Young Women and Relief Society General Leaders Tour Asia Area
By Brenda Frandsen, Asia Area media specialist, with contributions from David O. Heaps, Paul Stevens, and Linda Rae Pond Smith
For nine days in November, Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the general Young Women presidency, and Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the general Relief Society presidency, instructed and inspired sisters, young and old, all across the Asia Area.
In Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, Sister Cook and Sister Reeves attended many meetings, including leader and member meetings, young single adult family home evenings, focus groups, member visits, Young Women devotionals, a stake conference, ward worship services, and missionary luncheons, some of which were broadcast over the Internet for extended audiences within Asia.
Accompanying Sister Reeves and Sister Cook were their husbands, Melvyn K. Reeves and Elder Richard E. Cook, a former member of the Seventy, along with Elder Kent D. Watson of the Seventy, President of the Asia Area; Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Seventy, First Counselor in the Asia Area Presidency; Elder Larry Y. Wilson of the Seventy, Second Counselor in the Asia Area Presidency; and their wives, Connie Watson, Susan Gong, and Lynda Wilson.
The trip coincided with the announcement of the revised youth curriculum, “Come, Follow Me,” which Young Men, Young Women, and youth Sunday School classes will begin using in January 2013. The new curriculum is designed to help teachers teach more like the Savior did and develop stronger connections with class members.
Following Sister Cook and Sister Reeves’s visit to the Asia Area, many Asian youth and their parents reflected that they are now motivated to purify and refocus their lives and become examples to their local communities.
This visit was particularly meaningful for many of the Asian members as they reunited with Elder and Sister Cook, who lived in Hong Kong when Elder Cook served in the Asia Area Presidency.
While visiting with members in Hong Kong, Sister Cook explained and illustrated the new curriculum—“Come, Follow Me.”
At one point, she held up a sparkling crystal and explained that it represented the audience. “This is who you are, young women,” she said. “This is what happens when you lay hold upon that which is good. The light can come through and shine.”
Sister Reeves promised the youth, “If you will stay clean in your life, you can stand with confidence before anyone!”
Inspired by her words, 12-year-old Tang Kak Kei commented after the meeting, “I know that I need to read the Book of Mormon every day. Learning to repent and live righteously is what The Strength of Youth has taught me so the light of Christ and true happiness can radiate through me.”
It had been 12 years since Sister Cook had visited several cities in India with her husband when he served in the Asia Area Presidency. At that time, there were few members in India. As Sister Cook met with members in the new meetinghouse in the Chennai India District and with members of the new Hyderabad India Stake, she repeatedly commented on the increased strength and maturity of the Church in India.
A highlight of Sister Cook’s visit to India was the interaction she had with individual members. In Chennai, she visited the homes of two young women. A 13-year-old young woman told Sister Cook she desires to become like her parents by loving and serving others. In another home, Sister Cook and a new Beehive looked at the Personal Progress booklet. Together, they discussed how it would help the young woman as she works on the Personal Progress values while doing her schoolwork.
In New Delhi, Sister Cook met with a focus group of young single adults to discuss their questions and concerns and to better understand the challenges in India. In the evening, Sister Cook and Elder Watson hosted a YSA family home evening where she talked to the young adults about preparing themselves to be a part of building the Lord’s kingdom in India.
Speaking of the growth of the Church in New Delhi, Sister Cook said, “This is a miracle, that in 12 years we have a mission. This is building up the kingdom of God. You are going to play a pivotal role in it.”
She admonished the young adults to prepare for the future. “Qualify yourselves educationally,” she urged, “with skills to help you build up the kingdom, by focusing on your family and what you can do to bless your family members, and on your spiritual preparedness so you will be worthy for those spiritual promptings so you will know where to go and what to do.”
Sister Reeves participated in the first stake conference of the new Surakarta Indonesia Stake and told of what a wonderful experience it was. “We felt of their humble and loving spirits. What faithful members!” she said. She continued, “How touched we were when we heard of the members’ efforts to take their families to the temple to be sealed for eternity.”
Sister Reeves and Elder Wilson made their first visits to Malaysia on November 7.
Sister Reeves met with a group of Relief Society sisters to discuss the most pressing issues for the Relief Society as an organization in Malaysia and how the Church can provide guidance and inspiration.
“I was grateful that Sister Reeves gave us the opportunity to ask or tell her anything that we were concerned about,” said Susan Seet, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia District Relief Society president. “Her loving kindness and honesty about her own fears helped me to know I'm not alone in the way I feel about my calling. I came away strengthened and more confident that the Lord is indeed mindful of me and will most definitely help me to accomplish all that He wills me to do.”
In the general meeting that followed, Sister and Brother Reeves shared their testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel and the divinity of the Book of Mormon.
Several Kuala Lumpur District members then shared with the congregation their witnesses of the Book of Mormon and their experiences receiving personal revelation of its truthfulness, which always included sincere individual prayer.
Elder Wilson and his wife also shared their testimonies of the Book of Mormon and the gospel. Elder Wilson described how reading the Book of Mormon with a less-active member or nonmember friend can result in full conversion, even when the person doesn’t enjoy reading or has been around the Church for many years without conversion.
Sister Susan Ho, a longtime member of the Kuala Lumpur Malaysia District’s Subang Jaya Branch, commented, “Sister Reeves … helped me rethink my own testimony of the Book of Mormon when I converted to the Church and reinforced my knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true. I received a wake-up call that it was about time for me to read the Book of Mormon again.”
“We are touched by the great strength and dedication of the members in Taiwan,” Brother and Sister Reeves testified. “We are so happy to know of their faithful lives and consistent temple attendance. … The members are loving examples to their friends and neighbors.”