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Provided by Time Out for Women
Four of the 1,500 attendees at the Time Out for Women even in Auckland, New Zealand, on July 30.

Pioneer Day in Utah was celebrated with parades, fireworks, and a marathon among other festivities.

That same weekend, thousands of miles away, more than 2,000 women gathered in Sydney, Australia, for the first Time Out for Women event on that continent.

"It was amazing," said Laurel Christensen, the Time Out for Women general manager, of the events. "They were excited."

This year's "Choose to Become" tour stopped in both Sydney on July 23 and Auckland, New Zealand, on July 30 — the first two Time Out for Women events outside the U.S. and Canada.

Time Out for Women is a Deseret Book-sponsored event designed to uplift and rejuvenate women with messages from authors, musicians and other presenters. The women also participate in a service project that benefits women locally.

The tour will head to 11 cities this fall from Anchorage, Alaska, on Sept. 9-10, to Richmond, Va., and Rochester, N.Y., on Oct. 21-22, to Salt Lake City on Nov. 18-19. Concurrent Time Out for Girls events, targeted at girls 12-18, will be in four cities this fall.

Christensen, Sheri L. Dew, president and CEO of Deseret Book, authors Virginia H. Pearce, who also served in the Young Women general presidency and Brad Wilcox, who is an associate professor at BYU, and musician Hilary Weeks presented at the two events Down Under.

Dew, who attends only a handful of events a year, was grateful to attend these first international events as Deseret Book evaluates taking Time Out for Women to other locations outside the United States and Canada.

"It was more about them being together than them being with us," said Christensen, whose presentation centered around her journey of recently running a half-marathon. "They were clearly having an experience that was more than just us."

Wilcox said that it seemed like being part of "a big family reunion" for the women who attended.

"They knew each other and there were tight connections," said Wilcox, whose presentation centered on grace and using it to change weaknesses into strengths. Many of the women stayed after the event to mingle and talk with each other, which isn't something they typically see in the United States and Canada events, added Wilcox.

"The beauty of this kind of program is that it allows them to gain strength from each other and the faith that can sustain them," said Wilcox, who has been to those areas previously, including for one of the first Especially for Youth programs there. "There is a powerful message that you're not alone and you're not the only one trying to live this way."

There wasn't much time to sightsee for the presenters. The week between the two events, they were invited to speak at firesides in several cities in both Australia and New Zealand.

Wilcox was invited to speak to hundreds of young men and young women in five different cities and he shared an analogy about bungee jumping. When jumping, "the one who is really free is the one who is willing to jump with a harness and not the one who doesn't."

One of cities Pearce was invited to go to was Christchurch, New Zealand, where earthquakes and aftershocks have devastated much of the area.

"They are remarkable in terms of family and tenacity," Pearce said of the women there. "That was an experience I would never forget."

During the Time Out for Women events, Pearce presented the different women who have a mothering influence in our lives, including those who nurture, correct, teach and set an example.

"I was thrilled," Pearce said of the invitation to go to the two Time Out for Women events. "It is always excited to participate in something that is a first."

In both areas, the presenters noted how the women were appreciative and did what they could to serve the presenters.

"We were all just really blown away by how appreciative they were," Christensen said. "We fell in love with both countries and the people very quickly."

At the Auckland event, Wilcox said the 1,500 women stood and sang the presenters.

"It took me completely off guard," Wilcox said. "It was so sweet to have them stand up and sing to us a medley of hymns."

Others posted their thanks on the Time Out for Women Facebook page.

"Thank you for finally coming to us," said Margarte Tourning, who attended the Sydney event. "We have waited — not so patiently — and now we have been blessed to have such an experience. … Lives have been blessed, hearts uplifted and buckets filled. Thank you."

The timing of the Sydney event on Pioneer Day weekend wasn't lost on Tanya Boylan.

Comment on this story

"TOFW on Pioneers weekend for me marked a 'beginning' in the Aussie chapter of history — 2,000 Aussie 'women' Saints gathered for the first time ...and 'WE' become!" she wrote. "What a handcart moment! Thank you!"

Christensen said they hope to bring Time Out for Women events back to Australia and New Zealand and they've had requests from others in a dozen other countries for events. While no other international events have been scheduled, Deseret Book is evaluating the outcomes of the Sydney and New Zealand events.

For information on registration, presenters and locations see deseretbook.com/tofw or tofw.com.

'Choose to Become' tour

Sept. 9-10: Anchorage, Alaska*

Sept. 16-17: Logan, Utah

Oct. 7-8: Denver, Colo.

Oct. 14-15: Cincinnati; Reno, Nev.*

Oct. 21-22: Richmond, Va.*; Rochester, N.Y.

Nov. 4-5: Phoenix*; Kansas City, Kan.

Nov. 11-12: St. George, Utah

Nov. 18-19: Salt Lake City

*Concurrent Time Out for Girls event on Saturday

Email: rappleye@desnews.com