During Sister Elaine L. Jack’s service as general president of the Relief Society from 1990-1997, the Church’s women’s organization launched a gospel literacy effort, an initiative that sought to help sisters learn how to read.
Recognizing that neither she nor the Relief Society would be able to solve every problem that women faced, Sister Jack placed emphasis on teaching women how to read in order to access their greatest source of strength — the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“The ability to read is more than just an earthly skill. It’s important to our eternal progression as well,” Sister Jack said. “If we’re going to bring souls to Christ, they must be able to understand the basic commandments and gospel principles that are in God’s word—the scriptures.”
Today, we look back at one of Sister Jack’s talks. On Jan. 5, 1997, during her final year as Relief Society General President, Sister Jack spoke to BYU students about the virtue of patience in her address, “All This Way for That?”
The title of Sister Jack’s speech originated from the words of pioneer Ruth May Fox, a young teenage convert who immigrated to America in 1867 and crossed the plains with the Mormon pioneers. Twenty years after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, Fox recalled her first impressions of their new home, “Our last pull was through Parley’s [Canyon] and up to the top of the hill. This was accomplished at twilight and here we got our first glimpse of the little city of Salt Lake. I have to admit some disappointment as I exclaimed: ‘Oh, have we come all this way for that?’”
“She expected so much,” Sister Jack said of Ruth May Fox. “After all, this was Zion. Perhaps after a significant effort or contribution you have made, you, too, have felt like you’ve walked more than 1,300 miles, climbed mountains, slept out of doors, and ‘come all this way for that.’ This is when patience plays a central role. ...Ruth hadn’t come for the valley; she had come to Christ.”
Sister Jack proceeded to offer three suggestions for embracing patience:
1. Recognize that patience plays a vital role in making Saints.
2. Know that trials and adversity teach and train us. Recognize them for what they are and how they make us strong and effective.
3. The scriptures inspire us to be patient. In particular, they remind us to be patient with each other.
Toward the end of her talk, Sister Jack quoted Hebrews 12:1 which reads, “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
“‘Run with patience’ suggests determined movement. Each one of us can cross the finish line. This year focus your attention on strengthening the quality of patience. It is a characteristic prized by the Lord, for he is infinitely patient with each one of us,” she said.
With every challenge, whether learning to read, crossing the plains, or simply getting through personal doubts and searching for answers, the Lord is with us, waiting patiently for us to seek his help.
Making a simple suggestion for how to seek the help of the Lord, Sister Jacks said, "The scriptures bring us comfort and prompt patience of hope. Next time everything is unraveling around you, sit down and read the scriptures."
Read the entire talk here.