News Release

How Members of the Barrigada Guam Stake are Participating in Light the World During COVID

The Light the World campaign has been filled with challenges and opportunities for those participating in 2020. After all, the focus in 2020 is one-on-one service, at a time when the pandemic is raging and we are being encouraged to socially isolate. Like the U.S., Guam is undergoing a second wave of COVID-19 infections, and the Government is encouraging people to stay at home to the extent possible. Members of the Barrigada Guam Stake, which includes Guam, Palau, Yap and the Commonwealth of Northern Marianna Islands, have found creative ways of providing service and celebrating Christmas in difficult circumstances.

The Hartley family, members of the Talisay Ward in Guam, are finding ways to Light the World and celebrate Christmas this year. Laura Hartley said “with Clark's busy job at the Navy hospital and five kids with school and other activities, we found in past years that it was hard and frustrating to try and force certain activities on certain days so now we look at all of the Light the World activities and kind of rearrange things to make a calendar that fits our family.” They are Lighting the World through these activities, including volunteering to help fill boxes for Operation Christmas Drop, a Pacific Military Forces humanitarian effort to provide donations to islanders in the Pacific. “This is something we've done in the past and we absolutely love doing it. The kids love decorating and filling the boxes and then we watch the videos of the planes dropping the boxes on the islands; seeing how much the people love and appreciate those boxes is just so wonderful.”


One activity the Hartley’s selected from Light the World was to send a book to a faraway friend. The family made a homeschool lesson all about Guam and sent it to their nieces and nephews who are struggling with online school. The lessons included fun activities to learn about the history and culture and it also had some treats from Guam.

Some other Light the World activities the Hartley’s have done or are in the process of doing include their children writing letters to their 95-year-old great grandmother who lives in the states and has been lonely during this pandemic; making cookies (“gingerbread men with broken legs or broken arms”) to give to the physical therapist who helped their daughter heal from a gymnastics injury; Facetiming with family members, many of whom they haven't seen in years; and baking treats to take to friends and neighbors.

Sister Hartley said Christmas is going to be hard this year. “We were supposed to have family from the states visit us for Christmas (and Thanksgiving) but due to the pandemic they can no longer visit so I am feeling extremely homesick. It's hard to see many of the families around the island gathering with their extended family when I haven't seen my parents, siblings or grandparents for over two years and we miss them terribly. But we are determined to make this a wonderful, meaningful Christmas with the hope that next year we will be able to celebrate with our extended family. In addition to doing the Light the World activities, we are planning to do a lot of things together as a family. I think one of the blessings of this pandemic is that we are much more focused on our family this Christmas. In other years we've been busy with work parties, school concerts, and get togethers with friends, and things were so crazy that the holiday season seemed to fly by without a chance to slow down and really enjoy it; but with all of that gone this year we can just focus on our family and celebrating the birth of our Savior. This Christmas is much simpler and quieter than ones in the past but for our family that is what is making this Christmas so special.”

Al and Ann Cabael of the Saipan Ward have had a very difficult year. As owners of a construction and manpower business in Saipan that employs nonimmigrant workers, a majority from the Philippines, they have had to halt their business activities since March. They are not alone in this aspect on Saipan, as there has been widespread unemployment and, for some, minimum work hours. However, Al said, “I feel the hearts and minds of people around the world are open to the true meaning of the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ today more than ever before. I shared The Christ Child video to all of my friends via messenger, and WhatsApp... with many thumbs up, hearts, and prayer emoji. One comment pointed to the death and resurrection that we should remember more. My response was, ‘His atoning sacrifice was the ultimate gift to the world if we believe and faithfully follow Him.’ The other person responded, ‘This I will definitely abide with.’"


Al Cabael said “We can imagine the difficulties and challenges, and no one is immune to the economic effects from the pandemic. It is interesting to note, however, the quiet humility people exemplify even through the hardship, and still have a smile tucked away when the occasion arises to offer a smile in return from someone, looking and striving to survive in faith by belief.” As if this wasn’t enough, Ann was recently diagnosed with an illness that will require her to travel to the Philippines for a treatment that is not available on Saipan. They have felt the love and support of dear friends as she prepares to travel and have received many notes letting them know that they are in their prayers. While they will now be celebrating Christmas apart, Al said “These friends are gifts to us this season... Sister Ann and I recognize how blessed we are... our faith in prayer and belief that we will be continually loved and cared for each and every day, and kept safe and protected, having the true gospel in our lives is truly in abundance from our Father in Heaven.”

Stephanie Nicerio of the Dededo Ward on Guam dedicated herself to finding ways to Light the World.  On the "Signs of Christmas" Day, she treated her neighbor, Weng Cortez.  "It was a rainy day and I could not decorate the neighbor's front door, but I gave Weng a red Christmas doormat," Stephanie Nicerio said. "I also found out that Weng's electrician husband is assigned to work at our Yigo Guam Temple, which is currently under construction. What a blessing to have them as our neighbors!"  In addition, with her "helper baker" and daughter Samantha, they baked some sweet treats for the families of two Sisters in their ward, Sister Vilma Gogue and Sister Melsi Hadley.  Stephanie said. "I haven't seen Vilma in person for a long time, and Sister Hadley was off-island at the time. We even saw a rainbow on the drive back home, an added bonus of feeling the peace and love brought by the light of our Savior."

© 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

For Amy Nelson and her family, this Christmas will also look a little different than their normal Christmas. The Nelsons are members of the Yigo Ward on Guam, and her husband Joel is in the Navy and has been deployed for the last six months. Amy was worried about how to make this Christmas special while he is gone. “Shifting the focus to our Savior has been such a blessing in our family,” she said.


The Nelson family has been choosing 3-4 activities from Light the World calendar each week during family home evening and then doing those activities during the week. One of the highlights from participating in Light the World was making a donation to Guam Animals in Need (GAIN). Amy explained that, “our three daughters are very attached to their dog, Wink. They also love the services that are provided through GAIN. They were very excited to donate to help the animals in need. They have also loved viewing The Christ Child video.” One of Amy’s favorite moments was when her youngest daughter took a thank you card and treat to the pharmacy. The pharmacy technician has always been so helpful and it she said it was fun to see her face light up when she received the card. “We have also had special experiences as we studied our family history, as prompted by Light the World. One of my daughters read about one of our ancestors who had to climb a rope ladder with eight of her children to board a ship that sailed from England. My daughter was able to email and share some of her discoveries with her Grandfather. It has been fun to share our experiences with my husband through technology, and it has made this year special.”


Bishop Jan-David Tison of the Dededo Ward on Guam felt it incumbent to set the example this year to dedicate himself each day to Light the World, in hopes that his deeds would become "contagious" this Christmas.  Among the many things he did, one of the most satisfying was "Paying it Backwards" through Light the World.  "I was very honored to help Brother Francis Moylan, a former president of the previous Dededo Branch, on the Pay it Backwards day. The pandemic had delayed the baptism and confirmation for his grandson Malio Nahoolewa, and finally on that day, the ordinances were cleared to be performed. I was asked to conduct the program, assist with the confirmation, and also helped Brother Moylan with his temple recommend renewal. This faithful brother has served our members dutifully, and so it was my turn to joyfully serve him back."

© 2020 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

As Christmas approaches, members of the Barrigada Guam Stake continue to look for ways to light the world, and show Christlike love to those around them, to make this a truly special and memorable Christmas.

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