In case you missed it: How college devotionals are relaying Church leaders’ messages, a video from President Oaks and 7 more stories

During the week of Feb. 1-7, the Church News featured the role of college devotionals in relaying Church leaders’ messages to the world. A video based on a general conference talk from President Dallin H. Oaks was released and as was a #HearHim video from Primary General President Joy D. Jones.

This week’s Church News podcast included Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, a General Authority Seventy, and shared resources and tools to combat anxiety. Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, told BYU students that God requires individuals to be “broke,” not broken.

The Utah Area Presidency updated COVID-19 safety measures. In Idaho, Church volunteers helped distribute food boxes at the Fort Hall Reservation and, in Honduras, the Church donated food and supplies to help more than 20,000 hurricane victims.

The Brigham Young University Record Linking Lab is developing a data set of those who died in the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Below are summaries and links to those nine articles.

1. The role of college devotionals in relaying Church leaders’ messages to the world

President Russell M. Nelson delivers a devotional address at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson delivers a devotional address at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Credit: Jaren Wilkey, BYU photo

Campus devotionals at Church schools — which happen weekly at BYUBYU–IdahoBYU–Hawaii and Ensign College and monthly for BYU–Pathway Worldwide — are becoming an increasingly important forum for Church leaders to share their messages.

The devotionals not only allow speakers the opportunity to explore and expand on topics and issues during a 40-minute time span, but they also enable Latter-day Saint leaders to speak to the next generation of Church leaders as messages are disseminated in an ever more digital world.

Read more about what leaders have said at campus devotionals

2. Be cautious in seeking truth, President Oaks says in new video

A new video released on the Church's YouTube on Jan. 30, 2021, titled "In Search of Truth" features excerpts from President Dallin H. Oaks' general conference message "Truth and the Plan."
A new video released on the Church’s YouTube on Jan. 30, 2021, titled “In Search of Truth” features excerpts from President Dallin H. Oaks’ general conference message “Truth and the Plan.” Credit: Screenshot YouTube

In a world bombarded by information, it can be tough to discern what is true and what is not, explained one woman in a new video released earlier this week by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Along with individuals talking about how they find truth in a digital age, the latest Inspirational Message — titled “In Search of Truth” and published on YouTube Jan. 30 — features excerpts from President Dallin H. Oaks’ October 2018 general conference address “Truth and the Plan.”

Watch the “In Search of Truth” video here

3. #HearHim: What a letter about a Primary teacher taught President Jones about God’s love

In the latest #HearHim video released Feb. 4, 2021, President Joy D. Jones details an experience of receiving a letter from a woman and what it taught her about hearing the Lord's voice.
In the latest #HearHim video released Feb. 4, 2021, President Joy D. Jones details an experience of receiving a letter from a woman and what it taught her about hearing the Lord’s voice. Credit: Screenshot YouTube

Recently, Primary General President Joy D. Jones received a letter from a woman in another state she did not know. The woman expressed how grateful she was for her childhood Primary teacher and the influence she had on her life.  The woman explained that her former teacher was now experiencing stage 4 cancer. 

In the latest #HearHim video released earlier this week, President Jones said she felt the desire to call the former teacher after her meetings that day. She didn’t make it through very many meetings before she heard the woman’s name in her mind — followed by “Call now.” 

“I would never take credit for God’s sweet, perfect love, but how grateful I am that He allows me to be a small piece of His puzzle.”

Hear President Jones share about the experience

4. God requires individuals to be ‘broke,’ not broken, Bishop Budge tells BYU students

Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks in the Marriott Center at BYU for the campus devotional on Feb. 2, 2021.
Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks in the Marriott Center at BYU for the campus devotional on Feb. 2, 2021. Credit: Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

While Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, was serving as a mission president, he pondered the relationship between putting off the natural man and having a broken heart. The image of a horse trainer “breaking” a wild or “natural” horse came to his mind.  

Soon he found a book called “A Broke Heart,” by a Christian horse trainer, which gave him new insights and parallels between “breaking” a horse and “how God was working with me, my missionaries and many in the scriptures.”

Bishop Budge pointed out that the book is titled a “broke” heart, not a broken heart. In the book, the author explains that a wild horse that has been tamed is not broken by the process but discovers the joy and freedom of becoming one with its master — being broke, not broken. 

“Likewise, God’s intent is not to break us but to redeem us,” Bishop Budge said.

Read more from Bishop Budge’s devotional message here

5.  Anxiety and a Church resource for Life Help

Several years ago as a young father in Brazil, Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis went through several changes in a short period of time — triggering feelings of worry and anxiety that became unmanageable. 

“I began worrying too much about some of these things. That developed into things that were much stronger, and at the end, I became depressed,” said the General Authority Seventy who oversees Life Help, recalling his experience during a recent Church News podcast. 

Today, more resources are available, and those who need professional help should seek it, Elder Aidukaitis said.

In the podcast, Elder Aidukaitis was joined by Sister Carol Costley of the Young Women general advisory council and G. Sheldon Martin, a licensed mental health counselor and manager of special topics in the Church’s Priesthood and Family Department, to discuss what individuals, families and leaders can do to help those struggling with anxiety. 

Listen to the podcast and read more about the Church’s Life Help resources

6. Utah Area Presidency updates COVID-19 safety measures, returns to September 2020 guidelines

A family receives the sacrament tray while holding their face masks. Many units will be returning to weekly Sabbath-day worship services at meetinghouses if conditions allow.
A family receives the sacrament tray while holding their face masks. Many units will be returning to weekly Sabbath-day worship services at meetinghouses if conditions allow. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In compliance with recent state public health orders regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Utah Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is returning to guidelines on meetings and activities in the area that were given in September 2020 and moving from the more restrictive adjustments made in November 2020.

In a Feb. 3 letter sent to Church leaders in the Utah Area, the area presidency — comprised of Elder Craig C. ChristensenElder Evan A Schmutz and Elder Walter F. González — acknowledged consulting with senior Church leaders in the decision.

The letter highlighted five key points in clarifying information provided to stake presidents in the Utah Area.

See the updates safety guidelines and learn what has changed

7. Food distribution brings physical, spiritual sustenance to pandemic-weary Fort Hall Reservation

President Ross Hugues, the president of the Pocatello Idaho Tyhee Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, talks with people as USDA food boxes are loaded into their car during a giveaway at the Latter-day Saint chapel along U.S. 91 between West Tyhee and West Reservation roads in Fort Hall, Idaho, on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. The event is part of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and is part of the USDA’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
President Ross Hugues, the president of the Pocatello Idaho Tyhee Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, right, talks with people as USDA food boxes are loaded into their car during a giveaway at the Latter-day Saint chapel along U.S. 91 between West Tyhee and West Reservation roads in Fort Hall, Idaho, on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. The event is part of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program and is part of the USDA’s Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Credit: Steve Griffin, Deseret News

On Feb. 1, Members of the Pocatello Idaho Tyhee Stake spent the day organizing and distributing 1,300 food boxes to residents on the For Hall Reservation and others. Social-distancing was a priority, so food recipients stayed in their cars while teams of masked volunteers from the stake loaded boxes of the needed provisions into their trunks and back seats.

Each food box was donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and contained enough nutrient-rich staples — including milk, eggs, fresh produce and meat — to provide families with at least two square meals. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes leadership also donated hand sanitizer, disinfectant cleaning wipes and other supplies to help keep their people healthy.

Read more about the drive-thru distribution

8. Resilience of Latter-day Saints in Central America fueled by faith, hope, charity

Elder José Bernardo Hernández, left, and San Pedro Mayor Armando Calidonio Alvarado are surrounded by over 171,000 pound of found donated by the Church to assist hurricane victims in the region.
Elder José Bernardo Hernández, left, and San Pedro Mayor Armando Calidonio Alvarado are surrounded by over 171,000 pound of found donated by the Church to assist hurricane victims in the region. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Brian K. Taylor, president of the Central America Area, will likely never delete a text he received from a stake president in Honduras who was living temporarily in a shelter with his family after flood waters forced them from their home in November.

“We continue with the same faith and hope,” the text read, “that we will emerge stronger from this experience: more humble, more helpful — and willing to submit to whatever the Lord deems prudent.”

On Monday, Feb. 1, the Church presented a large donation to city leaders in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, that is expected to benefit more than 20,000 people affected by Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

Find out more about hurricane recovery in Central America here

9. Learn more about 1918 pandemic deaths with this new BYU data set

BYU professors Joseph Price, left, Mark Clement and students developed a tool that can auto-index the cause of death from death certificates. Photo Illustration.
BYU professors Joseph Price, left, Mark Clement and students developed a tool that can auto-index the cause of death from death certificates. Photo Illustration. Credit: Nate Edwards, BYU Photo

The Brigham Young University Record Linking Lab is developing one of the first data sets of each individual who died in the 1918 pandemic by extracting the cause of death from death certificates.

“There have been people that have been doing it by hand, kind of going through death certificates, looking for people that died of influenza and pneumonia,” said Joseph Price, a BYU economics professor who oversees the lab.

However, “this is the first time that it’s been done in a fully automated way and on such a large scale,” he said.

Learn more about the project and the technology