A week after I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was homeless. My mother had moved to Nigeria and placed me in a boarding school 200 miles outside of London. The boarding school was like the one from Harry Potter, but without the magic and moving floor boards.
During the summer, I was placed in the custody of a family friend. In the eight years that I lived with him, we never communicated much, but when the weekend came, I was sent to the store to buy liquor, cigarettes and lottery tickets. We didn't have much of a relationship and I was a lonely teenager. I worked at McDonald's and became friends with the manager, Aaron Clarke-Wills, a six-foot-tall black man who talked like the queen. It was a weird combination.
One day he asked me if I liked American girls and I said, "Yes!" I asked him why and he said, "No reason." I kept bugging him about it for weeks and then forgot about it. A couple of months later, I was heading home from work and there were two girls standing at my doorstep with black badges on. One of them called me by name, and said pointing to the other, "This is my beloved sister." I let them in and they started teaching me the gospel.
I was pretty quiet and didn't say much at first, and the sisters didn't think I was really all that interested, until they talked about life after death. I used to have really bad nightmares about dying. It was the same recurring dream over and over, where I'd be walking in a desert, collapse, turn into a skeleton and then melt into the sand and snakes would come out of my eyes. I had sleep deprivation because I knew I'd have that same dream again.
So when the sisters started talking about life after death, I wanted to know more. I asked them to show me in the scriptures where it talked about life after death. I asked them if they really believed this and they told me they did. Because of my fear of dying, the news of the plan of salvation resonated with me and I wasn't scared about dying anymore.
Three weeks later, I was baptized. From that day on, I never had those nightmares. But shortly after I had a different one. The man I lived with gave me a shopping list to go to the store, and when I saw the shopping list I thought to myself, "Wait a minute, everything on this list goes against the Word of Wisdom," and I went home empty-handed. When he asked me where his items were, I told him with fear in my voice that I couldn't buy liquor, cigarettes, tea, coffee and lottery tickets anymore. He asked me why and I told him I had joined the Mormon church and they don't do those things.
Silently he walked upstairs, came back down with my suitcase full of clothes, opened the door and threw out my suitcase. He told me to get out, and I asked him where I was supposed to go. He said he didn't care. He said, "Why don't you ask the people from that new cult you've joined and see if they can help you?"
That night I walked the streets of London with my suitcase in one hand and the Book of Mormon from the sisters in the other. I was crying my eyes out, wondering what to do now. I walked into a parking lot and saw a white, rusty van, and the door was slightly open. I slept in the van for three nights. I read the Book of Mormon all night and it became my friend and my teacher. There's a scripture that talks about hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and I have never felt that more than I did that night.
I remember sitting in the van whining to Heavenly Father and telling him that getting baptized was the best thing that ever happened to me, but now my life was worse! I felt gypped. I had no home and had been discarded by my family. Why didn't he just leave me alone? Things were so much better before I joined this church. And when I said that, all my frustrations left me, and I felt a peace that I had not felt before. The spirit whispered to my heart in the most loving way, "Alex, have you finished complaining yet?"
I took my scriptures where I turned to Doctrine and Covenants 122. In that chapter Joseph Smith, while in Liberty Jail received revelation in response to his desperate plea. It talked about how all of the trials he would go through, would ultimately be for his good.
I remember thinking, "Good? That's not good. When I pray for a Ferrari and get it, that's good." I realized that what the Lord sees as being good and what I saw as being good are two different things, and I felt in my heart the spirit saying, "If the Lord left the church when things got tough, where would you be?" It caused such a powerful impact that I remember thinking that I would never complain again about my trials. I wish I didn't have them sometimes, but a reminder of what the Lord went through for me tells me it's for my own good and the positives in my life will always outweigh the negatives.
Looking back 25 years later, the memory of my homelessness shortly after joining the church has served as a backbone to my testimony. I'll always treasure my experience of being homeless for my faith.
To hear my whole conversion story, click here.
Watch the trailer "Frontman," Alex Boye's life story that includes his conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints.
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