A Capacity to Encourage and Elevate

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(This is an excerpt from the book Eliza by Karen Lynn Davidson and Jill Mulvay Derr.)

Eliza and Zina organized more than thirty Primaries during their trip [to southern Utah]. To help the children feel that they were part of the Primary organization from the outset, Eliza often asked the assembled children whether they wanted to be organized, teaching them, as she did in Virgin City, that “this was to be their own meeting.” She asked the children in Pine Valley, “Who was the first prophet in the church? And who appeared to Joseph Smith?” She told them about the Prophet Joseph and showed them the gold watch he had given her—a ritual she performed in nearly every Primary Association she visited. One woman from Cedar City recalled Eliza’s meeting with the children:

“One of the most unforgettable things of my life was when Eliza R. Snow came to Cedar City in 1880 to organize a Primary Association. I was about six, and there were perhaps twenty of us who were charter members of that Primary.

“During the organization meeting Sister Snow showed us a watch which had been the Prophet Joseph’s. She told us about the Prophet and the watch. She let each of us hold the watch for a short time. I remember as I held the watch in my tiny cupped hands, she gave us an admonition not to ever forget that we had held the Prophet’s watch.”

One of Eliza’s great strengths as a leader was her capacity to encourage and to elevate, to spark in women of all ages a sense of their own worth and divinity. Zina and Eliza met with Young Women as well. “The Young Ladies of Zion are greater than the Queens of the earth,” she proclaimed in Santa Clara. “I would say to my young sisters, never shrink from a duty. God has put the means in your hands to become queens and priestesses, if you will only live for it.” “We are all Sisters and each of us have our parts to perform,” Eliza told the women at Rockville as she organized a Relief Society there. “Be alive.”

(Jill Mulvay Derr and Karen Lynn Davidson, Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2013], 138-39.)

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