Before perusing the home arts, agriculture and 4-H buildings of the Utah State Fair Sept. 8, Elder L. Tom Perry called for young women and Relief Society sisters in the Church to renew their focus on homemaking skills.
"I think the fairs have a tremendous advantage for our people to improve their skills, get a new insight and new ideas to go forward," said Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve. "Here we have gardening, homemaking, crafts, painting and canning."
Elder Perry visited the Utah State Fair which opened Sept. 4 and concludes Sept. 14 with his wife, Barbara Dayton Perry, Relief Society General President Bonnie D. Parkin and Young Women General President Susan W. Tanner.
The group was going through the exhibits, he said, to encourage the Church's young people to become involved in homemaking and other skills needed for self reliance.
"I am very concerned that our young women and Relief Society sisters are losing their homemaking skills," Elder Perry said.
County and state fairs across the United States are part of the heritage of this country, he said, and noted that many other countries also have fairs.
"One of the great advantages of the fair and we should never lose this tradition is that it puts a little competition in it to increase the quality and the grade and bring out examples of what they have accomplished," he said. "The more they come to these exhibits they can see new ideas and new opportunities for them to be creative."
Walking through the 4-H exhibit and examining the things young people in that organization made, Sister Parkin and Sister Tanner lauded community programs that teach homemaking skills. They noted that young women can also learn these skills from others in their wards.
Each then spoke about using homemaking skills to bridge the transition from the Young Women program into Relief Society.
For example, Sister Parkin said older women from a ward in southern Utah volunteered to teach teens the skills they wanted to learn, such as cooking a casserole or making a cake from scratch. "When they join together they bless each other's lives," she said. "They become friends."
Sister Tanner said young women are at a "preparation point in their lives."
"They have the desire to learn these skills and if someone is there to teach them, it so enhances their self esteem. They all of a sudden feel like they can do something. They have a skill. These skills can bless their current families, but they will be prepared to bless their future families as well."
Learning new skills can build confidence, Sister Tanner added. "It gives [young women] opportunities to act upon their compassionate natures, then they have skills they can use to bless other people."
In the 4-H building of the Utah State Fair, Claudia Wagstaff and her daughter Holly who staff the building talked about the joy young people get from seeing their projects displayed. "They always like to have a picture taken by their display," Holly said. "It is an honor for them to come to [the fair]," added her mother.
Donna Dahl, executive director of the Utah State Fair and a member of the Hughes Canyon Ward, Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake, said homemaking skills can also help Church members prepare for the future and live providently.
"Our main goal here at the fair is to do whatever we can to get people here to learn about our heritage and our traditions, and homemaking and agriculture," she said.
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