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Masked Gunmen Changed Mother's Life in an Instant

June 24, 2013

Eileen Whiting

Life changed in an instant that night in July 2008 when armed gunmen burst into our home in Johannesburg, South Africa. I suddenly felt new desires for my life and family when I saw a gun pointed at the head of my teenage son.

I always had a testimony of the gospel. But to keep peace in a marriage with a nonmember who had strong feelings against the Church, I didn’t attend meetings for 30 years.

But after these four masked gunmen broke into our home with AK-47 assault rifles, I realized things had to change. These gunmen were trained, organized, and ruthless; they were not neighborhood gangs merely roving around.

That night I was home with my daughter Tammy and son Calvin. They forced us to sit on the couch. It tore me apart to see a gun held to the head of my son. Then two men grabbed me and demanded that I show them the main bedroom. As we were going upstairs, I prayed so hard to Heavenly Father to keep my children safe. I felt an instant calm. I had sudden confidence everything would be well. I felt like someone was with me, putting his arms around me.

The gunmen took what they wanted, which was mostly electronic things, and left us unharmed. That night, after everything calmed down, I knelt in prayer with an intensity I’d never felt before and thanked Heavenly Father by promising to make amends in my life, to set my life right—no matter the cost.

Horizons of Hope

I don’t know if I understood then the depth of all that I was committing to do and to endure, because soon after, my life fell apart. Everything went wrong. Just when I was at my end with frustration and despair, new problems vexed my optimism and hope, like the dissolution of my off-keel marriage.

But good gradually came. I felt calm and relieved to be out of my marriage.

A year later my sister suggested I study in America. I wanted to go, but I felt apprehensive. I would have to start a new life in a new country with new people who would detect my Queen’s English.

I was unaware of LDS Business College at the time, but while I was applying for BYU, an LDSBC prompt popped up on my computer screen. Miracles followed, a visa was approved, and I was accepted to LDSBC.

I was shocked but elated. I learned that the Lord guides us even though we don’t realize it.

The blessings never stopped. I now live in Utah County and attend LDS Business College. I received the Horizon of Hope Scholarship. This scholarship came when I was totally at a loss for what to do. I can never thank donors adequately enough. Continuing my studies without the anxiety of wondering where the next penny will come from is a major relief.

I know every single parent studying here is grateful for the financial help provided by generous donors. I’m sure each is willing to make any sacrifice to improve the lives of our families.

Yet it would be impossible—absolutely impossible—without assistance. I could never fully express my gratitude. Words fail. Compassion from gracious donors has healed me.

I have a dream to help children. I love children. They bring immeasurable joy. I want children to feel Heavenly Father’s love.

There are children out there who need me. I know this.

I prayed to be in a place where I would be surrounded by members of the Church and where I could do whatever work the Lord had for me. Now I’m encompassed by righteous members.

My life has been blessed with many angels along the way. So many of them are at LDS Business College. They believe in me.

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