Since the global COVID19 pandemic disrupted our life routines, we all had to stay home in an attempt to slow down the spread of the virus. But being stuck at home can lead to boredom, which means that we are not meaningfully engaged with the world.
As members of the Church, we are blessed to have the Come, Follow Me gospel study curriculum and the new Children and Youth Initiative which aim to help parents keep their children occupied with activities that will help them grow. To help families further engage their teenage children, some creative youth leaders came up with supporting activities that are both meaningful, fun, and optimally challenging.
Let’s learn how the youth of Malaybalay, Bukidnon and Dagupan, Pangasinan spent their quarantine period.
MALAYBALAY PHILIPPINES DISTRICT
As reported by Hanahlo Bongolto
The 16 Days Challenge #StayHomeStayConnected was an initiative inspired by the new Children and Youth Program of the Church. Sixteen challenges for 16 days were made to help the youth reach their goals to become better individuals and followers of Christ.
These challenges focused on the four areas of growth: spiritual, physical, social, and intellectual, each helping every participant strike a meaningful balance in his or her life. Challenges included making a quarantine planner, ministering, creating a meal plan, and developing the habit to exercise regularly among others.
Duane Domagsang, a young woman from Valencia Branch, said, “I'm truly grateful that I was able to participate in this activity because it helped me begin to make good changes in my life. Before I was a person who is not fond of exercising but through the activity I was able to overcome that and now I've been regularly following my physical fitness plan. It’s a bit difficult but my desire to accomplish the challenge kept on growing. The 16 days challenge gave me the opportunity to grow, improve my personality, and strengthen my testimony. It taught me to be grateful: at times we might fail to express our gratitude especially in times of trials and challenges, but I realized that there are plenty of things I can be grateful for despite the crisis my family and I are facing. Being filled with gratitude can help you find happiness.”
Jared Requirme, from Quezon Branch, shared that it helped him to become more responsible. It helped him develop into a better young man. “The activity taught me how to manage my time effectively and efficiently,” he added.
The core scripture for the Children and Youth Initiative found in Luke 2:52 embody this activity, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” The 'I Will Go and Do' 2020 Mutual Theme also gave inspiration as they were accomplishing the challenges.
Speaking to the children and youth about the new initiative, President Russell M. Nelson said, “This effort has been designed especially for you and your generation. ... We are inviting you to counsel with the Lord about how you can grow in a balanced way. ... You can do hard things.'
This initiative did not only bless the youth but the parents as well. Sister Domagsang of Valencia Branch said, “My gratitude and excitement overflowed when I heard that the youth in our district had what they called 16-day challenge activity…. As we supported the youth, our homes were strengthened and our confidence in the Lord increased. We know that God is standing by us and His profound love allowed us to see the bigger picture and know what we can become.'
Doing the 16-Day Challenge gave the youth and the leaders an opportunity to assess themselves on how well they were doing in the different aspects of their lives. It also provided a way to cope with the pandemic that the world is experiencing right now. For parents and leaders, it was a great responsibility to help the youth focus on the things that matter most, help them build a stronger relationship with their families, and feel the love of the Savior.
DAGUPAN PHILIPPINES STAKE
As reported by Journaliz Servito Ramirez
The Young Men and Young Women of Dagupan Philippines Stake were challenged by their leaders to participate in a 20-day ECQ Challenge that required them to accomplish certain tasks per day and then share photos and videos in the Dagupan Stake Youth Facebook Group of their experience.
The activity was organized “to encourage the youth to do simple yet powerful act each day that can help them move forward towards accomplishing their personal goals,” Stake President Gerry Guerra said.
It was aimed to encourage the youth “to become productive during ECQ, to connect to other youth in the Stake, and to realize that this pandemic can bring about great accomplishments,” Sis. Marisol Bondad, Young Women Stake President explained.
The challenge which began on April 27 was comprised of the following activities:
- 10 Things I’m Grateful to Heavenly Father for
- Thank You Notes for Frontliners
- Keep Calm and Show Your Talent
- Family Fun Time
- Create a Poster Slogan for Labor Day
- Grow Your Food
- How Do You Hear Him?
- Health is Wealth Exercise Routine Challenge
- Make a Special Dish for Your Family
- Flex Your Family Tree
- Indexing and Name Submission Challenge
- Serve in the Home
- Write to Full-time Missionaries
- What Makes Your Mom Super?
- Book of Mormon and General Conference Reading Challenge
- Clear the Clutter
- Ministering to Fellow Youth
- Families Are Forever – post a family photo and share why you love them
- Unplug and Disconnect for 24 Hours
- What Did You Learn from the ECQ?
“The challenges were designed to create a balance among the four areas of personal development -- social, intellectual, physical, spiritual,” Sis. Bondad added.
Sayra Claveria, a young woman from Dagupan 2nd Ward said that participating in the activity wasn’t easy for her initially. “At first I was doubting myself if I can do the challenges since they require time and effort. Then I used that doubt to challenge myself. And surprisingly as time went by, I began to enjoy doing them!” She also added that participating in the ECQ Daily Challenge made her parents happy and become closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
“The ECQ Daily Challenge helped me become more productive every day,” said young man Helaman Duran from Dagupan 4th Ward.
Gersha Guerra, a young woman from Dagupan 3rd Ward shared: “the experience truly blessed us because we were given a chance to grow through learning new skills, serving someone, sharing our talents, or learning more about the Gospel.”
Parents of the youth who participated in the daily challenges were also very pleased.
“Our children unknowingly misuse most of their time in social media and with their mobile gadgets playing online games. They’re distracted by the noise that they often are not able to hear God's voice,” shared Blesilda Macaraeg, a parent from Dagupan 2nd Ward. “I believe that this activity was one of God's ways to help our youth to listen to our Savior. It has greatly helped our youth connect deeper and cherish time with their families.”
As the ECQ Daily Challenge conclude with the lifting of the ECQ implementation, the youth, leaders, as well as their parents felt that they have “formed a stronger bond because of this activity.”
“The ECQ Daily Challenge gave meaning and purpose to everyday. I saw families work together, leaders giving support to their children to accomplish a challenge. No doubt, the youth weren’t the only ones blessed but also their homes and those who saw their inspiring posts,” Sis. Bondad added.
President Guerra also expressed how he was fascinated to witness the “enthusiastic response of the youth that manifested their resilience and faithfulness as well as their readiness to take on whatever challenge that comes along their way.”
He added, “This reminds us of the teaching of President Nelson when he said: ‘Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested.’” ◼︎