Sunday, May 13, 2012

Women: Builders of Nations

Women: Builders of Nations
Elder Darrel L. Hammon

Women have played an important role in my life—my mother, my four sisters, my wife, my two daughters, my mother-in-law, and many of my teachers. Because of them, I am what I am and will ever be. While that is a bold statement, it is true. Take for example, my mother.

What I loved to do most is pick raspberries with my mother. Early in the a.m., the sun rising in the east, mother and I tied gallon buckets around our waists with yellow baling twine. Mother showed me how to lift the vines gently with a leather glove on the left hand and pick with the right, each berry gently placed in the bucket. She went down one side of the row; I on the other side. Often, the only sounds were rustling leaves and feet moving down the row. Then, her voice pieced the air: “Darrel, bend a bit lower and pick the big hidden ones, hanging on the lower limbs.” I kneeled down, careful not to knock the fruit off—and there they were, the succulent ones. This lesson of not overlooking anything, even the berries best hidden, required a bit of bending much like prayer. While I didn’t consider it work, I learned to work because of what my mother taught me during those early raspberry-picking mornings.

Now consider my wife. She is truly my best friend and has been for thirty-three years. We have experienced exceptional times and trying times. We have moved from Idaho to Montana to Wyoming and now the Dominican Republic. I asked her the other day where she would like to live when we return home from our mission. She said, “Anywhere with you.” We are enjoying so much serving together in the Caribbean Area. Who knew what a wonderful companionship we would make.

I truly believe mothers are essential in the building of character in the lives of their children. It is so evident in the lives of our two daughters—Anna Rose and Hailey. They are mostly what they are because of the influence of their mother. She chose to stay home with them. She fixed them lunch every day, even in high school when they would bring their friends over to eat. She made their dresses. She volunteered in their elementary classes; she made sure she was part of the parent-teacher organization; she even substituted in their high school classes. During their young women days, Joanne was their young women’s leader—always serving, always being there, continuously buoying them up when they need that extra boost, and inculcating in them that righteous desires and deeds reap righteousness. Now, Anna Rose is a mother of two; and Hailey will be a first-time mother in September.

To truly demonstrate how they feel about their mother on this glorious Mother’s Day, I asked them to pen a few words:

Anna Rose and Joanne
Anna Rose:
As I write this note, my lap is home to one of the cutest little boys I know, William Luke. Named after his father and my mother's father I can't help but think of my own sweet mother. She was here once, looking down on me with the same love I feel for baby William, hoping I would sleep through the night...loving me even if I didn't.  I see her in the patience I strive for with Emiline. I see her in the songs Emi and I sing together. I see her in my crafty projects. I see her in my day to day living. My mother is in everything that I am. She taught me, sang to me and showed me what a mother should be. A mother is a friend, a confidant, a teacher, an example, a nurturer, an angel. My mother is the ideal example and I feel blessed to have her influence and love in my life. I celebrate her today and everyday...for there is no greater role than that of "mother."

Joanne and Hailey
“I always describe Mom as being the perfect 1950's housewife. She always kept the house clean, had dinner ready and on the table when dad got home from work, made us breakfast, had snacks ready for us when we got home from school ... and she did it all with a smile, although sans pearls. I never heard her complain about any of her motherly duties, ever. She was always willing to serve and made sure that everyone was 100 percent satisfied before she took care of herself. 

“My mother is extremely unselfish. She always had my best interests at heart and supported me in everything I ever did. She always laughs at my jokes and makes me feel so happy and loved when I am around her. 

“My mother is patient. She is kind. She is loving and just plain amazing. I know that, now that I am going to be a mother, she is who I will look to for advice. It is the memories of her greatness from which I will draw inspiration to help raise my own children. 

“Mom, I love you so much and feel beyond blessed that I was able to have a mother like you. Thank you for being such a wonderful friend and role model. Thank you for always helping me when I needed it, picking me up when I am down and giving me encouragement when I need it. 

“You are beautiful and smart and fantastic. 

“I LOVE YOU, MOM! Love, Hailey Jean.”

Can you sense a greater tribute to a mother than kind words from their daughters? Once you watch a young woman, listen to her speak, monitor how she behaves, observe her mannerisms and then meet and spend some time with her mother, you will quickly discover the similarities. It’s uncanny but true.

As President Uchtdorf said, "We are living in a great season for all women in the Church. Sisters, you are an essential part of our Heavenly Father's plan for eternal happiness; you are endowed with a divine birthright. You are the real builders of nations wherever you live, because strong homes of love and peace will bring security to any nation" (President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Influence of Righteous Women," Ensign, September 2009, pp.7–8).

Mothers and women all over the world—Thank you for what you have done, what you do, and what you will continue to do over and over again: That is loving your children, helping them grow and develop, and nourishing and nurturing them. Yes, “you are builders of nations.” Nations will rise and fall as a result of the teachings of the mothers of the children. May our Heavenly Father bless you all, today, and forever.

Hailey, Joanne, and Anna Rose
Thank you, Joanne, for being the mother to our two daughters, and now grandmother to our two grandchildren and one on the way. They are special because you are special. They are wonderful because you are wonderful. They are incredible because you are incredible. Thank you for being you. I love you.