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Episode 94: New Relief Society President Camille N. Johnson on how understanding divine nature and purpose leads to lasting happiness

President Johnson will begin her service as Relief Society general president on Aug. 1

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President Camille N. Johnson will begin service as Relief Society general president on Aug. 1, 2022.

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During the October 2021 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Primary General President Camille N. Johnson spoke to members about pondering their own personal narrative and allowing Christ to direct their story.

Little did she know that six months later, her own narrative would shift as members worldwide sustained her as the Church’s new Relief Society general president, effective Aug. 1.

In this episode of the Church News podcast, President Johnson talks about allowing the Savior to be the “author and finisher” of her story — and the individual stories of all.

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Transcript

President Camille N. Johnson: I want all of our sisters to know that I love them and I pray for them, but me telling them that is probably neither here nor there. But I would extend an invitation to all of my Relief Society sisters. It’s an invitation I’ve extended to Primary children over the course of the last year and that is to ask your Heavenly Father, “Do You love me? Do You need me? And tell me in a way I can understand.” And I am confident that that sincere prayer will be heard and answered.

Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During the October 2021 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Primary General President Camille N. Johnson spoke about pondering your own personal narrative and allowing Christ to direct your story. Little did she know that six months later, her own narrative would shift as members worldwide sustained her as the Church’s new Relief Society general president effective Aug. 1, 2022. In this episode of the Church News podcast, President Johnson will talk about allowing the Savior to be the author and finisher of her story. 

The Relief Society general presidency beginning Aug. 1, 2022, are President Camille N. Johnson, center, Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor, left; Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor, right.

The Relief Society general presidency beginning Aug. 1, 2022, are President Camille N. Johnson, center, Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor, left; Sister Kristin M. Yee, second counselor, right.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Johnson is no stranger to service, having held numerous Church callings including Sunday School and Relief Society teacher, member of a ward Relief Society and Primary presidency and ward Young Women president. She and her husband, Douglas R. Johnson, served as companion and mission president in the Peru Arequipa Mission from 2016 to 2019. She graduated from the University of Utah in English in 1985 and received a law degree from the University of Utah in 1989. She then worked almost 30 years as an attorney. President Johnson, thank you so much for joining us today. Welcome to the Church News podcast.

President Camille N. Johnson: Sarah, I’m delighted to be here with you.

2:28 

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, you know, you’ve had several weeks to ponder this new assignment to lead Relief Society sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. What impressions have come to you as you’ve thought about the women of the Church?

President Camille N. Johnson: I believe that the messages that we’ve worked and prayed over for our Primary children are the same messages that are needful for Relief Society sisters. First and foremost, that we are children of our loving Heavenly Father. We teach our Primary children to sing “I Am a Child of God” and I think our sisters need to know that. They need to remember that they are children of a loving Heavenly Father with a divine nature and a divine purpose, and perhaps that’s the second part of it. 

That second verse of “I Am a Child of God”: “I am a child of God, rich blessings are in store.” If I but learn to let God prevail, then I can live with Him again, and that is our divine purpose, then, to make our way back to our heavenly home, to our Heavenly Father and to our Savior Jesus Christ, and all of that is possible because of Him. If we know of our divine nature and our divine purpose — I am a child of God and He has a purpose for me — then I can begin to look outward. If I have an inner understanding of my divine role, my divine purpose, then I can be a disciple of Jesus Christ and help those around me. 

I’ve had an opportunity over the course of the last several weeks to talk with faith leaders of other faiths, and they inquire about how we can motivate our young people to serve in the way that we do. How do we motivate our young people to serve as missionaries or to serve in their communities? And I think it all starts with a better understanding of our divine nature and our divine purpose. When we have that as our core, then we can look outward, then we can recognize the needs of others and keep the first and second great commandments: love the Lord and then love others as He would love them. So, I think that’s important as well, for our sisters to have that divine center, and then once they have that divine center then we can provide the relief that really is a sacred responsibility and trust that’s been given to us.

4:51

Sarah Jane Weaver: I love this idea that the messages that you will apply as Relief Society general president are the same things that you thought about and prayed about as Primary general president and probably while you were engaged in missionary service in Peru.

President Camille N. Johnson: Absolutely. It’s interesting how the Lord blesses us with these experiences and then brings to our remembrance the things that are needful in the time that they’re needful. Absolutely.

5:17

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I love the talk that we started this podcast with. I felt like it was just such an impactful moment for me personally. As you talk about being the author and finisher, you know, it says you got to start and you got to finish your own story. How do you think the Lord prepared you for this moment in time?

President Camille N. Johnson: To be candid with you, Sarah, I don’t know yet. But He has blessed me with a number of experiences, some of them challenging. So, not all of them were smooth sailing experiences. Some of them were storms. And I think those will bless and inform my experience and hopefully provide me with empathy for the issues that our Relief Society sisters are working to address.

6:07

Sarah Jane Weaver: And you do have a credential that is not unique to leaders of the Church, but maybe unique to Relief Society general presidents, and that is, this not only study of the law, but practice in the law. Can we talk about your career for a few minutes?

President Camille N. Johnson: Sure.

Sarah Jane Weaver: And some of the skills that you may have learned there that you bring to service in the Church?

President Camille N. Johnson: Well, as a lawyer, I always saw myself as a problem-solver. You know, if a client came to me and chose me because they wanted somebody to get mean and angry with the opposition, I told them they’d chosen poorly. That wasn’t my aim or objective. My objective was to advocate on behalf of my client in the most persuasive way I could and to help them solve a problem and frankly, sometimes problems have to be solved in front of a judge in a jury. That’s the best way to solve a problem, is to have a neutral third party, or third parties in the case of a jury, make your decision for you, because you can’t arrive at the conclusion on your own. But I viewed myself as a problem-solver in my law practice, and I hope that that skill translates to my service here in the Church, that we recognize problems and then we draw upon the resources that are available to us, our greatest resource being people, in order to solve problems. So, I hope that that will help. Lawyers do a lot of talking. The best ones I know are good listeners. So, I’m cultivating that skill. I haven’t mastered it, but I’m working to be a better listener, and I hope that that will bless me so that I can bless the lives of others.

7:57

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, that’s a beautiful sentiment. And recently, we were at an event with religious leaders from New York and in some of the interviews we did with them before that event, they pointed out that we have two ears and one mouth and that’s because we should spend double the time listening.

President Camille N. Johnson: Love that. It’s perfect.

8:15

Sarah Jane Weaver: One of my favorite things that I’ve learned from a former Relief Society general president is from Sister Julie B. Beck, and President Beck talked a lot during her ministry about personal revelation. She said, qualifying for and receiving and then acting on personal revelation is one of the most important things Latter-day Saint women can do. Certainly, as you made decisions in your life, which had to be very, very busy — for almost three decades, you worked as an attorney, you raised three sons, you supported a husband in his career and then served in the Church — so I want to talk about balance and then I want to talk about how personal revelation sort of guided those years.

President Camille N. Johnson: Well, let me start by saying I agree wholeheartedly with President Beck’s expressions about the Holy Ghost guiding us, and no skill could be more important for any of us than the ability to recognize how the Spirit speaks to us. And frankly, that’s something that we spent a lot of time teaching in Primary this last year. It’s been a point of emphasis as we’ve had the opportunity to teach Primary leaders to help the children recognize the distinct and diverse ways in which the Spirit speaks to us. We refer to the Spirit as the Comforter, and that’s certainly a role that the Spirit plays comforting us. Importantly, the Spirit testifies of truth. The Spirit, for me, at least, sometimes agitates me, and I say that in a positive way. The Spirit agitates me to do something. It’s not a negative thing, but I feel a prompting to act, and I know that that’s coming from the Spirit. So, there’s a diversity of ways in which the Spirit speaks to me. I’m still learning that skill of listening to the Spirit. I guess, we just talked about listening. The most important listening we can do is to the Spirit, which will guide and direct our lives. 

And with respect to balancing family, and career, and Church responsibilities, the Spirit guided me. I had the opportunity, and I know it was a blessing, to be educated. I had the opportunity to go to school. I had the ambition to learn, and I felt prompted. In the moment, I’m not sure I knew what was the Spirit prompting me. Looking back now, I’m certain it was. I was prompted to a career path and a legal education and, again, looking back, in the moment, I’m not sure I thought, “Oh, this is exactly how the Spirit is speaking to me. This is what I should do.” Of course, there’s uncertainty. All of us have it and we think, “Is this what the Lord has in mind for me?” But you have to take a step forward in faith and trust that you are being guided by the Spirit, even if in the moment you’re not sure that’s exactly what it is. 

I think sometimes we’re looking for something more definite, and we don’t realize that the Spirit really is attending our every day, our every moment, our every decision. So, I felt, thankfully, blessed, I’m so grateful, I think I was guided by the Spirit to pursue the career path that I did. I was blessed to marry a husband whose objective, like mine, was returning to our heavenly home with our children. And along that path of marriage, and then children, and both of us working, and both of us serving in Church callings, we just kept trying to do what we thought was right, and we worked hard to bless the lives of our children. We were equally yoked in sharing the responsibility of providing for our family. We were equally yoked in sharing the responsibility of nurturing our children.

12:35

Sarah Jane Weaver: Thank you so much for addressing that issue. First of all, since we were talking about personal revelation, we’ll link to your “Hear Him” video that was recently published from this podcast. It is beautiful, and I hope everyone can hear that. And as a working mother who also went down this path and didn’t always know what that would look like, I tried to do something that felt right at the time. I have appreciated so much of what I have learned from you and from your example. You know, the first time I interviewed you, you talked about Sunday afternoons where you’d get a big calendar, and that was our experience, as well. On Sundays, we’d have a family council meeting, and we’d put everything on a sheet for the week and figure out who had to be to what game or what obligation and who was going to drive them and how they were going to have a parent there to support them, and sometimes it felt like air traffic control and it was certainly a balancing act. Probably no more than any other family that has busy parents working through their life the way that they felt directed to do that, but there were some crazy times.

President Camille N. Johnson: Absolutely. I mean, sometimes it looks like that circus performer that has plates spinning and the ring spinning on their feet, and it felt a little bit like that. But those are, as I reflect on it — our listeners won’t be able to see this, but I have a big smile on my face, and you do too, Sarah. Those were the most joyful moments, weren’t they?

Sarah Jane Weaver: They were.

President Camille N. Johnson: When we were just in the mix of life, in the middle of life, loving our children, trying to address their needs, defending them fiercely, because that’s what mothers do. Those were very, very happy times for me, and I did everything I knew to do, that I could think of to do, to make sure that my children, my boys, knew that they were the center and core of everything, of my everything, and my husband and I worked towards a common objective. It was to return to our Heavenly Father as a family, and for us, that path was both of us in the workplace, both of us leaning into our responsibilities to provide and nurture, and for us, it worked and it was the right thing to do. And did I have moments of uncertainty? Of course, we all do. Reflecting back on, it was the right thing for my family. I feel confident that that’s exactly what the Lord had in mind for me.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson fist bumps a child after a Primary devotional in Anchorage, Alaska, June 11, 2022.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson fist bumps a child after a Primary devotional in Anchorage, Alaska, June 11, 2022.

Dave Davis

15:16

Sarah Jane Weaver: President Johnson, you know, you spoke at BYU and made a statement about how your life’s plan unfolded as you lived it.

President Camille N. Johnson: Yeah.

Sarah Jane Weaver: Talk to us about what that actually looks like.

President Camille N. Johnson: Well, I’m a person that likes to have everything planned. I like to have things on calendar, and I do think that it was just sort of my natural inclination to want to have a life plan laid out. And I discovered that I was better off just turning it over to the Lord and taking steps in faith, every single day, trying to do what I thought was the best for myself, for my family, and as it played out, yeah, my life plan rolled out as I lived it. And it wasn’t that I didn’t have objectives or goals. I had all of those, but the primary objective and the primary priority was my family and our return to our Heavenly Father. So, because of that, I think everything else came into play. 

16:17

Sarah Jane Weaver: And I am so grateful for the preparation that you brought to the year you spent in the Primary. We had an interview earlier, and we talked about priesthood power blessing the lives of 8 year olds. I’m hoping you can talk a little bit about that here.

President Camille N. Johnson: Oh, I feel so passionately about this. We look forward to the opportunities that are available for all of us and when I say all of us, I mean, all of us, not just those who are serving for a time and Primary, but all of us. Women and men have a responsibility to teach our children about the priesthood power that is theirs. And I think there’s an untapped resource in the General Handbook. People don’t often refer there for inspiration, but I found the words in chapter 3 inspiring, because they help us understand the priesthood power that’s available to all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Can I quote?

Sarah Jane Weaver: Oh, please do.

President Camille N. Johnson: OK, so this is in section 3.5 and it says, “God’s priesthood power flows to all members of the Church — female and male — as they keep the covenants they have made with Him” and the blessings of that priesthood power available to all members. So that tells you that everyone that’s been baptized has access to this priesthood power. Section 3.5 goes on to explain that it includes guidance for our lives; inspiration to know how to serve our family and others; strength to overcome challenges; gifts of the Spirit to magnify our abilities; revelation to know how to fulfill the work we are given to do; and help and strength to become more like Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. 

And then I love this line from section 3.6. “All Church members who keep their covenants — women, men and children — are blessed with God’s priesthood power in their homes to strengthen themselves and their families.” I just think that is marvelous. It’s a marvelous promise and blessing to know that our Primary children, those that have been baptized, all members of the Church, have access to priesthood power to bless their lives and to bless the lives of others and so, it’s quite exhilarating, actually, to think about it.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson, left, and Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham pause for a photo outside of the Sarah Granger Kimball home during a tour in historic Nauvoo, Illinois, on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

18:51

Sarah Jane Weaver: What a beautiful sentiment, especially for our young women who will turn 12 and see their male counterparts passing the sacrament, and we can teach them that they have all the same access to priesthood power.

President Camille N. Johnson: They have access to priesthood power, absolutely. And for those young women, who will soon be set apart with callings in Young Women, they’ll have priesthood authority as well. So, when someone with priesthood keys [or delegated priesthood keys] lays their hands upon the head of a young woman, sets them apart for a calling, they have that priesthood authority that comes with it. But priesthood power comes to those of us who are members, that is baptized and confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who keep their covenants, take upon His name, always remember Him, keep the commandments and do that every single day.

19:46

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, you know, this is such an important time in the history of the Church. President Russell M. Nelson has said it’s a hinge point in the history of the Church when the Lord is hastening His work, and I think we all feel that there’s something that we glimpse that’s coming ahead of us, because we can see the power of the Lord’s Church across the globe. Now, in this most important time, we also have so many Latter-day Saint women who have questions about their place in the Church and about what role they play in the Church. How does the Church bless the lives of women and what messages do you have for any woman who’s questioning?

President Camille N. Johnson: Well, I think part of it goes back to understanding who we are, divine nature and divine purpose, and then we can look outward and we can fulfill our responsibility as Relief Society to provide relief. Sister Reyna Aburto, who has served as the second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, I love how she put this in her last conference address. She said, “Anywhere and everywhere we go, we are always part of Relief Society as we strive to fulfill its divine purpose, which is for women to accomplish God’s work in individual as well as collective areas by providing relief: relief of poverty, relief of illness, relief of doubt, relief of ignorance, relief of all that hinders joy in progress.” And that is what Relief Society does. We come to the aid of our sisters and our brothers around the world, and we provide them with relief, and some people have temporal needs. It’s a physical need that they have then we will step in and address those. People are cold, and they’re hungry. They have intellectual needs. They have the need to be educated, and so we’re looking for ways to help in that regard to increase literacy, particularly amongst women in places in the world where they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn to read. So, there’s temporal, physical, intellectual needs that Relief Society seeks to address, and of course, we seek to address the spiritual needs of our sisters and to do so, we go back to the basics, right? “I’m a daughter of God. He loves me and has a divine purpose for me.” And when I understand that core, I can look outward and look for ways to serve others and help others on their way back home.

22:25

Sarah Jane Weaver: Several years ago, I covered the rededication of the Nuku’alofa Tonga Temple, and while I was in Tonga I got on a airplane and flew to an island and then got on a couple of boats and went to different islands and ultimately, I ended up on this small island in Tonga that only had two Latter-day Saint meetinghouses and then the homes of our members. Because there was not a hotel for me to stay at, the mission president and area president gave me permission to sleep at the meetinghouse. And I remember walking into one of the rooms, and the Relief Society sisters had brought mats and pillows and a few things to make that meetinghouse room something special for me and then, they stayed there with me. And it’s not what typically, when I think about this story, it wasn’t the physical needs, it wasn’t that they were doing what we often associate with Relief Society which is, you know, bring the bedding, make the meals. It wasn’t that at all. It was that I felt a connection to these sisters and I felt a protection from them. I felt safe in this place where I was new, because I had Relief Society. And we didn’t speak the same language. We never had a conversation, but I tell, especially my daughters when they turn 18 and embark in the journey of Relief Society, “This is going to be a beautiful journey for you, because wherever you go Relief Society will be there for you.”

President Camille N. Johnson: Absolutely. That is such a fabulous example of just what is intended in Relief Society — people feeling safe, people feeling protected — and I hope that our Relief Societies are safe places where sisters can share their life experiences. It’s that diversity in life experience that’s going to help us get home, right? I mean, we’ve got to draw upon one another’s strengths and sometimes strengths are born of weakness, right? The weaknesses that we’ve overcome become our strengths, and then we can help others work through their challenges. I’ve always felt just a natural affection for my Relief Society sisters, those that are older than I am, those that are younger than I am, just a natural affection for them and for the wisdom that they have for their vitality, and I say vitality and I speak of both my Relief Society sisters who are younger and older than I am. I’m thankful for the compassion that I felt in Relief Society amongst my Relief Society sisters, and I hope, as you said, that we’re providing that safe place, that protection. If there’s a phrase that I always used in parenting, I’d say to my boys, “We’re all on the same team,” right?

Sarah Jane Weaver: Yeah.

President Camille N. Johnson: We’re all on the same team. Our objective is the same. So, we come at it from a diversity of experience, and background and culture, and yet our objective is the same to return to our heavenly home.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speaks Sunday morning, Oct. 3, 2021, during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Semiannual General Conference, which was held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speaks Sunday morning, Oct. 3, 2021, during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Semiannual General Conference, which was held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

25:36

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and you know, President Boyd K. Packer once compared Relief Society to “a fabric of lace spread across the continents.” I actually love the analogy. I think lace is beautiful, but when you think about it and you think about each Latter-day Saint woman creating or contributing a strand to that lace, there is great power in that, because the tighter that the threads of fabric are woven together, the stronger the fabric becomes.

President Camille N. Johnson: Such a beautiful analogy, and I think sometimes we think, “Well, I’m just a single thread, or I’m just a scrawny pencil,” right? But the Lord will work with us ,and He will magnify that simple strand of thread and put it to work to tighten the fabric that will bless and protect the lives of others. And then the lace is magnificent, but it takes all those individual threads working together. It’s that vision that we have to have of our divine purpose. If we see things with broader eyes, with wider eyes, then we understand better the role we can play even as simple threads in the fabric.

26:51

Sarah Jane Weaver: Thank you so much for that. So thinking about that, what advice do you have for me and for others?

President Camille Johnson: You can do this. Keep taking steps forward in faith. You’re doing what’s right for you, for your family and the Lord will bless you, and you’ll continue to receive those spiritual manifestations, impressions, to move forward and as you do, act upon them. Be cognizant of when you’re not filling the Spirit, what’s happened in your life if you don’t feel like you’re feeling it, and then avoid that, right? And then, because I think sometimes we’re feeling the Spirit, and we don’t recognize that that’s what it is. We expect some sort of grand manifestation of the Spirit, and instead it’s just simple assurance that we feel day to day to day. We’ve been blessed if we’re covenant-keeping, through our baptism and confirmation we’ve been blessed with the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. So, what maybe we should ask ourselves, “What have I done that causes the Holy Ghost to step away? Have I not felt it? OK, that’s what I should stop doing.” And otherwise, live in the Spirit, act in the Spirit, act on promptings. Any prompting to do good, we know, is coming from the Holy Ghost. That’s a spiritual manifestation prompting us. So, you just keep acting in faith, knowing that the Spirit is with you. 

And I think I’ve decided that the Lord will put up a roadblock if you’re going down a path He doesn’t want you to go down. On the other hand, sometimes He lets us go a little ways down a path to get some experience. He’s not going to lead us down a dangerous path, but sometimes there’s a side road that we take because we needed to learn something. Maybe the more direct route isn’t the way He needed us to go, but He lets us go down a side route because there’s an experience that we need to gain on that side road. And He’ll get us back on the road if we’re just faithful, keep listening, and each day, “OK I’m going to step forward today in faith.” You can do it. Sisters, you can do it, each day, a step forward in faith.

29:16

Sarah Jane Weaver: Yeah, I loved a devotional that President Nelson recently gave to young adults. So, these are married, single, any Latter-day Saints 18 to 30 years old across the globe, and he talked to them about their identity.

President Camille N. Johnson: Yeah.

Sarah Jane Weaver: He says, first and foremost, just what you’ve been talking to us about today, you’re a child of God, and then you’re a child of covenant and —

President Camille N. Johnson: And then you’re a disciple. But Sarah, listen to the sequence by which he presented that, and by the way I don’t think his devotional was just for the young adults. I think it was for all of us, but the sequence was key. He said, “I’m a child of God. I’m a child of [the] covenant.” My divine purpose, right? I’ve made a covenant, a lasting relationship with God through those covenants. So, child of God, child of covenant, then I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. Understanding the first two, I think, is critical to being that disciple of Jesus Christ, then we can reflect the light and love of our Savior Jesus Christ to all of those around us when we have that core understanding of our identity. It frees us up to be able to say, “OK what would Jesus do? I’m trying to be like Jesus,” right? It’s the Primary song. “What would Jesus do?” We’re freed up to do that if we understand at our core who we are, and that is our objective, to bring our sisters and our brothers back to our Heavenly Father, and it’s all possible because of our Savior Jesus Christ. He is at the center of all we do.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson invites a child to play a sequence of chimes on a xylophone during a Primary devotional in Anchorage, Alaska, June 11, 2022.

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson invites a child to play a sequence of chimes on a xylophone during a Primary devotional in Anchorage, Alaska, June 11, 2022.

Dave Davis

31:02

Sarah Jane Weaver: And I actually love that list so much, because it actually is universal. So, so, he lists three things in the priority that come before his calling as Prophet of the Church, before he talked about being a husband and a father, which are all very, very important identities. But the three first identities we all share, regardless of our marital status, regardless of our heritage, or our culture, or our country, regardless of anything else in our lives. Anyone who has been baptized and made covenants in the Church and is on the covenant path shares those three beautiful identities.

President Camille N. Johnson: Yes, I love that. I just love it. So key to everything that we’re, that we’re doing.

31:49

Sarah Jane Weaver: Even though we’ve talked about those important identities, there are other identities and certainly, so much of your identity has come from being a wife and a mother and a grandmother. I’d love for you to just talk a little bit about your family.

President Camille N. Johnson: Well, the most important decision I made was when I married Doug Johnson, as it turns out, and I’m thankful that the Lord put him in my path. He was a faith-filled and faithful missionary as a young man and a blessing to me as a missionary companion as we served in Arequipa (Peru). He believes in the power of the priesthood. He believes in our Savior Jesus Christ and my husband expects miracles. The Prophet has recently asked us to expect miracles and my husband, throughout his life, has done the spiritual work that’s required to expect miracles. So, I’m thankful to have him as my eternal companion, blessed with three sons who are just the light of my life, and I’m so proud of the men that they have become. They’ve married three beautiful women who are now my daughters, and right now we have five grandchildren who are absolutely, positively delightful. We’re blessed to have them all nearby, and so we get to see our grandchildren and our children frequently. My boys are engaged. They’re hard working. They love their families. They love their friends. They’re devoted friends and continue to be supportive of me, in my role here. I think they bought on when I said, “We’re all on the same team.” They bought into the idea that we’re all on the same team, because we are and we work to help one another.

34:03

Sarah Jane Weaver: That is something that I share. The best day of my life was the day my husband invited me to be on his team, and I’m so grateful for that. I was surprised, in a recent general conference, to learn that more than half of the women in the Church are not married right now, that they either have not had that opportunity or are widowed or have faced other challenges upon the path of life. What is your message to any women who may be lonely or discouraged in this area, right now?

President Camille N. Johnson: I want all of our sisters to know that I love them and I pray for them, but me telling them that, this probably neither here nor there, but I would extend an invitation to all of my Relief Society sisters. It’s an invitation I’ve extended to Primary children over the course of the last year and that is to ask your Heavenly Father, “Do You love me? Do You need me? And tell me in a way I can understand.” And I am confident that that sincere prayer will be heard and answered. Our Savior Jesus Christ is merciful and loving and wants to help us, and the Spirit is available to do all of those things for us.

35:40

Sarah Jane Weaver: I wish we could talk forever, maybe we’ll just have you back on the Church News podcast every single year. But —

President Camille N. Johnson: We have a lot to talk about, Sarah, and we have a lot in common. So, I feel sitting here with you, like I’m here with just a dear friend. We’ve shared a lot of life’s experiences, even though we’re just becoming acquainted now, but I can tell you that I feel confident that a lot of these relationships are relationships that started before we came to this earth. And isn’t it interesting, the unique roles that we now find ourselves in, where we can help one another and hopefully, we can bless and serve the lives of our sisters.

36:32

Sarah Jane Weaver: Thank you so much for that. We have a tradition at the Church News podcast where we give everybody the last word and then we have them answer the same question, “What do I know now?” So, as we conclude, I hope you’ll share your testimony of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with us and then tell us what you know now, after serving Jesus Christ.

President Camille N. Johnson: Well, I know that our Savior Jesus Christ lives and that He loves us and that He wants us to be happy. More than anything, He wants us to be happy. He knows, and I think we know, what brings us happiness, and that is in choosing to keep His commandments and to keep the covenants that we’ve made at baptism and then in the temple, in the House of the Lord. What a blessing and opportunity it is for us to know of our eternal nature and our eternal purpose. We have a covenantal obligation, I think, to share that with the world. 

I know now that the Lord will make use of ordinary people — “scrawny pencils,” as the phrase goes — to accomplish His work in extraordinary ways and being faithful, and repenting every day and trying to do better is what He asks of us, to keep the Savior at the very core and center of our lives. He is the reason that we have a glorious opportunity to be reunited for the eternities as families to live together for the eternities as families, and when I say families, I mean core family. But I also believe that the relationships that we foster in this life are ours for the eternities. I have relationships with dear sisters that I am confident that will endure on the other side of the veil. I hope that as sisters in Relief Society, we will buoy one another up, that we will draw upon one another’s strengths and see every sister as that vital thread that’s going to hold the lace together and make it beautiful in design.

Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast and if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer KellieAnn Halvorsen and others who make this podcast possible. Join every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on thechurchnews.com.

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