My name is Jan Tolman. I’ve been a member of the Church all my life, but was truly converted in my late teens when I found myself in a position where I needed someone, and I decided to turn to Jesus Christ. The word “decided” is important to me, because it was a conscious choice, and one I will never regret, but only rejoice in.
My husband and I have raised six children. We struggled, like any family, to get the kids up every morning for scriptures and prayer, and even though the kids now tell us they slept through much of it, they knew the family motto: “Start them young, so it becomes a part of their DNA.” Reading and praying doesn’t make life easy, but it keeps you on course so you can get through the rapids.
When the last child started school I began volunteering at the Church History Museum, in Salt Lake City. I spent nine years there; first, cleaning the display cases and helping in the back rooms, then six years as a docent. On several occasions I was the first to introduce The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to visitors to the city. This was my mission experience and I truly loved it.
The museum is also where I found the answer to what I was missing in my role as a woman in the Church. At that time, the museum was opening a new exhibit about the Relief Society and it was shocking to discover how so many of us—docents and visitors—knew so little about its history. I decided to invite Jill Derr, a Church Historian, to talk with about ten of us at the museum. I wanted to know why we (sisters in the Church) didn’t have basic knowledge of our organization, and why there seemed to be a disconnect between Relief Society and Priesthood. Jill brought along several women from Church Headquarters, including Barbara Thompson (counselor in the Relief Society Presidency). More questions were raised than answered, but I had received my answer.
Later that month, I began a blog (www.ldswomenofgod.com) where I committed to research the history of the Relief Society and share everything I learned with anyone who cared to listen. My goal was to focus on the history, purpose, and destiny of this organization. I wanted to testify that God has always used His daughters in His kingdom. We, together with the men, have been called to fulfill promises made in heaven to bring about the kingdom of God and save souls.
This journey has been one of pure joy and satisfaction. Heavenly Father’s Plan is perfect. He thought of everything, and everything was meant for us to achieve Godhood. The roles of both men and women are necessary and, where we may not be perfect yet, we must trust in The Plan, work through earthly trials, and engage in the work of salvation. Joseph Smith knew it and died defending it. The early sisters knew it and left a marvelous record of faith for us to follow. Our leaders today know it and are assigned to guide us through it. I know it—this plan that is the gospel of Jesus Christ—that is doctrine for the eternities. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and I testify of His life, His atoning sacrifice, and His love for me.