Monday, 9 December 2013

A sacred experience in Gabon

Sunday, December 8th I had the privilege of attending church in the West-Central African country of Gabon.  Few Westerners could place Gabon on a map, and the country is small in population, comprising only 1.5 million people.  Gabon lies on the equator and is a land of rain forests and exotic wildlife.  When I knew that I was coming to Gabon, I asked my US Embassy contacts if they knew of a member of my church that could help me get to church.  Within 5 minutes, Michael Moody emailed me back and told me that he would pick me up for church and invited me for lunch AND dinner after church.  All in 5 minutes…from Gabon!  What a world we live in.  I figured that my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) had been established in Gabon for some time.

When Brother Moody and his family picked me up Sunday morning, I learned that I would be attending the only congregation of the church in Gabon.  I learned that the church had only existed in Gabon for about a year, and that Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had dedicated Gabon in November 2013 for the preaching of the gospel.  The Moody's showed me where the dedication took place, in a beautiful arboretum by a tall tree over 200 years old - article about the dedication here:

Front side of the church

The scene as I entered the Primary room.  The little boy is on the back row, second from the right.

The newness of the gospel here gave me goosebumps and I was so excited to attend church.  As I walked into the nice building that the Libreville Gabon branch used, I walked past a room of several children who were sitting so peacefully and quietly that you could hear a pin drop.  I had not planned to sit in class with the children - in fact, as I am a Primary teacher of 6 year olds in my ward in N. Virginia, this would have been an opportunity to "get a break from the kids."  However, as I looked upon these sweet, reverent spirits, I felt drawn to them.  I quietly took my place at the back of the classroom.  There was one little boy, the smallest boy in the class, that I was particularly drawn to.  He walked, but was probably less than 2 years old.  I beckoned to him and he came and sat in my lap.  That was a sweet experience.  Sister Moody soon arrived to lead the meeting.  She is a mother of 5 and a great gal.  Having learned French on her own, she beautifully led the children through their study of the Articles of Faith and through song practice for next week's primary program.  Though it was pretty hot and humid, it was great to be with these children who are so reverent and Christlike.  They surely have little in terms of possessions, but they possess the light of Christ.

I was honored to pass the Sacrament during the branch's Sacrament Meeting (the little boy wanted to take many pieces of bread, not just one (-: ).  Following a nice meeting, I got to visit with several of the Gabonese Saints.  They were very friendly and welcoming.  How grateful I was that I could speak their French language!  What a blessing that has been in my life.  I learned that very few of them have been able to go to the temple, and very few have been baptized.  Their branch is currently searching their city of Libreville (means "Free City") for a suitable pool to conduct baptisms.  They could baptize folks in the Atlantic Ocean, but there is some pollution in the water.  I feel spoiled to have easily had the spiritual opportunities that they have not had.  But the church is growing rapidly in Africa, and there is a great power and spirit accompanying that growth.  And today was the 1-year anniversary of this first Gabonese Branch!
1-year anniversary picture of the Libreville, Gabon branch

Little ones picking little mushrooms after church.
Following church, I got to know Elder and Sister Michael Moody Sr.  Elder and Sister Moody are the first LDS missionaries in Gabon.  They have served several missions in "austere" locations…Haiti, Tahiti, etc.  I was amazed to learn that A. Harold Goodman, Arian's grandfather, called Elder Moody to serve on the Church Music Department and that they were good friends.  Elder Moody led the creation of the 1985 church hymnbook and has composed many popular church hymns, including "This is the Christ," "Faith," etc.  The Moody's are completely devoted to the Lord and His work, and it was wonderful to be with them - they are fine examples to me.  We discussed the fact that instead of purchasing a timeshare for retirement, that their timeshare is serving missions.  It was great to get to know Brother and Sister Michael Moody, Jr. as well.  Brother Moody serves in the US Embassy in Libreville, Gabon.

From left to right: Brother and Sister Michael Moody, Jr., Yours Truly, Elder and Sister Michael Moody.
I am so thankful that I was able to share in these experiences and I look forward to many more here in Africa!
The Gabon Atlantic Ocean coastline


  1. What an amazing experience--thank you for sharing! It gave me goosebumps reading about it!

  2. I know that this is an older post but is there any chance that you know contacts there currently? DO they only speak French? I do not speak French but would have no problem meeting anyways.

  3. The Moody family was in our ward in Kansas! How exciting to see them working in Gabon. We are currently helping the missionaries teach the Gospel to a Gabonese family here in Oregon.