Time Out for Women

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Devotional Address given at
Brigham Young University–Hawaii

August 12, 2005
President Eric B. Shumway
President of Brigham Young University–Hawaii

Aloha, dear sisters, and a few brethren. It is with immense pleasure that we greet you all during BYU-Hawaii's anniversary Jubilee at the first devotional of this special conference about and for women. It is in the attitude of celebration and thanksgiving that I deliver my message today.

The Eric and Carolyn Shumway family completed this summer a ten day reunion with our seven children, their spouses, and twenty grandchildren from age 3 months to 18 years—all under one roof. The games, the excited interaction of the grandchildren, the singing and the dancing—oh the dancing: jitterbug, swing, river dancing, break dancing, three-year-olds to ten-year-olds fired up to show off their stuff in solo performances as well as dancing together. All of these things reminded us in a dramatic way of what happens when the elements of the biblical "joyful noise," stream of consciousness conversations, and perpetual motion come together in spontaneous combustion. Fervent little voices singing Oh how lovely was the morning and Joseph saw the living God. Tiny children lisping the words of scripture in our morning devotionals; the immeasurable expressions of gratitude like "thanks Grandpa for having this reunion," squeals of laughter in the race to catch toads in the yard or crabs on the beach or being tumbled in the waves. The awestruck expressions as we pulled in our fishing nets laden with fish. And the endless rounds of Cheesies and Dorito chips and ice cream. One full week of absolute joy with no anxieties whatever except when our grandsons showed how they could out lift, out-work, out-play, and out-wrestle their grandpa. Truly, our cup runneth over.

One somber moment, however, came when Emily, our youngest daughter told of her frequent conversations with her colleagues in Panama about families. She and her husband Jonny, both returned missionaries, are serving as Peace Corps volunteers in a very rural village called Quipo. They are having great success and from a father's wholesomely biased judgment, they are model volunteers. But some of their colleagues and other professionals in the Peace Corps are amazed, if not a bit offended, that Emily intends to be a full-time mother and raise a family. "What, and throw your life away?" exclaimed one girl. "But you have so much to offer. You could go so far."

Emily is not one to shrink from debate or defending the institution of the family and her choice to be a mother in Zion, but her lament to me was: "Daddy, these are America's elite, the educated people with humanitarian instincts, but they, like so many people today think of families as a brainless, dead-end in life. To many of them, stay-at-home mothers are looked upon with pity, if not contempt. If we in the Church don't love and defend and sustain the art of families, who will?"

Good question! At the outset of my address today I want to reaffirm what in the Church we already know about families, even though not all of us may belong to complete families. Some are single parents, some have not married yet, and others are widows. But we all belong to families in some important relationship and must struggle to make them as complete and as protected as possible. As Sheri Dew reminded us in a classic conference talk a few years ago, we are all mothers. Even fathers should be good at mothering. All of God's children on earth need mothering.

In the context of families and marriages we have a sense, even a vision, of the makeup of the cosmos and the reality of Heaven. For heaven's system is a family system. And families are ordained of God as an extension of heaven's system on earth. The idea of family is not a human or mortal invention, not a social construct emerging out of some human necessity merely. It is a gift of God. We were all born into God's family as spirit children, and as we learn in D & C 76, "the inhabitants [of the world] are the begotten sons and daughters of God."

As we ponder the vastness, the magnitude and majesty of the universe, its unfathomable manifestations of space, galaxies, energy, light, distance and its infinite variety, how would you define the glory of God? The combined expressions of all the word artists there ever were, poets, philosophers, scientists, theologians could not fully describe the physical glory of God. Yet Heavenly Father himself has described his "glory" in one of the most stupendous revelations of the Restoration and of all time (Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price) in which He defines His work and glory, not in galactic or astronomical terms, but rather in the context of family and his children, for "this is my work and my glory to bring to past the immortality and the eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39)

Thus His work is His children. His glory is His children. We are His glory. The souls of each one is precious to Him for He says, "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; for behold the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto Him . . . and how great is his joy in the soul of that repenteth." (D & C 18:10, 11, 13) The role of the Atonement is to save individuals and families. How do we glorify God? By blessing and serving His children.

Our family too, whatever type it may be, is "our work and our glory" and is part of God's work and glory. It is our contribution to nurture each other, our spouses and our children. And as we do this, we become part of the greater work and glory of our Heavenly parents in the universe.

This is the purpose of life. This connects us to our Heavenly Father's universal purposes.

Having said this about families I should like now to "take time out" to celebrate today several women in my life and acquaintance who have been to me sources of strength and testimony beyond my power to say thank you. These are women of ordinary status in the world, but who have manifested extraordinary, even celestial qualities in the midst of this earthly probation. I beg your forgiveness because of the personal nature of some of these vignettes. Perhaps they can serve as examples, as parables if you will, with a wider, more general application.

My dear mother-in-law, Regina Weaver Merrill, who was on my side from the time I first began to date her daughter, was a meek, tender soul with a rich alto voice. Her favorite hymn was " Have I done any good in the world today," I think because it matched her character so well.

Before she married, she sang professionally with her cousins. They called themselves the Melody Weavers. Her life was full of service and kindness. Her death by cancer included one of the most sacred moments in our family history. I have shared this before elsewhere.

Regina had been in a coma for three days. A tiny pulse indicated her life's ebb was nearly complete. I took my turn sitting with her in her room, her frail body taut with pain. What do you do in such moments but pray and thank Heavenly Father for this wonderful human being.

I had to return with our children to Hawaii, leaving Carolyn in Salt Lake City to care for her mother with her two sisters. When Carolyn called to report Regina's passing, she told me of her remarkable experience the day before she died. Regina was still in a coma when Carolyn had a great desire to pay one last tribute to her mother. Singing to her seemed to be the most appropriate way. She sang several hymns, concluding with I Know That My Redeemer Lives. As she was singing this sacred hymn she heard an amazing sound. At first she thought it was a groan. But then she realized it was singing. It was her mother, singing a perfect alto part. Surrounded by unseen angels, they continued through the verse, a mother-daughter duet, singing the inspired words of testimony. In one verse, Regina even raised her feeble arm and gently beat time. He lives, my kind wise Heavenly friend/ He lives and loves me to the end. /He lives and while he lives I'll sing, / He lives my Prophet Priest and King. / He lives and grants me daily breath, / He lives and I shall conquer death. / He lives my mansions to prepare, / He lives to bring me safely there.

When the hymn was concluded, Regina whispered her last words in mortality, "You are on your own now, my dear."

The miracle of that experience was that Heavenly Father would give Regina strength and allow her to become coherent one last time, not for final advice or instructions about "things" or a funeral program, but to sing her love and to leave the precious legacy of her testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

Regina's love and testimony of Jesus Christ is reminiscent of that of a remarkable Tongan Relief society sister, Vaikato TÄ‚¤vutu, I learned about in Tonga. In 1958, withered and frail, Vaikato was over 100 years old when the building missionaries arrived in her island of 'Uiha to build the chapel. Vaikato was eager to assist. Brother LaVell Manwaring, foreman of the 'Uiha, project gives this account of Vaikato:

"She was on the work site the next morning helping to fill the barrels with water with which to mix the mortar; she was also carrying the coral bricks to the builders. I spoke to her through an interpreter and told her not to carry the water. The buckets were too heavy for her and the men could do it. I also asked her to please only carry one brick at a time, as they were about the size of our cinder blocks. However, as soon as I was out of sight, she started carrying two bricks at a time again. One of the Tongan builders came to me and asked for some gloves for Vaikato because her hands were bleeding from the rough blocks. I got down from the scaffold and went to the lady, admonishing her again through the interpreter to only carry one brick at a time. I took off my gloves and gave them to her."

"The tears started running down Vaikato's cheeks, and I thought I had wounded her feelings. Then I noticed the tears rolling down the interpreter's face. He told me, "The little lady says that the Savior's hands had bled for her and that she was not ashamed to have her hands bleed for the Savior's work."

"I saw Vaikato raise her hands in prayer many times to thank Heavenly Father for letting her live to see the chapel being built. Tears of gratitude ran down her face. I have never known anyone who could put the working spirit into a group of young men like Vaikato. She was the first one on the job in the morning, getting things ready for work. When it got hot during the day and the labor missionaries started to slow down, she would call out to them in Tongan, and they would take new heart."

"The day the builders left the island, Vaikato waded out in the ocean as far as she could to tell us goodbye and to thank us for coming to her island to build such a beautiful building. I could see her waving a white handkerchief for a long ways as went out to sea."

I also honor daily in my mind my own dear mother, Merle Kartchner Shumway. I grew up in a home where it was clear that Mom dearly adored Dad and Dad worshiped Mom. I am grateful to her for teaching me the facts of life early, to understand and respect my manhood and to reverence womanhood. She drilled into me that virtue and chastity were as important in a man as in a woman. Mom was a preacher and I got a sermon every night when I got home from a date. She would be waiting for me, the whole house being dark except for the little bedroom lamp in the master bedroom that I could see from the road. I would always go in and sit on the side of the bed and she would ask me about the activity, how it went and always how I behaved.

Mom's love for young people was the force behind her testimony. She taught music and English in the public schools and the Gospel to teenagers on Sunday. My youngest brother, Nick, told his friends that they had no idea what it was like to have Isaiah for a mother. But her desire to bless young people with the three G's—the Gospel, good grammar, and good music—propelled her to heights of service that affected the lives of thousands of children and now their posterities. She used to say you don't try to build self-esteem in youth by just telling them how worthwhile they are. You teach them how to do something worthwhile and the message will sink in indelibly.

I am profoundly touched by our daughters and our daughters-in-law who are now in deep passage with their own little families, teetering on the edge of exhaustion amid anxiety on the one hand and jubilation on the other. Heather called not too long ago with this story that validated their persistence in having daily scripture reading and how it is sinking in with their children who are still small.

It had been a grueling day for Heather in the heat of Las Vegas. She was pregnant with their fourth child. Her husband, Morgan, was under excessive pressure, working full-time as a special education teacher and in his final few days of completing a graduate degree. That afternoon Heather had backed their van into a parked police car in an otherwise empty parking lot. As she sat at the kitchen table sobbing to her husband that she had just ruined the back of the van and created another debt, she noticed fat little two-year old Jefferson waddle over to the bookshelf, pick up a Book of Mormon, then waddle over to his mother, place the book in her lap and look up at her sweetly. He knew somehow where the soul can turn for peace and comfort and she was comforted.

In this maelstrom of a demanding family, our daughter-in-law Kathy has perfected the art of instant personal grooming. I heard our oldest grandson say to his mother, "Thanks, Mom, for always looking nice." I was touched by the compliment given by this 12-year-old who is the oldest child in the family where the mother just delivered her sixth baby. Six children, a very busy husband, with all of the hectic activities of practicing the piano or violin, basketball, soccer, ballet, football, martial arts and homework. Thinking about the compliment, I realized that the first thing Kathy does in the morning before she ever leaves the room, is to wash her face, apply a touch of makeup, and comb her hair. She may stay in her pajamas for two or three hours in the morning when there is so much going on, but her countenance is always fresh and beautiful. What a difference it makes to both husband and the children. I ask about her "gorgeous appearance." She said, "Frankly, it's a forced habit, but I have perfected the art of putting on my face in two-and-a-half minutes. It has paid tremendous dividends, not simply in terms of my children and my husband, but in terms of how I feel about myself. It is the best two-and-a-half-minute investment I make all day."

Living and serving in these islands for over 40 years has brought Carolyn and me into close association with some of the most noble and most generous daughters of God on the planet, many of whom are our own BYU-Hawaii students and alumni. Let me tell you about Nikki Mozo, an alumna of BYU-Hawaii. Last February, at 34 years of age, she was made a widow by a sea accident that took her beloved husband's life. Though bereft and alone with four small children, Nikki showed amazing courage and composure at her husband's funeral. She preached a powerful sermon on the atonement then gave this account which was both comforting and encouraging. Shortly after the drowning of her husband she was on her knees pleading with the Lord for strength and wisdom. In her broken-hearted outpouring, she turned her address to her husband: "Dearest, without you how can I do this? How can I raise four children without you?"

At that moment she heard her husband whisper to her, as if he were kneeling beside her. "You know how . . . the Gospel has shown you how . . . You have everything you need." It was a voice through the veil affirming her value. It was a declaration of faith in her, her strength, in the teachings of the Gospel, in the Church of Jesus Christ, and in the network of Saints and friends who would support the grieving widow and children. Nikki told me that several weeks later in the Celestial room, thinking about her departed husband she whispered "Why couldn't you be here." Again she heard him answer, "I am here."

The faith, courage, and generosity of three other Polynesian widows have left us richer in our own efforts to be faithful and generous, even in affliction.

I remember our visit to Kime Kinikini at the Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City. He was in the last throes of cancer and was suffering terribly. Our appearance in the room was a surprise. Kime's wife, Fale'aka, leaped from her chair, embraced us and led us to the bedside of her dying husband. It was profoundly moving to see this radiant and loving man in such visible distress. Kime was too sick to even smile, but was able to make a sign that he wanted a blessing which I was honored to give.

We reminisced about our association over the years and about Kime's father and mother, TĂŤvita Muli and Le'o. As an older man, Muli had been my missionary companion for several months in Tonga in 1961. After saying our last goodbyes, we left the room knowing we would not see Kime again in this life. Fale'aka followed us all the way out to the car, weeping and expressing gratitude for our visit. As we were about to get into the car, she pressed into my hand what I thought was a piece of paper. "If you don't need this," she said, "I believe you know someone who does. Kime wants me to give it to you." She turned to go back into the hospital while I stared at a crisp one-hundred-dollar bill in my hand. Suffering his death-agony, when all things of this life seem to be blurred into insignificance, Kime and Fale'aka still wanted to give his friends a token of their undying friendship.

How could we take this money from a poor woman about to become a widow? The more burning question was how could we not receive with humble gratitude this emblem of consecrated friendship. In this case we felt it was better to receive. To resist or make a fuss over the gift would have violated the purity of the consecration. We knew the gift was not about money, but about friendship. It was not for us, but for someone we knew who like Fale'aka, might be in distress.

Generosity and sacrifice are closely related in Polynesia. For example, obeying the law of tithing in the Church and its attendant blessings are seen as a natural condition of living as a Church member and as a Polynesian. This is especially true in South Polynesia. Recently one of our BYU-Hawai'i graduates, Mele Ha'unga Hansen told a wonderful story that illustrates this concept.

When Mele was three years old, her mother and father were students at BYU–Hawai'i, living in married student housing. One day in a pick-up rugby game on the front field, her father, Semisi Ha'unga, was severely injured. Paralyzed and suffering from a broken neck, Semisi languished for several weeks and died, leaving his wife 'Ahoika and four small children. The sadness was almost too much to bear, but 'Ahoika remained faithful and optimistic. Eventually she had to return home to Tonga with her children. She worked for the LDS Church Schools, which paid her a modest salary. A widow and single parent with several children, 'Ahoika eeked out a living. Mele, her youngest daughter gave the following account:

I remember one day in Tonga, Mom called a family council and told us children that we had just enough money from that particular pay check to pay tithing and the monthly bills, but there was no money for food. I remember complaining to Mom: "Why can't we use the tithing money for food. Heavenly Father has plenty of money. Your tithing is so small compared to what he has. Does God want us to starve to pay tithing money He doesn't need?"

But Mom was adamant. "It's His money," she said. "He may not need it but we need to pay it. It is our need, not God's to pay tithing."

Mele spoke of the prayers of her widow mother and the anxiety of the children, when suddenly appeared at their home their father's brother, not a member of the Church. He was laden with foodstuffs from his garden plot, yams, sweet potatoes, green bananas, and a roasted pig. There was corned beef, bread. The sight of all this food made a deep impression, but it was their uncle's story that moved them most. He said, "I was working in my plantation today. At noon I lay down to rest under a tree. I slept and saw your father walking toward me. When I saw him I knew instantly why he had come to me. You were hungry and without food."

Thus the widow's faith was vindicated in front of her children. 'Ahoika, still a widow, represents the millions of devoted Latter-day Saints over the world whose faith and trust in paying their tithing make sacrifice joyful. Her generous, believing nature is part of her cultural as well as her spiritual heritage.

How well I remember another widow, Sister Elikapeka Ke'ahi of our Hau'ula 2nd Ward back in 1968. In her late 70's, this sweet Hawaiian sister was alive with laughter and goodness. Earlier in her life her first husband had contracted Hansen's disease and was banished to the leper colony at Kalaupapa, Moloka'i. For fourteen years she cared for him there. When he died in 1928, she married Kaulahao Ke'ahi, a blind leper who introduced her to the Gospel and later died. Now twice a widow, Sister Ke'ahi lived with her daughter, Annie Kauhane and husband, Sam, who took care of her. Though frail and poor, Sister Ke'ahi was rich in personality and testimony. She taught our Hawaiian Language Sunday School class.

One Sunday morning our stake president notified me about our ward's stake building fund assessment, which was needed as soon as possible. The amount seemed excessive and as a bishopric we pondered as to how we would meet the assignment. Prayerfully, we decided to invite certain key members of the ward whom we knew had means to a special meeting in which we asked them to assist us in meeting this stake assessment.

The Sunday after the meeting, I met sister Ke'ahi in the hallway at the chapel. She said she must talk to me immediately. I brought her to my office where she unleashed what I called at that time a "royal Hawaiian scolding." She said, "Because I am poor does not mean I cannot give something. Don't rob me of the blessings of sacrifice. What if I am old and poor? Doesn't the Lord need my help as much as anyone else's?"

I sincerely apologized and asked how much she would want to participate. "I'll give a hundred dollars. I can save it in six months."

I suspected that Sister Ke'ahi had no income of her own, but I thanked her sincerely. Exactly six months later she took me by the hand and led me to my office where she took from her little purse five new twenty-dollar bills. As she gave me the money, she said again with a twinkle in her eye: "Bishop, I hope you learned your lesson. Don't ever rob members of the opportunity to make a sacrifice for spiritual blessings."

Thus, like the widow of Zarephath who sustained the prophet Elijah (I Kings 17:9-16), Ahoika and Sister Ke'ahi were witnesses to Heavenly Father's blessings upon the generous and the obedient. Theirs was a conscious generosity of soul supported by an unwavering faith, despite the tribulations in their life. Poverty did not narrow their vision or constrict their feelings. Rather it made their gifts more precious, even more holy, and free from the contamination of greed, fear, or publicity.

God honors faithful women who in courage and optimism carry on and on and on. In that faithfulness there is an irresistible, intrinsic power among them that shines forth and nourishes all souls around them. They become, in spite of their heartache and sorrow, both repositories and powerful conduits of divine love.

The following sisters are just a few of those who make up the gallery of women who carry on with light and love and without murmuring or apology for their circumstances. Most of these are without husbands, some are single parents or grandparents. They have all overcome what could be serious challenges by carrying on, pressing forward in faith as first rate professionals, teachers, mentors, tender supportive sisters in the gospel, touching the lives and happiness of thousands. Neither the community nor the University could be what they are without them. Their lives are inspirational, their contributions incalculable. There are many more, but these are representative. Their pictures appeared on screen:

Norma Te'o
Londa Chase
Pam Palmer
Joanne Lowe
Napua Baker
Kim Austin
Mary Peters
Jan Awa
Merrilee Webb
Susan Barton
Beth Haynes
Vernice Wineera
Rochelle Uperesa
Gael Weberg
Lynne Hansen
Barbara Velasco
Amanda Peeni

These are the conduits of divine love. These are the ones whose children and students and extended families will rise up and call them blessed.

Again, there are many more such noble women than this gallery reveals including many of our students. One of the joys of this place is to see young students whom Heavenly Father has touched and brought here, who will also touch the world and improve it.

A few years ago, we admitted our first students from Cambodia to BYU-Hawaii. Cambodia as you may know is still emerging out of the trauma of civil war and communist rule that massacred nearly 2 million people in the "killing fields" of that tiny South East Asian country. Now under a new constitution that allows freedom of religion, the Church is making progress. One of those students was Theany Reath whose partial story I have told elsewhere. As a tiny girl Theany witnessed the horror of mass murders. Her mind was filled with terror. Many years later when peace finally came to the country and the Church was allowed to send missionaries, Theany encountered them with a mixture of curiosity, happiness, and anxiety. Their message of love and peace had great appeal to her, but her Buddhist friends and family warned her that she would be assigned to the deepest part of hell if she joined the Church. Worse, she would be reincarnated into the most loathsome creature on earth.

The missionaries persisted and Theany was sure there was something missing in her Buddhist faith. It finally boiled down to her making a critical step, which she dreaded most: to actually address God, her Heavenly Father. Raised to believe in many gods and demons, she hesitated for a long time. She described for me and Carolyn that perilous moment when by herself she knelt down, wanting, needing an answer. She did not know what to say. All she could utter was, "Are you the God of all the gods?" Nothing in her previous experience had prepared her for what happened. The flood of warmth and love and the physical sensation of joy were immediate and powerful. She described them later as a "tree of life" experience. Unmistakenly, like Joseph Smith, she had received a divine communication that changed her life. Her spirit soared and her soul grew and developed in the Church of Jesus Christ. She served a mission and just this past June graduated from BYU Hawaii. On campus she was highly respected. Serving as a Relief Society President, she touched the lives of young women from around the world. Her testimony helped bolster and encourage others to be baptized, including her Muslim roommate, Nina Mu from China. Theany's love for her people and the Lord prompted her to return to her country in spite of the temptations and the offers to seek her fortune and comfort elsewhere.

[Video Clip of Theany]

After graduating from BYU-Hawaii in June, Theany returned home to Cambodia. Just a few days ago by email we received photos of her new LDS husband, just the beginning of the rewards for her faithfulness.

I would now like to pay a tribute to Carolyn who has been so much the friend, sweetheart, companion, and colleague in the priority enterprise of our lives: our family. So often her voice is that of the Holy Spirit. The sustaining influence of her love carries over when I am present or when I am gone. It is one of life's most beautiful constants.

Of her innumerable contributions to our marriage and our children, I will mention only one, her unalterable insistence that we have daily family prayer, morning and night, daily scripture study, and weekly family home evenings. In these things she has been fixed in her purpose, sweet as Mother Mary and determined as General Patton. It was easy for me as father to lead out with this kind of tenacious support. Like many couples we struggled during the hectic years but persisted.

With all the intrusions and distraction from the world, how do you get control, how do you carve out for the family, time for devotional, prayer and scripture study? You do it by "declaring holy war," declaring your life's priorities and by the exercise of will and covenant. You simply impose your own agency, you act so you are not acted upon. This may be your most difficult battle in life, but if you can win it, there will be a thousand rewards measured out in the quality of your family life and that of your children.

The following is the format that for us has been successful through thick and thin. A large part of its success was our getting to bed at a decent hour and all arising early at a set time, "retire to thy bed early . . . arise early that your bodies in your minds may be invigorated." (D & C 88: 124) It won't work with late night activity, some coveted "projects" may have to be sacrificed. The children recognized that this early morning time was non-negotiable. They didn't but some needed assistance waking up so early. The most effective way was my turning on the record player to "In the Mood" or some swing music and dancing jitterbug with them in their bedroom. Emily was never completely awake until I put her on a bicycle in her pajamas. No doubt they came to our morning devotional in different conditions of "awakeness." But they came and participated.

Each child had his or her own set of scriptures and hymn book. With each devotional there was a leader, called the "captain", who conducted in everything, chose the hymn, offered the family prayer, and directed who should read what in the scriptures, closing with his/her testimony. Even the three-year-olds loved to be captain.

What I learned quickly, and oh husbands remember this, was that if I saw to it that our family devotionals happened regularly, among all the other blessings to the family, Carolyn was grateful absolutely. She couldn't do enough or say enough to show her gratitude for me. I felt worshipped. I was exalted to hero's status. But most of all the power of God's voice from the scripture enriched and protected our home and helped shape our children for good far beyond what Carolyn and I could do by ourselves.

I have called these women represented here conduits of love—mother's love, divine love, matched by faith and courage.  That love in the world is proof of the divine love of our Father in Heaven, despite the culture of hate and war that pervades so many parts of the earth, as described well in one of Carol Lynn Pearson's early poems, entitled "The Vow".

The Vow

How could I hide you
From hate?
I would,
Though my arms break
With the trying.
Life leans in
At the window there,
With its bag
Of dark treasures
Trying for your eyes
So utterly open,
So unaware,
You will see
Men smile over blood,
And you will know
There is hate.
You may see bombs
And butcheries,
And you will know
There is horror.

Against all this
What can I do?
Only vow
That before you
Leave my arms,
You will know
Past ever doubting
That there is
Love, too.

Dear Sisters, I sincerely pray that this conference will help fill you souls with an increase of confidence and courage to face the days ahead, that your reservoirs of love will swell and overflow for all of God's children, especially for those you have been given specific stewardship. I offer you again my witness that you and I belong to the greatest enterprise on this planet, the spreading of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the kingdom of God across the world. I also testify that your work and glory as women are essential, even integral to the order of the priesthood and the new and everlasting covenant of marriage and family. I testify of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to rescue, heal, and to save those who sincerely reach out to Him as He reaches out to us. I also testify of living prophets and living scriptures through which God speaks to us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.