Lorraine’s Special Day
Not long after missionaries were
assigned to Mafikeng, South
Africa for the first time, Elder Spratling
and his companion met a woman named Lorraine
from Vereeniging who was visiting a friend in Mafikeng. As Lorraine heard the
gospel for the first time, she craved to know more. The missionaries promised her that they would
have missionaries contact her when she returned home. The Elders referred her name to the Sisters
serving in Vereeniging.
Sister Smith and Sister Groberg searched for Lorraine’s
house for over an hour and came close to giving up. Sister Groberg
insisted that giving up on someone was just not something they could do. When they finally found her on a street with no sign, Lorraine
was so happy to see them she was in tears.
The Sisters began teaching the lessons to Lorraine and her fiancé, Gardener. They immediately loved the gospel. They read the Book of Mormon together every
night and began to feel a difference in their home. They attended church and the ward welcomed
them with open arms. Lorraine’s little girl, Dolly, loved Primary
and began to tell all of her friends at school about ‘her church.’
was transferred and Sister Mcharo took her
place. Soon Lorraine and Gardener had developed a very
special relationship with her as well.
Having gained a strong testimony, they eagerly accepted the invitation
to be baptized. Since the couple was
not married, they were taught that they must do so before they could be
baptized. Both expressed their desire to
be married, but were very concerned about the expense. The bishop came to Lorraine and Gardener’s home one night to
teach with the sisters and assured them that very little cost would be
The Sisters made arrangements for
the couple to be married by the bishop and began to plan a small reception to
celebrate the marriage. The couple
applied for a marriage license and took the required HIV test. When the results
of the HIV test were returned, Lorraine’s
was positive. The marriage was delayed
as the couple struggled with the implications.
Should they still get married?
How long would Lorraine
live? Who would care for her young
children from her previous marriage?
Gardener assured Lorraine that he loved
her and wanted to be married to her no matter what. He would take responsibility for her
children, if need be. He said one evening, “Sisters, she’s my lady.” So a marriage date was set and plans were put into place. The Sister missionaries decided that inasmuch as it was within their power, they would make the marriage of Lorraine
and Gardener as perfect as possible with their limited funds.
Sister Smith and Sister Mcharo went to several bridal shops to inquire about what
was the least expensive dress they could rent.
They left each one discouraged as the price was far beyond their
budget. The sisters were driving by a
shop one day that they had already been to and both felt that they should go in
again. The shop owner recognized them
and asked why they needed the dress so badly.
They told him about Lorraine. He then told them to have Lorraine come in and pick out her favorite
dress and she could use it for no cost.
The Sisters told Lorraine to meet them at
a certain address one day for a surprise.
Tears flowed from Lorraine’s
eyes when she walked out of the shop in her dream dress. Another woman, a complete stranger shopping in the store that day, reached into her purse and gave
Lorraine money to buy a pair of shoes to go
with the dress.
the Sisters picked up the dress for the wedding, the shop owner surprised them
with jewelry and a beautiful bouquet of fresh roses for Lorraine’s special day. He also provided a new dress for Lorraine’s little girl,
Dolly, to wear at the wedding.
Many friends, old and new, family
and ward members were present on February 10, 2007 when Lorraine walked down the aisle in the Vereeniging chapel.
Gardener, wearing his new suit and a huge smile, took her hand as the
Bishop married them for this life, ‘in sickness and in health, in good times
and in bad.’ A professional photographer
in the ward took pictures and the Relief Society put on a beautiful
reception. It was a beautiful day for a
Another wonderful day soon followed, as Lorraine
and Gardener were baptized. Despite
continued struggles with Lorraine’s
health, they are now very happy with the Gospel in their lives. Lorraine told the sisters one evening, “just as God sends us trials, he also sends us the strength and relief to see them through – the Gospel is my strength now; it is my relief.” Lorraine and Gardener are now awaiting the birth of a child and working towards being sealed in the temple where, despite any sickness, their family will be forever.