My dear brothers and sisters!
Though I can't see you at the moment, I can almost physically sense your presence and closeness. Me and the District Presidency love you very much. We keep you in our thoughts and in our prayers.
At the moment, when we are facing a situation which is complicated and full of challenges that none of us has been in before, we have to turn our heart and mind to Christ. He himself has said: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.” (D&C 6:36) Our faith in Christ is bigger than the fear of the Coronavirus. And we will cope with the challenges of life, because Christ is the captain of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10).
If today had been the District Conference, I would have talked about the First Vision. Still, there's a thought that I would like to share with you today. We read from Joseph`s testimony: “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!
Brothers and Sisters, the first word that God in the beginning of the Restoration 200 years ago uttered, was “Joseph”. He knew Joseph personally and He knows each one of us personally. He knows if we are worried about our own or the health of our close ones, or in this new situation we are losing our job and thus also our income. In the same way as he answered the prayer of a teenager, he will answer your prayer and pleading whatever your age.
When the state of national emergency was established on Thursday, all church gatherings were also decided to be temporarily suspended. But, as Brother Kõiv mentioned, it does not mean that the Church is not functioning. Relationships have not been suspended, love has not been suspended, neither ministering, service, ordinances nor studying. How then, will the Church continue to function? We should be more diligent in our service, so that during the following weeks and months nobody would feel alone, as if they'd be an island in an enormous ocean. Sundays should be dedicated to worshipping God.
Homes, where a priesthood leader is present, Sacrament Meetings should take place following the same pattern we are used to seeing. The family is in their Sunday clothing, at 11 they will start with an opening hymn, then a prayer, ordinance of the sacrament, for which the priesthood leader has received permission from the branch president for a longer period, then there's talks or testimonies and the meeting will be closed by a closing hymn and a prayer. Lesson from the “Come, Follow Me” manual will follow.
If there is no priesthood holder in your family and you are a single member, we offer an opportunity to listen to the broadcast, where our district brothers and sister will give a talk, and then a lesson from “Come, Follow Me” manual will follow. Specific details about that will be given to you in the near future.
As a district presidency, we don't unfortunately feel safe about the priesthood holders going and blessing the sacrament at homes. The state authorities have asked first and foremost to avoid close contacts. This is how we will protect ourselves and others. As soon as the situation changes we will inform you immediately.
But we do ask you to keep regular contact with the sisters and brothers we are asked to minister. If they are elderly or suffer from chronic medical conditions, try to ensure that they do not have to go to the store or the pharmacy. Leave the bought goods behind their door.
Find out whether the sisters and brothers under your care were able to listen to the current broadcast. If not, then find out why. Maybe their e-mail address was not in the membership record system? Let the branch clerk know about it, he will take care of it. Maybe the person did not know how to log in for the broadcast? Try to instruct. When you ask, you will receive guidance from the Holy Ghost how to help the brothers and sisters under your care.
It is possible that when we gathered on Sundays, we took it for granted and did not fully value the blessings that can be received from worshipping. We tended to be late or leave earlier. Now we have an opportunity to repent. We have an opportunity to prove that we truly are one in heart, that we are Zion. My prayer and hope is that when we can start meeting again, that none of us has gone missing, rather, we have gained a few.
Let us start ministering already today. Call the people under your care, encourage and comfort. Priesthood holders can contact the branch president already today and bless the sacrament in their families. We hope that soon also those who at the moment do not to have a priesthood holder at home will have sacrament. But in the situation where the spreading of the virus in Estonia is in the global top 10, we do not consider visiting you safe. But do know that we are with you in prayers.
Dear sisters and brothers, it is quite normal to feel fear and anxiety. Things are unclear. But everything will be solved. The Lord is mightier than fear. Focus on him in your thoughts and your heart will find peace.
I testify to you that this is the restored gospel of Jesus. I testify that President Nelson is the prophet of the current time, thanks to whose many instructions, like ministering and home-centered, Church supported study, we are now significantly better prepared.
I say it humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Read the text for president Erki Kõiv's talk here.