Sister Linda K. Burton and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon teach leadership principles in Asia

Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI
Credit: IRI

“We love Asia,” said Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president, and Sister Bonnie H. Cordon of the General Primary Presidency, after completing a visit to the Asia Area on Feb. 9-19.

Sister Burton and Sister Cordon were accompanied by their husbands — Craig Burton and Derek Cordon. In addition the women traveled with members of the Asia Area Presidency — Elder Randy D. Funk, Elder Sam C.H. Wong and Elder David F. Evans — and their wives — Andrea C. Funk, Carol Lu Wong, and Mary Dee S. Evans.

Collectively and separately, they visited seven countries — India, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Taiwan — or territories in 11 days. Not only did they gain a great understanding as to the challenges faced by Church members in these diverse countries, but also the love our Heavenly Father has for each of His children. “We are all children of God,” they each said.

Instead of delivering messages from a pulpit, Sister Burton and Sister Cordon communicated by asking questions, encouraging group discussions and using visual aids.

They said despite the unique historical and cultural background of each country, many of the issues that members in Asia cope with are no different from those they hear along the Wasatch Front; their wants and needs are the same:

“How do we teach our children to be reverent?”

“How do we strengthen one another to be spiritually self-reliant?”

“How can we help sisters with emotional problems?”

“How can I find my future husband/wife?”

As they listened to members through devotionals, leadership training, focus groups and home visits, they strived to resolve their concerns by drawing the audience’s attention to the Savior’s teachings and having them receive inspiration themselves. Turning to Him is the ultimate solution because “He is the perfect teacher of all,” Sister Cordon said.

Whether in a country with no stake, or in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan where the Church has been established for more than half a century, they taught the same leadership principles.

Prepare Spiritually

Sister Burton taught that the “Young Women High Five,” meaning prayer, scripture study, family home evening, sacrament meeting worship and temple attendance, can help “keep our spiritual drop of oil always with us…. Even if we are single, we can have family home evening as our Father in Heaven is always there, and even if we don’t have a temple [in close proximity], we can be worthy to attend the temple.”

Participate in Council

The reason why members gather together is to receive revelation, Sister Burton taught. Quoting from Elder Bednar, she highlighted the importance of eliminating the focus on “meetings” and instead, the use of councils. She taught that by focusing on meaningful topics, such as improving member missionary work, increasing convert baptism and activation, council discussions would become more effective.

Minister to Others

Sister Burton encouraged each member to be a disciple of Christ and then help others become one by reaching out to them in love, individually. “We don’t do visiting teaching in big groups because the Savior ministers one by one.”

Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Sister Cordon emphasized in her training the use of “Teaching in the Savior’s Way” and how He taught in a way that people were drawn to Him, because of the great love He had for them. “He served individual needs in order to make others see and feel.”

When training Primary leaders, Sister Cordon used a puzzle game to illustrate the effect of teaching individuals around us “how” to accomplish the work. “Often times we are just told to do something, without being taught ‘how’ to do it,” she said. “Adding the ‘how’ to the teaching process makes a huge difference to the final result.”

In India, the growing Church offers a place of refuge from the trials of everyday life. Sister Burton and Sister Cordon highlighted the importance of laying down a great foundation for the Church in India, and reaffirmed the urgency of bringing others unto Christ, which will create an even stronger environment where girls are valued and women cherished. They reminded the audience that “the Lord will magnify” those who “give all” and “stay true” to the Church.

In Thailand, where a temple has been announced, Sister Cordon encouraged all present to be prepared for the day the temple will be open and implored them to reiterate the importance of the temple to the Thai people — which, once established, can serve as a hub for the uniting of families.

When meeting with the saints in Indonesia, Sister Burton stressed the importance of putting the best into each day to become the best version of oneself. She also counseled them to focus on one’s own choices rather than judging the troubling choices of others.

Besides meeting with Church members in these various countries, these two auxiliary leaders also greeted local government officials and NGO partners who are friends of the Church.

On a humanitarian visit to the Pure Life Society orphanage in Malaysia, Sister Burton met with the society’s president, Mother Mangalam, who expressed gratitude for the Church’s enduring partnership with the organization.

Sister Burton expressed appreciation for those who help children. “When we reach out and help someone else, we are the ones that probably benefit the most,” she said.

While offering lessons as to how the Church in Cambodia could be strengthened in size and spirit, Sister Cordon also had a chance to meet with His Excellency, Him Chhem, Senior Minister of Cult and Religion. He was touched by the hymn “I am a Child of God,” sung by the missionaries.

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