Around the world, Mormon women and girls 8 and older are meeting to participate in the first session of Spring General Conference. These four missionaries enjoyed the pre-conference social at the Annandale Stake Center in Virginia.
Conducting: President Linda K. Burton
Choir: Family Choir from Holladay, Utah
Opening Hymn: Choir and Congregation singing How Firm a Foundation
Opening Prayer: Sister Tingey (84 today)
Video of Families sing The Family is of God
Talk: Sister Cheryl A Esplin, Counselor in the Primary Presidency
My heart filled with the spirit as I listened to those families sing that truth, that the family is of God.
The concept of being filled with light and truth came home to me at a meeting where they spoke of families. The leader showed two soda cans, one open and empty, the other one full and sealed. We likened that to our homes and families. When filled with the spirit and gospel truth, we are able to withstand the pressures of the world. Without that spirit, we can be overcome by the pressures of the world.
Satan does everything in his power to dilute and distort the truth of the gospel. It is our responsibility to live and preach the truths, the truth that God gave ups families to help us grow and learn.
Strong eternal families don’t just happen. They take work and time. Every home is different, but every home makes a difference.
God will speak to all those who seek him with a pure heart and real intent. God hears us and will answer our prayers in God’s way and God’s time. (quote from President Uchtdorf)
Sister Esplin’s ancestor, Elizabeth, worked at a way station. The visitors were rough-spoken. Prior to this, she had taken Joseph Smith’s testimony for granted. But the visitors she met talked as though Mormonism was bunk. Elizabeth was frightened and didn’t feel she could defend her belief.
Later Elizabeth moved and had time to reflect, to pray about her concerns. One night Elizabeth had a dream. It seemed she was standing by a narrow wagon road. Halfway up the hill she saw a man talking to another man reaching into a hole. Many people walked past the man and the boy at the side of the road. I was impressed that the man was the Angel Moroni and the boy Joseph, as Joseph received the plates.
Years later Elizabeth saw the scene from her dream. It was a stained glass depiction of the Angel Moroni as Joseph removed the plates.
Just before Elizabeth died, she had a dream where she was told “Do not bury your testimony in the ground.”
Like Elizabeth, we may hear conflicting stories. The answers to our prayers may not come dramatically, but when we receive God’s word, it is our responsibility to live it and share it.
If we do so, we will have the strength to withstand. Amen.
Talk: Carole M. Stephens, 1st Counselor in the Relief Society Presidency.
In the pre-mortal realm, we were beloved children of heavenly parents. We each belong to and are needed in the family of God.
Earthly families are all different. But membership in the family of God is not contingent on any status: marital status, social status, or even our status on social media.
God sent us to earth to live and learn in families, to ultimately be tested, tried, and stretched. If we choose, we can be raised up to be exalted in the kingdom of our Father.
While I have not experienced all trials, I have come to know my father. And as a mother, daughter, and friend, I have experienced the trials of death of a child, infertility, same gender attraction, and many other sorrows and disappointments.
As daughters of God and disciples of Jesus Christ, we may act on the promptings that cometo our hearts.
I was recently privileged to answer with Sister Yazi. She had so many pictures on the walls of her hogan. I asked how many grandchildren she had. She didn’t know what I meant. Her friend explained that they don’t try to keep count. Sister Yazi does not limit her love to her biological descendants, but is grandmother to the entire village.
Sacred ordinance available in holy temples make it possible for us to be united eternally to God our Father and to one another. As we use our time in mortality to learn and study God’s teachings, we learn that it is only through God and His son, Jesus Christ, that we can return to our heavenly home.
Heavenly Father has but two desires for His children. Immortality and Eternal Life, which is life in eternity with God, Our Father. Years ago the leaders of the Church issued the Proclamation on the Family. Since then attacks on the family have been many.
We invite you to minister to families, the Church, and our communities. We have a divine role and purpose in God’s family. The plan of God and Christ for us is perfect, I so testify. Amen.
Video of Sisters Sharing their Thoughts on what Family means to them.
There is no “my way or the hiway” but our way.
“I see my son perservering in attending Church, even though he and his wife had an exerberant 5-year-old who doesn’t want to listen.”
“I don’t have a chance to be with my parents, but have been raised by my grandmother.”
“I thought I would go to the temple when I married, but I ended up going by myself. I have two beautiful daughters, and I want them to in turn grow up to embrace these things.”
“We were not able to have children, but pray to bless others, whether it be children we adopt or the children in the neighborhood.”
“I have no family of my own, but in the Church is a big family for me.”
“Sometimes family can be irritating, but we should still love them.”
“God can only create perfect souls. Here on earth we are not perfect, but we can be refined.”
“The home is a basis for a righteous life. No other institution can take the place of the family. Truth will triumph over doubt.”
Choir: From Homes of Saints Glad Songs Arise
Talk: Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Woman General President
I recently read the story of Miss Marie Madeline Cardon, 1 who was a teenager when her family was baptized in Italy. An agry mob of men and ministers gathered around the home, demanding that the missionaries be brought out. Marie raised her Bible in her hand, and commanded them to depart, telling them the missionaries were under her protection. The ministers asked the mob to leave, humbled by the conviction of that teenage girl.
Few of us will ever have to face an angry mob. But our beliefs will be under attack, particularly our beliefs regarding the family.
When President Hinckley read the Proclamation on the Family, we rejoiced. But we had no idea how the family would come under attack, from scholars, the media, and even legislatures.
We are aware that not all women experience the ideal the Proclamation describes. But we are all part of God’s plan. God will honr His promise that nothing will be withheld from those who honor their covenants. IT is good to have alternate plans in place, so that we can continue to honor our covenants even if life does not turn out as we hoped.
Husbands and wives must be sealed together in the temple for their family to be raised up in God’s kingdom.
We want our daughters to aim high in life. We hope they will love learning. Yet we teach our sons and daughters that the most honored roles they will play is the role of mother and father.
Abby wanted to talk to the children at schoool on career day about her profession – being a mother. The school had not replied to Abby’s proposal. When she showed up anyway, the school scramble to have her talk to two classes. Her presentation of the many roles she had to fulfill to be a good mother was so successful that when Abby applied to talk the next year, she was assigned to present to six classes.
We need to defend the sanctity of the home. All of us can work at being home makers, whether we are women or men, married or single. Our homes can be places where God is honored and the gospel is studied and lived.
We have possibilities that no other generation of women has had. Let us be defenders of women and the home. Let us teach the upcoming generations God’s truth. Christ is our saviour and redeemer. Amen.
Choir:Medley: There is Beauty All Around When There’s Love at Home, Let Us All Speak Kind Words to Each Other
Talk: President Henry B. Eyring
This wonderufl program has made me appreciate my own family the more, and realizing that the reason for that love is the way that we hold our Savior in our hearts.
You have felt our Savior’s love. He loves those around you as He cares for you. He knows their sorrows and wishes to succor them. You can and must be part of giving comfort to those who need comfort.
Many are praying to Heavenly Father for relief, for help carrying their burdens of loneliness, fear, and grief. God and Christ have promised help:
“Come unto me, all you who are laden. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The burdens can be lightened by the atonement, such as the burdens of sin. But other burdens must also be lifted by those who share mortal life with the sufferors.
At baptism, you made a covenant which changed your very nature. Alma spoek of this covenant, “Behold here are the waters of Mormon. As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God and be His people, and bear the burdens… and be redeemed of God, and have eternal life.”
This is why you feel to ease the burdens of those you see suffering. It is the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When Christ was facing crucifixion, Christ promised his disciples, “I will pray the Father that He will give you another comforter… He dwelling with you. The comforter shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your rememberance. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
I have seen individuals pleading with the Lord that their burdens might be lightened. Recently three generations of a family were grieving at the death of a five year old boy. He died on a vacation. I was able to see how God blesses the faithful with peace. I was with them as God’s covenant servant mourned with them and comforted them who stood in need of comfort.
I met with the family before the funeral. They met with me in my living room, a small fire warming the cold room. I felt to tell them of the Lord’s love for them, that though I mourned, only the Lord knew perfectly their grief. Then they expressed their feelings. The Holy Ghost had already given them the peace that comes with a hope for eternal life, hope for that sweet boy who had died in innocence. That night I saw how the Lord works to relieve those who mourn, ass those in the Book of Mormon who were burdened in slavery. God promised that he would lighten their burdens, that they would not feel the load on their backs. That they would know how the Lord visits His people in their afflictions.
We lighten the loads of others best when we help the Lord strengthen them. This is why we must witness of God at all times and in all places. In that room as we mourned the death of the little boy, our faith increased, and the testimony of the Soirit grew and will continue to grow.
The witness of the spirit strengthened Job, as he mourned the loss of family, prosperity, and health. In the end of Job, he was again blessed with family and blessings.
It was the witness of Christ’s coming atonement that sustained Job in his trials. It is this hope in Christ that comforts us, no matter how hard the way home.
At the funeral of the little boy, I was stopped by a young woman who had come to the funeral to give comfort, but also to receive comfort as she remembered the death of her own son years earlier. The woman carried a young daughter. I asked the name, and she said “Joy, for joy always follows sorrow.”
I bear my witness that the Lord has asked us, His disciples, to bear one another’s burdens. Christ sends the comforter to those we are pledged to help in comfort.
The pin my mother wore as a member of the Relief Society board read “Charity Never Faileth.” I saw how that conviction urged her to reach out to those around her.
I extend my gratitude for all you do to help Christ and the Holy Ghost comfort those who struggle. I am so grateful for all the women who have helped me. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Choir: Our Savior’s Love
Closing Prayer: Sister Irene Avuto
- Marie Cardon was almost certainly a relative of my mission president, Elder Craig A. Cardon. ↩