Dear Sisters, what a beautiful and meaningful time this is for us, to think that in many areas of the world—in foreign lands, in towns, cities, and rural regions—there are sisters who are caring for their homes and families and dedicating themselves to the significant programs of the Relief Society.12
Welcome all of you, my sisters, and may our hearts be as one in love and humility before the Lord. There are no oceans, mountains, deserts, or land barriers that can separate the sisters of the Relief Society, because all of them are equal in faith and devotion, equal in their desires to follow the teachings of the gospel and be exemplary women before the world. The program and the spirit of Relief Society opens the door to an extensive field in which the most noble attributes of womanhood are cultivated, and these bring us happiness. Earning happiness and contributing to the happiness of others should be the most important goal in our lives.
The sisters who are able to develop these qualities should manifest them, first in their homes and then to their fellow men in general. Happiness comes to us by various means; if we give comfort to the ill and the needy, to the afflicted, to the dying, to the orphans and widows, our hearts are happy. When the Lord blesses us with a calling, we are frightened because we know we are incompetent; but if we put forth our will and efforts to fulfill it, then we are happy and we can say that blessed is the calling which made us go beyond our ability. We have many experiences in the work of the Relief Society, some satisfactory and others not. If an experience was a success, we are happy, and if we fail, we must be courageous and continue on with greater charity and love. Love towards our sisters must be proven with deeds in order to bring us happiness. Charity is a love so great that it makes us willing to give part of ourselves. We have the example of the visiting teachers who impart their messages of faith and comfort, and they are made happy. Useful and beautiful handiwork for our homes contributes to the happiness of our loved ones.13 The sons that are raised in praise to God unite the sisters in spiritual communion, and this makes us feel joy.
Could one lone woman combat against the negative influences which harm our children? No, sisters, but we are gathered together as an army of righteous and determined women who can do something.
As sisters of the Relief Society and daughters of our Heavenly Father we must seek wisdom, peace, good fruits, and humility. What greater joy is there than to see our family living clean and righteously. On one occasion President McKay said that a woman must be intelligent and pure because she is the fountain of life, “the living fountain from which flows the stream of humanity.”14
Let us now look at a woman in her role as a mother. The experience which I am going to relate shows us the preparation which Relief Society can give to a mother in order to train her children.
This young mother set her foot on the road of life. “Is the road long?” she asked. Her guide answered, “Yes, and the road is difficult, and you will be old before you get to the end, but the end will be better than the beginning.” The mother was happy; she played with her children, gathered flowers for them by the side of the road, and bathed them in pure streams; the sun shone upon them and life was good. The young mother exclaimed, “Nothing could be better than this.” Then night fell and the tempests came; the road was dark, and the children trembled from fear and cold. The mother went to them and covered them with her mantle, and the children said, “Mother, we are not afraid, because you are with us, and we know that no harm can come upon us.” The mother said, “This is better than the light of day, because I have taught my children courage, and I am happy.”
Dawn came and in front of them there was a hill; the children climbed and became tired, but she kept saying to them, “Be patient and in a little while we will reach the top.” When the children arrived, they said, “We would never have made it here without you, Mother”; and while the mother rested happily that night, looking at the starry skies, she said, “This day has been better than yesterday, because my children have learned to have strength in the face of difficulties. Yesterday I gave them courage, and today strength.” The next day there came strange clouds which darkened the earth—clouds of war, hate, and wickedness—and the children groped and stumbled, and the mother said, “Look up; raise your eyes to the light.” The children raised their eyes, and saw above the clouds an everlasting glory which guided them and carried them beyond the darkness. That night the mother said, “I am happier than the other days, because I have taught my children about God.”
The days passed, and the months and years, and the mother became old. She was small and frail, but her children were tall and strong, and she walked with courage. When the road was difficult and rough, they carried her because she was small and light. At last they came to a hill, and up over the hill they could see a brilliant road and a golden door which was open. The happy mother said, “I have come to the end of my journey, and now I know that the end is better than the beginning, because now my children can walk alone.” And the children answered, “You will always be with us, Mother, even when you have gone through that door.” They waited and saw her continue on alone, and the doors were closed behind her. Then the children, looking steadily into infinity, said, “We cannot see her, but she is with us yet.”
And so it is, dear sisters. Our mother is not a sweet memory, it is as if she were with us. The happiness of mothers is found in the righteousness of their children, which is reached with the guidance of the Relief Society, the strong arm of the priesthood, and the courage of these mothers, as well as their faith in God.
The thought that I have tried to leave with you is this: The Relief Society brings happiness into our lives, if we seek it diligently.
Our hearts tonight are filled with gratitude to our Heavenly Father for having blessed us with the presence of his chosen servants, whom we love deeply, because we know the word of God is with them.15 My testimony is that God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ live, and that the soul of man can communicate with them through the Holy Ghost. My prayer tonight is that the coming work year in Relief Society will bring to each of us the strength to fulfill our duties, joy in serving, and success in accordance with our righteous efforts.
These humble thoughts I leave with you in the blessed name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.