When Folly Ama-Gbodonon was four years old his mother became ill and passed away. His father felt he could not face raising the four children so he sent the oldest daughter to live with an aunt in a different town, left the other three children with their 65-year-old ailing grandmother, and moved to another country.
Little Folly remembers well the lack of clothing and food as a child. They lived in a one room house without electricity. He and his siblings and his grandmother were always hungry, and his grandmother was often ill. At the age of ten, he would go to the market and beg for money to go to school and run errands for people for money. His little sister sold small bags of water. Using this money, and fending for themselves, he and his siblings attended school when they could.
At the age of 17, Folly would work one year and go to school one year, and thus he completed high school in 7 years when it should have taken him fewer. He recalls that during his childhood life seemed pretty bleak and was merely a matter of survival. During those high school years, the missionaries found his older sister, and she wanted him to listen to the discussions with her but he was not interested. Life was not good to him, and he did not see how religion could help.
At the end of high school Folly wanted to study further, but he was required to pay for the exams. He decided to ask people in his neighbourhood for help. This time he asked a very kind man, named Joel Lawson-Kiniadga for help. It just so happened that Joel was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Joel and his wife had a small child and he felt prompted to help Folly and his siblings. He also invited Folly to visit the LDS Church. Folly took the lessons and joined the Church in 2013. His older sister, who was still interested in the Church, encouraged him to serve a mission. She had just married and had a baby.
Brother Lawson-Kiniadga offered to support Folly on a mission and to help him and his little brother and sister through school. As we read in James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Brother Lawson-Kiniadga truly did this. As a result, Folly and his family have been blessed. Many others will also be blessed as Folly teaches and shares the gospel of Jesus Christ while serving as a Mormon missionary.
Elder Folly Ama-Gbodonon is filled with the light of the gospel. His future and that of his siblings is now bright. He feels honour-bound to serve a wonderful mission in gratitude to the Lord, in tribute to his deceased sister, and in appreciation to the member missionary who brought him the light of the restored gospel. He left the MTC in March 2015 to serve his mission in Cȏte d’Ivoire.