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Sister Cook: ‘Seek Learning: You Have a Work to Do’

By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News assistant editor

Mary N. Cook

Seek learning by studying diligently, Sister Mary N. Cook told the young women of the Church during the General Young Women Meeting on March 24.

"Rarely will you be able to spend as much time dedicated to learning as you can now," said Sister Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general Presidency.

During her address, titled “Seek Learning,” Sister Cook told the young women that they “have a work to do.”

"I assure you that as a virtuous daughter of God, your future is bright! You live at a time when the truths of the gospel have been restored, and these truths can be found in your scriptures. You received the gift of the Holy Ghost at the time of your baptism, and the Holy Ghost will teach you truth and prepare you for life’s challenges. God gave you moral agency and the opportunity to learn while on earth, and He has a work for you to do. To accomplish this work, you have an individual responsibility to seek learning."

Sister Cook quoted both President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, who encouraged the young people of the Church to seek an education.

"Follow the advice of these wise and inspired prophets," she said. "Be a good student. Arise and shine forth in your schools with hard work, honesty, and integrity. If you are struggling or discouraged with your performance in school, seek help from your parents, teachers, and helpful Church members. Never give up!"

She encouraged the young women to make a list of the things they want to learn and then share their goals with family, friends, and leaders. This, she said, is the pattern of Personal Progress.

"With technology, you are witnessing an explosion of knowledge," she said. "You are constantly bombarded by sound, video, and networking. Be selective and don’t allow this surge of information to distract you or slow your progress. Arise, young women! You determine your goals. You decide what enters your mind and heart."

Sister Cook told the young women some of their most important learning will be outside the classroom. "Surround yourself with exemplary women who can teach you skills in homemaking, art, music, family history, sports, writing, or speaking. Get to know them and ask them to mentor you."

Gaining knowledge now, she told the young women, will pay "huge dividends" when they become a mother. "We learn in The Family: A Proclamation to the World that 'mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children,'" she said. "Providing an education for your children is part of that nurturing, and is your sacred responsibility. Like the stripling warriors who 'had been taught by their mothers,' (Alma 56:47) you will be the most important teacher your children will ever have, so choose your learning carefully. Bless your children and your future home by learning as much as you can now."

She asked the youth to seek learning by faith. "We learn by faith as we diligently gain spiritual knowledge through prayer, scripture study and obedience, and as we seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost who testifies of all truth," she said. "If you do your part to gain knowledge, the Holy Ghost can enlighten your mind. As you strive to keep yourself worthy, the Holy Ghost will give direction and added light to your learning."

Sister Cook, who loves skiing, said she has, on occasion, skied in a condition called flat light—which occurs when the light from the sun is diffused by the clouds. Looking ahead at the white snow, a skier's depth perception vanishes, and it is difficult to judge the steepness of the slope, or see the moguls and bumps on the hill.

"Young women, you may be looking forward to your future as I looked at that steep ski slope. You may feel at times that you are living in flat light, unable to see what lies ahead of you. Learning by faith will give you confidence and will help you navigate your way through times of uncertainty."

Recounting the story of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25, Sister Cook noted that only five of the ten virgins invited to escort the bridegroom into the wedding feast were prepared with oil in their lamps.

"You may think it selfish that the five wise virgins did not share their oil, but it was impossible." Spiritual preparation must be acquired individually, and cannot be shared, she explained.

"The time is now for you to diligently apply yourselves to increasing your spiritual knowledge, drop by drop, through prayer, scripture study, and obedience. The time is now to pursue your education—drop by drop. Each virtuous thought and action also adds oil to your lamps, qualifying you for the guidance of the Holy Ghost, our Divine Teacher.

"The Holy Ghost will guide you on your journey here in mortality, even when you feel you are in flat light, uncertain of what lies ahead. You need not fear. As you stay on the path that leads to eternal life, the Holy Ghost will guide you in your decisions and in your learning."