Students say Church leaders posting uplifting and positive messages can provide safety and reassurance in a time of uncertainty.
Kimo Burgess, a senior from Aiea studying political science, said Church leaders speaking about COVID-19 is a great way to continue educating people about how serious the virus is. Burgess said he tries to use his social media as a platform to keep his friends updated on the newest developments with COVID-19.
“I guess one of my reasons is that I want to help inform other people about COVID-19 and about how much worse the pandemic is going to be. I think people need to take this seriously. The younger people need to separate themselves.
“They go through the symptoms but still come out okay later on, but people who are vulnerable, like people who are elderly, have compromised immune systems.”
Similarly, Camille Condie, a sophomore from Utah studying marine biology, said she tries to use her social media as a way to keep her friends uplifted and connected, especially with social distancing in play. She said sharing Church messages of hope also help her friends keep things in perspective.
“I think it's because there's a lot of people talking about how this is the Second Coming. There's a lot of misinformation ... Sometimes I feel like for the members of the Church, they need that reassurance from Church leaders that this is not the Second Coming, and it's going to be okay. It's just kinda like that reassurance and guidance we just need to get through this. We're going to get through this together.”
Calm in the storm
Condie said she has noticed, specifically with President Nelson’s viral video titled, “My Message of Hope and Love for You,” seeing comments from people outside of the Church. Condie said she was inspired by how these people expressed their admiration for Nelson’s message, even if they do not align with the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Easily, President Nelson's biggest thing is to love your neighbor, and it shows that even if we're from different religions, God's words can still come as comfort to other people.”
Heilala Garcia, a senior from Kahuku studying hospitality and tourism management, said she felt these messages were relevant to everyone and help everyone feel inspired in a time of uncertainty. Garcia said another message that stuck out to her was from Elder M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who said in an article the world will overcome COVID-19.
In an interview on March 24, Elder Ballard said, “From the beginning of history, there have been circumstances similar to this one. Somehow they got through them, and we are going to get through this one.”
Garcia said, “We know that we'll make it through, and we'll make it through this together. This is just a test run ... When general authorities say things like that, we can believe it because they're the voice of the Lord. So, if it was coming from them, then that means everything really will be okay. I think ever since [Elder Ballard] said that, I feel like there's been a lot of calm.”
Garcia said she tries to foster a safe place for her children where they can learn the gospel together as a family. “I felt the need when I was a young mom, I think when my son was 2 or 3, where I was really afraid about what would happen in the world. One of my favorite quotes from President [Boyd K.] Packer was, 'People today wonder if there is a safe place to raise children. There is a safe place. It is in a gospel-centered home.'
“Our home was the safe place, whether it was from the distractions of the world or something like [the pandemic] which happened. That was just kind of our goal at home was to have a gospel-centered learning place.”
Likewise, Burgess said he has been able to receive revelation during this time, specifically about Come, Follow Me and developing a gospel-centered home environment.
“I have to say I never really understood why we had Come, Follow Me in the first place, but now that I know during this pandemic, I understood its purpose. Now that we can't go back to church anymore, it made me realize I really wish we had church again.
“But for the safety of others, it's best to not go through large gatherings at this time. It's a time to be with your family too and to be ministering towards family members and anyone that needs help to get through this time.”
Burgess also said he tries to stay up to date on the latest news with COVID-19 so he can personally keep everyone around him safe. He thinks Church leaders are greatly encouraging.
“I think the best way for me to do my part is I'm practicing social distancing by staying at home, and I love to encourage other people to do that as well. We need to take orders from [Governor David Ige] and from [Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell] very seriously.
“We only should go outside for essential purposes. For [workers] like me who are non-essential, the best thing I can do to help out is to stay at home to not get myself infected and in turn infect other people as well.”
Condie said one of her biggest takeaways from the recent videos from Church leadership have helped her feel more normal and have given her comfort. She said their messages helped her understand how COVID-19 fits both into her life as a busy college student and as a member of the Church.
“For me, just watching it makes me think I don't have to stop everything that I'm doing. Yes, I have to change my daily routine … just to be safe and cautious, but I don't have to stop my entire life. It's not like this is going to be the end of the world. It's just another big trial that we have to get through.”