Sister Julie B. Beck: Have faith, follow Lord's plan
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SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF.
Visiting the San Francisco Bay Area Oct. 8-9, Sister Julie B. Beck touched and enriched the lives of the thousands who came to hear her speak in venues filled to capacity across the region.
Her compacted two-day schedule included talks in Vacaville, Oakland, Hayward, San Jose, Fremont and Monterey, Calif.
Sister Beck, Relief Society general president, shared a message of hope and encouragement.
In response to her invitation to women to share their questions and concerns, they asked how they could be better mothers, peacemakers, spouses, teachers of scripture and the gospel. Some asked how to fit into the Church when they hadn't had the opportunity to marry or to have children. Others queried about how to balance many roles, and how to help restore virtue to their communities.
Sister Beck said that the answers to these questions need not come from her. It was her hope that the answers would be found in each ward's Relief Society. Sisters need to ask these questions of one another and together find the solutions they are seeking, she counseled.
She also suggested that sisters turn to the Spirit, as the Spirit is what teaches truth. Quoting from Doctrine and Covenants Section 11, she encouraged women to "trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good." Sister Beck spoke of how the Spirit will enlighten individuals and said they can't just rely on their own intelligence, but by paying attention to the signals they are getting they will be surprised at how much they will learn.
Women were also encouraged to look to the scriptures for answers. Sister Beck described how, many years before, she had been discouraged when she failed to follow suggested reading plans requiring the studying of a certain number of verses or chapters each day. She recommended that a woman's plan be to "everyday spend some time in the scriptures." One need not just read scriptures but can listen to them, as well.
Knowledge of the scriptures will accumulate over time.
Sister Beck suggested that women not only find answers in their scriptures, but they should also turn to the recently published book, Daughters in my Kingdom: the History and Work of Relief Society. She said the scriptures give sisters faith, and the new Relief Society history will strengthen their hope.
Citing stories and excerpts from Daughters in My Kingdom, Sister Beck spoke of the three-fold purpose of Relief Society: to increase faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes and seek out and help those in need.
In order to increase their faith and personal righteousness, women need to focus on the covenants they made with Jesus Christ, both at baptism and in the temple, she said. If sisters do not have a current recommend, they "should not walk, but run to their bishop" to find out how they can qualify to receive one. In the temple, Latter-day Saints receive the knowledge of how they can be more like God.
"The temple will enable you to be strong in today's world. Get to the temple often," she said.
Sister Beck spoke of how families and homes must be strengthened. If someone does not have her own family at this time, it is her privilege to strengthen and protect others around her, she said. Families in the Church need every help possible.
Women with righteous priesthood holders in their homes who fulfills their responsibilities should thank the Lord every day for their husbands without murmuring words, she declared, adding that women need to comfort and strengthen their husbands and create a home environment conducive to the Spirit. She assured those women who do not have a priesthood holder in their homes that the Lord would open a way for them to have those same blessings in their lives.
Sister Beck, citing excerpts from Daughters in My Kingdom, spoke about the significance of the "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," which was first presented at a Relief Society general meeting to the sisters of the Church, rather than at general conference. Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, she told the sisters that they are "the guardians of the hearth."
They are to nurture the sons and daughters of God and cannot negotiate out of that responsibility. She said they must not run faster than they are able, that women must prioritize their lives and focus on the things that will save them and their families.
In fulfilling the Relief Society purpose of seeking out and helping those in need, Sister Beck spoke of the discipleship women have in Relief Society. Visiting teaching is an important ministry she declared and said women should not be focusing on just completing visits or reaching percentages, but on watching over and strengthening one another.
Sister Beck shared an experience she and her husband, Ramon P. Beck, had of stopping by the home of a family where the mother had recently given birth to her third child, and the husband had broken his leg the day before in a work-related accident. As they came to the door of the house they knocked, but no one answered. They could hear the new baby crying loudly and let themselves in. In the kitchen they found two unsupervised toddlers gleefully throwing cereal into the air and onto the floor, making a huge mess.
As Brother Beck swept the cereal up off the floor, Sister Beck followed a weak cry for help coming from the recently injured husband and found him lying on a sofa trying to comfort the screaming infant. The baby just needed to be held. They wondered where the mother was. They searched a little further and found the mother in the living room with her two visiting teachers, who sat on a sofa reading that month's visiting teaching message out loud.
They were apparently oblivious to the true needs of that mother. Sister Beck noted that visiting teaching is so much more than just reading the lesson to someone so visiting teachers can say they have completed their duty, but it is a system of watch care, being an instrument in the Lord's hands. The Church Handbook teaches that sisters are to report service they have given and the well being of the sisters they watch over, said Sister Beck.
At the conclusion of the meeting at the Oakland California Temple Interstake Center, Sister Tiffany Nearon, Relief Society president of the Danville California Stake commented, "I love how Sister Beck taught us that we can find the answers to our problems and worries in life by listening to the Holy Ghost, studying the scriptures and relying on our fellow Relief Society sisters. Sister Beck made me realize how my fellow Relief Society sisters can be another source of practical and spiritual guidance in my life."
On Sunday morning, Sister Beck spoke to young adults at a sacrament meeting in the Fremont California Stake center; that meeting was the culmination of the three-day LDS education conference in the Silicon Valley..
Sister Beck encouraged the single adults to follow the doctrine of the Lord regarding forming eternal families. She and her husband shared together how after they got married they quickly found that they did not have the same taste in music, literature, movies or sports. Despite their lack in common interests, what they shared was a love of the Savior. The blessings from serving in the Church, the community and their family, brought them closer together.
She spoke of the great responsibility young adults have to the generation which is yet unborn. Sister Beck noted that it takes great faith to form an eternal family because there is so much opposition from the world, but through sacred covenants, and with the Lord in the center of a marriage, it will work.
Sister Beck acknowledged that it was not easy, that there might be some present who had unmet time lines, expectations and desires. She encouraged the young adults to go to the temple often and participate in all of the ordinances. In particular, they should listen to the words of the sealing ordinance and ponder what they mean.
She also recommended that they turn to the Savior and the Atonement. "The Lord asks us to increase our faith and wait upon the Lord. It takes great faith to follow the Lord's plan for us and do it His way."
Quoting from Matthew 9:29, Sister Beck spoke of how the Savior queried of blind men before He healed them, "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" When they responded affirmatively, He told them, "According to your faith, be it unto you." She entreated the young adults to do the same and exercise their faith.
In less than a 48-hour period Sister Beck traveled several hundred miles throughout the greater Bay Area.
She spent close to a quarter of that time speaking.