I'm going to use this week to write about some women who have made a difference in my life. I have a long list of names, but I'm going to narrow it down to just a few. I was reading in my mission journal last night trying to remember some details about a lady we taught in Brooklyn. I find it very fitting that the week she was baptized was also the week of Mother's Day.
About the time I started my mission the church started advertising free Bibles. The hope was that missionaries could deliver the Bible, and perhaps place a Book of Mormon at the same time. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.
Francesca was from Nigeria. She hadn't been in the United States for very long when she called and ordered her free Bible. As she ordered the Bible she sent a plea to God: "If this church is the church I need to join, please let someone actually deliver this Bible to me."
We got her referral and called to make an appointment. We arrived late for the appointment. She had assumed that we weren't going to show up, and that she would need to look elsewhere for a church to join.
Francesca was married to a 3 star general in the army. He was the third most powerful man in all of Nigeria. She had over 50 bodyguards, and a house full of servants. She didn't want for anything...except for a husband who was faithful, and a religion she believed in. With her 2 year old daughter in tow, she left everything behind in search for a better life here in the United States. She knew one person who would help her, and when she arrived in Brooklyn, she and her daughter moved in with him.
We spent the better part of an afternoon with Francesca. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She loved it all and believed it immediately. She told us that she knew in her heart the things she was hearing were true. She wanted to join the church as soon as she could.
In order to live the standards established by the church, Francesca needed to find somewhere else to live. She told us that if we could help her find a place to live temporarily, she would tell her boyfriend that she was moving out.
My companion and I searched and searched for a place. We looked at the list of all of the members of the church who lived nearby, and didn't know where to turn. We asked for guidance from Heavenly Father and we both felt that we needed to call a lady who had also recently joined the church. We called her and explained the situation. Her response was this: "I'm making her a bed right now."
This sweet lady lived in the projects - the worst of government housing. On one occasion when we had gone to visit her, we were met by the policemen assigned to patrol that area. They waited outside nearby, and when we were through with our visit, they walked with us out of the area, just to make sure we were safe.
Francesca, who came from a world with everything, moved into the worst of circumstances - all because she believed in the message we shared with her. I was, and am still, inspired by her faith and conviction. Francesca didn't stay in Brooklyn very long. After she was able to access her accounts and obtain some money she moved to Rhode Island. She wrote to let us know that she had arrived safely, and was actively involved in teaching the children at church. She was happy.
I lost contact with Francesca. I have done everything I know of to try and find her, but to no avail. I would love to know what became of her. I would love to know about the life she has made for herself here in the United States.
Wherever she is, I am sure that Francesca is blessing the lives of other people. She is just that type of person.