My dear brothers and sisters, I have been thinking what a difference we could make in each household if we as women accept and follow the wise counsel given this morning, if we wholeheartedly respond to it—not in a spirit of sacrifice or out of a sense of duty, but because of our devotion to the Lord. Our response, then, would be out of the fulness of our hearts—with joy, with faith, and with a feeling of challenge and innovation.
I am reminded of a visit I had with President Kimball. At that time he had been reading again the account of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. President Kimball made the comment that Joseph was a great teacher of the welfare program.
Since then, as I have read the story of Joseph, I have been impressed with his great qualities of mind and spirit that made his experience one of the greatest welfare sagas of ecclesiastical history.
Recall the circumstances of Joseph’s Egyptian servitude, his time in the household of Potiphar as overseer of the house (see Gen. 39). Remember the test of faith during his unjust imprisonment. Consider his interpretation of dreams that ultimately led to his elevation to the highest office in Pharaoh’s government.
Note Joseph’s obedience to the Lord’s warning of impending famine, that “the land perish not through the famine” (Gen. 41:36). “Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea” (Gen. 41:49) during the seven plenteous years against the seven years of famine.
Observe the drama unfold which brought Joseph’s brothers to him to plead for food. Joseph was the agent of their deliverance. Feel the emotion as Joseph revealed his true identity to his family.
Finally, recognize the discipline of Joseph’s life that brought to fruition his absolute faith in the Lord, his endurance, his deep affection for his kindred.
We, as women in the Church, can be Joseph-like in faith and in obedience and in following the direction of the Lord given us through his chosen leaders.
In this time of international uncertainty, worldwide inflation, and financial stress, I see the need for the Relief Society to become increasingly involved in welfare matters and for its members to implement welfare principles more fully.
In the organization, the wheels have already been set in motion for a closer, more efficient response in welfare. The first of these major moves was made in April 1979, when President Ezra Taft Benson announced the establishment of priesthood councils at every level of Church government. Last October the Relief Society’s role in priesthood councils was explained. We directed Relief Society leaders regarding their participation and involvement. From reports received, this instruction is now beginning to be implemented, and a better working relationship between priesthood and Relief Society leaders is resulting.
The next action taken by Relief Society to carry out its responsibilities and contribute more effectively in the welfare program came last spring. At that time a new administrative plan was adopted to fully utilize the stake and ward Relief Society boards.
Acting under the direction of the ward and stake Relief Society presidencies, each board member is assigned to a specific division of work. She is to serve as a resource to her presidency in planning, goal setting, and implementing the assigned facet of work.
In the area of welfare, the board member, working under the direction of the president, is expected to become knowledgeable about all aspects of welfare and to help the presidency by—
Interpreting welfare services material; studying, compiling, and evaluating welfare services information.
Investigating resources; becoming familiar with Church and community resources.
Increasing understanding; meeting regularly with the presidency to discuss Relief Society’s role in welfare services.
Initiating goal setting; setting short- and long-term goals with the Relief Society president.
Implementing approved plans and revising plans when directed.
She correlates her work with other board members as she helps to carry out approved welfare plans. In this assignment, the board member extends the effectiveness of the president and her counselors, but she does not assume their responsibilities nor replace them on welfare services committees, nor does she handle confidential matters.
The presidency works under the direction of priesthood leadership as defined in the new Welfare Services Resource Handbook.
We feel this new assignment will strengthen and extend Relief Society’s capability to respond to ward or stake welfare responsibilities.
We ask that Relief Society presidencies become thoroughly familiar with the Storehouse Resource System and that they learn how to complete a bishop’s order for commodities accurately and with sensitivity. The Relief Society president must complete all orders before the bishop signs them. The two signatures assure agreement that the kinds of products and the amounts are correct and that Church resources are safeguarded.
As Relief Society leaders, we now look forward to an era of increased activity in the welfare aspect of our work. We have a specific goal to be implemented immediately which we offer as a challenge and a guide for Relief Society leaders and members alike. We ask, in this time of inflation and great financial stress on individuals and families, that our teachings of “provident living” be further expanded and fully practiced by every member.
We encourage women to economize in creative ways such as—
Exchanging skills, when practical, instead of money; exchanging excess vegetable produce from one garden for fruit from another; exchanging rather than buying books, musical instruments, Scout uniforms, etc.
Becoming more knowledgeable gardeners; developing their own garden seeds gathered from their own high quality produce.
Saving time and money by organizing their homes into efficient work and storage centers and by preparing food with their own mixes.
This means that all will make wise use of the resources available to them as they live each day and prepare for the future.
Let us become better managers of our economic resources. The first step could be to plan a workable budget. This should be one that is uniquely right for us. Our budget, in addition to allowing for the basic payments to the butcher, the baker, and the mortgage loan banker, should include a payment to ourselves—in the form of savings, even though it may be meager at first.
In an interesting book entitled The Richest Man in Babylon, the story is told of a poor scribe who bargained with the rich man for his formula for economic success. That early Babylonian gave a surprisingly simple answer: “A lean purse is easier to cure than endure.
“… learn to make your treasure work for you. Make it your slave.
“Pay for what you eat and wear but pay yourself as well.” (George S. Clason, The Richest Man in Babylon, New York: Hawthorne Books, 1955, p. 31.)
Let us practice prudence in our homes, become better meal planners, housekeepers, and home decorators. Let us acquire the sewing and tailoring skills that will help our clothing look custom-made and that will help keep it in good repair. Let us make our kitchens creative centers from which emanate some of the most delightful of all home experiences.
I know that many women already do this. One such family does not like to miss a meal at home. The children want to bring their friends home because of the mother’s excellent cooking and the inviting table on which the food is served. The parents always engender gracious, stimulating conversation with their children at mealtime.
The mother is what I would call a provident homemaker, especially in her kitchen. When she cooks, she cooks in quantity, not only for the immediate meal but for other meals as well. She is creative and innovative with foods. She makes nourishing soups, such as split pea, onion, minestrone, and consommé, using marrow bones and soup meat. Then she serves the meat as a main course dish with a savory sauce or garnish. Colorful fresh vegetables are added to make a complete and satisfying meal. Occasionally she prepares chicken from which she makes delicious chicken dumplings, chicken salad, or chicken sandwiches. This homemaker uses necks, backs, and other less meaty parts that many discard to provide a base for the aromatic broth from which soups are made for the days ahead. This woman draws from a home garden of beautiful fruits, vegetables, and herbal seasonings to make the family meals to “please the eye and to gladden the heart; … for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul” (D&C 59:18–19).
I sense in this homemaker a happy, creative spirit that makes provident living an enriched way of life.
She understands—as we each should—that life is made up of small daily acts. Savings in food budgets come by pennies, not only by dollars. Clothing budgets are cut by mending—stitch by stitch, seam by seam. Houses are kept in good repair nail by nail. Provident homes come not by decree or by broad brushstroke. Provident homes come from small acts performed well day after day. When we see in our minds the great vision, then we discipline ourselves by steady, small steps that make it happen. It is important to realize this correlation between the large and the small.
Let us as women in the Church today make happy, provident living a life-style in our homes, approaching this goal in a spirit of challenge and innovation and thanksgiving. Let us see what creativity can do to heighten the standard of our living, not reduce it—to be provident without becoming penny-pinching, miserly, or ungenerous. We have many ideas displayed in the Relief Society Building, and we invite you to come and see them.
Then as we attend area and multiregion council meetings and as we serve in this vital welfare work, may we be great teachers of welfare services principles. Led by chosen priesthood leaders, may we all work together, as Joseph of old proclaimed, “to preserve … a posterity in the earth, and to save … lives by a great deliverance” (Gen. 45:7), I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.