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Every Mormon woman is imbued with a divine nature and a purpose, which should lead her back into the presence of God.
That was the message from speakers Saturday night at the General Women's meeting, the first session of the 185th Semiannual LDS General Conference, which continues next weekend.
"We have come to help build his kingdom on this Earth and to prepare for the Second Coming of his son, Jesus Christ," said Rosemary M. Wixom, general president of the Primary for children under age 12 in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"With every breath we take, we strive to follow him. The divine nature within each one of us is refined and magnified by the effort we make to draw nearer to our Father [in Heaven] and his son."
Mormon females 8 years old and up filled the cavernous Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City for the meeting, while millions more watched via satellite at their local LDS chapels or on computer screens at home.
All three men in the faith's governing First Presidency President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf were seated on the stand.
Bonnie L. Oscarson, general president of the LDS Young Women organization, for girls between ages 12 and 17, conducted the evening's service.
Wixom, the first speaker, amplified the idea of a woman's connection to deity.
"Our divine nature has nothing to do with our personal accomplishments, the status we achieve, the number of marathons we run, or our popularity and self-esteem," she said. "Our divine nature comes from God."
Once women realize the divinity in them, she said, "we can see it in others."
That "ignites our desire to reach out to others and prompts us to act," she said. "Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ can help us find the strength to do so."
Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency for adult LDS women, spoke next, cautioning her listeners to watch our for the devil's tools, including "seductive romance novels, TV soap operas, married women and old boyfriends connecting on social media, and pornography."
Mormon women "must be so careful," Reeves said. "We cannot play with Satan's fiery darts and not get burned. I know nothing that will qualify us for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost so much as virtue."
She reminded her audience of "great blessings and protecting promises associated with the proper wearing of our [LDS] temple garment [which is worn under clothing]."
When women "strive to wear the garment properly," Reeves said, "I testify that our Father [in Heaven] recognizes it as a great sign of our love and devotion to him.
Female bodies are "sacred gifts from our Heavenly Father," she said, and "as we keep our lives pure and clean through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, and keep the vision of our Father's promised rewards daily in front of us, we will one day receive 'all that [our] Father hath."
Carol F. McConkie, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, told women that they are partners with God in "a righteous cause" and are valued and needed in that effort.
It is "the cause of Christ," McConkie said. "It is the work of salvation. Here in mortality we have again covenanted to serve the Savior in the work of salvation. By participating in sacred priesthood ordinances, we pledge that we will embark in the service of God with heart, might, mind and strength."
In this sacred work, "there is no room for comparison, criticism or condemnation. It is not about age, experience or public acclaim," she said. "[It] is about developing a broken heart, a contrite spirit and a willingness to use our divine gifts and unique talents to do the Lord's work in his way."
As the concluding speaker, Uchtdorf told a lengthy parable about 11-year-old Eva, who spent a summer with her Great Aunt Rose.
Rose was elderly, single and had health problems, but was among the happiest people young Eva had ever met.
The aunt had chosen to pursue meaningful activities, like teaching and learning, and had filled her life with laughter, love, and gratitude for the Earth's bounties. She was much beloved in town, enjoying the company of others.
Uchtdorf's story had a simple message: It is the pure love of Christ that gives life its purpose, not circumstances such as marriage, money, education or child-rearing.
"When we love God, we want to serve him. We want to be like him," Rose told the child. "When we love our neighbors, we stop thinking so much about our own problems and help others to solve theirs."
When General Conference continues next weekend, LDS leaders may name three new apostles to fill vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve created by the recent deaths of L. Tom Perry, Boyd K. Packer and Richard G. Scott.