Editor’s Note: Recently, we heard from our general Relief Society leaders in the Church’s annual general Relief Society meeting. Much of the focus of the 2009 broadcast was on the importance of Relief Society as an organization to help build faith, strengthen families, and provide service. If you are curious about why Relief Society is important to LDS women, take a look at Sister Silvia H. Allred’s talk entitled “Every Women Needs Relief Society.”
This post by Becky is a moving example of the way being a member of Relief Society can bless the life of any woman. We appreciate Becky’s willingness to share her story here at Mormon Women.
As Sisters in Zion
I belong to the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It was founded in 1842 by a prophet of God and serves two main purposes: to provide relief to the needy and bring people to Christ.
It is an organization of women. The largest in the world.
There is a hymn – a theme song – for members of the Relief Society entitled “As Sisters in Zion.” It speaks of the power and roles of women. How we are to be ministering angels. How we are here to work. How we are here to love each other.
I was always annoyed by the song.
It always seemed so cheesy to me. It is a gentle, suave song. Soft. And I preferred rousing numbers that get my blood going and made me want to march around and shout, “Hallejua!” Like “Ye Elders of Israel.” I thought that was a much cooler hymn.
My view of “As Sisters in Zion” changed when I moved to Brazil.
We arrived in São Paulo in October of 2004. I remember well my first Sunday. I didn’t speak a word of Portuguese. I had a brand new baby in my arms and held My Man’s hand tightly. All of my adventurism and courage failed me at the steps of our church building. My sweet husband kissed me at the door to the Relief Society room and wished me good luck.
He left me.
I walked hesitantly into the room. Head down, feet shuffling, I hurried to grab a seat in the back. The VERY back.
I had timed it just right — I took my seat just as the Relief Society president began the meeting. Sweet. No time for introductions.
She said some things in some language to some people. Everyone was smiling, finishing up friendly conversations and opening books I couldn’t read.
I began to cry.
I missed my family. My friends. My language. I knew that there was absolutely no way I could do this. Truly, what WAS I thinking?
As I sat pondering my stupidity and feeling extremely sorry for myself, the pianist began playing the first strains to a familiar tune.
“As Sisters in Zion.”
I couldn’t understand the words, but my heart did. It swelled in size and warmth and sent chills down my spine. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t speak the language or didn’t have a friend for thousands of miles. I had SISTERS here. I have SISTERS everywhere.
Fast forward four years.
My Relief Society president asked me to speak during our Super Special Relief Society Presentation in sacrament meeting. We all wore blue blouses and chique gold scarves. We sang a song. We had some talks. And then it was my turn to speak.
I bore my testimony about this inspired organization of women. How we can have family no matter where we go. How we truly are sisters in Zion. And how the Spirit speaks all languages.
And then I began to sing our hymn — in English.
I broke down after the first line.
Tears streaming down my face, I kept one hand on my mouth, trying to control myself. I stood at the pulpit in the sacrament meeting room. All eyes on me. My face was glowing red and the piano continued through the music written by Janice Kapp Perry.
And one by one, my sisters joined me.
Soon the entire congregation was singing softly the words written over a hundred years ago. And I wept. I stood before my sweet sisters, sharing in their spirit and celebrating their strength.
As sisters in Zion, we’ll all work together
The blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek
We’ll build up the kingdom with earnest endeavor
We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak
The errand of angels was given to women
And this is a gift that, as sisters, we claim
To do whatsoever is gentle and human
To cheer and to bless in humanity’s name
How vast is our purpose, how broad is our mission
If we but fulfill it in spirit and deed
Oh, naught but the Spirit’s divinest tuition
Can give us the wisdom to truly succeed.
Amen and amen.
To listen to “As Sisters In Zion” in Portuguese please click here.
To listen to “As Sisters in Zion” in English please click here.
How has Relief Society blessed your life? Please share your thoughts below, or we invite you to submit your experiences at gmail, username mormonwoman.
For more Sharing Our Voices content, including First Person essays, see here.
I have always loved this song. I love this line best, “The errand of angels is given to women.” I have been the recipient of angelic errands many times by the women of my congregation. They have brought me food in after having babies, they have cared for my children when I was ill, they have strengthened my testimony with theirs, they have helped me move and been my dearest friends.
The Relief Society is a magnificent organization for women. Thank you for reminding me again through this post.
Beautiful post, Becky. It truly is humbling how something, a song or a scripture or whatever it may be, can lack personal meaning for us until we have a poignant experience that GIVES it meaning. What beautiful women you were blessed with during that time in your life!
Wow. Becky, that was beautiful! Thank you for moving me to tears today. I have always loved Relief Society, and you have definitely captured the essence of what it is about. Sisters who love each other and take care of each other!
Just the past 2 weeks I’ve found myself with an “I LOVE Relief Society!” bounce in my step and your post, Becky, expresses some of my feelings in words. We are so blessed. Thank you for sharing!
It was just recently that I started loving this song too. Thank you for your perspective!
Every time I sing this song it reminds me of the different Relief Societies I have been a part of over the years. So many unique and wonderful women I have been blessed to know.
We all have been so blessed to live in this time of the restored gospel. Through a prophet’s revelations, and his wife Emma, the Relief Society and all its glory and purpose was created for Heavenly Father’s daughters to be blessed and to bless others. To be a Sister in Zion is such a glorious gift that I am honored and humbled by each and every day.