This is part four 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, part two and part three.
Making home a defense and refuge
When the First Presidency announced the “Come, Follow Me” resource to help Church members and their families study the scriptures at home, our family counseled together to include it in our daily family morning devotional as part of our homeschool program. Since we have been studying together as a family in January 2019, we have deepened our testimony that our home is the best place to live, learn, and teach the gospel. In other words, ministering begins at home.
So when gatherings of Church members were temporarily suspended worldwide because of conditions related to COVID-19, leaders asked members to hold Sunday meetings in their homes. Our family morning devotional that we do everyday as part of our homeschool program prepared our whole family for this trying and difficult times. We had an added measure of the Spirit in our home when my husband and 12 year-old son administered the sacrament.
We are so blessed that we have Church-supported programs that help us parents make our home a defense and a refuge from the world. Striving to have a well-ordered home, we must keep bright the spark of testimony and build faith within each heart. We have been taught to organize ourselves and prepare every needful thing and to establish a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of order, a house of God.
— Crisanta Estayo-Padilla, Villasis Ward, Urdaneta Philippines Stake
‘In joy or pain’
The other day I was listening to a favorite calming playlist of songs of Christ. I had moved over all of our things from a storage unit to take inventory, which included many #10 cans of food. I was feeling shaken up by the earthquake that had happened the day before; was worried if I was prepared enough; felt nervous about the virus and my older parents who are high risk with MS, bladder cancer, and diabetes and how I could possibly help them. I was letting fear begin to overtake me inside.
I went into my garage as the beautiful words of the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour” were softly playing in my earphones. I had started journaling this week on my phone, and thought I should take a picture of my #10 cans for my day’s entry.
I held up my phone and took a couple of steps back to broaden my perspective in the frame. As I looked at my screen, I was unprepared for what I saw. A decoration propped up against the wall and situated just perfectly in my view that said in big, red letters: JOY!
I got really teary, and suddenly the words in the song I was listening to rang out: “I need thee every hour in joy or pain. Come quickly and abide or life is vain. ...”
I knelt right down in my garage and thanked Heavenly Father for his little love note to me. I needed to hear Him tell me it’s OK. He wants for me to look for all the joy in my circumstances. I have so much to be joyful about. I know it. I just needed to be reminded.
— Kimberly Granger, Draper 17th Ward, Sandy Utah Hidden Valley Stake
Service through bagpipes
Through email some of our ward members suggested that we all come to our curbs (social distancing) and greet our neighbors and sing “Come, Come Ye Saints” together. Being in northeast Orem, our ward is basically a 2-block by 2-block area. When my 10-year-old son heard this he came up with the idea, “Hey, my dad can play that song on the bagpipes.” My 13-year-old son who has been learning bagpipes (and had been disappointed by not being able to march in his first parade when the St. Patrick’s Day Parade was canceled) was then convinced to join my husband and play bagpipes for the neighborhood.
They got all dressed up in their piping uniforms and a few minutes before noon headed to the center of the neighborhood to start us all in singing "Come, Come Ye Saints." They then continued their march through the neighborhood to our home, playing all the while.
The act of being out visiting with neighbors from a safe distance and hearing and singing this uplifting song was a blessing for us all and helped us all enjoy our Sabbath day worship.
— Emily Maughan, Cascade 5th Ward, Orem Utah Cascade Stake
A flight home
I was in California two weeks ago visiting my 96-year-old aunt. While I was there, the crisis began to quickly escalate. As I pondered and prayed about the situation, I decided I needed to consider returning home to Texas earlier than planned. As part of my homework, I checked the airline prices and learned it would cost me $200 extra to come home early. I was prepared to pay for that.
The next morning — after my morning prayers — I made the final decision. I logged on to the airline website to book a same-day ticket and pay the extra money. What I learned in that moment was that the airline had lowered their prices overnight. It did not cost me $200 to come home — it saved me $200. I changed my flight and was able to get home safely that day.
Even better, the $200 would cover a round trip ticket to go back to visit my aunt in the future. What a blessing! There is no doubt in my mind the Lord’s hand was in bringing me home safely and giving me the means to return to see my aunt sometime in the future — all at the same time.
— Deena King, Tyler Texas 2nd Ward, Tyler Texas Stake
Right place, right time
Three years ago we were selling our home in Idaho and preparing to move into a small third story apartment in Denver, Colorado. My husband went right to work and I was alone to contemplate how much I missed my neighborhood, where I had many friends and was active in several community organizations. During our two years in Denver, I struggled to find friends and my health deteriorated. After much frustration, I was diagnosed with a rare lung condition.
One day we were researching places to live that would be best for my condition. The St. George area was in the top five. At the same time our daughter mentioned that they would love to buy a cabin together in that area so we could meet and be together. We decided to visit Cedar City to just take a look and miraculously found a perfect future retirement house we could buy directly from the owner. My husband had just been asked to take a new position. He approached his company and they gave him their blessing to work remotely from a home office, as this new position was not location specific.
Our new neighborhood is filled with kind and helpful people and we also have beautiful view of the spire on the Cedar City temple. As the winter progressed and COVID-19 became a dreaded virus spreading across the globe, my lungs and immune system is so strong. Currently this is the first winter in three years that I have not developed pneumonia. As scary and probably deadly as it would be for me to catch this virus, we feel safe and protected in this small community with amazing people around us and the temple above us.
— Rebecca Holland, Cross Hollow Ward, Cedar City Utah Cross Hollow Stake
Comforted by President Nelson’s message
A great blessing to me was, when I woke up last Sunday, March 15, knowing we would have our first sacrament at home, I grabbed my phone and looked again for the message of peace that President Nelson gave. As I was watching it, I looked at his eyes and all of a sudden I started to feel the Spirit very strong. I could feel his love for us, and the confirmation that he was a prophet. A prophet of God was talking to us. I had no doubt! I could feel Heavenly Father's love for us through him. By then I was sobbing because the Spirit was so strong and got on my knees to thank Heavenly Father for this wonderful experience. ...
If we look for them, we can find many of the tender mercies that our Father in Heaven has for us. This reminds me of the scripture: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." (Mathew 7:7-8)
— Adriana Bragg, Benton City Ward, West Richland Washington Stake
Importance of food storage
Seven months ago we sold our home and moved to a small town in which we absolutely love. However, this was a very stressful move both physically and emotionally. The enormity of moving a ten person household felt overwhelming. Along with eight beautiful children come eight beds, eight dressers, boxes of schoolwork and their most treasured memories that couldn’t be left behind. We tried our best to simplify our belongings to ease the physical burden of the move. This included our plentiful supply of food storage. ...
Two weeks ago we had a stark wake up call when the shelves in the stores started to become bare and the availability of basic supplies were quickly diminishing. The Lord had turned up the volume in order for us to hear. At this moment, food storage moved to the top of our priority list rather quickly. We were incredibly blessed to be able to immediately find and purchase all we needed.
I am so grateful for this reminder and motivator from the Lord. If this would have been a situation where supplies would have been completely cut off, we would have found ourselves in a difficult circumstance. Our Heavenly Father, out of love for his children, gives us opportunity after opportunity to get our house and lives in order. While being prepared temporarily is necessary and important, with urgency we need prepare ourselves spiritually. I know that as we follow our prophet, we can be prepared in all things.
— Melissa Beardall, Eden 1st Ward, Huntsville Utah Stake