The past few months of isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic have led to experiences that are hard to find the words to portray and have been different for everyone. Some have struggled financially with the loss of work. Some have struggled emotionally without the opportunity to gather with friends and family, especially during holidays and even the death of loved ones. Others have liked the opportunity to hibernate. Most of us, though, have had the opportunity to slow down, and we hopefully have had time to think about what things are most important to us.
Almost every week our family has gathered together in our home on Sundays for our own personal sacrament meeting. As we have worshipped in our home, we have reflected on the blessing of a living prophet who has guided and prepared us for this experience. At the October 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced: “It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings … 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” (“Opening Remarks,” Ensign, Nov. 2018).
Looking Forward to Spiritual Reunions
As our family prepared to teach the June 22-28, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families lesson focusing on the experiences of the sons of Mosiah in Alma chapters 17-22, the first few verses had a profound effect on me: “Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God” (Alma 17:2-3).
These verses encourage us to look forward to returning to our Church meetings. We anticipate seeing ward members again and finding that they are still our brothers and sisters in the Lord. We look forward to the lessons we will all learn from each other as we share the experiences we have had in our homes while we have been separated.
Remembering Missionary Experiences
It doesn’t matter what it is that separates us from our brothers and sisters: it could be a pandemic; it could simply be time and distance. I am reminded of an experience I had as a missionary in the Philippines. I had many wonderful experiences teaching and loving the people. The members also loved working with us to introduce the gospel to their friends and family.
One day, a young man whom we got to know told us that he would like us to teach his brother and sister. I was honoured that he would trust us to teach them. As we visited their house, I knew that he had prepared his siblings by his example. I loved teaching them and helping them know that Heavenly Father loved them and had a plan for them.
One of the best birthday gifts I have ever received was being a part of their baptism. Gay Marie and Nhat Nhat were surrounded by ward members that loved them and were willing to strengthen them in this journey home to their Heavenly Father.
As a missionary, I prayed for each person I taught. I prayed that they would stay strong in their testimonies of Jesus Christ and that they would remain active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that this is not always the case, but still I prayed.
Virtual Global Reunions
One of my favourite parts of Facebook is the ability to connect with people from my mission. I treasure the ones I can contact, especially when I see that they are still active in the gospel. It narrows the distance between us just a little bit.
A few years ago, I scrolled through my newsfeed and came across a picture of Gay Marie with Sister Jean B. Bingham, who at that time was the first counsellor in the Primary general presidency and is presently the 17th general president of the Relief Society.
I was overcome with such joy knowing that Gay Marie is still active in the Church and sharing her testimony with those around her. This picture brought me the joy that Alma experienced when he met the sons of Mosiah after they had been separated. No matter what is isolating us from those whom we love, we can learn from Alma and the sons of Mosiah. As we continue in much prayer and fasting, we will grow in the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we are reunited with our loved ones, we will experience the joy and rejoice exceedingly.
Continue to Follow and Rejoice in Christ
For our family, the social distancing of this pandemic has given us the chance to reflect on how we want to make Sunday different than any other day of the week. It’s hard when you are together all day every day. But as we have talked about what we can do, the Spirit has blessed our home and given us the opportunity to appreciate how far we have come as a family since the introduction of the Come Follow Me resources. We have been prepared for this time of isolation, and we are being prepared for whatever may come in the future. Take the time to pray together. Fast together. Grow together. These are the principles that will lead to rejoicing when we can be together again.