AREA PRESIDENCY MESSAGE

    How Just One Day Leads to a Lifetime of Joy

    JONI AND MICHELE KOCH

    'If both of us that day had not followed the promptings to go to Church — regardless of our particular situations that day — we possibly wouldn’t ever have met.'

    The 2019 Area Plan invites all of us to increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by improving Sabbath Day observance. As we do this, we’ll get closer to Them and receive marvelous blessings.

    The Blessings of Always Going to Church on Sundays: A Story

    It was June of 1987 and I was visiting a friend for one week in a city 600 km from where I lived. When Sunday arrived, I told him that perhaps I’d not go to his ward but to a different one. The fact is that I was planning to (secretly) watch a very important soccer game on TV (a Sunday practice that I since abandoned long ago) that would take place in the exact same time of his ward’s Sunday block. I did promise him that I would go to Church in some other unit at a different time, but to no avail. He exercised his agency and persisted in convincing me to do the right thing.  I ended up going to Church with him and his family.

    Now at that very same moment, on the other side of that very same city, a young girl — also a member my friend’s ward — was similarly confronted with an important decision to make. She was ready to leave for Church with her parents when her dear aunt and family unexpectedly arrived at her home to visit and stay for several days. For a moment, she felt like she needed to stay home and give proper attention to those relatives while the rest of the family went to Church. However, a thought came to her mind: “Your relatives know of your faith, they’ll be fine staying in your home for some hours until you come back. Be a good example and honor the Sabbath Day and everything will be fine”. That’s what she did.

    When I arrived at my friend’s ward some minutes before Sacrament Meeting — and began talking with some young men of my age group — I saw from a distance this gorgeous green-eyed girl passing by and asked them: “Who is she?!?!” They told me to forget about her as every returned missionary in that Stake was after her and I’d have no chance at all.

    However, all of the sudden, this beautiful girl approaches and boldly asks me, in front of all:

    Girl:     “Can I ask you something, are you married?”

    Me:      “No!” (because I want to marry you, I thought.)

    Girl:     “There’s a new mall in town, would you like to visit it with me tomorrow?”

    Me:      “Of course!!”

    Girl:     “And by the way, Sacrament Meeting will start momentarily, shall we sit together?”

    Me:      “Of course!!” 

    Me (turning to the awestruck guys around me): “If you will excuse me.” 

    I went into the chapel with her.

    It was the same girl who was confronted with the decision of staying home with her unexpected visitors or coming to church that Sunday.

    We married in the Temple, 10 months later. If both of us that day had not followed the promptings to go to Church — regardless of our particular situations that day — we possibly wouldn’t ever have met.

    Home Centered, Church Supported: A Warning

    While we wholeheartedly accept and follow our Prophet’s instructions to establish a home- centered, Church-supported gospel living, by no means we should overlook the importance of actually going to Church every Sunday, participate in the ordinance of the Sacrament and edify one another in our classes and social interactions.

    Having more time to study the Gospel and be with our family at home on the Sabbath is a true blessing, but the support given by the Church during our Sunday meetings is certainly critical and necessary for our Salvation and Exaltation. The emphasis of living the Gospel more at home does not diminish the importance of being at Church on Sundays.

    A Testimony

    I testify of the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy through the words of Isaiah 58: 13-14: “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

    Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”