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Church members find ways to stay spiritually fit with closure of churches and temples

The spires of the Salt Lake Temple and roof of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said they are striving to strengthen their relationships with Heavenly Father despite church and temple closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. They shared they are finding other ways to rejoice and uplift each other with the lack of in-person weekly meetings.

Sister Kayla Bradley, a missionary from Utah in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission, said, “God loves you. Even though you may not see it during these times of difficulty, you can keep track of one happy thing a day. This is where you are able to see God’s hands in your life– even if you never leave your house.”

As a missionary for the Church, she serves others every day alongside an assigned companion. Bradley shared, “I think missionary work is not necessarily a program but a cause.”

According to Elder Ryan Lybbert, a missionary from Washington also serving in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission, their approach to missionary work has adapted to the present circumstances. He said teaching has switched to video lessons and phone calls as home visits are not permitted.

Sister Bradley said she has seen miracles come out of the pandemic. She said more people are contacting her and her companion online, wanting to learn more about the Church.

“People have come to us saying, ‘I’ve met with missionaries and friends from your Church, and they are all handling this really well. We want this for our family. How do we do it?”’

Sister Bradley said she gives people booklets where they can write down one happy thing a day, calling them “Happy Books.” She puts on the first page a quote from President Thomas S. Monson, the former president of the Church. It reads, “Of this be sure: You do not find the happy life … You make it.”

Camille Rust, a senior from Utah majoring in marine biology, said in order to compensate for no church meetings, people can bear their testimonies more. “We don’t have to sit there and say, ‘I bear my testimony,’ but just stating anything you believe to someone and having the Spirit with you is bearing your testimony.

“I think as we [hear] each other’s faith, we can use that to strengthen our own and share our strength with others.”

Uplift one another

Bradley shared how spiritual progression relies on spreading God’s love through social interaction, but she said people can still have spiritual experiences in their homes by uplifting one another.

She said Church members are having game nights with a few people, and they are still united and feel the Spirit.

“It’s interesting how [President Nelson] is asking us to hear the Lord, relax and hear Him, but the world is so loud right now. The time that the world is the loudest, he has asked us to listen. I find that interesting.”

Ricardo Giron, a former missionary in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission from the Philippines, said usually Church members can recharge spiritually each week.

“When we listen to messages from leaders and members, and [we] can partake of the sacrament, it is the best feeling ever ... The closure of the Church is teaching us to do that still, even though we can’t go to church.”

To overcome the anxieties of the pandemic, Rust said she uses social media to find inspiring quotes from apostles and general authorities.

“I always look forward to going on Instagram and Facebook to see an uplifting quote. I follow all the apostles and the prophet on their social media pages, so my feed is uplifting instead of only the distress of the world.”

Scripture power

Bradley shared how the Book of Mormon has helped her to stay spiritually fit without church and temple worship.

“The Book of Mormon allowed me to recognize that God’s aware of what I go through and even though it’s frustrating and not the timing I want, I am able to rejoice.”

Giron said he knows people who are drifting away from the Church because Sunday was their only spiritual recharge. He said members can recharge every day through scripture reading, pondering and praying.

Bradley added, “Scripture study is the foundation of who we become. It allows us to be strong and fit. I believe we are superheroes. We are normal people, but when we add our scripture study and prayer, we can have access to that superpower.”

Giron said, “I think during this time, we get to pray a lot. We have more time, so when we get the chance to pray, we should pray.

“Especially with the coronavirus spreading and new cases going up every day, it’s scary. You don’t want your family to get the virus. I’m always praying for safety. I’m praying that the Lord will heal everyone.”