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Sister Cheryl A. Esplin delivers the first address at the 2016 General Women's Meeting on March 26.

"When we reach out in love and service in even the smallest ways, hearts are changed and softened as others feel the love of the Lord," Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, first counselor in the Primary general presidency taught during the General Women's Session of conference on March 26.

Focusing her remarks on the Savior's example as He "went about doing good," Sister Esplin invited listeners to do as He did and take part in "true Christlike service."

"President Monson has often reminded us that we are 'surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness — be they family members, friends, acquaintances, or strangers.' He said, 'We are the Lord's hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.'"

Acts of service, large and small, are opportunities to follow the Savior's example.

"When children learn how to love and serve others when they are young, they set a pattern of service for the rest of their lives," Sister Esplin said. "Often children teach the rest of us that showing love and service doesn't have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference."

Because of the countless people who need help and relief from burdens, it can sometimes be difficult to meet the many pressing needs, Sister Esplin taught.

"Sisters, some of you listening may feel stretched to capacity ministering to the needs of family members. Remember, in those routine and often mundane tasks, you are 'in the service of your God.'"

For people experiencing an emptiness in their lives, service in their neighborhood or community could fill that void.

"All of us can incorporate some service into our daily living," she said. "We live in a contentious world. We give service when we don't criticize, when we refuse to gossip, when we don't judge, when we smile, when we say thank you, and when we are patient and kind."

Service often takes time, intentional planning and extra energy, Sister Esplin said. "But they are worth our every effort."

By asking questions — such as "Who in my circle of influence could I help today? What time and resources do I have? In what ways can I use my talents and skills to bless others? What might we do as a family?" — individuals are able to find ways to help people in their sphere of influence.

"I have come to know that it is the love of God and neighbor that gives meaning to life," Sister Esplin said.

mholman@desnews.com @marianne_holman

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