Thursday, November 4, 2010

Standing Tall -gfh

I am so far behind on posting on our blog but this is something that just occurred yesterday and I wanted to share this story.
Elder Oketa is a giant of a missionary in so many ways! He is kind, spiritual and gracious. He is a great teacher and trainer. He is obedient and humble.. And he stands about 6ft 5inches with a disarming smile that is so sincere you just want to hug him...well, at least, I do.
Here is his story:
When he was a seven year old in Uganda he was playing outside with his little cousin. It started to rain but they ignored it. The rain came down harder and harder so they went into an abandoned mine for shelter and found a little cave to play in and wait out the storm. The rains continued until there was so much moisture that the cave collapsed and they were buried alive. Elder Oketa and his little cousin were totally trapped and packed in the heavy wet dirt. They were trapped for two days. Elder Oketa held on to his little cousins hand and knew somehow that he had died. It was a miracle that the searchers knew where to dig and finally uncovered Elder Oketa and his little cousin.
Because of the way Elder Oketa's foot and leg had been packed by the heavy wet dirt his foot was twisted and he could not walk. He spent three months in the hospital and there were plans to amputate his leg. We might say that if he had lived in a more medically advanced country surgery could have been done for him that would have corrected his problem.
Elder Oketa is now 27 years old and stands about 6 ft 5 inches. He is a very handsome young man but has deformed leg, a grotesquely twisted foot and his body twists and tips as he walks with a severe limp. If you look closely at his left foot & leg in one of the pictures you will notice the deformity.
Our President has the biggest heart in the world and when he met Elder Oketa and heard the story he said "Let's do what we can to help". At this time surgery is not an option but orthopedics are. So after seven months waiting for the construction of his new orthopedic pair of shoes they arrived yesterday. Now he stands even taller, his smile is even bigger and if he focuses on his walk no one will notice his limp. I expect that there will be some aches and pains as his body adjusts to this after so many years but I think it will be worth it.
This moment when he put the shoes on for the first time brought tears to all of our eyes...even his young companion Elder Alder.I captured the moment in pictures with his permission.
Sister Watts works with the missionary medical concerns so she and Elder Oketa have become very close.


  1. What an awesome experience! So happy for Elder Oketa! And what a wonderful thing for President Poulson to have gotten started for this humble missionary. I love his smile in the pictures!

  2. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. It is a real blessing to have a caring mission president who worked on this. We sure can't solve all the problems in Africa, but some can helped and that's why we're here. Right! Seeing this touched my heart. Thanks.