This week on social media, Church leaders shared the ways COVID-19 has changed their lives for the better, the lessons taught by ordinary women young and old, and their testimonies of the Savior.
Pandemic changes — now and in the future
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a number of daily routines. For instance, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared in an Aug. 28 Instagram post that he and his wife have become far more cautious in their interactions and activities to prevent spreading the novel coronavirus, they spend more time together as a couple because he is travelling less, and have given each other haircuts. “The haircuts she gives me are so much better than the ones I give her,” Elder Bednar noted.
But despite the restrictions and uncertainty, “we can find purpose and comfort in the Lord’s declaration: ‘I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations’” (Doctrine and Covenants 52:14).
One powerful pattern that the Lord uses is by utilizing “small and simple things” to bring to pass great things (Alma 37:6).
Elder Bednar wrote, “I believe the most satisfying and memorable accomplishments in our homes, in the Church, in our jobs and professions, and in our communities will be the product of this important spiritual pattern — of simple and small things. We should find great comfort in the fact that ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will be blessed in extraordinary ways.”
At the start of 2020, Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, couldn’t have imagined spending the year living in a pandemic. Daily lives have been altered and most people are facing varying levels of disappointment.
“Yet time and time again through the past months I have reflected on my gratitude to my Father in Heaven for a prophet of God, President Russell M. Nelson, and for the way that he has been preparing us, has been trying to connect us with heaven,” Sister Craig wrote in a Facebook post on Sept. 1.
When the pandemic ends, each person has a choice in how to respond once restrictions have been lifted. There are some things that Sister Craig hopes are forever different because of COVID-19. “Maybe you will take more walks outside, eat at home more, or spend more time in scripture study,” she wrote.
“I pray every day to learn the lessons that I need to learn and to have eyes to see the miracles and God’s hand working in my life and in the lives of those around me.”
In a Sept. 1 Instagram post, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared a photo of leather armchair, describing it as “a special place to me, because it is the location where I often study my scriptures.” Like most people, Elder Gong is spending much more time at home rather than traveling the world to meet with members of the Church.
The scriptures describe the last days when “all thing shall be in commotion” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:91), which reflect the challenges and uncertainty of today.
“But the scriptures also give us a promise of peace,” Elder Gong wrote. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,” so He could “succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12).
“I am grateful for the inspiration, guidance, peace, and pattern of revelation we find in the scriptures. The Lord comforts and inspires me as I immerse myself in the scriptures, and I know He will also comfort and inspire you.”
Lessons from women
To Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, the Young Women organization’s “My 150” celebration represents the well-over-150 young women she has worked with over the years. “Whether we were cooking over a fire at girls’ camp, making a baby quilt for a new mother, sharing testimonies of the blessings of the sacrament during a Sunday lesson, or celebrating their triumphs in accomplishing personal goals, in all these memories I see faces and recall names that are precious to me.”
In a Sept. 3 Facebook post, President Bingham shared a then-and-now pair of photos of young women who are now “stalwart defenders of the faith, firm in their testimonies of the Savior, and helping others find and stay on the covenant path” as adults.
Young women who embrace the Young Women program will find personal satisfaction and made a significant difference in others’ lives, President Bingham wrote. While the program has changed mottos, themes and colors over the years, its direction has remained the same: “to help young women become disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Because Sister Reyna Isabel Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, joined the Church at the age of 26, she did not get to participate in the Young Women program in her youth.
“However, since the time I joined the Church, I have had countless significant relationships and eternal bonds with many faithful sisters, who have been role models for me and from whom I have learned how to strive to be a true female disciple of Jesus Christ,” she wrote in an Aug. 31 Facebook post.
The first of these role models was Sister Valois Bangerter, who was serving as a missionary with her husband in San Francisco, California, in 1989.
“From her I learned basic, yet profound, gospel principles that brought to my life true faith in Jesus Christ and desperately needed hope in His enabling power,” Sister Aburto wrote. “Her joyful approach to life and her always positive attitude instilled in me the desire to learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel.”
Sister Lisa Harkness, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, shared a video of 10-year-old Jessica who uses the Friend magazine to share the gospel with her friends at school.
“One of my favorite parts of the upcoming changes to Church magazines is that the ‘Friend’ magazine — our magazine made specifically for children — will soon be available in many, many more languages,” Sister Harkness wrote in the Aug. 30 Facebook post. Just like Jessica, other children around the world can use the Friend magazine to share their belief in Jesus Christ with their friends.
Testimonies of the Savior
On Aug. 30, President Russell M. Nelson bore his testimony on Twitter, stating “that God is our Father. Jesus is the Christ. His Church has been restored to the earth. His truth, covenants, and ordinances enable us to overcome fear and face the future with faith!”
In a Facebook post accompanying the video, Elder Uchdorf wrote about how he’s lived through World War II, a divided Germany and being a refugee twice. “But throughout all of that, I relied on my firm belief that there is a God in heaven, there is a Jesus Christ, there is a Holy Ghost, and there is a restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
His most personal experiences hearing the Lord’s voice came when he thought about His love for the Savior and Christ’s love for him. “This love creates a connection — it opens a door — that allows me to feel the power of the Holy Ghost,” Elder Uchtdorf wrote.