Personal Progress

By Anna Evans


You are a young woman growing toward womanhood, and the Personal Progress program helps you reach your full potential by inviting you to learn basic gospel principles through study and action. As you work on Personal Progress, you will strengthen your home and family, develop leadership skills as you work with others, and be prepared to make and keep sacred temple covenants. In this section you’ll find examples and principles to keep in mind as you carry out your own experiences and projects related to the Young Women values.

“Give me a young woman who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me a young woman who faithfully attends her Church meetings, who is a seminary graduate, who has earned her Young Womanhood Recognition award and wears it with pride! Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity.”

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), “To the Young Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 84.

Faith

Turning to Christ
Faith value project bullet four invites you to write a story that “illustrates your faith in Jesus Christ” (Young Women Personal Progress [booklet, 2009], 18). The following article shares one young woman’s story and thoughts on faith.

Faith is a principle of action and power. I have always thought of faith as something in your heart or mind, such as believing you will be with your family forever. But faith as an action is exercised if we are “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27) and aiming toward a goal we have set. Whenever we work toward a worthy goal, we exercise faith.

Does this mean that doing my homework every night with the goal in mind of getting good grades is exercising faith? I think it is, because if I am doing my homework, then I will be able to do well on tests. I am exercising faith because I hope for something (good test grades) that I cannot yet see.

Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him and trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing His teachings. It means believing that even though we do not understand all things, He does. Because He has experienced all our pains, afflictions, and infirmities, He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties (see Alma 7:11–13).

This truth gives me so much hope for the future. It also confirms the strength I have been feeling since my father passed away. One day, I saw a little boy and girl run up to their dad and give him a big hug. My heart dropped. I wanted my dad so badly. At that moment I wanted to give up and cry forever.

After I pondered this for quite some time, my heart was turned to someone for comfort: Jesus Christ. I had to learn to have faith in Jesus, rely on Him, know that He has suffered, and know that He helps me if I allow Him to. I exercised faith by remembering that He knows how to help me, and I need to do everything I can to be closer to Him so I can more fully feel of His love. The only way to true happiness is having faith in Him and knowing that He will never leave you (see John 16:33).

Because faith is a principle of action and power, in order to have faith in Christ we must go to church, read our scriptures, pray daily, and do things that bring the Spirit into our lives. One way to do that is by doing Personal Progress. If you set a goal to complete it and you work toward it, then you are exercising faith in Jesus Christ, and He will bless you for your efforts. Faith is a beautiful virtue that can help us in so many ways, as long as we take action and use that power to help.

NEMore

If you complete bullet four of the Faith value project by writing an original story, poem, or song about your faith in Jesus Christ, consider sending it to the New Era by going to newera.lds.org and clicking “Submit Material.”

Ideas for the Faith Value

  • Record in your journal about a time when faith in Jesus Christ helped you through a hard time.

  • Read several talks about faith from recent general conferences. Record in your journal the characteristics you can develop to show greater faith in Heavenly Father’s plan for you.

Divine Nature

True Royalty

I had dreamed of this day. Like the other candidates for homecoming queen, I was nominated and voted upon, and then I waited anxiously for that unforgettable night. The final six candidates were to dress up in something professional or in their Sunday best for the football game, where the king and queen would be announced. The other candidates wore dresses that came up way above their knees and revealed too much skin. I wore my puletasi (a traditional Samoan evening gown) that dangled at my ankles and covered my shoulders. I received many compliments from teachers, parents, and even students on how well I was dressed.

Finally, the moment came. The announcer introduced the candidates, including what their biggest accomplishments were. I remember listening to a very specific part of my introduction: “Jalaire is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her biggest accomplishment was completing her Personal Progress, which is a prestigious award similar to the Eagle Scout.”

At that moment, I forgot all about what was going on and realized how fortunate I was to be raised in the Church. Shocked and overwhelmed when they called my name as the homecoming queen, I made my way to the middle of the field, where the crown was placed on top of my head. That night I realized that it wasn’t about the crown. I felt like a queen because I had dressed modestly. When we faithfully live the gospel and beautify our lives and help others strive to do the same, we feel like royalty and live up to our divine potential.

Ideas for the Divine Nature Value

  • Create a program or play that talks about the divine worth of young women as daughters of God. Find participants, hold rehearsals, make costumes, etc. Invite your ward or others to come watch it.

  • Make a goal to go to the temple a certain number of times. Learn about the importance of temples. Write in your journal the things that you feel about your divine worth as you attend the temple.

Individual Worth

Am I a Child of God?
Individual Worth value experience 1 asks you to think about how much Heavenly Father knows you, loves you, and is mindful of you. This story shares how one young woman gained her testimony of those truths.

I was looking for the truth and ecstatic to hear the gospel message from the missionaries. I joined the Church, but I was the only member of my family to do so. After about one year, my testimony was growing stronger every day, but something was missing. I didn’t know I was a child of God.

I had accepted God as the Father of all, but I had not realized how intimately He knows each of His creations. With all that there is in this world, I asked myself, how could He possibly know me personally? How could He consider me His daughter? How could He love me as His child?

With these questions in mind, I turned to Heavenly Father in prayer. Shortly after, during scripture study, I stumbled across 1 Chronicles 28:9. King David told his son, “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.”

No other verse of scripture has brought me closer to my Father in Heaven than this one. It testified to me not only that I am a daughter of God but that if I seek Him, I can know Him. It testified to me of my individual worth. I had not, in my heart, been fully converted to the idea that I was a child of God. I had hoped that these things were true but couldn’t grasp the knowledge of such a loving Father in Heaven. I couldn’t accept His love, knowing my shortcomings and the many mistakes I had made.

The scripture taught me how David, who had made many mistakes of his own, counsels his son Solomon to seek the Lord and serve Him with full purpose. These words gave me a strong desire to develop a personal relationship with my Father in Heaven. I was learning more about His loving ways. I knew that, like David and Solomon, I could be found of Him.

I also discovered that Heavenly Father knows me personally. As I continued to study this scripture, the phrase “the Lord searcheth all hearts” was embedded in my mind. Each time I read it, the Holy Ghost whispered to my heart that Heavenly Father knows me and I am His beloved child. He knows my thoughts, aspirations, desires, fears, intents, and imaginations. With these insights, I gained a testimony that I am a child of God.

Ideas for the Individual Worth Value

  • Interview your oldest relatives and create a history of their lives and stories. You could video record them or tape them so you have their voice, too. Think of how their history has influenced your life and helped you become who you are. Give copies of the history to your family members.

  • Use your talents to help someone. For instance, volunteer to play the piano in seminary or Young Women, sing with the ward choir, make meals for someone in your ward, write stories for children, or plant a garden with your parents.

Knowledge

A Challenging but Meaningful Read

My Young Women president challenged all of the young women in my ward to read Jesus the Christ in just five months. As I sat down to read it, I was disappointed at first. I had expected the heavens to open and light to pour down, instantly filling me with the Spirit. However, that did not happen. Instead, I struggled to get through even the first chapter without my mind wandering off. I put the book down, frustrated at the seeming lack of divine inspiration.

I decided I needed to change my approach to reading. The next evening I knelt by my bed and asked Heavenly Father to allow me to have the Holy Spirit accompany me, that I might better understand and be able to read this book about His Son and my Savior. After that prayer, I felt a subtle wave of peace come into my room as I settled down to read. I understood the book better and enjoyed it more.

Every night after that, I made sure I started and ended my reading sessions with a prayer, in which I thanked my Heavenly Father and invited the Spirit to guide me as I learned more of the Savior.

I struggled at times and became discouraged that I couldn’t just zip through this 800-page book. But I continued on with my reading and even felt sad as I turned to the last page, knowing the book was ending. The Spirit that was present as I read Jesus the Christ was so indescribably sweet and comforting, and I came to know my Savior on a deeper level. My testimony of the Savior and of the Atonement grew so much from the simple act of reading a book for a few minutes every night.

Ideas for the Knowledge Value

  • Ask a parent, grandparent, or ward member to teach you basic cooking skills. You could invite your sisters, cousins, or young women in the ward. Make a recipe book, and cook one of the recipes.

  • Read stories from President Monson’s life. Afterward, talk to a family member or a Young Women leader about what you learned and how knowing about his life can help you.

  • Learn how to make bread and donate it to be used for the sacrament on Sunday.

Choice and Accountability

195 Dresses

Choice and Accountability value project bullet four invites you to “learn basic clothing alteration and repair techniques as you adapt your wardrobe to standards of modest dress” (Young Women Personal Progress, 50). The value project bullet one also encourages you to use the standards in For the Strength of Youth to “help you and other youth choose to live the Lord’s standards” (50). The following story shares how one young woman created a project that addresses both ideas.

I was tired of not being able to find a modest prom dress, so with an idea from my cousins, I decided to do something. A Young Women leader, Sue Brown, helped me collect used prom dresses from graduated seniors and rent them out to high school girls for no charge if the dresses were returned clean. Fellow young women and other sisters helped organize things and alter immodest dresses.

Within three months, we had filled not only a closet but a room with 195 dresses. A year later the project continues, now run by my younger sister, Jessica, who has collected an additional 105 dresses.

Modesty is about showing Heavenly Father we love and trust Him. When we obey, we invite the Spirit into our lives. The Spirit protects us, purifies our affections, and inspires us to be virtuous. We develop true beauty. Satan’s goal is to get us to disobey because he understands that for each standard we choose not to keep, we lose some of our power, protection, and blessings. I know that the dress standards in For the Strength of Youth keep us safe and beautiful.

NEMore

Watch a short video about Charity’s dress project at lds.org/go/913.

Ideas for the Choice and Accountability Value

  • Watch all four sessions of conference and write in your journal every time a speaker talks about choice and accountability.

  • For three weeks, write in your journal each day about how the choices you made had an effect on you.

Good Works

A Vision of Service

When Kim moved into our ward, the young women welcomed her with open arms and service. Kim has been blind since early childhood, so each of us takes a turn to lead the way to her seat during Young Women class. There is a lot of love and service to give, but not just for Kim. We need Kim as much as Kim needs us.

A few of us have earned our Young Womanhood Recognition medallion and are working on earning the Honor Bee with 40 hours of service. As part of that, we are mentoring Kim and helping her with her Personal Progress. Every month we each sign up for a time to visit Kim. Together we look up scriptures, conference talks, and For the Strength of Youth standards. We also discuss gospel principles taught in Personal Progress.

We have become closer to Kim by helping her. She is such a joy to have around, and she’s always making us laugh. Even though she is blind, we know she is a young woman with hopes and dreams, and she is a precious daughter of God.

It is important to serve others, because “when [we] are in the service of [our] fellow beings [we] are only in the service of [our] God” (Mosiah 2:17). Not only does service help others, but it brings us true happiness. Heavenly Father has given us so much, and service is one of the ways we can show our gratitude.

To learn more about earning an Honor Bee, visit lds.org/go/914.

Ideas for the Good Works Value

  • Pray for guidance to find someone who needs service. Help that person however he or she needs help, such as mowing the lawn, shopping for groceries, and cleaning the house. Record in your journal how you feel while serving.

  • Develop your leadership skills by organizing a group service project. Involve others in the service, and evaluate the project and process afterward. Consider a humanitarian aid project, such as collecting supplies for and putting together hygiene kits.

Integrity

Changing My Tune

Choosing good music has always been hard for me. I used to listen to whatever was popular at the time. I would memorize the words and sing along to the radio, but I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was hearing and singing. These small things led to my not making the best decisions in other parts of my life.

Most of the songs had a bad word in the lyrics. I would always make sure I didn’t sing those words, but every once in awhile one would slip. It’s just once, and I’m not doing it on purpose, I would think to myself. I should have stopped listening to that music right away, but I didn’t.

Looking back, I realize the more bad music I listened to, the more my attitude and the way I was acting was changing as well. I didn’t feel the Spirit with me very often, and I felt unhappy and angry all the time. I would yell at my friends, and I’m sure I wasn’t fun to be around.

Then I had this overwhelming feeling that I should look in my Personal Progress book. I noticed Integrity value experience 2: “Pray daily for strength and for the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help you live with integrity. Write in your journal the things you can do to improve your personal integrity and at least one new habit you want to develop” ([booklet, 2009], 62). I realized I hadn’t been the best I could be. I decided that I should work on listening to better music. Now I choose not to listen to bad music. I feel so happy, and the Spirit is back.

Ideas for the Integrity Value

  • Think about situations where youth might be tempted to be dishonest. Decide now how you would act, and write about it in your journal.

  • Read a scripture story where someone showed integrity, and then record in your journal how that example can help you today.

  • Choose someone who lives with integrity. Send a letter expressing your appreciation for their example.

Virtue

Driven by the Spirit
Virtue value experience 2 asks you to “write about a time when you felt the guidance of the Holy Ghost” (Young Women Personal Progress [booklet, 2009], 70). The following story shares one young woman’s experience.

I turned the wheel and guided the car around the corner, resisting the urge to glance at my driving instructor’s face to see how I was doing. If I passed this test, I would finally get my driver’s license.

A parked truck caught my eye on the road ahead. Immediately, I felt uncomfortable and slowed down. My instructor said, “The speed limit here is 35 miles an hour.” I didn’t know how to respond—I couldn’t tell my teacher I just had a bad feeling. The girls in back shifted, and I felt my face getting red. I decided to drive faster. But then I looked at the truck again and changed my mind.

“What are you doing?” my instructor asked, confused. I had slowed the car to 10 miles per hour, and I didn’t know how to explain why. As I got closer to where the truck was, the feeling grew stronger. I hovered over the brake, holding my breath. If I wasn’t watching so closely, I would never have seen a basketball bounce from behind the truck. I slammed on the brakes, and the car skidded to a halt. The front bumper was just inches from a four-year-old boy who had run after the ball.

I couldn’t breathe, and it took a moment before I could relax enough to keep driving. My instructor and the other girls didn’t say a word. I finished the test in silence, trying not to notice the stares from the backseat.

I passed the driving test, but it didn’t seem to matter anymore. The focus of my whole summer had shifted the second that boy ran in front of my car. I know that the most important test for me was listening to the Spirit and obeying His counsel.

Idea for the Virtue Value

  • After you read the Book of Mormon, you could review your journal and make a list of all the things you wrote down regarding how the Savior and His disciples lived virtuous lives. Consider hanging the list where you’ll see it and can reflect on it each day.

Photographs by David Stoker and Craig Dimond; painting by Heinrich Hofmann, courtesy C. Harrison Conroy Co. Inc.

Photographs by David Stoker and Craig Dimond and courtesy of Jalaire Musgrave

Photographs by Sarah Jensen, Jed A. Clark, Robert Casey, Steve Bunderson, and Church Media Services

Photographs by David Stoker, Nicole Tucker, Garth Bruner, and Matt Reier