“Break the Soil of Bitterness”

13 September 2018

One Woman’s Quest for Healing

Julia Mavimbela (1917–2000) was a pioneer both in her community and in the Church.

One of Mavimbela’s best-known community projects began in the wake of the 1976 Soweto riots, when she started a series of community gardening projects with local youth. As they worked to grow food for their families, she compared the hard soil to their hard life experiences, encouraging them to “break the soil of bitterness” in their own lives. “Where there was a bloodstain,” she taught them, “a beautiful flower must grow.”

Shortly after she joined the Church in 1981, Mavimbela became a counselor in the Relief Society presidency of the newly formed Soweto branch, the first Church branch in a township area, and later served as a branch and stake Relief Society president. She was also one of the first Saints to serve in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple.

In this video, family members and friends of Sister Mavimbela describe how tragedy earlier in her life set her on a course toward service and spiritual healing later in life.