During April 1984 general conference, held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, then-Elder Russell M. Nelson was sustained as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. During the same meeting, I was sustained as the new Young Women general president.
Little did I realize what rich and rewarding connections I would have with Elder Nelson over the next eight years.
When I was called, President Gordon B. Hinckley told me, “This is a time when you will see the Young Women of the Church rise up like a sleeping giant and begin to move across the face of the earth as a mighty force for righteousness.”
Now, 30 years later, we have seen the realization of this powerful prophecy. We have almost as many sister missionaries serving throughout the world as young men. They were prepared to serve and testify as they participated in the Young Women program.
The year 1984 was a time when issues relating to women worldwide were of major concern. The voices of the world were asking, “What is a woman’s role? What is her identity?”
After prayerful study, faith and reflection, the Young Women’s theme and values program was presented to the Priesthood Executive Council. I shall never forget Elder Nelson’s response to the presentation: “We have had the diagnosis, but now we have the prescription.”
With Dr. Nelson’s medical background, I sensed his approval was coming from his heart.
In November 1985 issue of the New Era, Elder Nelson wrote an article “Daughters of Zion — Maidens of Truth,” consisting of 3.5 pages of high expectations and great confidence. In that same issue, the Young Women values with scripture references were explained in detail.
During the next several years, the Young Women general presidency worked closely with Elder Nelson, our priesthood adviser.
I learned from him the value of counseling together. He would ask significant questions and then listen and coach with encouragement.
In 1986, the use of computers was scheduled to make a significant difference in the work. Elder Nelson called me to his office to share this remarkable new resource. He said a few of the brethren were in the process of trying them out. I suggested they ask some sisters to give feedback as well. Two days later a computer was placed in the Young Women general offices.
On another occasion, Elder Nelson asked me to read a conference talk he was preparing and to make suggestions. I felt overwhelmed that my opinion would be of any importance. I read the talk and returned it with only complimentary comments. He was disappointed. I took the talk again and returned it again with my feedback, suggesting he could reword one section to reach the masses. He thanked me and made the exact changes.
There are many things I know now that I learned from working with Elder Nelson. I learned to be focused, to set priorities and then to be prayerful and patient. One time he said, “The Lord has heard your prayer. Leave it with Him. When the time is right it will happen.”
And it did.