During my years of growing up in Uganda, I searched for the true church. I used to say a prayer wherein I promised God if He would lead me to His true church, I would serve Him with all my heart. Unfortunately I never found a church there that felt just right.
When I was 22 years old, I moved to Dubai for work. Now living in a Muslim society, I again felt impressed to continue my search. I was looking for a Christian church that would help me develop a relationship with my Father in Heaven.
I shared my desire with a friend. He replied, “I know of a church, but I don’t think you’ll like it because of its high standards. Very strict, I hear.” All the same, he gave me the contact information of a member, and I called immediately.
Since the Sabbath is on Friday in Dubai, that’s when the member picked me up and took me to Church. When I entered the building, I heard a voice telling me, “Christ is what you have always looked for.” I liked everything about the services that day.
After being taught by members, I was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in September 2011. Not everybody was pleased with my decision. My mother back in Uganda essentially disowned me when she heard my news.
Remembering the promise I made to serve God after finding the true Church, I asked my bishop about opportunities to serve. He told me about full-time missionary service and explained all the terms and conditions. I was determined to prepare for a mission.
With the love and support of my bishop and the Saints of the Sharjah Ward, I was able to work, prepare, and finally submit my papers. A few weeks after I submitted them, I received my call to labor in the Uganda Kampala Mission which included five countries: Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Djibouti, and Uganda, my own homeland.
Unfortunately, about one year into my mission, I began experiencing knee pain that I knew must be related to a previous boda-boda (motorcycle) accident I had while growing up in Uganda. Following the accident, I had undergone surgery to repair torn ligaments. Screws had been inserted in my knee. Because of my determination to complete my full-time missionary service, I tried to hide the increasing pain from everyone.
One day the all of us missionaries were singing “How Great Thou Art” in Amharic at a conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. President Chatfield, our mission president, was sitting behind us as we sang. He had a good view of me. Right in the middle of a refrain, I experienced a sharp piercing pain which dropped me down right in front of the mission president! My secret was out.
President Chatfield made arrangements for me to go back to Uganda because the mission doctor lived there as well as the doctor who had done my initial surgery. X-rays revealed one of the screws had started moving from its original position. The x-rays were also sent to doctors in America for them to advise as to how much time it would take to heal. They all said, “10-12 weeks.” President Chatfield told me that if my healing were to take more than 12 weeks, it would be hard for me to return to my mission. I replied, “That’s the reason I tried to hide the problem!” I don’t know whether my greatest agony was the pain I was experiencing or my fear that I could not return to complete my missionary service.
Then something rather wonderful happened. My mother came to the hospital to visit me, bringing my little sister along. I was in better spirits when I was temporarily released as a missionary and went in for surgery.
At the same time, our mission held a fast for the safety and health of the missionaries. My name was added to the mission fast and everyone prayed that “Elder Bukenya’s knee would heal.”
Just two weeks after my surgery and a few days after the mission fast, I visited the doctor to check on my progress. He was amazed at my quick recovery. He gave me a letter that very day that released me to return to my mission, stating that “recoveries like that only happen to missionaries.” I was assigned to the office after getting permission from South Africa and Salt Lake to resume my mission.
As a mission we witnessed the power of fasting and prayer. Since that day I continue to believe that if we faithfully address our problems to Heavenly Father, the same faith leads to miracles in our lives.