There is a beautiful footnote found in the Pearl of Great Price. It is in Joseph Smith-History 1:71. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had just received the Aaronic priesthood and been instructed to baptize each other. Oliver Cowdery was the first person to be baptized by the proper authority in the dispensation of the fullness of times. The footnote of that verse reads: "Oliver Cowdery describes these events thus: 'These were days never to be forgotten ... and I shall ever look upon [the] expression of the Savior's goodness with wonder and thanksgiving.' " Since that day in 1829, the work of the Church has rolled forward with majesty and grace. Theirs was a day of establishing, learning and discovering. Ours is a day of hastening and gathering.
In the book of Moses, the Lord teaches Enoch that "righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem" (Moses 7:62).
These are the latter days and the "flood" has begun. Look at the Book of Mormon. It has been translated into 82 languages and over 150 million copies have been printed. The Book of Mormon is flooding the earth. It is an exciting time to be trusted by the Lord and to engage in His holy work.
As the Book of Mormon floods the earth, we need missionaries to assist in teaching its truths. When I heard the announcement of the change in missionary age during October 2012 general conference, I was thrilled. I felt a sense that we must be ready whenever a prophet speaks. We must be worthy and respond to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Many youth expressed to me that they had felt stirrings within their hearts even before this announcement was made that they should increase their preparation. That is called "hastening." The youth are feeling it. They are being called to serve in so many ways. I believe that President Thomas S. Monson is saying to the youth, "We trust you! We know who you are! You have a great work to do!"
Parents, your homes can be missionary training centers. Your homes can be family history centers. Your homes can be a refuge from the storms in the world. This places a wonderful opportunity directly on our shoulders to strengthen the rising generation. The Church can assist, but parents do it best and most effectively.
We, too, must hasten our preparation of our children to serve the Lord. We must put the exclamation mark on the simple things we have been asked to do in our homes — daily scripture study, personal prayer, family prayer, family home evening, wholesome recreation, and preparing our children by teaching them the skills they will need to be successful away from home.
When I was first called as the Young Women general president, I felt the hand of the Lord guiding me with urgency to hasten my work in an effort to help Him hasten His. Our vision as a newly called presidency was to assist parents and priesthood leaders to help every young woman be worthy to make and keep covenants and receive the ordinances of the temple. This was very, very clear when we were called. That is why Sister Mary N. Cook, Sister Ann M. Dibb and I climbed Ensign Peak for our first presidency meeting. From there, the only thing we saw that day was the Salt Lake Temple. It glistened! It gave us a goal and vision of the work. Our first focus was to add the value of virtue to Personal Progress so that young women could develop a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards including chastity and purity. It also required young women to read the Book of Mormon. This was the first step in our role in "hastening" the work. Next we worked with our priesthood leaders, the Young Men general presidency and others to make the standards clear and updated to current circumstances, thus the new "For the Strength of Youth" booklet. Again, we worked together on the capstone "Come Follow Me," the new teaching and learning model we now have for youth.
As the work is hastened, there is a great need for gathering. I am impressed by the young women's response to serve full-time missions. I don't think they will be swept away by peer pressure. Their main focus is on the temple. They wear their Young Womanhood Recognition medallions with pride. They understand that a mission is a wonderful opportunity for them and the timing is right for many of them. But all young women will not serve missions. And that is a righteous choice as well. After all, someone has to be here to date those young elders when they return home in two years! I am confident in the young women because I know how spiritually sensitive they are and they know how to receive answers to their prayers. They will do what is right for them.
The young women know who they are. They know that they have a glorious purpose. They are converted! No matter what choice a young woman makes regarding missionary service there are four things that will help her prepare for her future roles and responsibilities.
1. Obtain a temple recommend and seek out family names and take them to the temple to perform baptisms.
2. Read the Book of Mormon.
3. Receive, recognize, respond to and rely on the Holy Ghost.
4. Be pure enough to hear the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Parents, buckle your seat belts! The youth of the Church are hastening their work. The young women seem to feel an innate yearning to be involved in a great cause. They are ready and willing to serve. The 2013 Mutual theme is from Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved." It is imperative that we make our homes holy places where our youth can prepare themselves to serve the Lord and ultimately return to Him. Our homes must be sanctuaries where the Spirit can dwell. The Lord through His prophets seems to be saying, "Prepare yourself, your home and your family — then serve."
The Lord is hastening His work and gathering His children. He has a plan and we are all part of it. May I add my voice to Oliver Cowdery's and declare that truly "These [are] days never to be forgotten ... and I shall ever look upon [the] expression of the Savior's goodness with wonder and thanksgiving.'"