The Church Historian's Press The Church Historian's Press

39

Relief Society Brings Happiness

An original recording of this discourse is available at churchhistorianspress.org (courtesy of Church History Library).







Mexico and Central America Area Conference

National Auditorium, Chapultepec Park, Mexico City

August 26, 1972


Lucrecia Suárez de Juárez (1896–1998) was stake Relief Society president when she gave the following talk during a Mexico and Central America area conference in 1972.1 The child of Lucía Mejía and Paulino Suárez, Suárez de Juárez was born to a life of wealth. Family servants helped her ride horseback to school each day, and she had private teachers for lessons in music, painting, and French. But the Zapatista army raided the household several times after the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, and the family moved to Mexico City in reduced circumstances.2 There Suárez de Juárez became a grade school teacher in 1918. She later met Aurelio Juárez at a dance; he was a professional musician who had fled to Mexico City after escaping Pancho Villa’s army. The two married in 1924. When Aurelio died in 1947, two of their five children were under the age of seven. Suárez de Juárez would later help raise her grandson, Miguel Angel Romero.3

Suárez de Juárez joined the church in 1956, taught and baptized by missionary Rex E. Lee.4 Beginning in 1961, she was the first director of Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, a church-run primary school on the east side of Mexico City, and she eventually became the Mexico City East Stake Relief Society president.5

By the time of the area conference in 1972 at which Suárez de Juárez delivered this address, Mexican women had been part of the Relief Society for nearly seventy years.6 The church in Mexico continued to grow despite the political instability, war, and legislation that often limited the religious activities of non-Mexican church leaders and missionaries between 1913 and 1934.7 Church membership grew rapidly after 1946: one mission had been divided into four by 1960, the first stake was organized in 1961, and a second stake was formed in 1967.8

Nearly seventeen thousand church members attended the first area conference in Mexico, many of whom traveled long distances and made great sacrifices to be there. Two-thirds of the members who attended struggled to obtain travel money. Members from Guatemala fasted and prayed so their employers would give them the requisite time off. In Tijuana, Mexico, members chartered a bus for the forty-eight-hour drive. After all seats were spoken for, ten members who earned enough money only at the last minute asked to join. Passengers took turns standing in the aisles to accommodate the latecomers. One woman from that area spent five months earning money by going door to door offering to wash laundry. Members from the agricultural north and central regions of Mexico sold tacos or tamales, washed cars, gardened, and sold their possessions to raise the necessary 200 pesos (roughly 16 U.S. dollars) for bus fare. Once they arrived, many people were out of money. They slept on hardwood gymnasium floors and fasted during the three-day conference. In some communities, members pooled their money and chose which of them might benefit most from attendance.9

This conference was the largest gathering of Spanish-speaking Saints to that time and the first time the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast a performance from a non-English-speaking nation (on their 125th anniversary).10 Over three thousand women gathered at the National Auditorium for the Saturday evening women’s session, where Suárez de Juárez gave the following talk in Spanish on happiness, motherhood, and the collective power of Relief Society.11

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.

Means to Happiness

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

Role of a Mother

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.”

Taught about God

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.

Relief Society Brings Happiness

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.

Footnotes

  1. [1]By 1971 the church had begun to hold area conferences to give members outside of the United States the chance to meet with and learn from general church leaders. This area conference was held in Mexico a year later, August 25–27, 1972. Area conferences were a response to the expansion of church membership around the globe. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and N. Eldon Tanner, “First Presidency Issues Statement on Conference,” Church News, Feb. 27, 1971; N. Eldon Tanner, in Official Report of the One Hundred Forty-Sixth Semi-annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct. 1–3, 1976 [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1977], 119–121.)

  2. [2]For more on the Mexican Revolution, see Héctor Aguilar Camín and Lorenzo Meyer, In the Shadow of the Mexican Revolution: Contemporary Mexican History, 1910–1989, trans. Luis Alberto Fierro (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1993).

  3. [3]Romero was born in 1974. (Miguel A. Romero, emails to Kate Holbrook, Aug. 14, Sept. 2, 2015.)

  4. [4]Rex E. Lee reportedly was speaking of Suárez de Juárez when in a later speech he described teaching “a widow and her daughters.” After his mission to Mexico, Lee was the founding dean of Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School in 1971, served as the thirty-seventh United States solicitor general from 1981 to 1985, and served as the tenth president of Brigham Young University from 1989 to 1995. (Rex E. Lee, “By Study and Also by Faith,” in Educating Zion, ed. John W. Welch and Don E. Norton [Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 1996], 137–139; Romero, email to Holbrook, Aug. 14, 2015.)

  5. [5]“Historia de la Escuela ‘Moctezuma Xocoyotzin,’” Mexico, Distrito Federal, 1961–1972, 1, CHL; Paul Swenson, “Thousands Come to Share Peace,” Deseret News, Oct. 4, 1968.

  6. [6]Ammon M. Tenney, Journal, no. 3, Feb. 22, 1903, 66, CHL; Mexican Mission, Historical Record, Mar. 4–15, 1903, CHL. The first Relief Society meeting in Mexico occurred on February 22, 1903. For more information on the establishment of the Relief Society in Mexico, see Jared M. Tamez, “‘Our Faithful Sisters’: Mormon Worship and the Establishment of the Relief Society in the Mexican Mission, 1901–1903,” in Just South of Zion: The Mormons in Mexico and Its Borderlands, ed. Jason H. Dormady and Jared M. Tamez (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2015), 73–88.

  7. [7]F. LaMond Tullis, Mormons in Mexico: The Dynamics of Faith and Culture (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1987), 101–104, 110–112, 119–121.

  8. [8]In 1975, apostle Howard W. Hunter established eleven new stakes in the Mexico City area. (Boanerges Rubalcava, “Mexico and Central America, the Church in,” in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 5 vols. [New York: Macmillan, 1992], 2:900.)

  9. [9]Jay M. Todd, “The Remarkable Mexico City Area Conference,” Ensign 2, no. 11 (Nov. 1972): 89–90.

  10. [10]Todd, “The Remarkable Mexico City Area Conference,” 93.

  11. [11]Todd, “The Remarkable Mexico City Area Conference,” 95.

  12. [12]In 1972, stake Relief Societies existed in North, Central, and South America, as well as Great Britain, western Europe, Asia, the South Pacific, and Africa. (Relief Society Annual General Conference Program, 1972, 21, in Relief Society Annual Conference Proceedings, 1945–1975, CHL.)

  13. [13]In the 1970s, the Relief Society produced a manual in Spanish, as they did in English, which included visiting teaching messages and homemaking lessons. Relief Society instructions for homemaking meetings in 1972 explain, “The homemaking meeting provides an opportunity for meeting the homemaking needs of the sisters through diversified activities and should be adapted to local conditions and cultures.” (Manual de Lecciones de la Sociedad de Socorro, 1971, CHL; 1971–72 Relief Society Courses of Study [Salt Lake City: Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1971]; Handbook of Instructions of the Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: General Board of Relief Society, 1972], 64–65.)

  14. [14]Citation in original: “David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals (Salt Lake City: An Improvement Era Publication, 1953), p. 449.”

  15. [15]Visitors at the women’s session included church president Harold B. Lee and Freda Joan Lee; Lee’s first counselor, N. Eldon Tanner, and Sara Isabelle Merrill Tanner; Amelia Smith McConkie and Helen Kearnes Richards (wives of visiting authorities); Relief Society general board member Leanor J. Brown; Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association general board member Sharon Lee Staples; and Primary general board member Fulvia Call Dixon. (“Women’s Session Saturday Evening,” Official Report of the First Mexico and Central America Area General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973], 79–80, 85, 87.)