When one woman visited California’s Sequoia National Park, she was astonished to learn that the giant sequoia trees have no major taproots to hold them deep in the ground. She asked the guide how those top-heavy trees keep from falling when severe winds come. The guide responded that the trees grow close together. Their roots, although near the surface, intertwine with those of other trees nearby. If a tree were standing alone in a strong wind, it might fall. But the interconnected trees in a grove support each other well.
Relief Society blesses our lives in a similar way. Sisters meeting together, whether in Provo or Peru, Hong Kong or Harare, can withstand the winds of life by blending their strengths and supporting each other.
In the book of Ruth, we read that Naomi’s friends called her blessed because in a time of adversity she had the loyal, loving support of her daughter-in-law Ruth. (See Ruth 4:14–15.) Like these scriptural sisters, we modern women also share work and nourishment; we laugh together, we study, we sing, we serve, and we pray. We are linked not only to the sisters in our wards and branches; we are part of a worldwide sisterhood.
How have friendships in Relief Society blessed your life?
Jesus taught, “If ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C 38:27.) Neither age nor race nor language nor cultural diversity forms a real barrier to sisterhood when the will to serve, the desire to learn, and the language of love fill our hearts.
In a rented home converted into a chapel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, an African city where the Church is beginning its ministry, members greet each other on Sundays with warm handshakes and hugs. These brothers and sisters represent three races and were born in six different countries with as many native languages.
During its first small meetings, a Ghanaian woman with her two-year-old clinging to her long skirt led the music in Relief Society, using the French hymnbook. A convert from Düsseldorf, Germany, taught her black sisters. A Japanese-Hawaiian sister served as Relief Society secretary. On homemaking day, one woman from Zaire and another from the Ivory Coast together instructed other young mothers in nutrition and child care, then many sisters demonstrated recipes from their countries and villages. Some sisters cooked squatting over a charcoal brazier; others stood at a stove. But all taught each other lessons in gospel living.
The spirit of this branch Relief Society’s original ten or twelve members has spread to include other women as well; now more than a hundred women in five branches in their city call themselves sisters and share the gospel’s treasures.
This pattern is repeated in Relief Society groups worldwide.
How would you describe the bond of sisterhood you have felt with someone whose background or interests seem very different from yours?
As different as we are individually, we women have needs and goals in common. It is a great blessing to belong to a sisterhood united around the principles of the Savior’s “living water.” (See John 4:5–14.)
When we study together, we share ideas and experiences about how to live by gospel principles. Relief Society should be a place where each woman may be heard, “that all may be edified of all, and that every [woman] may have an equal privilege.” (D&C 88:122.)
We can act together with compassion. Mary Young, of Sumner, Washington, says, “We don’t need to judge each other. I don’t need to compare my family, my house, or my day’s accomplishments with someone else’s. I would like us all simply to be glad of each other, to be able to love and therefore serve.”
How can we grow as we enjoy the diversity of the women around us?