Journey ends with baptisms for the dead

GABORONE, Botswana — Twenty-eight youth from the Gaborone West Ward, Botswana, traveled by bus to the Johannesburg South Africa Temple to do baptisms for the dead. The youth prepared for months by saving money for the bus ride, lodging and meals. It cost each participant 140 Pula (about U.S. $32), — a significant sacrifice in a country where jobs are scarce and salaries very low.

They began to plan the temple excursion in January 2001 and they all worked hard to be able to participate. "This may be the one and only time for them to have an opportunity to do baptismal work for the dead. For the majority of the youth this was the first time they had ever traveled outside of their city or country," said Elder Gerald W. Jensen, public affairs missionary serving in the Africa Southeast Area. The youth were chaperoned by Nyakale Million Moroka, the first full-time missionary to serve and return to Botswana (March 1999-March 2001), Bishop Leonard Thebe and his wife, Nanny, and a few of the youths' parents.

It was a thrill for the young men and women to enter the baptismal font all dressed in white anticipating something they had never done before, Elder Jensen wrote in correspondence to the Church News. Many of them worked on their family history research and were doing the temple work for their grandparents and other ancestors. Temple President Kenneth Powrie told them, "If you are in tune and have the Spirit, you will be able to feel the presence of your ancestors and those who have passed on."

One young woman, when asked after the baptism if she felt the presence of her grandmother, began to cry and said she did feel her presence. One of the young girls was sealed to her mother after the baptismal session.

"Each of the youth returned home with strong feelings of gratification and a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a closer bond to ancestors and the blessings of doing the work for those who have passed on before," Elder Jensen said.