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.’


Sister Groberg 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 involved.


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.


When 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 beautiful family. 


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.