SALT LAKE CITY — Young women dressed in bright spring colors filled the choir seats of the Conference Center as leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed a filled-to-capacity crowd — as well as Church members worldwide via satelitte — during the annual General Young Women Meeting Saturday night.
The entire First Presidency — President Thomas S. Monson, President Henry B. Eying and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf — attended the event where and President Uchtdorf and the Young Women general presidency spoke.
During his remarks, President Uchtdorf encouraged young women to find their way on their journey home back to their Heavenly Father. He shared a story of a journey that he, as a young boy, took with his family as they fled from East Germany to West Germany. Although every member of his family had taken a very different route and experienced different hardships along the way, they all made it to safety.
"I can now look back on my life and recognize a number of such 'journeys' I have taken over time," he said. "Not all of them involved crossing mountain ranges or political boundaries; some had more to do with overcoming trials or growing in spirituality. But they were all journeys. I believe that every life is a collection of individual 'journey stories.' "
Young women will find their way on their journey home and be an inspiration to others as they follow the map — the sacred scriptures, the words of the prophets and apostles and through personal revelation from the Holy Ghost — given by a loving Heavenly Father, he said.
"This map is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news, and the joyful way of a disciple of Christ," he said. "It is the commandments and example given to us by our Advocate and Mentor, who knows the way because He is the way."
President Uchtdorf shared three messages that will help individuals have a successful journey home. He told young women to not fear, for the Lord is with them, to love one another as Christ has loved everyone and to be of good cheer.
"There will always be things to complain about — things that don't seem to go quite right," he said. "You can spend your days feeling sad, alone, misunderstood or unwanted. But that isn't the journey you had hoped for, and it's not the journey Heavenly Father sent you to take. Remember, you are truly a daughter of God."
In opening remarks as she conducted the meeting, Dalton recognized the presence of Sister Florence Smith Jacobsen, who served as Young Women general president from 1961 to 1972. She noted that Jacobsen will observe her 100th birthday in the coming week.
"We honor and thank you for your virtuous example," Dalton said.
Drawing from the 2013 Mutual Theme found in Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved," Sister Elaine S. Dalton, Young Women general president, encouraged young women to "Be not moved."
"I can think of no more important counsel from a loving Heavenly Father than His admonition for each of you to 'stand ... in holy places and be not moved.' "
Young women today are standing on the edge of many important decisions and making choices daily, some of them difficult, that will shape not only their future, but the destiny of generations, Dalton said.
But despite the winds of opposition, adversity, peer pressure and moral pollution, young women are standing immovable and living the gospel in the face of society's raging storms.
"In these latter days, there are no small decisions," she said. "The choices you are making right now are of critical importance. Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God's greatest gifts to his children. It is part of the plan of happiness you and I chose and defended in our pre-mortal existence. Live your lives in such a way that you can listen to and hear the Holy Ghost and he will help you make correct decisions. He will 'tell you all things what ye should do.' "
A young women's virtuous life will bless their ancestors, their families now and generations yet to come, said Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency. Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, she stated, "When you save a girl, you save generations."
Righteous choices will qualify young women to make and keep sacred covenants that will bind their family together eternally, she said.
"Decide now to do all you can to fill your lamps, that your strong testimony and example may be woven into the lives of many generations, past, present and future. I testify that your virtuous life will not only save generations, but it will save your eternal life, for it is the only way to return to our Heavenly Father, and find true joy now and throughout eternity."
Sister Ann M. Dibb, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency told young women that they can create and stand in "holy places" even in the hardest times.
She Dibb said that while a holy place can be a physical environment or a geographical location — like a temple, church building or a home — but it can also be "a distinct condition, position or state of mind."
"This means holy places can also include moments in time," said Dibb, "moments when the Holy Ghost testifies to us, moments when we feel Heavenly Father's love, or moments when we receive an answer to our prayers. Even more, I believe any time you have the courage to stand for what is right … you are creating a holy place."
It is through finding, creating and visiting those "holy places" that young women are able to experience an incredible strengthening power.
"These places are providing you with protection, strength, and peace in unsettling times. Your testimonies are becoming stronger because you are standing for truth and righteousness in glorious ways."