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Latter-day Saints #LightTheWorld by Following the Savior’s Example During Pandemic

In December and amid the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Latter-day Saints around the world participated in the annual Light the World initiative by touching hearts, changing lives and doing the things Jesus did: feeding the hungry, comforting the lonely, visiting the sick and afflicted and showing kindness to everyone.

 

The campaign, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is based on the Savior’s teachings found in Matthew 5:14 of the New Testament. “Ye are the light of the world,” Jesus taught, inviting individuals to serve others and "light the world” with their efforts.

“During these unique and troubling times, we have the opportunity to make a difference in small and natural ways,” said Elder Marcus B. Nash, who serves as the Missionary Department’s executive director.

“We can be a light that can shine to the world … Together, we can end 2020 on a positive note.”

Below is a summary of how Latter-day Saints around the world participated in the global Christmas campaign.

Church Broadcasts Special Christmas Program on a Popular Brazil TV Network

Shortly before Christmas day, “The Christ Child: A Nativity Story” video played as part of a special Church-sponsored Christmas broadcast on RedeTV, one of Brazil’s major television networks.

The Light the World campaign video features events surrounding Jesus Christ’s birth including Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem in preparation for His birth.

Following the celebratory video, the program featured a compilation of music performed by Latter-day Saint youth including “Jingle Bells” and “Silent Night.”

Read more about the broadcast program and the list of areas it reached on Brazil’s Newsroom page here. (Portuguese)

Praia Stake Streams Holiday Music Concert on Christmas Day

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted in-person concerts throughout the world, Latter-day Saints in Praia, Cape Verde, made the best of the unique situation by organizing and prerecording a physically distanced Christmas-day concert that streamed on social media channels.

The choir, also known as "Angel’s Voice,” performed traditional and international holiday music in celebration of the Savior’s birth.

Read more about the virtual Christmas concert on the Newsroom’s page here. (Portuguese)

Inaugural Idaho Community Christmas Caroling Sing-Along

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Latter-day Saint missionaries in Idaho hold up a banner that reads, “Welcome IDAHO Let’s Sing!” to invite people to a drive-in Christmas caroling experience that members organized to help the community celebrate the state’s annual Inaugural Idaho Community Christmas Sing-Along on Monday, December 21, 2020. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

On Monday, December 21, 2020, local leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Boise and Meridian, Idaho, partnered together with other faith, civic and community leaders to host the Inaugural Idaho Community Christmas Carol Sing-Along.

In cities all over Idaho, individuals and families joined together in the spirit of love and unity and participated in a treasured holiday tradition — Christmas caroling, in drive-in movie style fashion.

In accordance with state and local health regulations and orders, including social distancing and the wearing of protective face coverings, carolers from all walks of life drove to host parking lots. There, carolers remained in their vehicles and tuned into a local radio station and sang along to a prerecorded program of familiar Christmas hymns and carols.

Read more on Newsroom.

Dominican Latter-day Saints #LightTheWorld by Beautifying Their Communities and Uplifting Neighbors

Latter-day Saints from the Dominican Republic participated in the #LightTheWorld campaign by volunteering to pick up litter, visit the elderly and help distribute approximately 30,000 face masks to people in need.

In the Dominican Republic, approximately 1,000 Church members responded to the campaign’s invitation to find ways to “serve others” on December 5, a date that coincided with International Volunteer Day, by collaborating with community leaders to distribute thousands of face masks and clean up cities like Pedro Brand.

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A group of Latter-day Saints in Pedro Brand, Dominican Republic, fills a bag with waste gathered around the city in December 2020. In the Caribbean, thousands of Church members found ways to serve others as part of the Church’s #LightTheWorld campaign to celebrate Christmas. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

To accomplish the PPE (personal protective equipment) distribution, Latter-day Saints worked hand in hand with Wilson Paniagua, Pedro Brand’s mayor, as well as other city employees.

Latter-day Saints in Puerto Rico Sew and Distribute Heart Pillows to Breast Cancer Patients

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Latter-day Saints and members of the Puerto Rican League Against Cancer pose for a photo behind bags filled with heart pillows that were donated to help breast cancer patients recover from mastectomy surgery in December 2020. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Puerto Rican Latter-day Saints also sewed hundreds of “heart pillows” as part of the initiative to help breast cancer patients recover from mastectomy surgeries.

“With these pillows we have helped many patients,” said Odette Negrón, director of the Puerto Rican League Against Cancer.

“It’s beautiful when we enter the chemotherapy area as we take patients to the rehabilitation center, to see their happiness when they receive the gift. The fabric is so pretty, the messages so beautiful, seeing their happy faces. We thank the Church for this wonderful gift and for thinking of us,” she added.

Further south, on the island of Aruba, Latter-day Saints responded to #LightTheWorld’s invitation to serve others by cleaning the island’s coastline including Rodger’s Beach in Saint Nicolas.

South American Latter-day Saints Work Hand in Hand with Interfaith Community to Distribute Food and Donate Blood to People in Need

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Latter-day Saints from the Resistencia-Chaco congregation stand together while a photo is captured during a service activity for Huellitas de Amor, a food cafeteria in Puerto Vilelas, Argentina, that serves free food to underprivileged children, in December 2020. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Church members from the Resistencia-Chaco stake (group of congregations) gathered donations of food, clothing and toys for Huellitas de Amor, a local food cafeteria that provides free meals for low-income children in the town of Puerto Vilelas.

While Latter-day Saints distributed the food, missionaries sang Christmas carols to invite the Christmas spirit.

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A view of Light the World food donations in boxes sit ready to be distributed to Huellitas de Amor (“prints of love,” in English) a food cafeteria for kids in Puerto Vilelas, Argentina, in December 2020. Latter-day Saints gifted the food items and performed Christmas music to spread Christmas cheer to the organization’s recipients.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

In Mendoza and Tucumán, Argentina, as well as Antofagasta, Chile, Latter-day Saints participated in local blood drives.

Chilean Church members donated blood at the Antofagasta’s Regional Hospital.

“During this Christmas season, as we commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, we want to follow His example by giving to those who need it most," said President David Reyes, a local Church leader.

Read more about the food and blood donations on the Church’s Spanish-language Newsroom page here.

Central American Church Members Donate Time, Toys and Tamales to Light Their Communities

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Latter-day Saints in Guatemala hold up an “Un Tamal, No Está Mal” (“one tamale isn’t bad,” in English) banner to promote their Light the World service activity in December 2020. Church members in Central America organized and participated in service projects to spread the Light the World campaign’s message of love, hope and peace in Jesus Christ through service leading up to Christmas.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

In Central America, Latter-day Saints and friends of the faith shared light in their communities by contributing to local service projects and some created their own.

Diego Paiz, a Guatemalan Latter-day Saint organized “Un Tamal, No Está Mal” (“one tamale isn’t bad,” in English), an activity where volunteers made and distributed tamales to hungry people.

“It is not necessary to donate large amounts of money to make a person happy and fill their empty stomach,” said Paiz.

In San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Maria Fernanda Servellon participated in a toy drive to help children who survived Hurricanes Eta and Iota.

“Participating in the delivery of the toys … allowed me to be the hands of Christ, to share joy,” said Servellon.

“Seeing our brothers and sisters’ situation and its impact and knowing what they are going through is not easy. It helped me understand that when we do our best and have the desire to make others happy, we can bless lives,” she added.

Other Central American Latter-day Saints picked up garbage and found ways to enhance public parks, streets and beaches.

Read more about Light the World activities in Central America on the Spanish-language Newsroom page here.

Church in Africa Donates Food to Hundreds of Ghanian Families in Need

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Jamestown residents gather in preparation for the 2020 Light the World campaign’s launch at the forecourt of the Chief's palace in Accra, Ghana, on Monday, November 30, 2020. In addition to encouraging people around the world to serve their fellow neighbors, Latter-day Saints in Jamestown, Accra, Ghana, donated approximately 18,000 pounds of food to 350 families in need.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Latter-day Saint congregants in Ghana, Africa, made news headlines when one of the country’s television news channels reported that Church members launched the #LightOfTheWorld campaign in Jamestown by handing out personal protective equipment and food items to 350 households during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today we brought over 18,000 pounds of food to bless over 300 families with a month’s worth of food as an act of service,” said Elder Larry S. Kacher, a Church missionary who helped organize the donation. “We will do that for the next 25 days and invite all around us to participate.”

"We need more of the Church services here because my people are hurting,” said Chief Nii Aryeequaye VI of Jamestown, who also attended the event where the items were gathered and handed off to recipients in need.

“Today’s a good day … everyone is going to get something for Christmas,” he added.

Nigerian Latter-day Saints Donate Delivery Couch and Suction Machine to Local Health Center

 
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Nigeria Port Harcourt Mission President Victor Bassey (second from left ) and his spouse, Uche (far left), accompany other Church leaders and health care workers during a donation of a delivery couch and suction machine to the Etche Health Centre, Port Harcourt, on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, as part of the Light the World initiative, “to touch hearts and change lives by doing the same things Jesus did.”2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

On day eight of the Christmas campaign, in Lagos, Nigeria, Latter-day Saint mission president Victor Bassey and his wife, Uche, delivered a couch and suction machine on behalf of Church members to the Etche Health Centre in Port Harcourt.

Light the World Campaign Advertised in Australia and New Zealand to Spread Christmas Message of Hope and Peace to All

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A #LightTheWorld campaign billboard in Auckland, New Zealand, promotes The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ worldwide invitation to transform Christmas into a season of service in December 2020.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Two weeks before Christmas, Church members in Western Australia published ads in five regional newspapers to spread word about “The Christ Child: A Nativity Story” video’s availability on the #LightTheWorld campaign’s website.

Latter-day Saints spread awareness about the film to reach people living in the country’s outback areas. The video depicts the Bible’s Nativity story and the events that preceded Jesus Christ’s birth.

“Members of our tiny branch have been approached by members of the public in our area stating that they never knew that ‘our’ church is The Church of Jesus Christ! They had never made the connection,” said Keallie Scott, a Latter-day Saint missionary who serves in a Narrogin area congregation.

In addition to newspaper ads, Auckland, New Zealand, #LightTheWorld campaign billboards on well-traveled roads helped increase awareness on the Church’s invitation for all to participate in the global initiative and find ways to serve those around them for 25 consecutive days.

“I am grateful for these messages lighting up the city,” said Millie Tapusoa of Auckland, who saw one of the advertisements on Lincoln Road. “Caring for others and celebrating Christ’s birth are the best gifts at Christmas.”

Learn more about Pacific Latter-day Saints’ efforts to spread awareness about the worldwide service movement on the Pacific’s Newsroom page here.

Guamanians Participate in Operation Christmas Drop to Reach People on Remote Pacific Islands and Light the World Through Social Media

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The Hartley family, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pose for a photo while participating in Operation Christmas Drop, a U.S. Pacific Military Forces-sponsored project that airdrops food and supplies to remote areas of the region. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Latter-day Saints in Guam helped #LightTheWorld by filling up boxes in "Operation Christmas Drop,” a humanitarian mission sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Military Forces that provides donations to islanders living in remote areas of the Pacific.

The annual project involves volunteers packing boxes of educational materials, food, toys and supplies that are later airdropped throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of Palau.

“This is something we’ve done in the past, and we absolutely love doing it,” said Laura Hartley, a Latter-day Saint in Guam who participated in the project with her family. “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.”

The Hartleys furthered their #LightTheWorld efforts by making cookies for the physical therapist who helped their daughter after she suffered a gymnastics injury and made an extra effort to reach out to family members and neighbors who may be lonely during the pandemic.

“We can imagine the difficulties and challenges, and no one is immune to the economic effects from the pandemic,” said Al Cabael, a Latter-day Saint who lives in Saipan.

Cabael and his wife, Ann, paused their construction and manpower business operations that employed many nonimmigrant Filipino workers in March because of the pandemic.

Like many people who have suffered tangible and intangible consequences as a result of COVID-19, the Cabaels chose to act upon the #LightTheWorld campaign’s prompts and share “The Christ Child: A Nativity Story” with their friends and loved ones, to offer them a message of peace and hope.

“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,” said Cabael. “I shared The Christ Child video to all of my friends via messenger and WhatsApp ... [I received] many thumbs up, hearts and prayer emojis.”

Church Members in Okinawa Organize Nativity Display to Increase Christmas Cheer

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A family from Okinawa, Japan, enjoys a nativity and Christmas decoration display after Latter-day Saints there opened local meetinghouse doors to the community in mid-December 2020. Church members organized the event to share the Light the World campaign’s core message of hope, peace and faith.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

In mid-December, over 800 people attended a walk-through and streamed open house event at a local meetinghouse in Okinawa to see more than 150 nativities and Christmas decorations arranged by Latter-day Saints to bring peace and joy to members of their community.

The experience included live Christmas music and displays of Jesus Christ paired with kakejiku, or Japanese hanging scrolls, that aligned with the Light the World campaign’s message of peace, hope and faith.

“Since nativities are not widely used in Japan, we also wanted the display to connect with our Japanese friends,” explained Nettie Francis, a Latter-day Saint in Okinawa.

“This year has been difficult for the entire world,” explained local Church leader Mark Francis. “Almost everything has been canceled, travel has been suspended, families have been quarantined, and people are feeling alone and discouraged. We wanted to bring our district members and community together and somehow celebrate Christmas in a safe yet spiritual way.”

“Collecting the nativities was a miracle,” shared Jana Glass, a Relief Society president. “Some sisters signed up to bring one or two but arrived with many more. We also had nativities contributed by neighbors and friends who aren’t members of the Church but wanted to participate.”

Read more about the event on the Guam/Micronesia Newsroom page here.

Cambodian Latter-day Saints Tune in to Church’s First Online Christmas Devotional                                        

For the first time ever, Church members in Cambodia watched a streamed devotional where fellow congregants shared Christmas messages and missionaries performed live musical numbers.

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A Light the World ad is seen on the back of a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia in December 2020. To promote the Christmas campaign, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited others to participate in the campaign through social media channels, banners and pass-along cards.2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                          

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

In addition to the historic milestone, Latter-day Saint members, leaders and missionaries also pursued creative ways to promote the Christ-centered initiative including placing Light the World ads on Tuk Tuks, local meetinghouse fences and customized pass-along cards with an invitation to participate in the campaign and serve others in need.

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A local meetinghouse in Kampong Thom, Cambodia, is surrounded by a Light the World campaign banner in December 2020. In addition to social media, Latter-day Saints in the country came up with simple and creative ways to promote the service-oriented initiative with the public. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Latter-day Saints in North Carolina Invite Community to Participate in Drive-Through Nativity

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Members of the #LightTheWorld drive-through nativity greet visitors in Charlotte, North Carolina, in December 2020. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Latter-day Saints in Charlotte, North Carolina, helped #LightTheWorld by creating a drive-through nativity for their community.

More than 2,000 visitors drove their vehicles through the nativity experience.

The free two-day family event featured an audio dramatization with WCCB News Rising host Derek James, lifestyle expert reporter Karly Ann Barker, and children from three local congregations as narrators. Music from various community and school choirs and local musicians including the Providence High School Men’s Choir were included in the audio tracks.

"We have [for many years] been … to many live nativities and this was really special—one of the best ones that I've seen,” said one visitor, who preferred not to be named. “You want to come back. It was wonderful. It was more than a drive-through where you observe, it really touched the hearts of people who saw it."

Lexington Kentucky Youth Write to Nursing Home Residents

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

The Youth from the Paris Ward (congregation) in Lexington Kentucky, met to participate in a Service Project to help #LightTheWorld. The prompt was to do something to spread Christmas cheer to residents in a local nursing home

Young Latter-day Saints gathered to write Christmas cards to every resident at the Bourbon Heights Nursing Home. The youth wrote cheerful messages and scripture verses inside the cards.

A total of 138 Christmas cards were written and delivered to the residents at the nursing home.

“I know the residents will appreciate this kind and loving gesture,” said Julie Harney, member of the Paris Ward. “As many of these residents may not get to see family or loved ones this Christmas due to the pandemic, we hope this makes their day just a bit brighter.”

Latter-day Saints in Kentucky Help Out the Salvation Army Angel Tree

Latter-day Saints and other friends of the faith in Louisville, Kentucky, spent several days serving at the local Salvation Army Angel Tree warehouse. They helped #LightTheWorld by making Christmas happen for nearly 10,000 children.

“We registered, sat at Angel Tree tables, shopped, bagged, shelved, helped load cars and had a great time helping make Christmas happen,” said a volunteer.

                                                                                                                                                            

In Coca, Florida, Brinley Baird of Viera 1st Ward (congregation) helped #LightTheWorld by serving others as she delivered gifts to Aging Matters in Brevard recipients. Aging Matters is the leading agency for senior services in Brevard County in Florida. The donations were made by United Way of Brevard.

The 2020 campaign wrapped up at the end of December, but people are encouraged to serve others in their community throughout the year. The public can find local service opportunities at JustServe.org.

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