During the past five months of social distancing due to COVID-19, we, like many others, have felt like we have been at war with an invisible enemy. Because of our age and health conditions, my wife and I are at high risk and have made a number of lifestyle changes. Looking for ways to fortify our home and community—both physically and spiritually—have become a key focus.
We can compare our lives to the Nephites during the wars with the Lamanites. Captain Moroni instructed the people how to rebuild their homes and communities to “prepare … against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land” (Alma 50:6). The key purpose behind all that he directed was to prepare “the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God” (Alma 48:7).
As the introduction to the August 3-9, 2020 Come, Follow Me lesson explains: “[Moroni’s] words also prepare us for the war in which ‘we are all enlisted’ (Hymns, no. 250), the war we are fighting each day against the forces of evil. This war is very real, and the outcome affects our eternal lives.”
Following Our Prophet and Church Leaders
In retrospect, we have thought that President Russell M. Nelson has been preparing all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be more spiritually minded when he announced: “For many years, Church leaders have been working on an integrated curriculum to strengthen families and individuals through a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship. Our efforts over these recent years to hallow the Sabbath—to make it a delight and a personal sign to God of our love for Him—will be augmented by the adjustments we will now introduce. This morning we will announce a new balance and connection between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church” (“Opening Remarks,” Ensign, Nov. 2018).
Shortening the Sunday meeting schedule and being able to use the Come, Follow Me resources helped us to strengthen our understanding and increase our faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We began to study with a renewed vision of the scriptures. We felt a desire to increase our capacities to receive both prophetic and personal revelation for how we should live our lives.
When the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles sent a letter on March 12, 2020 advising “Gatherings of Church Members Temporarily Suspended Worldwide” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org Newsroom, Mar. 12, 2020), we felt spiritually prepared to continue worshipping our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ within the walls of our own home. Typically, we begin our personal worship by listening to the Tabernacle Choir broadcast of “Music & The Spoken Word” in order to invite a spiritual atmosphere. We start our sacrament meeting with an opening hymn and prayer, followed by a sacrament hymn. We have cherished the directions from our bishop about partaking of the sacrament in our home—it is a spiritual privilege as a priesthood holder to repeat aloud Christ’s sacred sacramental prayers (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79; Moroni 4:3; 5:2). After the sacrament, we read the weekly emails from our bishop and ward Sunday School president, which includes summaries from class teachers about the current Come, Follow Me lessons. The stake presidency sends email messages and pandemic updates as well as forwarding talks by returning missionaries. Sometimes we read or view a general conference talk and share our testimonies. Through our individual efforts and ongoing social media support from ward, stake, and Church leaders, we have been able not only to continue to hallow the Sabbath day but also to draw closer as a couple as we worship in our home.
Drawing Together as Families
Other amazing developments during this time of physical isolation have involved the strengthening of family relationships. Our son and daughter-in-law immediately stepped in to take care of our shopping needs. They have also helped us make repairs around our house. They connect with us often and continually encourage us to be careful in protecting our health.
Our daughter, son-in-law, and youngest grandchild (who have been living in the United States) recently informed us during one of their Facetime calls that they will be moving to a city close to where we live. The company that our son-in-law works for has recently given approval that his work can be done remotely. Most of our family members now will be living closer together than they have in many years. Miraculously, in spite of physical distancing, we have recently experienced a growth in family unity.
Reaching Out to Our Community
We are also searching for ways to strengthen our community. When we researched that facial coverings could effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19, Sister Hart used her stash of quilting cotton to make reusable facial masks.
When some of her friends saw us walking with our masks, they asked if she could make some for them too. She has been distributing masks to anyone who wants or needs them. It has been a way of strengthening friendships in the community and helping others interact more safely with others.
Making masks has also been a recent effort of the Relief Society general presidency. In a Newsroom article, Sister Sharon Eubank “discussed the success of the Project Protect … an initiative sponsored by University of Utah Health and Intermountain Healthcare in partnership with Latter-day Saint Charities, [which] recently achieved its goal of collecting five million clinical face masks that are being distributed to Utah health care workers fighting COVID-19” (“Relief Society in Action, June 25, 2020,” ChurchofJesusChrist.org Newsroom, Jun. 25, 2020).
Such examples of sharing and service inspire us to be watchful for ways that we can help others in our community. Sometimes this may simply require us to be good examples. Sometimes there are ways that we can support what others are doing and share our talents, resources, and testimonies.