In the scriptures, we often read of humble people who help build the kingdom by serving the Lord in small and simple ways. In today’s world, it is still the small efforts of millions of individual Saints that help move the work of the Lord forward and spread the gospel throughout the world.
Sister Elizabeth Shongwe and her husband George both grew up in Malawi when the Church was not available there. In Sister Shongwe’s words, “We were eight in the family—four boys and four girls. I am the sixth one. My father was a diplomat, so we travelled to many countries, and I had the opportunity to finish a four-year degree.” However, in 1986 Sister Shongwe’s father was killed by a bomb, leaving her and her seven siblings without support. She remembers, “An uncle who lived in Johannesburg offered to provide for my sister and me, so I immigrated to South Africa. It was there that I met my husband. He was the one that introduced me to the Church. He was a ward missionary in the Johannesburg Ward and used to hang out with a lot of missionaries. So all the time we were dating, there were missionaries around.”
In 1994, the Shongwes were married, and Elizabeth joined the Church in 1995. For several years, they were busy having a family and serving in the Church. Then, in 1998 Brother Shongwe had the opportunity to meet with Elder Dennis E. Simmons, who was serving in the Second Quorum of the Seventy at the time. As Sister Shongwe explained, “ My husband asked Elder Simmons, ‘Why is the Church not in Malawi?’ Elder Simmons promised that he would visit Malawi, and he did. After two years, he sent a missionary couple there. We gave them referrals, and their first investigators were my husband’s five sisters in Blantyre. Only two joined, but one of those served a mission in Johannesburg in 2003. The Church has continued to grow in Malawi. There is now a district there, with five branches in Blantyre and four in Llongwe, the capital city. My brother-in-law is the District President.”
After her three children were in school, Sister Shongwe started looking for something to keep busy. She remembers, “I volunteered to serve at the Distribution Center, where I worked for nineteen months. Then, when a position opened up, they hired me.” Being so close to the temple office, she had the opportunity to fellowship many Saints from Malawi who came to be sealed. She recounts, “Because I am here near the Temple Patron Housing, people let me know who’s coming. Last year there was a group of Saints who came to the temple with their children who were very poor. They didn’t have shoes or anything. So I called a couple of sisters in my ward and asked them if they had any clothes for two or three-year-olds that they wanted to donate. Their response was amazing. That’s the way the Church works. As I was talking on the phone, there was a brother who was at the till [of the Distribution Center] and overheard my conversation. He went home and talked to his wife, and they sent money to buy clothing for the children.” With that money, Sister Shongwe was able to purchase white shirts and ties for the young men to wear to the temple.
As Sister Shongwe testifies, “It’s the little things you do that make all the difference. I am so grateful. The Lord has done a lot for me.”
Millions of Saints are listening to the Holy Ghost and serving in millions of small ways. Because of their small efforts, countries have been opened to the gospel, people seeking the truth have found the missionaries, and humble members have received the blessings of the temple.