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A Modern Day Hannah

A Modern Day Hannah
Fikiswa Thirsly Motolwana had been anxiously awaiting her son Cebo’s mission call.  Before he was born she started fasting and praying to God for a son. In her prayers she promised God that if He would grant her a son she would join the LDS church and her son would serve Him and be obedient to the commandments all of his days, just like the Biblical story of Hannah.
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Last year Thirsly reached another milestone. For 25 years she has been the Personal Assistant to the mission presidents and their wives in the South Africa Cape Town mission home. She serves as housekeeper, events planner, florist, gardener, laundress, chef, baker and anything else that is asked of her, but mostly she is a dear friend.  Approximately 3,600 missionaries have served during the nine mission presidents’ tenure that she has been employed at the mission home.  When asked which presidency she has enjoyed the most, she replied: “I have loved them all!” And they have loved her.

Thirsly was not a member of the LDS Church for the first few years that she worked at the mission home.  Her first exposure to the Church came when she worked for a family who were being taught by the missionaries.  After they joined the LDS Church she observed a wonderful difference in the way they treated each other and their children.  Through their referral she obtained employment at the mission home where she found the spirit of the young missionaries “contagious”.  “Some presidents and their wives would invite me for scripture study with them in the mornings, and they would even invite me to some of their training meetings. Then one day the apostle, Elder M Russell Ballard, came to visit the mission. He put his hand on my shoulder and asked me if I would like to become a member of the LDS church.  I said ‘Yes!’ While I was being taught by the missionaries all of my questions were answered, especially about the people who had died before embracing the gospel, and before getting to know Jesus Christ. I knew there must be a way for them to be saved, and now I know that there is - it is in the temple.”

Thirsly was baptized on 30 March1997 by President Glen Markus who was the mission president. In her patriarchal blessing she was told of her special gift for loving children and she has enjoyed many years of service in the Primary organization.  She has also served in Relief Society where she has taught mothers values to teach their children. On 3 December 1999 she received her endowment in the Johannesburg Temple.

Thirsly’s son, Cebo, has been coming to the mission home since he was a tiny baby tied on his mother’s back while she worked.  All through his growing up years he has had many wonderful examples of missionaries in the mission. The last few years he has enjoyed going out with them as a fellowshipper.  Elder Cebo Tshetu was called to serve in the Madagascar Mission where French and Malagasy are spoken.
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Many people ask Thirsly how she was able to raise such a fine son. She tells them, 'The LDS Church has all the tools we need to raise our children to become what we and the Lord want them to be.' Just as Thirsly promised the Lord, he is a consecrated servant.