Rosemary, our firstborn child, was a new pretty baby when my mother visited us from her village in central Zimbabwe. As brand-new parents, my wife, Naume, and I were so excited for my mother’s visit. We were eager to learn everything we needed to know about raising a child.
Upon arriving, my mother brought out a round cloth necklace. Wrapped in the cloth, she explained, it was a magical object. She held out the necklace to Naume to put on Rosemary’s neck. Sensing Naume’s hesitation, my mother immediately said: “From an early age my mother and maternal grandmother gave me this magical object, which has protected me and all my children, including your husband. This amulet will protect your daughter from diseases and from all sorts of spells that might befall her, and she will overcome any difficult situation in life. She will need to wear this until she is five years old.”
At that time I was serving as branch president, and I immediately thought, “What will the members of my branch think when they see this ‘magical’ necklace on our baby’s neck?” Then I thought, “Maybe we could cover it so that it will not be so visible.” I looked at Naume; her expression told me that we should not accept this gift. I asked my mother if she could make a small, thin necklace, one that might not be so visible. She responded that it was not possible, and that the magical object worked best in the format she had prepared it.
Again, Naume gave me a look that clearly expressed her disapproval. I turned to my mother and explained that as a branch president in our local congregation, I would not be comfortable placing the necklace on our child. My mother replied with a warning: she told us that without the necklace our baby would die.
A Moment of Panicked Crisis
A few weeks after this incident, our little Rosemary fell very ill. We did not have money to take her to the doctor. It was at night, and at that moment I started thinking about what my mother had said in her warning.