Sister Michelle Daines Craig was 15 years old when she learned her family would be moving from Provo, Utah, to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, for her father to accept an assignment to preside over the mission there.
For the oldest of seven children in the Daines family, the thought of moving to a new area, attending a new school and not knowing anyone was rather frightening for her.
The move two days before her 16th birthday was hard and left a shy Michelle insecure in new surroundings for her junior and senior year of high school.
“Those were really formative years,” she said. “Instead of relying on friends, I relied on my family and my testimony, and Church became a lifeline.”
They became her “constants” — the importance of her family, her Church family and most important, her relationship with her Heavenly Father and the Savior.
“I didn’t get involved with a lot of high school extra-curricular activities and friends,” she said. “I never went to a dance, I was never invited to a party, and I really didn’t even hang out with friends on the weekends. I was home with my family.”
Feeling a little “lonely socially,” she decided to spend time on splits with the sister missionaries — during their preparation day and teaching with them later that night. The missionaries became her friends, and her testimony continued to grow as she helped teach others the gospel.
“The friendship of one missionary — Sister Jamie Hooper — who loved me and listened to me and laughed with me and believed in me — turned a challenging time into a happy one where I saw my confidence grow,” she said.
Those “constants” are still at the foundation of her faith and continue to guide her today, especially in her call to serve as the first counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
“I love the young women of the Church,” she said. “And I want them to know that they can do hard things as they rely on the Lord.”
Sister Craig was born on July 13, 1963, in Murray, Utah, to Janet Lundgren Daines and Robert Henry Daines III. She spent her childhood living in Provo, Utah, where her father taught at Brigham Young University until the mission assignment.
In 1984, after a freshman year at BYU, Sister Craig accepted a call to serve in the Dominican Republic, a country that had been open to the Church for six years.
“There were no stakes and no wards, only branches,” she said. “It is amazing to see how strong it is today.”
There she was taught again that, as she relied on the Lord, she could do hard things.
“While at first the language and living conditions were a little bit difficult to get used to, it didn’t take long before I loved my mission and I loved the people — they are humble, full of faith, believing.”
Recognizing she has a “believing heart,” Sister Craig said it was during her mission that her testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith solidified.
“From a young age I knew that I was a daughter of God and that I was loved,” she said. “But I remember every time I bore testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith I would feel the Spirit. I had a beautiful confirmation that solidified my testimony. If Joseph Smith was a prophet then it’s all true.”
Building a testimony doesn’t require grand experiences, said her husband, Boyd Craig.
“Her experience is not unlike that of many young people in the Church,” he said. “They’re believers and then discover the strength and depth of their testimony as they share it with others.”
Sister Craig remembers being a mother of three young children, feeling tired and stagnant. Her husband was in school, working full-time and in the bishopric, and she felt sorry for herself.
She read Doctrine and Covenants 64:33: “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.”
“I typed it up and put it on the fridge — I realized that it is the small and simple things that were going to help me to grow,” she said, recognizing a refocus on her “constants,” this time manifest by consistent scripture study, personal prayer and going to the temple.
Focusing on the constants is what she hopes the Church’s young women will learn for themselves — that as they lean on the Lord, they’re able to do hard things and also find great joy in life.
“The young women of the Church are capable and needed,” she said. “They are a blessing to so many. I am excited to work side-by-side with them. I feel the hastening of the Lord’s work and we need to run to keep up with President Nelson.”