As we celebrate the Relief Society Birthday today I am grateful to be as member of this world wide sisterhood. . Membership in this organization has greatly influenced my life. I am grateful for my Keating Ward Sisters and I look forward to attending Relief Society with them each week.
My mother served for years in the Relief Society presidency in the ward where I grew up. I could see how much she cherished her experiences in Relief Society. Mother’s birthday is onjust the day after the Relief Society Birthday. As a child I thought they were having a birthday party for her.
I became a member of Relief Society when I enrolled as a 17 year old at BYU. This helped fellowship me and not feel lost in a big university.
As a 20 year old missionary in Northern Mexico I helped organize the Relief Society as we opened up new areas to missionary work. I wrote a letter for Relief Society in our monthly mission newsletter. We didn’t have stakes yet in Mexico so the mission was responsible for all of the auxiliaries. I also translated for the wife of the mission president as we went to various conference meetings.
I felt the sisterhood of Relief Society as a newlywed in Chicago where I was far from home. The sisters of Relief Society gave me love and help when our first daughter was born and I didn’t have family around. In Pennsylvania Jay was called to be the branch president and I supported him by strengthening the Relief Society. They had lots of fruit in Pennsylvania. The Relief Society sisters helped me learn to can and I spent the year there doing lots of canning to help out my food storage.
We bought a dental practice in South Phoenix and moved to Tempe with three little girls under the age of four. We had just arrived in our new ward in Tempe when our second daughter became very ill and needed to be hospitalized. Again the Relief Society came to our rescue when the Relief Society sisters took care of our other little girls so that I could be in the hospital with my daughter and brought food into our home. Most of all they let me know that they cared about us and that we were loved. Another time we had a bad house fire and Jay was badly burned. A Relief Society Sister came daily to change the dressings on my husband’s burns.
One of my favorite callings in the Church is teaching the Relief Society lessons to the sisters in my ward. I have learned so much as I have studied the scriptures and prepared to teach.
I feel privileged to be given the responsibility of being a Relief Society visiting teacher for over fifty years and have made the visits assigned to me each month. One time we visited a sister assigned for three years each month without ever being allowed into her home. One month when we came we found her needing help from an abusive husband. Her first words as we knocked on her door were “I knew you would come”. I am happy that we were there to assist her.
We were assigned among other things in Indonesia to be shadow leaders for the little branch of Bogor. I helped the Relief Society president organize her visiting teachers and went out with her to show her how to visit teach. I learned from this sweet sister who had so much compassion for the members of her branch.
After our mission in Indonesia we served a mission in Nauvoo. I was privileged to be at the re-enactment of the founding of Relief Society in the red brick store for two different years. We all wore our pioneer dresses and I felt like one of those sisters that were present when the prophet Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society and said that the organization of the Church was not complete until the Relief Society was organized for the women of the church.
I remember that the women in Relief Society when it was organized said that they were going to do some extra ordinary things. I feel that they have as the sweet sisters in the various Relief Society organizations where I have lived have done extra ordinary things in the impact they have been on my life. I like the words of Lucy Mack Smith, “We must cherish one another, watch over one another, comfort one another and gain instruction that we may all sit down in heaven together.” The Relief Society organization is helping me in striving to do that.