Stake Relief Society President? Me?


“You probably expect a stake Relief Society president to be someone special or talented,” said Marilyn Rands. “I don’t want to disappoint you, but I’m not. Fortunately it isn’t necessary. My philosophy is that if the Lord can make a prophet out of an unschooled boy of fourteen and make a mother out of ninety-year-old Sarah, he can certainly make a Relief Society president out of someone like me.”

Such is the faith of this energetic president of the Bellevue Washington Stake Relief Society. Her experiences since her call in July 1969 are a living testimony to the philosophy she espouses.

“I remember my first reaction to the call was a feeling of disbelief. A stake Relief Society president should be my mother’s age, gray-haired, and wise. I didn’t feel old enough, much less qualified! I was just getting used to being a ward president. I was scared. I didn’t even know where all the ward buildings in the stake were. I had no car during the day, and our stake covers a lot of territory.

“But you know, I think a little nervousness and fear about a calling are healthy because they humble you so that you will lean on the Lord in prayer. I would think a bishop might reconsider a call if the recipient said that it wouldn’t be challenging and would work right into her schedule! But fear beyond this point may be the devil’s best tool in thwarting the work of the Lord. Discouragement and feelings of inferiority—forgetting that we are the very daughters of God himself—can prevent us from doing what the Lord wants us to do.

“One of my favorite quotes is from Elder Neal A. Maxwell: ‘God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability!’ (“It’s Service, Not Status, That Counts,” Ensign, July 1975, p. 7.) I think that sums it up beautifully.”

Sister Rands believes, though, that faith alone is not enough. The Lord expects us to work and sacrifice in our calls. “We should care very much, prepare very hard, and pray fervently. When we have done all we can, the Lord will help us the rest of the way.

“Sometimes his help doesn’t come with a direct increase in our own abilities, as my own experience illustrates. When talents were organized and distributed, I was measurably shorted in some areas, two of which I don’t mind sharing with you. When it’s time to play ball everyone tries to get me on the other team; and when it’s time to sing in the chorus I always get to turn the pages. But in my stake I have been directly over the music and women’s sports programs.

“I prayed to the Lord very fervently about my concerns, and you know, I still can’t play or sing well. But the Lord gave me two outstanding board members whose aptitudes fill the bill exactly, and our stake’s programs in those two areas are truly exceptional. We have also been blessed with a second car for my use.

“The Lord expects us to use all the resources available to us as we fulfill our calls. Talents come with the obligation that they be used to help others.

“The Lord has programmed us to succeed and wants us to succeed in every righteous desire of our hearts. He will help us after we do all we can—no matter what the difficulty.”

As a mother of four children and as teacher of a preschool in her home every Monday through Thursday, Sister Rands might expect a few difficulties every now and then. But despite so much responsibility and so many demands on her time, she manages to get things done.

“Organization is one of the keys,” she declares. “For instance, I always print an agenda for my board meetings and try to stick to it. I make lists and do the most important things first. Having good board members and using them to the fullest advantage is also essential. I delegate responsibility, keep informed on the progress being made, encourage and appreciate, but other than that I leave them alone and trust them to fulfill their callings.”

Sister Rands has a strong testimony of Relief Society and the effect it can have on the lives of women: “It’s such a joy to meet the women in the wards and get to know them. My only frustration is that more sisters don’t take advantage of Relief Society. It is important, or why else would Heavenly Father want us to have several sessions so that all can take advantage of the program?

“I know that Relief Society activity can renew a woman’s perspective, help her to serve others more effectively, increase her testimony, and develop her talents in visible and measurable ways that build her self-confidence. All of these benefits carry over to her friends and family. I’ve seen it happen.”

[photo] Marilyn Rands, center, and coworkers. From left: Marjorie Garn, Caren Jensen, Della Avery, and Stake President Nelson A. Snow. (Photography by Cole Porter.)