In this time of COVID-19, a world pandemic, the work does not stop for the Relief Society and the Primary organizations of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Instead, it’s a new day, a day of learning to do things a new way. From Oct. 30 through Nov. 8, 2020, Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency and Sister Lisa L. Harkness, the First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, made a visit to the Africa West Area, only this time it was virtual.
With modern technology, Sister Eubank and Sister Harkness were able to visit with Area Authorities, stake presidencies, local leaders and members of the Church in Ghana, Nigeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Liberia and Sierra Leone. This would have been a rigorous trip had it not been for the use of technology. They were able to visit with 114 stakes in these countries without having to worry about or experience jetlag. Although they did not physically travel, all of the leadership meetings and member devotionals were scheduled to effectively teach and to bless the lives of those that were able to attend these virtual meetings.
Sister Eubank encouraged everyone to engage in the work of salvation by living the gospel, caring for one another, inviting others to come unto Christ and also to unite families in the temple. Through doing this work, many lives will be blessed. She taught from the teachings of Alma at the waters of Mormon, we need to be “desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; . . .
“willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things” (Mosiah 18:8–9).
Sister Harkness shared the importance of our children and of teaching them the gospel. We should love and minister to them as the Savior did. We should protect and care for the children. We need to engage with them. As leaders and parents, we need to involve children in the work of salvation. We should give the children opportunities to engage in the work of salvation by providing them avenues to share their testimonies, teach one another or share their insights in gospel learning. One way is by inviting children to sing their favorite Primary songs and sharing what they learn from the song.
Brother Levi, a member of a bishopric in a ward in the Ikeja Stake in Nigeria, said “One thing I learned from the Spirit, was in order to fulfil this duty (of protecting children) is to administer priesthood blessings upon them, such as blessings of comfort.” Many members of the Church were uplifted and inspired during the general meetings throughout the area.
A sister from the Abura 2nd Ward in the Cape Coast Ghana Stake stated, “As the meeting began, I felt so good and excited! The presence of the Spirit was so strong, and I was quite emotional throughout! . . . I literally felt the love Sisters Eubank and Harkness had for every one of us. In fact, I heard the Savior through them.”
Stephen Obeng, the Dichemso Stake president, of Kumasi Ghana shared “One way that the devotional helped me was on how to deal with life challenges. . . . It has given me a new way to look at life and more specially to love my children and care for them as the Savior would want me to do.”
In addition to attending the scheduled church meetings, Sister Eubank and Sister Harkness were able to visit some of the members in their homes. After their 28 virtual home visits, Sister Eubank stated “I have never gone ministering with WhatsApp before, but it gave me the chance to sit in homes where the evening meal was being prepared and children were studying with a lamp and speak heart to heart with a sister about her challenges and joys. I came away so uplifted from meeting these sisters in this intimate way. Many shared deeply personal and spiritual experiences around their conversions to the gospel of Jesus Christ or introduced me to their family with pride.”
Sister Harkness expressed, “I am grateful for the ability we had to visit with children and their families through our WhatsApp calls. I truly felt like I was visiting my friends. The sweetest part of each visit was when the children shared their favorite song. Sometimes they were Primary songs, sometimes they were hymns. Many times, the parents wanted to share their favorite songs as well. We had a wonderful time singing together and feeling the Spirit as we sang about the Savior. This will be an experience I will never forget. The miracle of technology made it possible for us to rejoice in our shared divine identity and covenant belonging.
“As we continue to learn and follow our Savior in these chaotic and difficult days, we need to recognize the Lord is providing us ways to continue ministering, and meeting together that we may feed upon His teachings and not only survive but also to thrive, knowing our Lord and Savior is watching over us.”