If you are like me, conference is risky.  Sometimes it is hard to watch, and it is a big reminder of how we don’t belong.  It is all full of messages on how to be a good Mormon, and we don’t fit the bill in a lot of ways.  If you are like me, sometimes you feel like better off just not watching, if you’re trying to figure out to make your membership in the church work for you.  I’m writing this post to encourage you to partake of the first session of the Spring 2016 General Conference.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve complained, both out loud and in writing, that I wish the church would focus on pressing global issues.  Because of that, I just can’t pass by the opportunity to celebrate the great messages at the women’s session of conference Saturday night.  It was church just the way I like it.  The focus was on Christ-like love, charity, service, and (best of all) how desperately refugees around the world need our help.

To pique your interest, I’m going to share a little taste of each talk and video.  Hopefully, you’ll see what I saw, and watch the whole thing.  It is not that I didn’t have any complaints or any moments where I rolled my eyes.  It happened like it always does when they announce the concluding speaker is a man.  But on the whole, there was very little exasperated sighing and lot of warm, glowing feelings.

When We Were Strangers, Video Presentation

This video recounts the early Saints expulsion from Missouri.  It highlights the aid that the Saints received in Illinois and how many lives were saved by that kindness.  That story was juxtaposed with images like this one:

Refugee Camp

The message was loud and clear.  We were refugees once, and we can honor that history by helping refugees now.

Cheryl A. Esplin, First Counselor, Primary General Presidency

President Esplin’s message was of Christlike love and service. It was the perfect Easter message.  She encouraged us to seek an understanding of what the needs of others are and to do our part to meet them. She said, “He asked us to be His hands.”

Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor, Young Women General Presidency

There are two things I especially loved about President Marriott’s talk.  1. She quoted other women.  I always grumble when women’s conference is full of quotes from men. 2. She included Heavenly Mother either by naming her specifically (using the phrase Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother) or she said Heavenly Parents.  I love any time that Heavenly Mother is included because it is a reminder that women are included.  That I am included.

Otherwise, the content of her talk was about service and caring for others. She said, “Love is making space in your life for someone else.”

I was a Stranger: Love One Another, Video Presentation
This video began with a reminder that Christ has commanded us to love one another. It goes on to tell the story of a Mormon woman who reached out to refugees in her area and developed a beautiful friendship with a Muslim woman.  The best part?  There is no conversion effort.  They just love and support each other.

Two women, hugging

Linda K. Burton, Relief Society, General President

President Burton, as did the first video, invoked the pioneers.  She talked about the Willie Handcart Company and the Saints who came to the rescue.  She pointed us now to the people of the world—especially children—who desperately need our help. This was a pro-give-aid-to-refugees talk. It was a great message of service, but another I loved is that she referenced self-care by saying, “Yet we must remember that none of us should run faster than we have strength.”

Henry B. Eyring, First Presidency, First Counselor

President Eyring reminded us of the Lord’s commandments to care for the poor and the needy.  He also reminded us that if we don’t care for the poor and the needy, anything else we accomplish will feel pretty meaningless at the end of all things.  He is also focused using personal revelation as a tool, to allow God to help you find people in your life that need your service.

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Leah Marie earned a BA in Political Science, and a Masters in Public Administration. She is currently working towards her PhD in Public Policy. She is wife to an English professor, and mother to 3 beautiful boys.

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