Virtual Study: Africa West Area S&I Students Share Experience
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Virtual Study: Africa West Area S&I Students Share Experience

“And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith”. (Doctrine & Covenants 88:118)

Seminary and institute students in the Africa West Area have accepted the challenge to study online during the pandemic. Students share testimonies and blessings below:

Bismark Semanhyia (Ahenema Kokoben Ward, Kumasi Bantama Stake)

As a young newly returned missionary from the Nigeria Enugu Mission, to a family where my faith is strange to everyone, there were many ideas and plans running through my mind. Where and how to start was the only question I had. After a few days, I was added to the institute class in my ward on WhatsApp, where assignments were given every week for us to study.

I must confess that though we live in a world of hardships, where we have to battle with a deadly virus called corona (COVID-19), the Lord is still hastening His work of salvation (D&C 88:73). Studying scriptures every day has really boosted my spirituality level. After submitting an assignment on the First Vision and after a heartfelt prayer, I felt the impression that I should approach my elder sister and her family, who I am living with, and introduce them to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and to His Church. I did it and I was so happy the many questions she had about the Church even before I left for mission were resolved by the help of the Holy Ghost. She has, for some time, stopped going to her church because of some misunderstandings. I used the opportunity to invite her to church and she promised to come after the crisis is calmed and controlled.

The institute class has really strengthened my faith and has shown me many means to invite others to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the hardships and the oppositions, I know with all my heart that the work of the Lord will still move forward. Now, I have been able to create a plan to diligently assist the Lord in hastening His work. I know He is mindful of His children and I love Him with all my heart.

George Wilson Nagbe (Thinker’s Village Ward, Paynesville Stake, Liberia)

I am grateful for the online classes of institute during the coronavirus pandemic.

It has helped me to continue my gospel learning, strengthen my faith, and to increase my knowledge in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Especially those topics that were taught have made me become strong in keeping covenants, regardless of the situation.

Online classes have given me more opportunities to reach my scripture study goals, even in this deadly crisis.

I have learned to always hearken to the voice of the Lord’s prophets, to be honest in my deeds, to recognize my weaknesses, and to continue trusting in the Lord’s healing power and the teachings of my priesthood leaders.

Jeremiah Robert (Sinkor Ward, Liberia)

I bear you my humble testimony that the online institute has really helped me, especially during this global pandemic. It has helped me to feel much closer to my Heavenly Father. It has also helped me to feel that my purpose on this earth is to do nothing but to love my Creator and follow His plans for me.

It has also helped me to meet with many of my friends and my family members who are far away from me. It has helped me to feel that even in times of sicknesses and diseases, our Heavenly Father’s plans for us must be carried out. The online institute also makes me feel that our Heavenly Father will always make a way for His children and it also makes me believe more and more that what all the scriptures said will definitely come to pass, even if it takes one million years.

Jeremiah Robert (Nigeria Benin City West)

Imagine you are a right-handed person and in a blink of an eye you were to start afresh using your left hand. How would that feel? Difficult, right? but not entirely impossible.

That is exactly how I felt when I was to switch from the physical institute class to the online institute class, especially during this period of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was funny at first, participating in the opening formalities via chats and voice notes but with time, the class seemed normal, except for being physically present. We prayed, discussed, and felt the Spirit as we all shared our thoughts and experiences.

I know that we can still make institute a great part of our lives, notwithstanding the difficulties and tribulations that surround us. Let us allow the Light of Christ to continue to shine brightly, especially in periods like this, when hope seems dim.

Endurance Iboi (Nigeria Benin City Ugbowo)

Institute has served as a reminder for me to stay close to my scriptures. This has given me a spiritual boost. We were asked during our last class to share thoughts and feelings and what we learned during the general conference. It was a special experience for me.

Ayabowei Enewarekpemi Sunny (Nigeria Warri)

Institute has been one of my pillars in staying strong. I feel strengthened, as if I had partaken of the sacrament after each meeting. I felt very happy when I was added to the online institute class. My scripture studies increased, and I felt the Spirit more during this lockdown because of this class.

Efe William Aiguedowan (Nigeria Benin City Ugbowo)

I am grateful for the online class that was designed by our teachers. Through the online classes, I have been able to know that there are diverse means whereby we can learn and still stay connected to our Heavenly Father. It is wonderful to see meaningful contributions coming from both the teacher and the students. As I prepare spiritually to attend an online class, it does not look as if I am doing a different thing at all because I still learn more about the gospel. I am so grateful to God for this privilege that has been provided. Indeed, the Church is true.

Vivian Felix (Nigeria Warri)

It has really been nice for me to have been part of this online class, especially in this lockdown period. I am not actually the type that talks in class, but this online class has helped me to study more and answer questions. It has blessed my life in a unique way.

Nancy Atorerefa Popo (Nigeria Warri)

These past weeks have been really challenging for me. Aside from the pandemic, I have been a little lost somewhere, somehow in my thoughts.

But with this initiative, my thoughts have been filled with the most assuring feeling that the Lord is mindful of me. All He wants for me is to read, ponder and hear Him in this time of commotion. I testify that the Lord will continue to arm us with righteousness that we may not fall into great despair.

Oghenekevwe Blessing George (Nigeria Warri)

This online institute class has helped me a lot in terms of my spirituality because everyone shares what they learn and it adds more knowledge to me, it helps me to understand that wherever I am, I can learn the gospel. I love the class so much.

Anthony Allswell Kwamina Egyir

Online institute class has been a little different because it seems like I’m solving a puzzle on my own as I go deeper in search of eternal truths to understand the challenges I am facing. This has helped me to reflect on the covenants I have made and what the Lord expects from me. I feel like the Lord is leading me to a higher ground to become my best self.

Ankrah George Akwah

Online institute has been a blessing and fun for all of us. There has been a limit to the things I can learn. We are still able to read scriptures and commentaries from the student manual. During our Zoom Cloud meeting at the end of the week, emphasis is placed on doctrines and how they can be applied in our lives. This is helping me focus on what matters most. Though it is a lockdown, I feel I am making good use of my time. It is also really fun having a video chat with the students.

Okyere Ofori Samuel

During the lockdown, institute is still just amazing. We cannot attend classes physically, but we still learn and share thoughts and insights. For me personally, I really look forward to institute time every week because most of my questions are answered. As I prepare for the class, I feel the Saviour’s love for me during this difficult time in the world. Studying from the New Testament about the Saviour’s miracles and teachings gives me the faith and hope to keep my covenants. I am not bored at home because I have my scriptures with me. I am grateful that technology has provided a way for us to learn the gospel.

Afutu Disendenyou Samuel

It is so wonderful to continue to hold institute class over the Internet. This has helped encourage me to study the scriptures and to share impressions with others. It is helping me feel calm and hopeful during this time of fear and confusion.

Harriet Ayisi (Alajo Ward, Tesano Ghana Stake)

I have never been so focused on joining the online institute. At the beginning I thought it would not be nice, because we often go online to chat and all, and so using it to learn the gospel seemed impossible. I have come to learn how to use the Internet in the gospel way. Also I have had the chance to read detailed contributions and testimony from my colleagues. I testify of the sweet feeling that comes from online institute class, it brings us closer to our Savior and to ourselves. Contributions shared during online institutes gives me hope even at this moment when all hope is lost, which fulfills Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly and independent, till it has penetrated every continent and till the purposes of God shall be accomplished.

Nnenna Eke (Prestigious Calabar Campus Institute of Religion)

I have felt so happy since we started this online class because I feel I have no reason to miss out on my classes again or to complain about transportation or time because it is right in front of me. My classes are at my peak.

Happiness Uyok (The Prestigious Calabar Campus)

The online institute studies are a blessing. Regardless of the COVID-19, I still learn more and even contribute more frequently than in face-to-face classes. It’s nice to have an online institute class because I don’t always have money for transportation to the institute building, even when I have the desire to. I love this great opportunity that Heavenly Father has given me to still study and keep His commandments continually until this pandemic is over.

Samuel Iwejuo, (Osisioma, 1st Ward, Aba Nigeria North Stake)

The Aba Nigeria institute of religion online class has blessed my life with a stronger desire to do the Lord’s work and be His witness, it has also increased my testimony of the Lord’s kingdom and that no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. I testify that I have learned that the purpose of technology is to hasten the work of salvation, I know that the Saints are still united through technology. I have learned more about Jesus Christ and His gospel purpose. I know I am kept strong in the fold through technology in this period of trouble and sickness. I know these things are true.

Prosper Ogbonna (Ngwa Umuogelle Ward, Aba Ogbor Hill Nigeria Stake)

We live in the time spoken of by the prophets, a time of great turmoil and great pandemic. The Lord promised that when we see these times, he said, “Stand ye in holy places and be not moved” (D&C 87:8). The online institute has provided me the opportunity to do this. I have been blessed with the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ even as I have been participating in these online classes from the comfort of my own home. Indeed, the divine purpose of technology is to hasten the work of salvation. I am grateful we have a living prophet.

Amah Kalu Junior (Aba Central Ward, Aba Nigeria South Stake)

I already know that Heavenly Father is always mindful of us and He wants us to learn and to grow spiritually, irrespective of the pandemic. I am so grateful for the things we have learned in our online institute class during this time. Our instructors are wonderful. They teach with love. My testimony grows each day as we come online to teach one another the doctrine of salvation. I love our eternal marriage class so much. I have learned about the things I should seek for in my eternal companion. Watching general conference live with my institute mates has also blessed my life and I know that it has changed their lives too. I testify that we are in the right fold and that we will never get lost if we adhere to the teachings thereof. 

Elizabeth Nwankwo (Ehere Ward, Aba Ogbor Hill Nigeria Stake)

I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that His gospel is the standard of truth today. The Lord called Joseph Smith to be His prophet, seer, and revelator in the latter days, and He continues to call living prophets and apostles to guide His Church.

I pray that this volume will enlarge your understanding of the past, strengthen your faith, and help you make and keep the covenants that lead to exaltation and eternal life. The online class is a blessing to me.

Ifeanyi Kalu Ogbonna (Eziama Ward, Aba Nigeria South Stake)

He knows what is best for us. I must say I am full of felicity being part of this program. During this global pandemic, which appears as a moment of reflection and soberness, our Heavenly Father, through social media, has blessed my life and has proven to me that there is nothing He cannot do to keep His children connected to the gospel. I know that online institute learning is a harmonized platform that allows the students to connect, build, and strengthen their faith together.

I know that the only way in which we can recognize our full potential and uniqueness is by doing what the Lord commands through our leaders. Doing it is the outward expression of your inner desire to be submissive to the Lord. Let us learn of Him and develop Christlike attributes and find everlasting happiness.

Gordfred Mbroh (Swedru 2nd Ward, Ghana)

My testimony is strengthened as I study and watch the Book of Mormon videos online. I am always happy and blessed, even in this pandemic era, because of the online seminary. I know Jesus Christ lives and loves us.

Emmanuel Boateng (Nkanfoa Ward Institute, Ghana)

Doing institute via WhatsApp has kept, and is keeping, the gospel fresh in my mind. When I listen to the news, visit social media apps, and listen to friends, I feel afraid knowing the things going on in the world today. But among all these, the hours I meet with other young single adults on Saturday evenings in our WhatsApp group helps to take my mind from the things of the world and to focus on the Savior, the peacemaker, and the love of God.

I am grateful for the opportunity to use WhatsApp for institute even when we are directed to stay at home.

Kouakou N’Da Kollou Alfred (Niangon South Stake, Ivory Coast)

In this tough moment of great tribulation, it was difficult for me to imagine myself away from the gospel, most especially institute courses. This new way of doing institute through WhatsApp has really helped me put aside fear and be filled with faith. His teaching reminds me always to be the best person I can be. Despite this lockdown, I honor my calling, pray daily, and remain in the covenant part. It has helped me become closer to my scriptures. Encouraging my classmates every day to perform their duties gives me joy and feelings of fulfillment even though I am away from the church building. I am well-armed to face this difficult time with hope and faith. I cannot wait to see church services recommence.

I’m grateful to God and the General Authorities, for this means to be in touch constantly with the teachings of the Savior.

Achy Angenor (Angre 1st Ward, Dokui Ivory Coast Stake)

During this period of lockdown, attending online institute class has really blessed my life. It has really helped me to understand more about Jesus Christ’s love, and how I could get closer to Christ and rely on the Spirit to make a better decision in this period, and also the importance of always follow the recommendations of the prophets. I really testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and loves me as I love Him, and He cares for and is mindful of each one of us. President Russell M. Nelson is truly called of God to guide us. This I know to be true.

Ebenezer Lappia, (2 Plateaux Ward, Cocody Stake, Ivory Coast)

In this period where all our activities have been shut down and church activities and meetings are closed, we do not have the opportunity to reunite with our brothers and sisters from institute to share experiences and testimonies. But by God’s grace, we live in modern days where technology has enabled us to meet, no matter the distance, through the Zoom application, we share our gospel insight and ask questions. It has really been a wonderful experience and we are all happy.

Georges Yannick N’Guessan, (2 Plateaux Ward, Cocody Stake, Ivory Coast)

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, continues to show us His pure love. By having the online institute class, our Savior is still nourishing us with the word through technology and His valiant instructors, and it grows my faith in Him. I know that my Redeemer lives.

Eric Sewu (Nungua Ward 1, Teshie Ghana Stake)

The world is grappling with an invisible enemy which has led so many countries to lock down and regular life seems to have ground to a halt. Ghana is no exception, as I found myself in one of the lockdown areas with school activities suspended.

Amidst all this turmoil, it is very astonishing to see how leaders and members of the Church are doing all they can to keep to their covenants and to continually trust in the Lord. Friday evenings happen to be when we meet as young single adults for the eternal marriage class. Due to the threat posed by COVID-19, and the directive to stay at home, our gathering as a class seemed impossible in this difficult time. With the continual inspirations from the Lord, the instructors resorted to the use of online platforms like Zoom and WhatsApp for us to continually study and interact with each other.

In one of our classes, we discussed the topic of money and marriage. A lot of insights and experiences were shared on the platform to help us continue to know what the Lord wanted us to do. I felt this great peace of mind and I realized in a very subtle feeling that indeed God loves us and will continue to direct us towards the right paths no matter what the challenges may be. The discussion that evening was the only thing that ran through my mind that day until I went to sleep.

I realized from this experience that regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we can continually do what we know to be right, share our testimonies to the people we can reach out to, and be a light that signals hope in the lives of people.

The world may be in despair, lives may be at a standstill, our faith may be challenged and pushed to the core, but one thing I know and believe in is that the redeeming and merciful alms of the Lord are not far from us and He will succor us in this time as He did for those in times past.