This week on social: How going to church can be a solution to loneliness

This week, Apostles and the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted on social media about their ministries in various parts of the world. They also shared messages about the love of Jesus Christ, the power of connecting with ancestors and how to overcome loneliness.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared two Instagram posts this week — one from South Africa and one from Lesotho. On Sunday, Feb. 9, he wrote that he and his wife, Melanie, had arrived in South Africa for the Durban temple dedication to take place the following Sunday.

“With the dedication of this temple, the continent of Africa will now have five temples,” he wrote. “It is an honor to be here with our South African church members and feel their excitement for this temple.”

Elder Rasband expressed his gratitude for temple ordinances and the opportunity for families to be together eternally. “I invite you to consider your own areas of focus and attention as you put in place the firm foundation of temple worship in your life,” he added.

In another post Tuesday, Feb. 11, Elder Rasband shared photos of himself and Sister Rasband meeting with the King and Queen of Lesotho, His Majesty King Letsie III and Her Majesty Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso. He wrote that his favorite part of the visit was giving the royal couple a copy of the Book of Mormon and bearing his testimony of Jesus Christ.

This experience reminded Elder Rasband of Doctrine and Covenants 1:23: “That the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.”

“I consider myself to have come from ‘weak and simple’ beginnings. I testify that the Lord uses all of us—though we may feel ‘weak and simple’ to accomplish His great purposes on the earth,” he wrote.

On Monday, Feb. 10, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared on Instagram that he and his wife, Rosana, were visiting members of the Church in Guatemala. While preparing for meetings there, he felt he should share a message about drawing closer to the Savior while enduring difficulties.

“I have gone through many trials in my own life — some of those challenges involved the loss of loved ones, or health issues,” he wrote. “In those trials, I found that I was closer to my Heavenly Father. I promise you that if you will press forward, strengthening your faith, and show your Heavenly Father that you are faithful, you will receive divine help.”

Elder Soares also posted Friday, Feb. 14, on Twitter about meeting the Archbishop of Costa Rica, José Rafael Quirós. He wrote, “I found that we have many common beliefs—including the notion that families are the basis of society,” and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet him.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles posted on Instagram on Wednesday, Feb. 12, to share his thoughts on loneliness. The 2019 policy change allowing missionaries to regularly communicate with their families helps them overcome loneliness and homesickness, he wrote, and it helps their families feel more connected to the missionaries’ work.

He added that in order to overcome loneliness, individuals need to establish two connections. The first is with God, who “extends His hand to you. If you will hear Him, He will speak to you this very day.” 

The second is with other people. “Remember that our wards and branches provide us with a spiritual community,” Elder Uchtdorf wrote, encouraging his followers to build real relationships with those around them at church. “Let us do more than just share a hymnbook or make small talk. Sit by someone new. Show genuine interest in them. Look for ways to connect with them. Through our personal connections through our service or ministry, we can combat the loneliness or homesickness we might feel.”

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One of the universal feelings we have at times as humans is that of loneliness. During the holidays last year, I met with many missionaries who were experiencing their first Thanksgiving or Christmas away from home. One thing that helps them through this is having a stronger connection to their families back home. Because they can now regularly communicate with their families, they not only feel closer to their families, but their families feel more involved in their missionary efforts. It is beautiful to witness the blessings that come from a stronger connection to their families. I believe that one of the best ways we can overcome our loneliness is by establishing two important connections. The first connection is with God. God knows your every thought, your sorrows, and your greatest hopes. God knows the many times you have sought Him. The many times you have wept in loneliness. Remember that He extends His hand to you. If you will hear Him, He will speak to you this very day. The second connection is with those around us. We might sometimes ask, “Why do I need to go to church?” Remember that our wards and branches provide us with a spiritual community. When we face loneliness, fear, inadequacy, or any number of other humanly struggles, we should not hesitate to reach out for help and connection with those around us. When we go to church, let us do more than just share a hymnbook or make small talk. Sit by someone new. Show genuine interest in them. Look for ways to connect with them. Through our personal connections through our service or ministry, we can combat the loneliness or homesickness we might feel.

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On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared photos on Instagram of his January trip to Thailand. While there, he met with some of the 22,000 Church members in a country where less than 1% of the population is Christian. “I truly felt their goodness and the light they bring to all around them,” he wrote.

The first photo in Elder Andersen’s post shows him with Sathit and Juthamas Kaivaivatana, Thai Saints whose story he shared in the April 2015 general conference. Sathit was paralyzed from the chest down when the couple was hit by a truck, and he now serves as a stake president. “We see God’s miracles in His wondrous work and in their beautiful family. I loved having the chance to see them again on this trip,” Elder Andersen wrote, inviting his followers to be a “light on the hill” like the Latter-day Saints in Thailand.

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My spirits are always lifted when I am with members of the Church throughout the world. My recent trip to Thailand was no different. Thailand is a country of 63 million people, with those who are Christians being less than one percent of the population. When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16). . In Thailand, we have 22,000 Church members in four stakes and two districts. Being with the Saints in Thailand, I truly felt their goodness and the light they bring to all around them. . Several years ago on a trip to Bangkok, I met Sathit and Juthamas Kaivaivatana and their devoted children. I shared their story in the April 2015 general conference. Sathit joined the Church when he was 17 and served a mission in his native land. Later he met Juthamas at the institute and they were sealed in the Manila Philippines Temple. In 1993 the Kaivaivatanas were hit by a truck whose driver had fallen asleep and Sathit was paralyzed from his chest down. Their faith has never wavered. Sathit now serves as the stake president of the Thailand Bangkok North Stake. We see God’s miracles in His wondrous work and in their beautiful family. I loved having the chance to see them again on this trip. . Let us each be as the Savior said—a light on the hill. Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ will more and more mean that we are different from those in the world. I am thankful for our fellow disciples in Thailand who are unafraid to love the Savior, keep His commandments, and be a light to their nation. Let us learn from their example.

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On Thursday, Feb. 13, President Russell M. Nelson tweeted about Jesus Christ and His love. “The Savior loves and knows you personally,” he wrote. “He knows of your challenges. He knows your circumstances. He knows the profoundest concerns of your souls.” 

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles posted on Facebook on Sunday, Feb. 9, in anticipation of the release of “Saints, Volume 2.” 

“I would hope that the ultimate result of this book is a deeper appreciation of our ancestors and the sacrifices and the hardships they went through, and that their stories will empower us today to face our different hardships,” he wrote. Elder Cook invited his followers to read the book, which became available in the Gospel Library app Wednesday, Feb. 12.

In a few days, the book “Saints, Volume 2” will be released. I would hope that the ultimate result of this book is a…

Posted by Quentin L. Cook on Sunday, February 9, 2020