This is part two 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 weeks. Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Read part one here.
Peace during a stressful time
I work in healthcare, which at this time is very stressful for a myriad of reasons. And as stressful as work is right now, I feel a sense of peace and calm, that whatever may come it will be OK and the Lord is in control.
I am so grateful for prophets and apostles who have counseled to prepare us for times such as these. I’m grateful that I have been prepared temporally with food storage, and spiritually with a testimony that gets strengthened daily by scriptures and prayer.
— Debbie Rich, Antioch 1st Ward, Antioch California Stake
A family history miracle
Last week after meetings were canceled, we self-isolated at our apartment, using our phones and computers to keep in touch with members and to reach out to less-actives. To keep busy, I decided to do some family history, even though for quite a while it has been difficult to find new names. When I logged onto FamilySearch, I found a notification of a record waiting to be attached. That one record led me to find (in just five days) about 70 people in my line, most of whom needed multiple ordinances done. And there were many more I was able to attach that already had their work done! I consider it a true miracle. The flow of names stopped this morning — and this afternoon we found out we were all being released to go home. I feel truly blessed to have been able to serve here in Independence, and I am sad to leave, but I also feel blessed to have been able to serve family on the other side of the veil during this difficult time.
— Hermana Kim Nielson, senior sister member leader support, Missouri Independence Mission
‘Riches of eternity’
With the current economic crisis, I know there are many who are losing work and their income. … I have four children at home, one with severe disabilities. She is nonverbal with life-threatening seizures that are almost impossible to control.
I was in the shower and started to ponder all the things I cannot afford that are genuine needs at my home, and my mind began spiraling downward. I felt despair. Then I heard a clear voice in my mind that said, “I bless you with the riches of eternity.” I could hear Him and was instantly filled with peace and assurance that I have been given what matters most. We are so blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost to see us through trying times.
— Dawn Ingham, Pringle Ward, Salem Oregon Stake
I have felt a great urgency to prepare our spirits more than our temporal needs. Now is the time to double down and prove our love and dedication to the Lord. I now can drown out some of those toxic influences in the world even more and really focus on teaching my children to look to Christ. We have more time to strengthen relationships within our family. Our Father in Heaven is ever mindful of us. I feel that now more than ever.
— Mary Ostler, Old Mill Ward, Omaha Nebraska Stake
I am one of several senior temple missionaries serving in the Apia Samoa Temple. As you know, we are a very small island in the very large South Pacific. In the past few months, we have endured a measles epidemic, at which time we either had sacrament meeting at the mission home or in our ward building with no children under the age of 19 able to attend. Shortly after, we had heavy rains similar to that of a cyclone. The flood water rose to levels where getting to the temple each day meant rolling up pants and lifting our skirts and slogging through knee deep water. Sandbags were brought in to keep water from coming into apartments. We still have standing water to deal with, along with bugs and leaks and many other inconveniences.
Last night, while attending to a young couple being sealed in the House of the Lord, another sister and I were enjoying a moment or two in the celestial room. We relished in the peace afforded us as temple ordinance workers. She turned to me and said, “With all of the temples closed throughout the world, aren’t we blessed to be here today to partake of this building and the spirit that prevails here?” What a sweet tender mercy we are blessed with for sure. God is good, and He is mindful of us at all times and in all places.
— Sister Myra Bennett, senior missionary, Apia Samoa Temple
A familiar voice
Our first home sacrament really was a confirmation that the Lord is so mindful of us. My wonderful ministering family had brought sacrament to my home. [My husband and my granddaughter are not members of the Church.] Although she does attend Church with me, my husband does not. As we proceeded to start the meeting with a song, I recognized a voice that blew my heart away. My husband was joining our singing. He has been to Church through our 33 years together, but has never sang.
I tried not to look his way, for fear he’d stop. My heart recognized that tender mercy, and my heart rejoiced at this opportunity we had been given.
— Cheryl Bernier, Ashford Ward, New London Connecticut Stake
‘The calm in the storm’
I am a convert of 49 years. I have never experienced anything like our current situation. I am the Relief Society president in our ward. I was so thankful for President Russell M. Nelson’s video reassuring members that all will be well. That testimony I have from a living prophet has calmed all my fears. Around me I see members panicking. My counselors and I are attempting to be the calm in the storm.
Having sacrament in our own home with my husband blessing it was a joyful experience. He has not been able to bless the sacrament for years because he can’t kneel. In our home, he felt comfortable to bless the sacrament with some accommodations for his physical abilities. We felt peace as we prayed for our families and the prophet.
We have been prepared for this scenario. Change is difficult for people. But we are a peculiar people. God will help us through this, but we have to lean on Him as we transition to a new normal.
— Cindy Snarr, Fulton Ward, Columbia Missouri Stake
The gathering of Israel
I have been blessed to recognize the truthfulness of things to come. We are living prophecies of the latter-days right now, and I am just now coming to see the very real way these prophecies can and will come to pass. A light has been struck within me, and I am finally realizing the seriousness of gathering Israel and strengthening my faith. This part is hard to put into words, but I feel as if my Spirit has awakened to the truth. Christ will come, and we are actually preparing the earth for that day. I feel the personal responsibility I have to participate fully in this work, and as our ward’s Young Women president, I feel an intense need to convey this truth to our young women, their leaders and the children my husband and I call ours.
— Krista Baker, Jackson Creek Ward, Colorado Springs North Stake
A time to reconnect
The past few days, as the world has been filled with doom and panic and many have been feeling fear, I have felt a closeness with the Spirit that I haven’t felt in some time. I am not afraid. On the contrary, I feel peaceful and “a brightness of hope.”
We have been preparing for this by following the “Come, Follow Me” program in our home and keeping a stocked food storage. My children have learned that when we prepare and follow counsel, we need not fear. … I am grateful for this time to reconnect with my normally busy children.
As a Young Women president, I have felt grateful for the ways we have prepared for this challenge of reaching our young women without seeing them. When we transitioned to two-hour church and didn’t see the girls as often, we came up with many different ways to stay connected with them, and those ways are serving us now. I am grateful for technology that allows us to communicate with and spiritually uplift the young women and for my class presidents who are answering that call. I thank my Heavenly Father for a true and living prophet and for modern revelation.
— Arianne Burns, Cottonwood Ward, Enoch Utah West Stake
Yesterday I stayed home from work and spent the whole day talking with, studying with, laughing with, working with, playing games with and thoroughly enjoying time with my husband. Our lives are usually so very, very busy that we do not have this much time to just enjoy each other’s company. Because we were prepared, we did not talk of fear or worry about outside things. It was like a mini-vacation inside of our own home. It was balm to my soul.
— Mary Harris, Palmyra Ward, Palmyra New York Stake
‘Faith always defeats fear’
On Friday, March 13, as I sat at home trying to calm my anxiety, I listened to the conference talk “Be Not Troubled” three times. After listening I decided to write in my journal. Before I start writing I usually open my journal to a random page and read a bit. This time I opened my journal to Sept. 17, 2017, and one of the things I wrote that day was, “There are so many fears that come with getting up each day in this world, but with faith in the teachings of the gospel and the amazing examples such as the pioneers we can put one foot in front of the other. Faith gives me strength and hope. It turns me to my Father in Heaven for real conversations and real blessings.”
The very next journal entry was just one line. … “Faith always defeats fear.” This quote was from a conference talk, and I didn’t want to forget it, so I hurried and wrote it down that day. It was in that moment that I knew I had just received some very powerful personal revelation, and one of the most beautiful things is it came through my own journal entries several years before. So as I continued to write in my journal on that Friday, my anxiety calmed and I knew my Father in Heaven was truly there holding my hand. My anxiety and fears were not all gone, but I was blessed with a few moments of peace and the knowledge that Heavenly Father was with me back then and he’s right here with me now.
— Danette Gray, Pioneer 4th Ward, Herriman Utah Pioneer Stake
‘Lay up fruit’
It is amazing to me that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide were all encouraged through the “Come, Follow Me” program to study Jacob 5 the week the COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions. Four separate times the Lord of the vineyard, our Savior, gives the reason for the diligent, hard work: “that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season … .” This is the principle of becoming prepared, and it has been continually taught through our living prophets. Following that counsel has brought me peace and confidence during these times of challenge and change.
— Deanna Bean, Grandview 9th Ward, Provo Utah Grandview Stake
Following ‘a feeling’
I have been told by my children and friends that they “had a feeling” they should buy that extra jar of peanut butter or extra rolls of toilet paper. I had the same feeling, and now, here we are, with eerily empty store shelves, feeling peace and gratitude. If we are prepared, we shall not fear.
As the world begins to recognize the importance of social distancing, we already have been trained how to do that. We can worship from home because our dear prophet instigated that very thing in the recent past. We can minister easily to one another via text, email and phone calls. It’s all set up and easy to do because we already know how.
—Marsha Powell, Dry Mountain Ward, Utah Payson South Stake