Education is one of the most important topics the church is interested in. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. The Prophets and leaders of the church have always encouraged members to love and seek to be educated. Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy taught that 'In this increasingly complex world, education is one of the most important acquisitions of life. And while it is true that more education will generally lead to the opportunity for increased temporal rewards, the greater value of increased knowledge is the opportunity it affords us to be of greater influence in accomplishing the Lord's purposes'. Education in the church standards is by far the best one can get anywhere.
Merit and I are both enrolled in the Pathway Connect and West Africa Area Online Institute programs. Our decision to enroll in these programs and our commitment to attending each gathering despite our challenges has been to experiment on the words of Prophet Nelson and gain our personal experiences. In the WELCOME TO INSTITUTE part from the week one lesson, we learned that Prophet Russell M. Nelson's invitation to young adult to participate in Institute was comforting, He said:
'Seminary and institute will help you remodel your home to become a sanctuary of faith—a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught, learned, lived, and loved. Wherever you live, that dwelling can become a place where true disciples of Jesus Christ reside. There you can seek refuge from the storms of life and increase your love of the Lord and for each other”.
Reflecting on the above words from the Prophet, we mustered the courage to continue the program through to the end despite our temporal difficulties.
Our favourite part of the program was the gatherings. We both enjoyed the gatherings because we had the opportunity to meet with and learn from friends and other saints. We chose face-to-face gathering for Pathway Connect and West Africa Area Online Institute. Both classes were held on the same day however Institute was held virtually. The allotted time which was 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm was challenging for us to participate since we lived on an island that was far from our gathering centre. We never made it home before institute gathering commences, most of the time we follow up in a bus with our earpieces on, on a motorcycle, in a boat or if we are opportune to find a quiet, safe place with electricity, we would stop and continue till the end of institute gathering, then we head home. We always get home late; we arrive sometimes a few minutes to 11:00 pm or past 11:00 pm. One time we considered stopping over at a member friend's place to have our gatherings, but we noticed that leaving for work from there the next morning would be quite challenging as one arrives late at work. So, we decided to just go home instead. Our challenges are strong, but our determination is stronger.
Attending both pathway and Institute are important to us because we know that 'Sacrifice[s] brings forth the blessing of heaven'. We are already receiving some of the promised blessings such as having our faith in Jesus Christ increased, our fears of what the future may hold for us is no longer there, our love and trust in our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ have deepened. This does not mean that our challenges have all disappeared, instead, our faith, strength, and resilience to endure have increased. We have learned many principles that can help us overcome some life challenges. Our desire to engage in a meaningful personal daily study of the Book of Mormon, and our ability to ' Hear Him' have increased.
We soon found that accepting President Nelson's invitation had increased our blessings, and we know that despite our challenges in attending the gatherings, we can continue to grow and improve our abilities to serve our Heavenly Father, our Savior Jesus Christ and our brothers and sisters better.