Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sisters in Zion

Relief Society has been a significant part of my adult life. I have served in leadership callings and taught classes on Sunday. I have helped plan activities and attended a variety of events designed to fulfill the mission of this great organization. I can not express in words the depth of my love for this organization and the woman who participate in it.

This month, we commemorate the 168th anniversary of the creation of this wonderful society. It is a program I am so honored to be a part of. I could not possibly tell you all the reason. But I would like to share one experience that embodies what Relief Society means to me.

During the years we lived in Germany I attended  several stake meetings for sisters, including auxiliary training and a yearly sisters conference. I had come to love and appreciate the love and devotion expressed by the Stake leaders who planned and executed these meetings. I looked forward to each one as a chance to "fill my lamp with oil". Never was I disappointed by the spirit I felt there.

One cold winter day, I drove myself to the annual sisters conference. I knew this would be the last one I would attend in that stake. We would be moving to Belgium in a few short weeks. I had a late start and arrived just before the meeting started. The other women from my ward were sitting near the front and there didn't seem to be any seats with them. As I looked around for an empty seat, a German sister I didn't know motioned for me to sit by her. I quickly sat down before the opening prayer.

I debated whether or not to move after the prayer but decided to stay. The room seemed full and I didn't want to be rude to the women around me. As the meeting progressed, I found these unknown sisters to be extremely welcoming to me. They passed me an English hymnal, even though I was fine singing in German. At one point they passed along a little container of candy, each taking one and passing it down. At first I just passed it on but the woman next to me motioned for me to take one and gave me an encouraging smile. I realized that they all knew each other and that I was sitting right in the middle of them.

Near the end of the meeting was a special musical number. Each ward had been sent the sheet music ahead of time and asked to learn the song so that we could sing it together. It was part of an arrangement of the hymn "As Sisters in Zion" known as the EFY Medley. We sang the verse in German and the next part in English. As I stood there, surrounded by women I didn't know, singing those beautiful and powerful words, I was overcome by the Spirit. I knew that even though we did not know each other or speak the same language we were indeed Sisters in Zion and Daughters of God. Those wonderful strangers had already proven this to me by their simple acts of acceptance and love.

Not every moment in the church is that powerful. Sometimes the differences between us can distract us from those pure and simple truths of who we are and what our purpose is. That doesn't make them less true. In those moments, I know that Zion is real.

I am so grateful to my loving Heavenly Father who has given me such precious moments of clarity and perspective. During the times when life clouds my vision, I only need to think of moments like this to know who I am and where I want to be.

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