Nacha Dimanche had lost his father at age 12, and now, as he was older and preparing to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he had lost his mother. He felt torn and alone. He wondered if he could serve with all his heart in the Atlanta, Georgia mission.
Nacha was the first person the Church had called from Haiti to serve a mission in the United States. It was a tremendous honor—but he was bearing the overwhelming weight of grief. He questioned whether he could serve and keep his promise to his mother.
To help him decide, Nacha looked to the past, to another experience that had changed his life. “I was in soccer practice on January 12, 2010 when suddenly the ground started to shake under my feet,” he said. A devastating, 7.3-magnitude earthquake had struck Haiti, and it was the biggest earthquake the region had seen in 200 years. It killed 220,000 people, left 300,000 injured, and left 1.5 million homeless.
“I was two hours by foot from home,” said Nacha. “Darkness and destruction was all around me, and it was like a war had just happened. Everyone was screaming in terror, and people were under buildings and begging for help. It was a nightmare!”
Nacha couldn’t reach his home because of the destruction. People were so terrified they could not speak. He spent all night searching for his family, and to his great relief, he finally found them at the church building the next day.
“When the earthquake happened,” said Nacha, “my mom, looking for safety, immediately took two of my sisters and my cousin to the church. My aunt thought it was the end of the world and she also went to the church. She knew she would be safe there.”
Seeing his family’s unwavering faith gave Nacha the strength to move ahead in his life. He not only went on his mission, but he came back to the United States to pursue an education at LDS Business College. With the help of the LeGrand Richards Service Scholarship for returned missionaries, Nacha is working toward a degree in business management.
“Here,” he says, “you do not just learn to start a business, you learn to build relationships. I finally understand the blessing of looking at the leaders in my life—past and present—and learning from their skills, qualities, and life lessons. I can then apply that to my life.” Armed with a bright outlook and new understanding, Nacha is moving forward with faith, eager to discover what lies ahead for him.