Stake Homemaker’s Day Acts as a Missionary Tool
The La Grande, Oregon, stake Relief Society has a great tradition going: for twenty-eight years running they’ve held a stake homemaker’s day for members and nonmembers in the area. This last year was no exception, and the program proved as successful as ever.
Planning for the day began months in advance. Under the direction of the stake presidency, the Relief Society leaders assigned different stake members to coordinate different portions of the day’s program, invited a noted lecturer on marriage and the family, Lucile Johnson, to come and speak, and asked two of the members of the stake presidency to also speak.
A month before the homemaker’s day was to be held, advertising flyers were printed up and distributed through the visiting teachers to every woman in the stake. Women were asked to bring their daughters (age fourteen and up), their husbands, and their nonmember friends and neighbors. Meanwhile, special announcements were made over the pulpit of several of the local churches, and invitations were issued to all the people of the community through the radio and television stations and through the local newspapers.
All this effort paid off. Several hundred people, including many nonmembers, visited the La Grande stake center on homemaker’s day. They listened to the program, which included the speakers and special musical numbers, then took in the many displays and demonstrations that were set up throughout the building.
Displays included the Pantry Shelf, with examples of home-preserved foods, homemade breads, and homemade candles; the Calico Corner, with an assortment of stitchery, yarn-knitting, and other crafts; the Crystal Palace, which showed centerpiece ideas and party table settings; Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe, with displays of homemade candies and cookies, along with the recipes that created them; and the Print Shoppe, which displayed a variety of old journals, photo albums, genealogy, and so forth.
Visitors could also visit the wedding room, which held a variety of both old and new wedding gowns, hope chests, a wedding cake (which was served), and a bride and groom. The filmstrip Temples of the Most High was shown, and temple marriage was explained. Visitors unfamiliar with Relief Society learned about it through the display “How to Get a College Education for Nothing,” which explained “how Relief Society can edify a woman’s life.”
Demonstrations included how to make whole wheat pancakes, how to make a quilt, and how to spin yarn.
Throughout the day’s program, which lasted from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M.., visitors were served fresh fruit or homemade bread at the Bakery Shop and ate it, with sack lunches brought from home, in the city park setting in the cultural hall.
“I feel this was one of the most successful homemaker’s days we’ve held,” said Sister Ella M. Lindsay, stake Relief Society president. “We received many complimentary remarks and letters from those who attended, including many nonmembers. The response was overwhelming.”
Will the La Grande Stake continue the tradition of homemaker’s days? Says Sister Lindsay: “plans for next year’s homemaker’s day are already in the making.”
Seminars Help Women with Nonmember Husbands
“My husband doesn’t really care what I do with my life spiritually, as long as it doesn’t interfere with his life,” wrote one sister. “I sometimes feel very much alone.”
Said another, “I feel that my husband is preventing me from progressing. I resent this and sometimes take that resentment out on him. Then I become depressed and the whole atmosphere of our home gets dark.”
Leaders of the Wichita Kansas Stake realized that the challenges these two sisters faced were not unique to them, and so resolved in 1976 to better meet the needs of sisters with nonmember or inactive husbands. They began in December with a seminar for bishoprics, ward Relief Society presidencies, and the appropriate sisters. The seminar featured counsel from Stake President Kent P. Evans, as well as testimonies and encouragement from sisters who had good relationships with their inactive husbands.
Those who attended left the seminar with new determination to make their marriages work despite challenges and obstacles.
That first seminar was only the beginning. The stake presidency encouraged the stake Relief Society to follow up the seminar with more help for those sisters. We sent out letters to all those who had attended, expressing our appreciation and further encouragement.
Then Brother John H. DeLaMare, director of the Missouri agency of LDS Social Services, became involved. With his assistance we were able to develop an anonymous survey for the sisters to fill out, which helped us better understand the problems they face. The response was overwhelming; many took this survey as an opportunity to pour out their frustrations, and in the process we learned a great deal about their situations. (Such a survey, of course, should be handled carefully and confidentially.)
Based on the results of the survey, stake leaders planned another seminar for October 1978. Probably the most successful part of the program was the discussion groups that we held, wherein a sister could meet with a few others and share her experience. In the process the sisters learned that they were not alone in their problems—and they discovered some workable solutions as well.
Following that seminar, in 1979, we held special discussion groups after the Social Relations lesson in Relief Society.
The response to our efforts has been most rewarding. In addition to the sisters learning that others share their feelings and concerns, they also:
—began to better understand their own situation. Many of the sisters had totally given up hope of eventual exaltation. The seminars and discussion groups helped them to see that, if they persevered in righteousness, exaltation was an honest possibility.
—came to the realization that their leaders, especially those in the bishopric and Relief Society presidency, truly empathized with them. They realized that even though a leader may not have experienced the same challenges as they had, the Spirit could give understanding.
—came to the realization that there are challenges in marriage regardless of religion. Even though religion often seemed to be the focal point of their problems in marriage, usually those problems had a deeper root.
These new insights have had a significant impact in the lives of those sisters who participated. Said one: “Relief Society has mended my home, which was coming apart. The mending has come because of my dear sisters who love me and encourage me.”
Another sister made this comment: “I suddenly realized that without knowing it I had placed my husband last instead of first, that I made him feel less than good enough for me. I felt the solution would come if I sought the Lord’s counsel through fasting and prayer—and it did. He opened up my mind and showed me my faults and helped me change them. Our home was immediately a happier place to be. Our marriage relationship became once again like that of two sweethearts.”
Few of the husbands of these sisters have changed their attitudes toward the Church—that’s another challenge we face. But the sisters have changed their attitudes toward their husbands, and that has brought great blessings into their homes.
As one sister remarked some time after the seminar, “We still have our problems, but as long as I can hold up and keep praying I know we will make it. I realize now that the key to success in our relationship is how I feel about my husband, how I accept him. As I accept him for the good man he is, our marriage will be enriched, whether he ever becomes a member of the Church or not.”