“As long as you have faith as much as a mustard seed, you can move mountains.”
Mountains are exactly what Legrand Tshitende, a young man in his twenties, faced. He shares his remarkable story of faith and how he overcame the obstacles that were thrown at him.
“I come from Congo. Life was not easy, I did not have an easy start, but I made it through,” he says.
Legrand describes himself as being at a place of contentment and happiness, “I can’t explain it, but I feel like I’m living my dream,” he says smiling.
Living the dream, for Legrand, is not about money and flashy cars; living the dream is simply the realization that one is alive and the privilege of spending time in nature as a mountain guide, which means helping others with rock climbing and hiking.
“I get to admire Gods wonders and beauty. The scenery and view is great, I’m a people’s person which makes me enjoy what I do. I get to have the honour of helping those who feared heights, to overcome it. A lot of clients have the dream of mountain climbing, but fail to do it because of fears.”
Legrand was not always up on the mountains helping others, he found himself nearly on the streets unemployed after leaving his job as a cleaner in a restaurant, and has faced racism and xenophobia.
“It was a difficult time for me, I wanted to be a chef and I had the qualifications for it. Instead I found myself being unfairly treated and cleaning dishes only. I stood up for myself because I had bigger dreams, but they didn’t take me seriously and I left.”
Legrand’s mother is a business women, trying to make money selling clothes, and his father was a principal at a school in Congo. Legrand had to be separated from his family to live in South Africa; there were times he did not want to be in Cape Town but believed that there was a future for him.
“My parents taught me many values about life. I remember my mother told me at a young age, never ask God for money but ask Him for wisdom instead. I’ll know what to do with money if I have wisdom.
“In Congo, I never battled making friends, but when I came to South Africa, people would look down on me at school, the girls didn’t want anything to do with me because I didn’t have money to spoil them.”
He reflects back on his past as he says, “I lived with my brother, I remember when he lost his job, and we had nothing. I had to go to the local library and work as a car guard in my grade 11 year, so that I could make enough money for transport to school. There were many times I had to walk to and from school, even after a hard day of rugby practise; I remember being mocked for it and found myself crying at night at times.”
In life, we all need someone that will believe in us and for Legrand that someone was his younger brother. “People didn’t believe in me, even my own family didn’t believe in me. I found myself looking down on myself and wanting to quit, but it was my brother I could run to, and he would always encourage me. He believed in me.”
Ever had that feeling that no one believed in you? It’s a feeling most of us know quite too well, and we all have different ways of coping with it. Legrand tells us where his strength lies: “My strength, without a doubt, is God. I was taught at a very young age to pray and always rely on God for strength, God has never failed me. I also find my strength in holding onto the dreams I have. I have a vision of what I want and I go for it, relying on God for strength and working for it.”
Legrand is a miracle baby. His parents were told that they could not have any children; Legrand was the tenth child born and has another younger brother.
“I was not even supposed to be born, doctors gave up on my mother, yet here I am. I stand firm on the fact that God has a great plan and purpose for my life,” he smiles.
All the trials have not embittered him, but have indeed made him stronger. He shares a word of encouragement to all those struggling.
“Every obstacle in life is there to teach you something, it is in the darkness where you learn the most about yourself. Always believe that things will change, things will be fine. Many people started from the bottom, having nothing, today they are having a good life, if they can do it, why can’t you?”
He laughs as he ends off, “You have to have faith as a mustard seed, if you want the mountains to move.”
Legrand is broadening his horizons by furthering his studies to become a professional mountain guide.