Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Send the Relief Society!


I'm up to my ears!

Two weeks ago I became president of our church's women's organization—the Relief Society—and I've been buried ever since. Our ward boundaries were realigned and I took over from three different presidents—everybody is new, wondering what their assignments are, and I have piles and piles of lists on my desk. I've only lived here five months, I don't know names, faces or even street names, and I already have a short list of folks who need relief.

But I've got a long list of women who are eager to help. I thought I'd be inundated with problems, and instead I keep getting calls: "I'm home during the day, and I'd love to take a meal to someone." "Is there someone who needs a visit? I'm available in the afternoon." "Let me handle that for you while you get organized." I'm up to my ears with women who are anxious to be engaged in a good cause. Wow!

And I've got a family full of support. Daughters who know the ropes are propping me up, and sons who have watched the action have encouraging words.

Dee has been practicing his new role for years—he already does all the grocery shopping, cooking and laundry. I doubt he'll even notice that I've become a negligent wife. He unloaded a trunk full of paper products, tablecloths and Christmas decorations onto the garage shelves while they wait for an official RS closet. Different group-lets of chatty women gather daily in our living room to discuss our duties, and he smiles pleasantly and heads upstairs.

The main thing I'm missing is you guys. You know how we hang out in our jammies without makeup? You don't even care if I've brushed my teeth! This gang of friends require real clothes and I have to wear shoes to visit them. And I can't do all the talking in my new relationships. I'm going to acquire a new skill—listening. Scary business.

Tomorrow I meet with my presidency for the first time, and I can't wait. (They're my new best friends and I don't even know them yet.) They're talented and willing to share their experience and expertise, and I'm anxious to delegate!

Do you wish you could be my counselor? Here are some issues I need counseling on:
  1. How can we quickly develop a feeling of unity?
  2. Any fun ideas for get-to-know-you activities?
  3. What does/could the president of your organization do to make you feel included?
Counsel away! Advise me on anything you want to—I don't know enough to ask good questions. As you can see, I'm up to my ears!


Diane said...

Unity: do a project for a RS lesson, or service project together. That builds unity fast.

In our presidency we met once a week for quite a while, now we meet twice a month. We meet at 11:00 on Thursdays, and lots of times my secretary is still in her Yoga outfit. We started bringing a potluck lunch about every other time we meet. Bread, salad or soup, and maybe a small treat for dessert. Sometimes we go out to lunch together and discuss our items.

Agenda: be flexible in your time. Discussing your own family/personal matters as a presidency also brings you close together.

You are blessed to have so many sisters willing to help. Use them! It's good for you, and good for them.

You'll be great. Remember to be yourself. That's who the Lord called, and that's who your sisters need.

~Kristina said...

As president, make a point of smiling at and talking to as many people as possible. Most important for me is not what title someone has within an organization, it's how they make me feel when I participate.

VickiC said...

I am bawling over this post. Just moved that there is so much power in women working to do good.

Polly said...

our rs president is my dear friend teri. the thing that i love and respect the most about her is the way she visits the sisters. (as vt coordinator i've been with her on a few visits) she is never in a hurry. she seems as if she has all the time in the world for the particular sister she is visiting and makes that sister feel special. in this ward i've lived through many rs presidents, most were wonderful. but i feel the ones that really took that personal time with sisters on visits were the ones that are loved and felt the love the most.

Grandma Cebe said...

and A couple of things - I've been an RS president. Here's my advice.

Delegate, delegate, delegate. You do not have to do it all and it's better if you don't.

Keep it simple.

Don't spend a lot of time and money on paper stuff that will eventually end up in the trash can.

You know what your strengths are. When you figure out the strengths of your counselors, hand those areas over to them and let them run with it. Have confidence in their abilities. When I was called as RS president, I deliberately called one woman as my counselor because I knew she was a touchy, feely kind of a gal. I'm not and I needed someone like that to balance things out.

Don't micro-manage.

Once you get things up and running, don't feel required to hold a meeting for every little thing. When I was RS president (long before email/internet), I did a lot of meetings by phone. I had my counselors phone numbers on speed dial.

And don't make the mistake that a Primary president that I served under did. She informed us at a Pres. meeting that she had decided that we were going to have a presidency social with husbands invited. She told us the date and gave us food assignments on the spot. There was no discussion. Being somewhat passive aggressive, I didn't go even though I lived right next door to her. You are suppose to counsel with your counselors, not dictate.

OK - that was more than a couple of things. Sorry about that.

Nancy said...

You will do just fine as the President of The Relief Society.

You have made a happy marriage,had seven children who you successfully brought up to be wonderful and productive adults,brought 20 Grandchildren together with newletters,pictures and games. You have written a book
and have had a successfuk blog for many years.

After all that, the RS will be a piece of cake for you. Just don't try to do it all; include all those wonderful women who want to help you. That is what will make them feel important and NEEDED.

Misty said...

Oma, you're going to be an awesome RS President. Follow the Spirit and be yourself. And we miss you too, pajamas, unbrushed teeth, and all.

ellen said...

I have something to send you; email me your address (

I'm the RSP and have probably had 7 presidency meetings in 2.5 years. :)

I'll email you some ideas. Congrats!

Katie Roundy said...

I had a similar experience last year with a brand new ward, etc. We started off by organizing Visiting Teaching- so you can get a report on all the women. And one of the best things we did was to organize a "training meeting"-- we invited all of the sisters with RS callings to get together for a potluck dinner. Then we broke into groups to discuss the different callings and talk about expectations/ways we could improve.

But, knowing you (at least through your blog), you've already got everything under control. Good luck!

Connie said...

I ditto Nancy! You will be great!

It is enough said...

Dear travelinoma,
I am an occasional visitor to your blog and when I read that you are now a Relief Society President, I couldn't help but think what a lucky group of women to have you as their president! You will be wonderful. I love the training videos that Julie B. Beck and her counselors made in March 2009 for Relief Society leaders. Watching them every so often really helps me.
All the best.