Young Women: 'New Beginnings' in a new year
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Each member of the Young Women general presidency shares her thoughts on new beginnings in 2013.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Woman general president
A new year marks a new beginning — and in the Young Women we celebrate New Beginnings. Each year, parents and young women gather to learn how the Young Women lessons and activities can assist parents in helping their precious daughters become all that the Lord intended them to become. This gathering, "New Beginnings," can include an orientation to Personal Progress, activity plans for the coming year and, especially this year, the new resource "Come Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth." This information is presented by the Laurel class and other leaders and advisers. Young women who will turn 12 in the coming year and all young women ages 12 to 18 are invited along with their parents. The new Mutual theme, "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved" (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8) is introduced to both parents and young women using some of the resources in the "Strength of Youth" media. This wonderful resource helps support the youth in living the standards and learning how other youth around the world are incorporating the scriptural Mutual theme into their lives. These resources can also be used in lessons, family home evenings, activities and youth conferences. They coordinate with the doctrines being taught on Sunday and add a rich media element to the Teaching and Learning Resources for young women.
The recent announcements by President Thomas S. Monson and the First Presidency about youth curriculum, missionary service and temple and family history work are a call for all young women to hasten the Lord's work.
This year, as we focus on these priorities, we encourage young women to stand in holy places and be not moved.
1. Look to the temple and family history work.
2. Share the gospel with others.
3. Parents and leaders, help young women become converted as you use the online Teaching and Learning resources for youth; help them learn by the Spirit and be actively engaged in living the doctrines.
In the October 2011 general conference, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve issued the following invitation to the youth of the Church: "I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead" (see Doctrine and Covenants 124:28–36; "The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn," Ensign? November 2011, p. 26). The accompanying blessings are the answer to every prayer of every parent, priesthood leader and leader of young women: "As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives" (ibid).
The purpose of the Young Women program has not changed. It is to assist parents and priesthood leaders to prepare each young woman to be worthy to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple. With these priorities in our hearts and minds, we embark on another new year — a new beginning — determined to stand in holy places and be not moved.
As a presidency, we are excited about this brand-new year and pray that each of us will feel the blessings of these rich promises.
Sister Mary N. Cook, Young Women first counselor
"New Beginnings" is not only a time for young women and parents to be introduced to the Young Women experience, but can also be an ideal time to learn about the history of our organization. Now on the Young Women website under "Leader Resources" you will find the "History of the Young Women Organization," complete with an engaging video entitled "A Bright Light for Generations."
In this video President Henry B. Eyring addresses our young women as "the bright hope of the Lord's Church" ("A Living Testimony," Ensign, May 2011, p. 125). We learn of Brigham Young's concern of "the influence of the world coming down upon his own daughters and drawing them away from the Lord's pathway to happiness" and President Young's call for young women to cultivate modesty and set an example before the world worthy of imitation. As young women hear and read the testimonies of young women who have gone before them, they will be inspired to gain a "living testimony" that will fortify their lives for their future and help them to become "transmitters of the Light of Christ … across the world and across generations" (ibid).
Also in the history section of the Young Women site, fun facts can be found. Young women have always been involved in a recognition program to help them learn and progress. Young women may want to do some comparing of the Personal Progress of today with those of former days. Here are just a few of the requirements of 1915:
Care successfully for a hive of bees for one season and know their habits.
During two weeks keep the house free from flies, or destroy at least 25 flies daily.
Clear sagebrush off of one-half acre of land.
Inspiring stories from young women who have gone before are a tender part of this site. To heed President Brigham Young's prophetic counsel to gain a living testimony, many young women wrote and preserved their testimonies as a witness to the world. You can read about Elvira Stevens, an orphaned girl whose parents died in Nauvoo, just prior to the trek to Zion. To help connect our young women with these sweet stories, learning prompts are available such as: "Why is it important to write my story and to share my testimony?"
"New Beginnings" is an ideal place to acquaint young women with the origins of our organization, but the site could also be used as part of a Mutual activity, at camp or even in Sunday lessons. We encourage you to take some time to become acquainted with this rich resource.
Sister Ann M. Dibb, Young Women second counselor
The beginning of a new year is an excellent time to make personal goals or resolutions. It is also a perfect time to renew our enthusiasm for Personal Progress. Why not choose to use Personal Progress as a means of improving, forming new habits and even igniting renewed interest in Personal Progress with others.
Sister Elaine S. Dalton continually reminds us, as Young Women leaders, we have the opportunity and blessing to lead out! Leaders who continually work on their Personal Progress discover an added enthusiasm which permeates every part of their service in the Young Women program. Leaders have happily reported to me, "When I work on my Personal Progress and share my goals and experiences, it becomes infectious. Soon the young women begin to happily share their goals and their progress, as well. They are an inspiration to me. It is a joy to strengthen each other."
I would encourage you to begin by simply opening your book or reviewing the Personal Progress content online. Give yourself credit for the remarkable things you are already doing as a leader, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, community participant and as a virtuous daughter of God. Now is the time! Let this be the year to review and accomplish some of the more than 80 plus suggestions found in this inspired booklet.
Work on your Personal Progress the way you would any hopeful goal or resolution:
Make a plan. Strive to have a plan which is realistic and doable.
Start small. Remember that "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass" (Alma 37:6).
Determine a timeline. A specific amount of time is frequently mentioned in Personal Progress. In Good Works, Value Experience 5 we read, "Develop a pattern of service in your life by choosing a family member you can help. Serve that person for at least a month." Make a chart, use a calendar or notes to assist and remind you of your timeline and goal.
Share your commitment and ask for support. Write it down. Consider sharing your goal with a young woman and ask if she'll help provide encouragement and eventually initial your booklet. Working together is fun. Relationships may be strengthened through Personal Progress.
Be mindful of setbacks. Strive to develop persistence.
Report and celebrate progress and achievement.
This year, I've chosen to personalize the quotation by President Ezra Taft Benson found on page 75 of our Personal Progress booklet: "Give me a Young Woman leader who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who prays, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me a Young Woman leader who faithfully attends her church meetings, who studies the gospel and prophetic word, who has earned her Young Womanhood Recognition Award and wears it with pride! Give me a Young Woman leader who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than honoring her baptismal and temple covenants, and I will give you a Young Woman leader who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity." (See also "To the Young Women of the Church," Ensign, November 1986, p. 84).
May this be our personal goal and resolve for the year 2013.