An elderly gentleman, more than 80 years old, came to the temple with a group of saints from his home town. They were to spend two day serving in the temple. He sat on a bench inside the men’s dressing room in the temple, waiting to do initiatory ordinances. In a few minutes another man, 54 years old, came and sat down next to him. The younger man had planned to attend the endowment session that morning with his wife and the other members of his ward, but had arrived in the temple too late. He decided to do initiatory ordinances instead.
The older man asked the younger one where he was from.
“Sekondi,” came the answer.
“Where in Sekondi?” the elder one asked.
“What part of Ketan?”
”Where the public schools are.”
“I have children living there,” the older man said.
With a growing sense of recognition, the younger one looked at him intently and said, “You are my father.”
Just then an ordinance worker approached to invite the elderly man into the initiatory booth. About fifteen minutes later, when he had completed the ordinance work, the older man returned and immediately asked, “What is your name?”
“John Ekow-Mensah,” the younger man said.
“That is my name, too. You are my son.”
The younger John had been named after both his father and his grandfather. When the boy was very young his parents’ marriage had been dissolved and the father had left. The boy was four or five years old at that time. He and his three younger sisters were raised by his mother and her family. John never saw his father again until that day in 2012, in the temple.
When the younger John married, he and his wife decided to find a church that they could join together. John was away at university when he saw a Liahona magazine on a shelf. He found himself interested in what it had to say, and noticed the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the publisher.
When John came home from school, his wife was anxious to tell him of a church she had learned about from one of her friends. She said it was called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. John told her that this was the church he had read about in a magazine at the university. He and his wife, Deborah, were taught the gospel and baptized in 1999.
Unknown to the younger John, his father had made his living mostly as a painter. He met a woman who was living in a building he was painting. She was a member of the Church and introduced him to the gospel. He was baptized in 1991.
Though their paths in life had separated, the father and son had both found the gospel. Twenty-one years after the father’s baptism and 13 years after the son’s, they were reunited in a miraculous meeting in the temple. After that encounter, they went on a temple session and then sat in the celestial room together, reconnected their lives, and rekindled their love.
John wondered why his father had left his family, and why he hadn’t tried to get back with or at least contact them. His father explained to him what had happened. Among their tribe, the oldest matriarch held sovereign power. Whatever she required, everyone in the larger family was compelled to do. In this case, that matriarch was the grandmother of the elder John’s wife, and she was violently opposed to his marriage to her granddaughter. It was her insistence that forced separation upon this couple, and made it hopeless for John to attempt continued contact with his family. In that culture, expulsion from the family severed all ties.
The gospel brought them back together after almost a lifetime apart. What better place to rediscover each other than in the Lord’s house where families can be joined for eternity? Surely the Lord’s hand was over this miraculous as they both came to the temple at the same time and sat side by side.