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Faith, Resilience and Moving Forward: Five Latter-day Saints Reflect on Two Years of Pandemic

‘Amid the losses we have experienced, there are also some things we have found.’

In March 2020, the world was at the beginning of an unpredictable pandemic. Many believed a mere two-week quarantine might help us “get back to normal.” Now, two years later, we reflect on what we have learned, what it has meant to live through COVID and what we have found during the pandemic.

In April 2021, President Russell M. Nelson asked, “What have you learned in the past two years that you always want to remember?” (“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” April 2021 general conference). Now, five Canadian members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints share their thoughts.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic challenges in Ontario, Mark Pallin, in his role as a volunteer for a local community theatre, and the studio he works with were able to spread joy with a production that was created almost completely virtually. After reading Not Cancelled, a collection of essays by Heather Down and Catherine Kenwell, the group knew they wanted to share the stories of kindness during the pandemic through a musical production. With the authors’ permission, they made a film of their musical by recording all 19 cast members individually over three days.

Pallin said of his experience, “Through these stories, and countless ones like them, I have learned that there are people who are trying to be like Jesus Christ. They are doing a fantastic job, and they are inspiring me to do likewise.”

Kathryn and George Jarvis of Alberta also were inspired to action during the pandemic. Kathryn shared, “The pandemic gave me opportunity to do many things in the house that had been neglected: organize closets, label artifacts in the curio cabinets, practice the piano, study the scriptures in depth, torture my grandchildren (talk with each one, telling puns and spotlighting an ancestor), organize all my personal history and write some 52 stories. … I have learned that without an outside schedule, my night-owl penchant can get out of control.”

George added, “The pandemic motivated me to look at my relationship with my wife and how I could better serve her. I’ve done more tasks in the house. We enjoy working in the kitchen together. We’ve had a lot of fun together. I also concentrate more on the piano. A downside has been the lack of travelling to see our scattered children and continuing our mission.”

Many Latter-day Saints had their faith tested during the pandemic, but that is often when faith grows the most. Ewurabena Boateng is a college student in the Montreal area. As she reflected on the past two years, she shared, “The pandemic made me realize a lot about my faith that needed changing. When we started doing church on Zoom, I was not putting as much effort into my worship. I would sometimes sleep through sacrament meeting and did not make the effort to attend the Zoom classes. In a way, I let myself believe that since it was on Zoom and not in a [chapel], it was not as important. It showed me that if I was not careful, my faith would start to crumble. I started to attend the Zoom sacraments and the Zoom [classes], and found that although we were not there physically, I still felt the Spirit as if we were in Church.”

Eileen Bell from Edmonton also reflected on how her faith changed during the pandemic. She said, “It has been strengthened. ... Having more quiet time to devote to gospel studies contributed to a growth in my faith as I felt closer to the Spirit. My home turned into a place of comfort instead of a crash pad. I decluttered and redecorated. I set up a special spot for scripture reading, where I could tune out all distractions.”

When President Nelson addressed the Relief Society, the women’s organization of the Church, in October 2020, he said, “Let us not just endure this current season. Let us embrace the future with faith!” (“Embrace the Future With Faith,” October 2020 general conference).

President Nelson also encouraged us, “Amid the losses we have experienced, there are also some things we have found. Some have found deeper faith in our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Many have found a fresh perspective on life — even an eternal perspective. You may have found stronger relationships with your loved ones and with the Lord. I hope you have found an increased ability to hear Him and receive personal revelation. Difficult trials often provide opportunities to grow that would not have come in any other way. … What have you learned in the past two years that you always want to remember?” (“What We Are Learning and Will Never Forget,” April 2021 general conference).

Contributed by Stephanie Schindler

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