This is a transcript of an excerpt from a Facebook Live Event for Youth and Single Adults in the Africa South Area of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, held on November 16th, 2021. The full video of the event can be viewed here or here.
Moderator: So, many of our young people really have been profoundly affected by COVID-19, and our first question is one that's been echoed probably across many continents and it's around the COVID-19 vaccine. This is what our young person wrote, they said:
Many high-profile leaders in Africa have spoken out against being vaccinated. This leaves us in a confusing space. What is your advice to those who wonder if they should be vaccinated against COVID-19?
[Y]ou are and have always been a son or daughter of God with spiritual roots in eternity. First and foremost, you are and always will be a spirit child of God. Those aren’t just words from a beautiful Primary song. They are words of truth. They are imbued with eternal significance for all of us.
The foundational fact of heavenly parentage is not just my truth or your truth. It is eternal truth. It is written in big, bold, capital letters. Understanding this truth—really understanding it and embracing it—is life changing. It gives you an extraordinary identity that no one can ever take away from you. But more than that, it should give you an enormous feeling of value and a sense of your infinite worth. Finally, it provides you a divine, noble, and worthy purpose in life.
Late one evening, out of the blue, I received an instant message from a mission friend. Though we were never missionary companions, we had served in the same area in Brazil for a few months and were roommates. I hadn't heard from him in years. At least a decade. Probably more.
My friend had been reading entries from his personal journal about the time we served together and he reached out to compare memories. We had a delightful conversation.
He reminded me of a particular experience we shared together. But when I looked through my own mission journal to see what details I had recorded about this experience, I was horrified to realize that I had a gap of about a month in my journal entries, and that this experience happened during that gap!
At the time, I probably figured I would never forget it, so I didn't need to write it down. My 19-year-old self was partially correct, because it has been seared into my mind as one of the most impactful, amazing experiences of my entire mission. Now, 20 years later, I'm finally writing it down.
In a recent interview, I heard J. Max Wilson talk about how he'd been doing a 7-day social media fast each month starting with Fast Sunday. That sounded like an excellent idea to me and I decided to adapt it for my own situation and give it a try.