A Nigerian mother raising her family in France, Patience Omorodion is inspired by a line that her own mother used to sing, “I will build the house of God before my own.” Patience was baptized at age eighteen and has found the LDS Church to be a home full of happiness throughout challenges and changes. As she lives and shares the gospel, Patience says that her desire to serve comes from, “Just having the love of God in our heart and the love of all mankind. For when you love Heavenly Father’s children you’ll be able to use the language that He has for them. You’ll be able to hear.”
I’m from Nigeria. I was born into a family of ten children. My father, my mother, my brothers, and my seven sisters, and one has gone to the spirit world. It happened when she was a baby. I grew up in a family who love God. And as a child I always had a desire to serve the Lord.
I had been looking for the church of God, but there were many churches. I couldn’t find the one that I really wanted, the way that I wanted to serve the Lord. I didn’t feel comfortable in all the churches I had been before I found the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A friend to my uncle who came to our home was exemplary to me. I was asking him why he was different from others. He said, “Because I am a Latter-day Saint.” I told him I was tired of going to churches because I didn’t really get what I wanted. He then said to me that this church was different. That his father was a pastor before and that he had to leave his church to this new church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I asked him, “Does this exist? A pastor leaving his church going to another church?” He said, “Yes. My father did leave his church because he found the truth.” So I wanted to know more about this church.
The first Sunday I went to the Church, I was so excited because of the way I was received by the Relief Society sisters. I was wondering why! I said, “Why are they so happy to see me?” The joy that I felt that first Sunday made me to come the other Sundays.
So the joy of the sisterhood in Relief Society touched my heart and I decided to have the missionary discussions about the Church, and after, I got baptized into the Church. I’m so excited that I have the testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. That’s helped me to know how much Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ love me. I know that Heavenly Father lives and is our grand Father and Jesus is our Savior, and the Holy Ghost is the best friend that we get in our heart in this life. That testimony has blessed my life a lot.
After you joined the Church, what was the response of your family?
My parents allowed me to go to church. When they now see the way I live, my mother is now telling my uncles, my nephews, to go and join the church that her daughter Patience is going to. My mother got baptized into the Church; my grandmother [was] also baptized into the Church. Some of my nephews joined the Church because each time they [were] talking about Christianity, my mother always say, “Go to Patience’s church. She is going to good church!”
Tell us about your experience with cleaning the chapel.
In Nigeria, I loved cleaning the church because I always love the song my mother sings: “I will build the house of God before my own.” That song touched me a lot. Each time I sing that song it reminds me of my duty to Heavenly Father to clean his church. So I always clean the chapel.
When I joined the Church, they didn’t know that I was only the one doing [the cleaning] until one of the new glasses in the window got broken. The branch president would always announce every Sunday, “Thanks to everyone that came to clean the chapel.” I went to the branch president and told him that as I was cleaning, one of the glasses in the windows was broken. He now asked, “How many of you come to the chapel?” I said, “I was alone.” He said, “Do you mean that you come every Saturday here?” I said “Yes. I don’t know if other people come after I leave, but when I come I always make sure the chapel is clean.”
To go to the chapel, I have to take a bus to the city center. From the city center I have to take another taxi. I was trying to do some extra work to save some money to be able to go during the weekends so that I would have some money to transport myself to the chapel to clean. But I think I was doing it because I was excited that the Church was true. Each time I’m in the chapel, I feel the Spirit so strong.
How did you meet your husband?
In 1987, a program for a vocational training was organized for the youth by the government. Though I was self-employed in wholesaling foodstuff business, I saw the need to acquire more skills in another sector of the economy. So one morning I set out to register my name in the Tailoring Sector at the Administrative office. There I met my husband, who was at the desk. I presented my application, which he graciously corrected because there was certain information omitted.
After a month, he personally brought the acceptation letter to my home. And with this unsolicited kindness, I could not resist the feeling to invite him to our Family Home Evening, which he accepted. He appreciated the fact that people still meet as a family to discuss issues of common interest and have fun together. Seeing the joy expressed during this activity, I invited him to the Church. He met with the missionaries and underwent the six discussions and was baptized into the Church. Afterwards, we began dating and finally got married. Today we are parents of 7 children and a grandchild.
Can you tell us about your family’s situation after you were married?
When we got married, after three years, there was a kind of a political problem my husband had in Nigeria. He had to leave the country. So I had to stay [in Nigeria] for six years without him the time for him to settle down here in France in order for me to join him. So, it was not easy, during that six-year period. Because of the gospel, I was able to continue with the three children: Comfort, Patience, and Wilson. So, we were able to stay for six years because we were close to the Church and everyone was of great help to us—my grandmother and my mother, my brothers and sisters, and my mother-in-law also. Everyone was of great help to us.
Every Saturday we prepare our things before going to church on Sunday. As for Wilson—before four years [old] he can polish his shoes and Comfort helps to keep his shoes. Mummy does the ironing. As we go to church we sing while we go, “Called to serve Him / Heavenly king of glory / Chosen e’er to witness for His name.” It’s always the song we sing every morning when we are going to church. We were happy going to church. And before I go, I pray, “Heavenly Father, will you touch these children’s hearts that they might have the Spirit, that they be reverent so that I can worship you in reverence in the church.” It is always a miracle when I pray, because I know my husband is not there to help me with the three kids, but each time I pray I can see that the Spirit is very strong. The children are always quiet in the church so that I can worship the Lord. Each time they are quiet during the sacrament meeting, I feel so happy.
What helped you to keep the Spirit and to keep your family close with your husband even when he was far away?
During the time my husband was away, I never felt that he was so long away from home because every weekend he always give a call home. He had to talk to me, and to the children. He wanted to make sure everyone was happy, giving them sweet kisses. He was always there communicating.
As we got the phone calls or the letters, the children and I would write sometime every Sunday after sacrament when we are back home and after having a rest. We would say, “Today we are writing a letter to daddy. What were you going to say?” The ones that know how to write can help the others. So we were always writing. He would always reply.
The gospel was keeping me busy because I was serving as a Young Women stake president. With my business, my sewing, and everything, I was so busy. That was what kept me going, because I was busy during the day, working, taking care of the children. So I never felt too lonely, because I have never been idle. So every day, it was just moving. It was just moving until the day my husband said, “You will be joining me. Everyone will be joining me!”
What was it like when you were able to come back together?
It was wonderful. The first day I met my husband I was so excited to see him again after six years. Oh, it was like heaven! Heaven on earth to see him again! I don’t know how to express my feeling. I was so happy because it was really long. Especially with the children—although you have other family members, the presence of a father is different from every other person in the family.
How was it for you coming to this new country with a new language and everything else?
When my husband left for France, I thought maybe when the problem would be over that he would come back to Nigeria to join me. But he said we would be coming to join him here. So, the first thing I was thinking in my heart: “Is the Church there? If the Church is in France, I will find my home because I knew where I find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint in any country in the world, I will find a home, and a place to worship the Lord.” My husband said the Church was there. Although I believed him, I didn’t know how strong the Church was in France.
So, one day—the Lord knowing my heart, that I have been worried about the Church—as I was doing some cleaning in the home, I took time looking at the old Ensigns in the house. I wanted to look at every Ensign to take some messages over. I found an Ensign that read, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in France is about 100 years, almost 100 years.” I was wondering! I said, this is a message for me. I picked the Ensign, and I started reading. After reading, I shouted! “Woo!” Ah, my mother heard me screaming. She said, “Why are you shouting?” I said, “I’m so excited the Lord has responded to my prayer!” She said, “What prayer?” I said, “I was worried if the Church was in France. The Lord just showed me through the message that I received that the Church is there.”
I was excited coming. Because the Church was there, I will see family. Because I knew that members of the Church are my family. If I come here, I will find a home. I did not speak the language, but I knew that the language of the Spirit is very strong.
How was it learning the language or adapting to a new country?
The thing that I want to say is that even though I am not still perfect in the language, that I can communicate, I can hear people, what they say. When I came here I never had that. But now it’s easier. I can even give the lesson in the Relief Society. I have served as a first counselor in Relief Society. So all this is just a desire to serve the Lord. When the desire is there, the Lord will give us the words that he wants us to say. It’s just having the love of God in our heart and the love of all mankind. For when you love Heavenly Father’s children you’ll be able to use the language that He has for them. You’ll be able to hear.
The songs that we always sing as Latter-day Saints are sweet words. Some words that are easy to learn. Those words that are good, they’re easy to learn because of the gospel. The Ensign, the hymn book, the scriptures teach us the language that we want to learn. I am often reading during my break time. I take some few minutes to read some passages in the Book of Mormon in French. So the more I read, the more I understand French. And my husband and children sometime when I speak in English to them, they reply to me in French because some of the children are not very good in speaking English; they always reply to me in French.
It was really hard especially in the beginning when I could not talk to my sisters, or express myself. It was very hard. It’s not something that needs to wear us down. It’s the little effort you continue to make each day; it starts coming. I saw the language come naturally. You cannot force yourself to have it. As you continue to listen, and you continue to practice bits, you try to use some words that you already know.
Tell us about your Family Home Evenings.
We always have the best Family Home Evening! We call our neighbors. All the people, the tenants in our area, we call them all. But what I always loved was [to] make a nice little bag of treats that I share after this family home evening. Encouraging people to come and join with us because, they know each time they come to the family home evening they will always have a gift to take home. We always have a large number—sometimes fourteen, fifteen, twenty—come to family home evening with us. The parents of the kids would allow them to come. They are friends to my children, so they invite them to family home evening. Everyone would run down. My brother’s children also, my mother, everyone in the family, they join with the neighbors. Little children are always excited because they have this gift, this little packet to take home.
You always seem to live with a smile and a hymn. What makes you so happy?
First, I love singing. When I sing, the hymns give me the Holy Ghost. Even though I’m walking on the street, I sing in my heart. Some time I sing aloud when I’m driving. I love praising God. It makes me so happy praising the Lord.
I’m happy because [of] everything that Heavenly Father has done for me. I always recognize that in my heart I remember every day. Every day I see the miracle of God, the good things of God. Especially when I enter into this country I knew that I came from Nigeria–there’s a lot of poverty. But when I came here I saw many good things. It was so beautiful and it gave me a lot of joy. The flowers, every good thing that I see around me gives me a lot of joy. Those things are the things that give me joy. I see that every day and that is good, I appreciate it. And I recognize every good that God offers to me in that day. People may say that is little. But I don’t see anything that is little. Every good that I receive is a miracle for me.
I always love going to the Temple with my family. Each time there, I feel peace. It’s the place that I always love to pour out my heart to Heavenly Father. When I am in the temple I am in the presence of my Heavenly Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Each time I go to the temple, I have always received a miracle. There’s always a solution to my problem. I feel peace. The scriptures I pick up at the temple, when I read, I receive the message of comfort from my Heavenly Father.
All this can help us to pass through our difficulties. No matter how many people may combine against us to trap us away from the right path, we should know that we are not alone. Heavenly Father, and his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are with us. We should continue to press forward. Continue praying and reading scriptures. Go to the temple, fulfill your church callings. Singing praises to God every day. Heavenly Father loves those who praise him. I love praising God. I know that when we praise God, we feel peace, and we receive our miracle. Heavenly Father is mindful of us. He knows what is best for his children. I’m so excited for His love! It gives me a lot of joy to know that my Father is with me.
You have seven children now. What is your hope for your children?
My desire for my children is for them to grow up in the gospel and raise up a righteous family. It is my desire and my worry every day. And I keep on praying and I’m doing my best to teach them the gospel.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is divine. I do not know how to thank Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ for helping me to find the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do not know how life without it would have looked like. How I would have been able to be a better wife, a good mother, a daughter of God. It would have been very difficult. The gospel and the testimony of the truth that I have give me courage each day to go on. We should always cherish the gospel we have, because it’s the greatest blessing that we have in our life. We should cherish it because it’s going to bring a lot of blessings to us. And we will never have anything to regret about our life.
I have really shared the gospel with many people in my neighborhood and I have found many converts to the Church of Jesus Christ. That gives me a lot of joy. The gospel is able to shape lives. Because we are instruments in the Lord’s hand, we should not let any trials or difficulties that we pass through stop us from the gospel. We should hold on because it is not easy, when we see people combining together in a different way, trying to combat with those who are on the right path. We should not be afraid. We should hold on.
Because there’s something that gives me joy from the Book of Mormon—when Lehi talked about the spacious building. How the people who were walking went to eat the sweet fruit, how they pick it and they eat. But when they look at those that were in the spacious building and they did turn away. They turn away because they were many, and they thought because they are few in that place that they are not secure.
I want to encourage every woman, as a Latter-day Saint, we should never be afraid of any group of people, no matter how many they may be. Whether they are outside or inside the Church. As long as we are holding on the tree, we are going on the right way. We should continue and never give up.
We should never let any mockery disturb us from the right path. The only way we can resolve this problem is through constant prayer, constant scriptures reading, and be attentive to the Holy Ghost. I know that is very true. It has helped me a lot.
At A Glance
Location: Lyon, France
Marital status: Married
Children: Seven (ages 24, 22, 18, 11, 8, 7, and 18 months)
Baptism date: April 9,1985
Schools Attended: Iguodala Primary School, Niger College, Cherryhome Fashion Institute
Languages Spoken at Home: English, French, Edo
Favorite Hymn: “Called to Serve”
Interview by Heidi Wiseman. Photos used with permission.