“Looking Forward to Relief Society,” New Era, Oct. 2012, 37–39
Young women usually advance to Relief Society on their 18th birthday or in the coming year. The exact day you advance to Relief Society will depend on your individual circumstances, including school graduation, college attendance, and your desire to continue with your peers. Counsel with your parents and bishop or branch president to decide the right time for you. By age 19, however, you should be participating fully in Relief Society.
Relief Society meetings are a lot like Young Women meetings. You have opening exercises and a lesson.
On the first Sunday of each month, the lesson topic is selected and given by the Relief Society presidency. On the second and third Sundays, you’ll have a lesson from a manual (this year, it’s Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith). On the fourth Sunday, you’ll study a talk from a recent general conference. When you enter Relief Society, you can ask for a manual and lesson schedule so you can read the material before class each week.
There will usually be one activity (called a “Relief Society meeting”) every month, though the Relief Society president may hold them more or less often. These meetings might include classes to help you learn new skills or strengthen your testimony, service activities, or other gatherings so you can get to know the sisters in your ward and stake. Just like you did in Mutual, you can invite friends who are not members of the Church to these meetings.
You’re probably more prepared than you think. The first thing you’ll want to know is that Relief Society has three purposes. They are to help women:
Increase faith and personal righteousness.
Strengthen families and homes.
Seek out and help those in need.
You’re already doing a lot of these things in Young Women and Personal Progress, so Relief Society will help you continue them.
If you’d like to know more about Relief Society, read Daughters in My Kingdom: The History and Work of Relief Society, which you can find in distribution centers or online at lds.org/go/02J.
If your ward has a combined Relief Society and Young Women activity, you may want to go and talk with Relief Society sisters. You’ll start to build friendships that will continue when you enter Relief Society.
You’ll have the opportunity and responsibility to be a visiting teacher and to have visiting teachers of your own. Visiting teachers are often assigned in companionships, and they can become friends who help watch over, strengthen, and teach you. So if you find yourself in need, you can ask them for help; and if the sisters you visit teach are in need, they can ask you for help.
Where possible, you’ll meet with each sister you visit teach at least once a month. You may share the “Visiting Teaching Message” from the Ensign. Location and travel circumstances may limit communications to phone calls, letters, or e-mails.
Visiting teaching is more than just a single visit—it’s a way to nurture each sister throughout the month. It might include sitting by her in Relief Society, praying for her daily, sending her a text message just to say hello, or wishing her well if you know she has a big event coming up. Visiting teaching is a great way to form friendships with sisters you may not have grown as close to otherwise, it helps you learn gospel doctrines and principles with each month’s message, and it helps you serve Heavenly Father as an instrument in His hands.
It’s natural to think you don’t have much in common with older sisters, but rather than focus on your differences, think about everything you have in common. Remember that a lot of the women know something about what you’re going through at this age. They wondered what they would do after finishing high school, looked forward to working or getting an education, dated, and prepared for marriage. Ask them about their experiences, and see how much you can learn. And think of how you can learn and share with them too, such as teaching them more about technology. You all have ways to help each other, and service is a great way to make friendships.
You can also participate in Sunday lessons. Try to make comments, even if it feels intimidating. Share your experiences as well. As the sisters learn more about you, it will help you all to grow closer to one another.