Blending faith, enthusiasm, he's looking forward to serving mission

Enthusiasm and the gospel go hand-in-hand for Wisdom Mnyandu, 18, who will soon be the first missionary from his branch.

The young man hopes his example will influence for good not only the LDS youth, but also people in Kwa Mashu, the township where he lives. His example is easily seen in the township and in the large Umlazi Branch where he is serving as Young Men president.And people in the township have already noticed the difference between Brother Mnyandu and his peers, many of whom are not seeking an education and seem to live aimless lives.

By contrast, he graduated from his high school a year early and by age 18 has completed a year at the local university. He recently left the university to earn money so he can "pay my own way in an unknown land, working for the Lord."

"I want to go on a mission before the end of the year, and I am really looking forward to coming back after two years and seeing Umlazi become a stake," he said. "I know it will happen."

His decision to leave school to serve a mission is a first among those from the township.

"A lot of people will see it as being foolish for me to sacrifice two years of my life because by then I might have gained a bachelor's degree at the university," Brother Mnyandu said.

But, he emphasized, "We are a very big branch and no one has gone on a mission." He said this shows that the Church is growing dramatically because of the large number of members new in the Church.

"By sacrificing to go on a mission and not continuing with studies or a career, I set an example."

He said his experience in seminary helped prepare him for the college experience.

"The university, as I saw it, put a lot of strain on me because I graduated from high school at age 17, a very early age. There is a lot of freedom at the university, and with so much freedom comes temptation. But because I was a seminary student and a priesthood holder, I was just drawn away from those temptations. That is how the Church has had a tremendous effect on me."

Brother Mnyandu said the Church's influence has strengthened his family for many years.

"When I was born, my mother was a single parent, so we grew up without a father in the home," he recounted. "When we joined the Church in 1994, we fit into the Church like a glove. The Church did not fill my father's place, but somehow, that place was not missed because we have a lot of priesthood holders who become fathers of the fatherless.

"The Church has helped strengthen my mother through the Relief Society. My mother just fit in there, and she loves going to homemaking. She is struggling with her health, and my older brother might be leaving on a mission next year as well, so she might be living alone, but I tell you, I've no fears - she will be well taken care of."

Brother Mnyandu said being Young Men president is challenging, but it also has its rewards. "You don't say it, but you are busy setting an example for others." He said that setting an example strengthens himself as well as others and "this becomes the cycle of the Saints."

"I can't explain it, but joining the Church has had a great effect on me. I live in a township where there are a lot of bad influences. The Church, among a lot of things, has kept me away from that."

He said people in the township are slowly being exposed to the Church and are learning what the Church stands for. One evidence of this is how fast the Church is growing in Kwa Mashu. The branch is expected to be divided soon and two wards created from it.

"When I joined the Church in 1994, we had about 10 families in the branch. We were attending our Church meetings in a school. At the beginning of last year we occupied a new building. Now that building has had to be expanded. Last week we had 291 people at sacrament meeting. People were sitting in the corridors.

"It is unbelievable to us. We have 18 missionaries serving here now. The Spirit is so great."

He observed that when people first come to the branch, they have doubts about the gospel, as they naturally would, but soon they gain the same testimony as the active members.

"Every Sunday, we have 25 more new people at our meetings. The new people get the same welcome that I got in 1994, and, as I know, the same welcome that new people to the Church receive all over the world. The Church is the same everywhere you go. It gives me joy that this is the true Church."

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed