How these Latter-day Saints are finding strength, peace during the coronavirus pandemic

This is part three in a series on identifying blessings during the COVID-19 outbreak. The following experiences were emailed to the Church News in response to Sheri Dew’s column on compensatory blessings. More responses will be published in the coming days. Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Read more in part one and part two.

Strength from another battle

Our compensatory blessing is 4 years old.  In 2016 our son was diagnosed with cancer. He won the fight the way we wanted him to and is as healthy and strong as he ever was.

When the schools closed and news of this current virus reached our five children, we sat down to talk to them and explained how we had done this before.  When we reminded them of our previous year of social distancing, they understood and have not expressed any worry at all.

AJ Lewis' children. From left: Emily, 13; Madeline, 4; Thomas, 10; Ashley, 2; and Eleanor, 6. | Courtesy AJ Lewis

Watching our son fight that tough battle was life altering and spiritually challenging, but we felt Heavenly Father’s love throughout and we feel it now just the same. We can say we’ve been through worse, and that has given our family hope and peace during a time that might otherwise be scary and uncertain.

— AJ Lewis, Providence Ward, Virginia Beach Stake

Reflection in the mountains

I spent my first Sabbath day without our formal Church meetings in a dress, wearing a necklace and boots, sitting in my truck in a quiet place in the mountains. There, I spent one and a half hours reading 2 Nephi chapters 1-14, and I sat pondering and praying. I have literally read the Book of Mormon hundreds of times, yet this time, as I sat alone in my truck in the mountains, dressed for church on a Sabbath day, my eyes were opened, and I saw so many things in those verses that I have never seen before. ... I look forward to many such experiences during this time when our Church meetings are suspended.

— Cynthia Cox Cottam, Warren Lake Ward, Fort Collins Colorado Stake

Humility in trials

Ma'a Finau is pictured with is wife, Alice, and their three children, Emily, 7; Jacob, 10; and Olivia 8. | Courtesy Ma'a Finau

When I first heard that the coronavirus is spreading fast around the world and it’s already coming to our country of New Zealand, I was a bit scared, because I know that if it’s going to get worse, and if supermarkets are closing down, we won’t be able to survive as a family because we don’t have any welfare or food storage at all. So, I started counting days for our fortnightly pay to come in so I could start buying some food and store away for future use. Once our pay came in, I started driving around shop to shop and bought food and other safety gear for my family to use around this difficult time. ...

I am so grateful for the blessings that Heavenly Father has blessed our lives with, and also for the trials and tribulations He gives us, which helps us to be humble and remind us of Him and what we needed to do to be more prepared. As He has said, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” ...

Coronavirus is not only a trial, but it is also a blessing for me and my family. Some of these blessings we received from it are:

  • It wakes us up to remember our Savior Jesus Christ more often and try to be more like Him.
  • It helps us to think more about others, especially the families we are ministering to and how we can serve them.
  • It helps us to have more time with each other as a family and learn more of His gospel through the “Come, Follow Me.”
  • It helps us to drop down things that are not important and focus on the things that are eternal or matter the most.
  • It helps us to focus more on the Savior and His Atoning sacrifice, especially when we do our sacrament in our own home.
  • It helps us to take heed of the living prophet of God and His servants who are called as leaders of His church on earth.
  • It helps us to pray more often and to forgive one another.
  • It helps us to remember the real purpose of life through the plan of salvation.
  • Also, it helps us to buy more food and store it away for time of need.

My family is not perfect, but we have tried all we can to be prepared spiritually and physically for anything that will come our way. 

— Ma'a Finau, Otumoetai Ward, Tauranga New Zealand Stake

A virtual meeting

While we could not go to the chapel for sacrament meeting, we had a “virtual” meeting with our children and grandchildren on March 15. We partook of the sacrament in each family then under Grandpa’s direction we had a meeting. We sang an opening hymn, then a grandson gave the prayer. Grandma (me) gave a talk about the First Vision. One family performed a musical item, closing hymn and another grandson gave the closing prayer. Next week our returned missionary granddaughter will give the talk in Japanese with translation to the family members who don’t speak Japanese.

We live in Australia, and our children live many hours away in other parts of Australia and one family in Japan. It was a beautiful experience, and we will continue until this crisis is over. Can’t wait for next Sunday and especially fast Sunday to share our testimonies.

— Robyn Denley, Port Macquarie Branch, Coffs Harbour Australia District

Continuing missionary work

Elaina Reich, top right, is pictured with her husband Robert, top left, and her five children, Justin, Amberlynn, Jonathan, Jason and Annalisa. | Courtesy Elaina Reich

As we are doing our part with missionary work, we have invited a friend to learn about the Church. This week missionaries are advised to stay in their apartments and use technology to talk to people and have lessons. We invited a friend to come learn about the Church. The missionaries are sharing their lessons over the phone with our friend, and we are having a wonderful lesson. We feel the strength of the Spirit in our home thanks to technology we have today. It’s been amazing work still going on in the world even when life is challenging in the world.

We had our first home-based sacrament meeting on March 15, and it was such a good experience. I invited our neighbor who was baptized last summer to our home so she can partake of the sacrament this week. My family all put on their church clothes and prepared themselves to have church at home. My daughter who has been learning piano, played her first opening song — “Come, Follow Me” in a simplified music book — as the family was singing along. It was so neat for her, and she did so well. My husband blessed the sacrament, and my son who holds the Aaronic Priesthood passed the sacrament to the family and our neighbor. … 

Even though it was sad to not be able to meet as a ward in the Church building, I'm so happy for the inspiration President Nelson received for the "Come, Follow Me" program so we can teach in our homes.

— Elaina Reich, Morgan Acres Ward, Spokane Washington Mount Spokane Stake

'Safe and thriving'

Last fall my husband was diagnosed with severe heart failure. About a month or two after that, he suffered a stroke.  He would be considered “high risk” for Covid-19. I should be stressed out and panicked, but all I can feel is reassurance and peace. Before any of this happened, we have seen the individual guidance to get ready. Our married children have been receiving promptings that have helped them prepare with everything they need to keep their families safe and thriving. I have received promptings in the temple that have given me peace of mind and direction. We unexpectedly were able to fill our freezer with meat. We have all the necessities of life and have been doing “Come, Follow Me” regularly. 

When the announcements started coming about schools being canceled, Church canceled and temples closed, it felt surreal, but all I have felt is God’s love, trust that He is in charge and everything will be OK. I feel sad that I can't closely associate with my ward family for a while, but every day I feel prompted to reach out one way or another to ward members just to find out how they're doing and know they are loved. What a great time to be alive and a part of God’s work!

— Catherine Thomas, Espanola Ward, Santa Fe New Mexico Stake

The blessing of technology

Turns out I am finding the compensatory blessings of technology being a valuable resource at this time. ... My son has scheduled daily Zoom meetings with our family members who are scattered throughout the United States. How comforting for me to see my family's faces, hear of their compensatory blessings, share and still laugh together. Zoom is a blessing to me because I can practice safe distancing and yet still connect with love to my family and others. 

— Jean Stoddard, Cedar Hills 12th Ward, Cedar Hills Utah Stake

Jean Stoddard, top right, communicates with her family via Zoom video conferencing. | Courtesy Jean Stoddard

Peace in the temple

As a student at BYU-Idaho besides wondering what steps the Church was going to take in response to COVID-19, there were also questions about classes on campus. The afternoon of March 12, that answer came with classes switching to an online format. It seemed like just a few minutes later my phone went off with a notification from the Church News app with the headline “Gatherings of Church members temporarily suspended worldwide.” The first few seconds were of shock but then immediately a comforting feeling came over that this was going to be just fine. The next day, March 13, another announcement with the headline “Temporary adjustments made to temple worship around the world” appeared on my phone. A feeling of sadness came over myself for about a minute but again, that reassuring feeling swept those emotions away. 

Alexander Walker attends the Rexburg Idaho Temple on March 13, 2020. | Courtesy Alexander Walker

I determined later that night that I would get up early to attend a final session at the Rexburg Idaho Temple until such adjustments could be lifted. There was a calm, soothing, and peaceful feeling as myself along with the other patrons waited in the temple’s chapel before the very early morning endowment session. I made it a goal to really pay close attention in the session not knowing how long it is going to be until the next time I can have that privilege. Sitting in the celestial room, I was able to ponder and meditate on things I had been thinking about lately and just enjoyed the reverent atmosphere that one finds in the temple.

As I left the temple, thoughts of those early pioneers leaving behind Nauvoo to migrate out west moved across my mind as well as the hardships they went through on their journey. The moment of the past few days allowed myself some great reflection of the blessings that we have been given. ...

With having more time to be at home with my family and away from the world and all it’s distractions for a little bit, I have found I have more time to study the gospel. I am now finding it easier to "Hear Him!"

— Alexander Walker, Rexburg Married Student 36th Ward, Rexburg Idaho Married Student 3rd Stake

Related Stories
How Latter-day Saints across the globe worshipped at home on Sunday due to coronavirus concerns
Latter-day Saints find ‘compensatory’ blessings amid coronavirus pandemic
‘Faith always defeats fear’ and other insights Latter-day Saints share during coronavirus pandemic
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed