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Sis. Bonnie L. Oscarson: What Young Women Need to Know Most

Just Asking: Bonnie L. Oscarson

You lived in Sweden both when your husband served as president of the Sweden Göteborg Mission and later when you served as temple matron of the Stockholm Sweden Temple.  What was the best part of living there?

Without a question, it was the people with whom we served and worked. The Swedish Saints are faithful and obedient. Norway and Latvia were also in our temple district, and they were equally committed to the gospel and their families. Getting to know people, understanding their lives and challenges, and learning to love them are always the best parts of a mission.

That being said, I would have to add a second “favorite thing.” Sweden is an absolutely beautiful country with beautiful traditions. We loved driving through the countryside on speaking assignments and enjoying the blue lakes, green fields, and little red cottages. We love celebrating Swedish traditions, even here in the states. My husband always tells people that we are really Swedes who just happen to come from America!

What has been your biggest challenge as a wife and mother, and how did you overcome it?

This brings to mind the years when our seven children were young, my husband had a demanding job in retail, and we both had time-consuming callings. Life could be hectic! Whenever someone asks me how I did it I always say, “Selective neglect!”  Those are the times that call for prioritizing what is most important and letting the less important things go. Meeting children’s needs is more important than a perfect house or fixing gourmet meals. Those things have their time and place, but being able to keep a perspective of what was most important was the biggest help during that time.

You first met your husband at the temple site in Far West, Missouri. When did you know you wanted to marry him?

We didn’t begin dating until almost a year after we first met, and I remember thinking he was a little like Mary Poppins—“practically perfect in every way!” One day, after we had been dating for a couple of months, I was at work in a summer job and had the thought come suddenly into my head, “You know, you could end up marrying that guy!” The thought was unexpected, surprising, but kind of nice. I remember thinking, “Yeah! I could marry him. I think that would be a good thing!” What I liked best about Paul Oscarson was that he made me want to be a better person. He brought out the best in me then and still does now.

You are coming out with a book this spring. What is it about and what inspired you to write it? 

It is about the way we are all sisters and should love and watch out for one another regardless of age or situation.

What Makes Us Sisters by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson

Elder Holland: To My Friends Who Want to Believe


Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, general Young Women president, reminds women of the Church that they are all sisters--no matter their circumstances, marital status, nationality, or age. Find out what makes this bond so special and why Sister Oscarson has such faith in the women of the Church--and why the Lord has faith in them too. Find this inspiring book now at Deseret Book stores or deseretbook.com.



What are some of your passions and hobbies?

I have always been a voracious reader! I love good literature and my idea of a perfect afternoon is to be curled up in a comfortable chair on a rainy day, with a good book to read! I also love to indulge my creative side whether it is sewing, drawing, crafts, or whatever. I have probably been through every craft trend known to mankind—from stained glass to counted cross stitch! These days I love to spend time with my grandchildren!  

What is something not many members of the Church know about you?

I am definitely not a morning person! Despite the many years teaching early morning seminary, I don’t think I will ever be the kind of person who eagerly jumps out of bed at 5:00 a.m. with a smile on my face! The good news is that after the first 10 minutes, I am fine. 

How do you juggle your family and your calling?

Oh boy, don’t ask my kids how I am doing in that area right now! That is one of the challenges of this calling, and I am grateful for my supportive and understanding children and husband. They know there are times and seasons in life and that this is a busy season for me. I also know that there are periods when I just need to block out time for the occasions which come only once in my children’s and grandchildren’s lives, such as births, baptisms and other major events in their lives. Those are treasured times which can never be regained. 

What do you feel young women in the Church most need to know?

I wish that every young woman in the Church could have a true picture of who they really are, a literal daughter of Heavenly Father, and of how much He loves and cares about them. Each and every young woman is truly of infinite worth and has unlimited capacity. Their Heavenly Father sent them to earth to succeed and He is always there to bless and help them.  

How did you feel when you were first called as the Young Women general president?

Utterly and completely stunned and dumbfounded. I had not served on a general Church level before, and this call came completely out of the blue. After President Monson issued the call and I finally got control of my emotions, I said, “But President Monson, I don’t know anything about how to do this!” He got a funny smile on his face and replied, “Of course not, Sister Oscarson, we just called you!”  It was only through my faith that this Church is led by revelation that I could accept the calling knowing that the Lord helps us do whatever He asks us to do. That has proved to be true. 

What is one of your favorite things you have learned or seen during your time as Young Women general president?

One of my most memorable and powerful moments was the first time I was asked to speak to a Relief Society meeting at the MTC in Provo. It was a few months after the announcement of the lowered age for sister missionaries. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sight of a whole auditorium completely filled with sister missionaries! The Spirit in that room was electric and I felt privileged to be in their midst. I will never forget that experience.

You went back to college after 35 years. Why did you choose to do that?

It was really a phrase in my patriarchal blessing which prompted it. I got married and began a family which interrupted my schooling when I was young, but because of that phrase, I always knew that I was supposed to finish college. When our children were all out of the house, I knew the time was right. It took five years of plugging away and at times I wondered why I was doing that to myself. The answer has become clear with this calling. Working on that degree helped improve my writing and communication skills among other things, and has been a blessing to me in many ways. 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I don’t know if this qualifies as advice I have received, but I love what the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I made this my rule: when the Lord commands, do it.”   

Who do you most admire in your life?

This is hard to narrow down but I would have to say that after the Savior, it would be the Prophet Joseph Smith.  He learned early in his life to fear the Lord more than he feared men. His life exemplified that principle.

What is the most interesting place you’ve traveled to for your calling?

My husband and I had the opportunity to travel to Japan and Korea last year, and it was a thrilling experience. The Saints in these countries put so much love and effort into all they do. There is artistry in the food they prepare, in the traditional ways of dressing, in the old traditional architecture. I loved meeting the young women in Japan and Korea and talking to them about their challenges and dreams. Honestly, I have to say, that I have loved meeting the young women wherever I have traveled. They have a lot in common in their struggles to be witnesses of Christ in environments that do little to support that. I love and admire them all!

What do you think are some of the unique challenges this generation of young women is facing?

I think that modern technology creates some challenges that are unique to today’s generation of young women. Access to the internet means they have unlimited instantaneous sources of information at their fingertips. The challenge is filtering out what is good and true; and what is false, a waste of time, or even harmful. The internet can be a great tool for sharing testimonies and building others up or it can be used for cyber-bullying because of the anonymity. It can be a source of inspirational talks, videos and messages, or it can create and feed doubts. I think that most of our youth use modern technology for good purposes. More and more of our youth are getting involved in indexing, researching their family histories, and using social media in uplifting and responsible ways. We have some of the strongest and most valiant young women ever to be born living today! What a great privilege it is to associate and meet with them all around the world.

What Makes Us Sisters by Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson

Elder Holland: To My Friends Who Want to Believe


Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, general Young Women president, reminds women of the Church that they are all sisters--no matter their circumstances, marital status, nationality, or age. Find out what makes this bond so special and why Sister Oscarson has such faith in the women of the Church--and why the Lord has faith in them too. Find this inspiring book now at Deseret Book stores or deseretbook.com.