“Home-Centered Church Away from Home,” Liahona, January 2021, 17
When President Russell M. Nelson described a home-centered Church during general conference in 2018, and when the Children and Youth program was announced in 2019, our family was excited.
As 2020 approached, however, we met a significant obstacle. Beginning in January, I had to leave home for a six-month deployment. I knew that my wife and I had a sacred responsibility to center gospel learning in our home for our five children, but I wondered how I could do my part while away from home.
Our children began brainstorming goals that would help them increase “in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52), just as the Savior did. My eight-year-old daughter told me one of her goals was to learn to cook with Daddy. With a broken heart, I had to redirect her goal toward something she could do for a while without my help. My sons wanted to become better at basketball and running—two things we love to do together. I encouraged them in their goal, knowing I would miss opportunities to help them. As a family, we prepared the best we could.
Family separation is always a trial, but the combination of technology and the direction of a living prophet allowed me to take part in our family’s gospel learning after all.
We felt united, even when we were 10 time zones apart, as we studied Come, Follow Me. When time allowed, I would get on an early-morning video chat during my family’s evening scripture study and talk about the Book of Mormon chapters we had been studying. Over the phone, I would talk to my children about the Book of Mormon videos, and my wife and I would discuss ideas for family home evening.
Wanting to help my children with Children and Youth, I set my own goals and sent the children handwritten notes every week sharing my progress and asking them about their goals. Through regular phone calls, I could even join in family prayer at times.
During my separation from my family, I quickly saw the blessings of following the guidance of the prophet. I also found that creating a home of gospel learning is possible even when I was half a world away!