PROVO — After two days of instruction, service and a little bit of entertainment, thousands of women from all over the world left the Brigham Young University campus "recharged" and "renewed" Friday afternoon.
For Julie Cropper of southern Utah, being at Women's Conference is a "treat" she looks forward to each year. "Just being here is an answer to prayer," she said. "I just love it." Cropper loves it so much, she treated her daughter, Sarah Ballard, to a special mother-daughter weekend for her birthday.
They enjoyed two days of workshops, service and sisterhood, culminating in the address of Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve. "You can feel how deeply he loves the Lord and he conveyed that so reverently to us. It was very touching," she said.
Cropper and her daughter were two of the thousands who filled the Marriott Center to listen to Elder Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, speak during the closing session of Women's Conference at BYU.
"While the battle rages, we need not fear," Elder Andersen told the group of women. "The Lord will help you, your family and others you love who need special help. We know the outcome. The Savior will triumph over all."
Drawing from the conference's theme taken from a scripture in The Book of Mormon — "And they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory" — Elder Andersen spoke of how individuals must be armed as they fight in the spiritual war raging for the souls of men and women.
"We recognize the enemy and understand his plan," he said. "The pride of the world seeks to destroy faith by casting doubt on the existence of God, or, if not his existence, his personal care and concern for his children. "
It is through being armed in righteousness that individuals are able to feel the power and promises of God, he said. And it is through taking the Savior's name upon oneself that individuals are able to be converted and act as a disciple and defender of Christ.
"Think about the journey of your own conversion and discipleship through the years," he said. "When you are more sensitive in taking his name upon you … you see more clearly, sense more deeply your identity as a daughter of God, and realize in greater measure the purposes you have accomplished, are accomplishing and will yet accomplish."
Even in times of difficulty, individuals can find peace and happiness as they arm themselves with righteousness and unite with others. Because of this, individuals can look to the future with faith, Elder Andersen said.
"I look forward to the future," he said. "I hope you do, too. To your children and grandchildren, your friends and associates, you can speak about the future with optimism, joy and anticipation. You are living your mortality in a glorious time of destiny."
Sister Andersen spoke of important principles she and Elder Andersen hope for their granddaughters.
"Our prayer for our granddaughters is that they will be armed with the power of God, and that they will know through all the times and seasons of their lives that their Heavenly Father knows them, and loves them, and that he hears all of their prayers," she said.
Sharing stories from her own family and friends, Sister Andersen gave examples of important elements of the gospel. She shared the importance of the gift of the holy ghost, belief and faith in the words of prophets and apostles, and the knowledge of a Heavenly Father who loves each personal individually.
"Our prayer for our granddaughters is that they will come to know with certainty the truth declared by an apostle of the Lord this day," she said. "That Jesus is the Christ, the holy son of God, our Savior and Redeemer."
In another breakout session Friday, Sister Rosemary Wixom, Primary general president, stood with her counselors, Sisters Jean A. Stevens and Cheryl A. Esplin and spoke of igniting and growing the embers of faith in the hearts of children.
Drawing from a quote by Elder Andersen, who compared the spiritual core of the rising generation to a flame that must be fanned, Wixom said, "The precious soul of each child really matters and the greatest thing we can do is to help ignite the embers of faith that are in their hearts."
As the world becomes more difficult, children need resilient faith, Stevens said. "As persecution increases, we need to be prepared ourselves and prepared to help our children."
Wixom shared the experience of the Bangerters, parents of Sister Julie B. Beck, former Relief Society general president. While on their honeymoon, the Bangerters wrote on a lunch sack a list of hopes and dreams they had for their children. The presidency encouraged the audience to make its own list of what they can do daily to create the future they hope for.
"(The Bangerters) actually did something with their list. What are you going to do with yours?" Esplin asked.
The presidency said one of the best ways to fan the flame of faith in children is to immerse them in the gospel of Jesus Christ in their homes as well as with love and the Spirit. The presidency also spoke of ways to invite the Spirit, including prioritizing family prayer and family scripture study.
"Take it from three seasoned mothers of 16 children and 38 and one half grandchildren who have learned that teaching moments can come when we least expect them and the most important lessons are taught when we respond to the Spirit," Esplin said.