the opportunity she had been praying for, but with so many names in the magazine, she did not know to whom to write for information. She prayed that God would direct her in this. It came to here to close her eyes, open the magazine, and point. She felt that she should write to the person at whose name she would be pointing. She did this three times and each time she pointed to Frank Frye. There was no way she could know that Seventy Frank Frye would know us, learn of our impending trip, and serve as the contact person for us to actually meet in Africa. She asked God for reading materials and information. God abundantly answered her prayers, and ours also, when we were able to deliver the materials, and much more, in person.

The third Wednesday we were privileged to go with Pam to her home, meet her husband, Eric, and their one-year-old son, Dean. We had a delightful time in their home, sharing testimonies and getting acquainted with each other. Their humility and sincerity touched us greatly and our lives have been enriched through this encounter. Her husband, Eric, was not a Church member. He said that he had become a Christian by reading the Book of Mormon and other literature. Pam also explained that there would be opportunities for her to share the gospel with others, since the people in Kenya are eager to read anything printed in English. They both expressed a desire to come to Independence.

When we returned home, we continued to correspond with Pam and Eric and to share their story with as many people as we could. Nothing much was happening, so we realized our work was not done. Donna and I decided to invite Pam and Eric, and by now their two sons, to be our guests and to visit the South Chrysler Restoration Branch reunion in July of 1994. Many others became involved in the project, contributing money and supporting us in arranging this. As it turned out, Pam was the only one who came, as Eric couldn't get the time off from work so he stayed with the boys. She courageously came alone, trusting the Lord to protect and bless her, which he did abundantly.

Pam met many people who became interested in her testimony and felt led to act on it. At the reunion, Pam had an experience one night (dream or vision?). She saw a bright light and was told that she was to return to Kenya and through her the missionary work would begin. That is exactly what happened. The missionaries began going. Eric was baptized, called to the priesthood as an Elder and has been instrumental in taking the gospel throughout Kenya and into several other African countries. Through this contact, Pam's parents, Sam and Judith Agwanda, have also become active in the church again and we have had the pleasure of having them, as well as Pam and Eric and the boys, in our home as they have attended several conferences here in Independence.

Thanks, glory and honor go to the Lord who directed this venture from the very beginning. All who were involved can attest that the Lord is indeed mindful of His children no matter where they are. He blesses abundantly those who, "embark in the service of God." (D&C 4:1b)

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