Wednesday, September 17, 2008

standards night

Last night we had our YW standards night, and it was wonderful.

Elder Oaks's wife came and spoke to us about being daughters of a King.

She told us of a trip they had made to Africa, where the poverty is so pervasive that the young women don't have money for transportation, and sometimes don't even have paper and pencils, so they have to be very creative with their personal progress projects. One young woman that she met decided to express her thanks to every single person who did anything to help her for a period of one month. She thanked her parents for cooking meals, cleaning clothes, holding family home evening, and every other thing they did for her. She thanked her bus drivers. She thanked her teachers. She thanked the deacons who passed the sacrament and those who gave talks in sacrament meeting.

It changed her whole life.

She found she was a different person at the end of that month, because she was so much more aware of all of the people who blessed her life, and she was so filled with gratitude. You can't ask for a more worthwhile project than that!

Sister Oaks spoke of the challenges of being single for 53 years, marrying an Apostle of the Lord, and being a stepmother. She said that she is much more careful of the influences she allows into her home now that she is Sister Oaks, but that we can and should all be as mindful of allowing the Spirit to dwell with us.

She read a letter that she received from a newly-returned missionary. He expressed his gratitude to his mission president's wife and daughter for their modesty and their example. He had gone on a date with two other couples, and when his date showed up, she was dressed immodestly. He was embarrassed and uncomfortable the whole night. He thought, "so that's what kind of girl she is." Later, one of his friend's dates confessed that, when she saw his date, she thought, "so that's what kind of guy he is."

Sister Oaks talked about the influence that our young women can have, either positively or negatively, even in the clothing choices they make. She urged the young women to think about the kind of guys they wanted to attract and to dress accordingly.

I was reminded of the time I realized, I think I was about 16, the power I had over boys. The power all young women have over boys. It was a heady feeling, for sure. I was not as careful with that power as I could have been. It's something I want to remember to talk to my Laurels about.

She related a story about Elder Oaks. Apparently, when his daughter Jenny was younger, she would walk in the door after school and start dropping her backpack, her shoes, her books, even her slip along her path. Whenever he would come home, he would be frustrated to see all that she left in her wake, and would express his frustration to her. One day, he was reading in the scriptures:

Doctrine & Covenants, Section 1
25 And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known;
26 And inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed;
27 And inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent;
28 And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.

He felt impressed to let it go, to not be quick to chasten her when she made an error, but instead to focus on the positive things about her and about their relationship, so that when she sinned, she would talk to him about it. What parental wisdom.

Our bishop spoke for just a few minutes. He related an experience when he had gone to the Ford Motor Company for some training. The man who had recruited him from BYU was one of the head honchos at Ford, and he thought he would call up to his office from the lobby, just to see if he had a few minutes to chat. The man invited him up to his office and talked for some time. While they were talking, he got a phone call from the CEO. He explained that he was talking with Mark H., but that he would come when they were finished.

Well, the bishop was just floored that this important businessman would put off an even more important meeting just to talk to him.

As he was preparing what to present to the young women last night, he realized he had prepared much more than he could share in just a few minutes, so he offered a prayer that he might know what would be most valuable to our YW. His eyes filled with tears as he told us he had been impressed to tell them, "The Lord will take your call. As daughters of a King, you have access to Him at any time, in any place. He will always listen to you -- and answer as well."

I love our bishop. He is a humble man. And when he talks, you cannot help but listen. It is obvious that he is led by the Spirit.

At this point, Elder Oaks surprised everyone by entering the room. The bishop deferred to him to say a few words, but he politely declined, saying he couldn't add anything further.

After the talks, the young women and leaders sang Daughter of a King by Jenny Phillips. We had only had a chance to practice it twice, but we still had 3 parts represented and it was beautiful. As I looked out and saw all the teary mothers in the room, I was really touched. That always gets me, seeing the mothers being so proud of their daughters. I feel like a voyeur seeing such tenderness.

At this point, a sweet young woman offered the closing prayer, pleading for us all to remember the things we had been taught. The YW president presented a book and a certificate to each young woman, telling each one what just one of their many divine qualities was.

Elder Oaks shook hands with each one of us.

It was just a wonderful night, and I felt I would be remiss if I didn't record it here to look back on and remember.


Alisa said...

Sounds like a beautiful evening. This is exactly what I pray for my daughter to experience. (she is 11)

emily said...

That night sounds wonderful. I'm so grateful to be a member of this church where we get to have those times that fill us up and encourage us to keep going and be better. That's so cool that you had Sister Oaks, too!

I also love hearing about your activities and what you do for and with your girls. They are so lucky to have you as a leader!

Kelly said...

Wow! What an amazing night for your YW (and you!) to get to experience. I'm so glad you shared it here.

Our YW sang "Daughter of a King" in sacrament meeting sometime this past year. The leaders were asked to be up there singing with them. So we did, but, none of us could sing through our tears.

I miss being in YW! No calling yet, but I'm secretly hoping to go back to YW.

Neighbor Jane Payne said...

What a beautiful post, Michelle. You walked on sacred ground last night and I appreciate you carefully telling us about it.

patsy said...

oh wow- what a beautiful post! thank you for sharing- I really needed a great spiritual thought tonight, especially about parenting.

tension is running just a little high with all the help the kids are needing to do- and needing to learn. Maybe I wasn't teaching them as good as I thought, maybe it's just rough being down.

Either way - thank you for the sweet message tonight!

Barb said...

Wow! What would it be like to live in Utah and have a GA drop in on a ward YW event! I really think knowing you are a daughter of God is the key for YW.

Jill said...

Wow, what an amazing experience! It seems like being in Young Women's this time around has already been super rewarding.

I got chills when I read the part about your Bishop saying, "The Lord will take your call." What a wonderful thing for the girls to hear and to learn.

Liz said...

Michelle, I read this post the other night, but didn't have time to comment. What a wonderful night for all involved! I especially loved the personal examples from Elder Oakes' wife and fmaily. I could take some of those examples to heart! Thanks for posting this!

charlotte said...

That just sounds amazing! I can't believe Elder Oaks just stopped by--that's SO cool! I loved standards nights when I was in YW. That's so great that you can help other girls get a better grasp on who they are--what a remarkable opportunity.

Denise said...

Wow. That's just about all I think to add. You're really making me want to move to Mu-tah!

Shawna B. said...

This is so beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to write this. It was something I really needed to read today. It sounds like the perfect evening. You are very fortunate to work in the YW program. I bet those girls adore you.

Amanda L. said...

Spectacular night. Thank you for sharing it!

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