I usually blog the Women’s session, but this past Saturday I was in the mountains of Pennsylvania. I was so sad when it turned out I wouldn’t be able to watch, and by the time I got to good cell coverage, the session was no longer available…
Here’s a summary of the awesome talks, which are now available on LDS.org:
I Will Bring the Light of the Gospel into My Home
Jean B. Bingham, First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency
Sister Bingham’s talk was about charity and how the light of the gospel shines through. But rather than focusing on how doing good deeds attracts others to the gospel, Sister Bingham spoke more about how our willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt can bless all of us. Key excerpts were:
“Whether we are 8 or 108, we can bring the light of the gospel into our own environment, be it a high-rise apartment in Manhattan, a stilt house in Malaysia, or a yurt in Mongolia. We can determine to look for the good in others and in the circumstances around us.”
“Yes, we can bring the light of the gospel into our homes, schools, and workplaces if we look for and share positive things about others and let the less-than-perfect fade away.”
The Master Healer
Carole M. Stephens, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency
Sister Stephens talked about the power of our Lord to comfort us, no matter what trouble or sin or abuse we may be experiencing. Key excerpts were:
Suffering because of our own actions: “When we come to [Jesus] with humble and teachable hearts—even if our hearts are heavy with mistakes, sins, and transgressions—He can change us, ‘for he is mighty to save.'”
Suffering because of others’ actions: “If you find yourself [suffering because of the wrongs of others], sisters, healing may be a long process. It will require that you prayerfully seek guidance and appropriate help, including counseling with properly ordained priesthood holders. As you learn to communicate openly, set appropriate boundaries and perhaps seek professional counseling. Maintaining spiritual health throughout the process is vital! Remember your divine identity: you are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Parents. Trust your Father’s eternal plan for you. Continue daily to increase your understanding of the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Exercise faith each day to drink deeply from the Savior’s well of living water. Rely on the endowment of power made available to each of us through ordinances and covenants. And allow the healing power of the Savior and His Atonement into your life.”
Suffering life’s challenges: As one woman suffered an episode associated with debilitating illness, her “mom whispered over and over and over again, ‘I would do anything to take this from you.’
The woman related, “Meanwhile, the darkness intensified, and when I was convinced I could take no more, just then something marvelous occurred.
“A transcendent and wonderful power suddenly overtook my body. Then, with a ‘strength beyond my own,’14 I declared to my mom with great conviction seven life-changing words in response to her repeated desire to bear my pain. I said, ‘You don’t have to; Someone already has.’”
Sister Stephens ended by testifying that we need not bear our griefs alone.
Rise Up in Strength, Sisters in Zion
Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President
Sister Oscarson called for the women of the Church to rise up as champions of God and His gospel. She said:
“Those of the covenant include the girls, young women, and sisters of the Church who have been baptized and made covenants with their Heavenly Father. Even we are at risk of being deceived by false teachings.”
“First, we need to acknowledge the centrality of God our Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, to our faith and salvation. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. We need to study and understand His Atonement and how to apply it daily; repentance is one of the greatest blessings each of us has to stay on course. We need to see Jesus Christ as our primary role model and the example of who we need to become. We need to continually teach our families and classes about our Father’s great plan of salvation, which includes the doctrine of Christ.
“Second, we need to understand the need for the restoration of the doctrine, organization, and keys of authority in these latter days. We need to have a witness that the Prophet Joseph Smith was divinely chosen and appointed by the Lord to bring about this restoration and recognize that he organized the women of the Church after the organization that existed in Christ’s Church anciently.
“And third, we need to study and understand temple ordinances and covenants. The temple holds a place at the very center of our most sacred beliefs, and the Lord asks that we attend, ponder, study, and find personal meaning and application individually. We will come to understand that through the ordinances of the temple, the power of godliness is manifest in our lives and that because of temple ordinances, we can be armed with God’s power, and His name will be upon us, His glory round about us, and His angels have charge over us.”
“Certainly, sisters, we need to use sensitivity, but let us also use our common sense and our understanding of the plan of salvation to be bold and straightforward when it comes to teaching our children and youth the essential gospel principles they must understand to navigate the world in which they live. If we don’t teach our children and youth true doctrine—and teach it clearly—the world will teach them Satan’s lies.”
Fourth Floor, Last Door
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
President Uchtdorf spoke of faith: what it is, what it can do, and what it can’t do.
First, on the nature of faith, President Uchtdorf spoke of the fact that faith is believing in something others cannot perceive. He spoke of a girl whose grandmother couldn’t hear the beautiful bird song the girl heard:
“Just because we can’t hear something doesn’t mean there is nothing to hear. Two people can listen to the same message or read the same scripture, and one might feel the witness of the Spirit while the other doesn’t.”
Citing Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince, President Uchtdorf reminded us: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
President Uchtdorf next spoke of the limits of faith. We cannot force the free choice of others. To those whose prayers on behalf of someone else seem unanswered, he reminded us that “as painful as it might be for our Father in Heaven, He will not force anyone to choose the path of righteousness.” Similarly, “We cannot force God to comply with our desires—no matter how right we think we are or how sincerely we pray.”
Speaking of the power of Faith, President Uchtdorf said, “the purpose of faith is not to change God’s will but to empower us to act on God’s will. Faith is trust—trust that God sees what we cannot and that He knows what we do not.”
President Uchtdorf spoke of the trust he had to have as a pilot in the many others who knew things he could not know.
Then he spoke of two missionaries who had a feeling they should try to share the gospel with people in a four story apartment building. No one on the first floor wanted to hear the message. No one of the second floor wanted to hear the message. No one on the third floor wanted to hear their message. No door on the fourth floor was open to their message until a girl opened the last door on the topmost floor.
Even then the girl’s widowed mother initially refused to hear the gospel message. But the girl pled with her mother, who grudgingly accepted a Book of Mormon.
The widow and her daughters agreed to come to Church. When they entered, a young Deacon met them. The Deacon was named Dieter. The girl who had pled with her mother to listen to the missionaries was named Harriet. We have heard other tellings of this story of how President Uchtdorf met Harriet and the many years before he convinced her to become his wife, but this version was particularly tender, as we saw how easily those missionaries might have failed to find Harriet and her family.