General Young Women Meeting: Sister Mary N. Cook

“Your virtuous lives will bless your ancestors, your families now, and family members yet to come,” pronounced Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, to young women gathered in the Conference Center March 30 for the General Young Women Meeting. Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, she stated, “When you save a girl, you save generations.”

Drawing from the 2013 Mutual Theme found in Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 “Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved,” Sister Cook encouraged young women to stand in holy places for their ancestors, for themselves and their immediate families, and for their future families. “Your righteous choices will qualify you to make and keep sacred covenants that will bind your family together eternally.”

Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, speaks during the annual General Young Women Meeting in the Conference Center on Saturday, March 30, 2013.
Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, speaks during the annual General Young Women Meeting in the Conference Center on Saturday, March 30, 2013. Credit: Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News

Sister Cook said she saw this theme displayed in a composition at the recent International Art Competition for Youth. A modern depiction of the parable of the ten virgins included a representation of one of the wise virgins as a young woman of “virtue and faith” who had a beautiful braid. The artist explained that the braid represented “the weaving of this young woman’s virtuous life into countless generations. One strand represented the weaving of her love and respect for her ancestors, the second the weaving of her righteous influence upon her current family and the third strand, the weaving of her prepared life into the lives of generations to come.”

Sister Cook then shared the example of a young woman, Kate, whose early spiritual preparation had “woven a life of righteousness into many generations.”

Kate was raised in a family whose home was a holy place. She was baptized and, at age 14, started high school and attended seminary. That year her father suffered a stroke and died within a few days.

“It was so hard,” Kate said. “You never want to lose the hero of your life. I knew I could make it a springboard for growth or allow it to be a roadblock. … I tried to be as close to the Lord as possible. I read my scriptures a lot. … I prayed a lot. I wrote in my journal as often as I could. I kept my testimony vibrant by writing it down. I went to Church and to Young Women every week. I surrounded myself with good friends. I kept close to caring relatives and especially to my mom, who was the anchor in our family. I sought out priesthood blessings from my grandfather and other priesthood holders.”

“These consistent choices,” Sister Cook explained, “like those of the wise virgin, added oil to Kate’s lamp.”

Then, at age 21 as Kate was getting ready to serve a mission, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Kate had to decide whether to stay home and support her mother or go on her mission. Her mother received a priesthood blessing and, assured that her mother would survive her illness, Kate continued her plans to serve a mission.

Sister Cook noted that Kate had faith because she understood the plan of salvation and quoted Kate who said, “I didn’t just survive my dad’s death, it became part of my identity for good, and had my mom been taken away, it would have done the same thing. It would have woven a greater testimony into my life.”

Sister Cook said Kate married in the temple; she and her husband are “fulfilling the sacred responsibility of parenthood, weaving their testimonies of the plan of salvation into the lives of three little boys, showing them the way on the covenant path. …

“Kate’s decision as a 14-year-old to stay on the path, consistently add oil to her lamp and stand in holy places has saved and will save generations,” Sister Cook said.

Sister Cook concluded by saying, “Decide now to do all you can to fill your lamps, that your strong testimony and example may be woven into the lives of many generations, past, present and future. I testify that your virtuous life will not only save generations, but it will save your eternal life, for it is the only way to return to our Heavenly Father, and find true joy now and throughout eternity.”