Speaker Gives Four Training Rules for Young Adults’ Life Race

Contributed By Laurie Williams Sowby, Church News staff writer

  • 14 October 2014

Li Yun Lin and Tingting Wu, from a Chinese branch in Brooklyn, pose with Sunday devotional speakers Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith.  Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby.

Article Highlights

  • Four things YSAs should do daily:
  • 1. Pray morning and night.
  • 2. Read the Book of Mormon for at least five minutes.
  • 3. Obey the commandments and standards in For the Strength of Youth.
  • 4. Smile.

“The Lord has a plan for your life.” —Elaine S. Dalton, former Young Women general president


“Keep moving. Don’t get discouraged, disqualified, or delayed,” Elaine Dalton told a large and diverse gathering of young single adults September 20.

A runner herself, the former Young Women general president referenced a marathon as she spoke at a two-day regional conference that drew hundreds of young single adults to Manhattan from 13 stakes in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Sister Dalton reassured listeners that the Lord knows each of them—their names, their needs, their potential. “The Lord has a plan for your life,” she said. Those who feel they’ve strayed onto the wrong path need not keep following it, she emphasized. “The Savior has made it possible for us to repent, turn around, and go the other direction.”

Sister Dalton requested that the young adults do “four things, 100 percent, every day” as part of the “strict training rules” required to finish life’s race: pray morning and night, read the Book of Mormon for at least five minutes, obey strictly the commandments and standards in For the Strength of Youth, and smile—P.R.O.S.

Her husband, Steve Dalton, also spoke, sharing humorously how he met his wife and urging the young adults to follow the advice then Elder Gordon B. Hinckley gave when he sealed them in the Salt Lake Temple 45 years ago. “Live your lives so that when you need a blessing from Heavenly Father, you can receive it out of your righteousness, not His mercy,” he quoted.

The Saturday evening devotional followed an afternoon of service and preceded a social and dance in the cultural hall of the Lincoln Square chapel, located across the street from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and in the same building as the Manhattan Temple.

A family ward switched schedules Sunday in order to accommodate a special sacrament meeting, lunch, and a second devotional for the YSA conference by bloggers and radio show personalities Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes, known as “Sistas in Zion” and authors of Two Mad Black Mormons.

Speaking to the conference theme, “There Is Room for You,” the two shared personal experiences and comical insights into LDS culture. “Sometimes we have to make room for ourselves when it appears there’s not room for us,” Sister Vranes asserted. Sister Smith urged inclusiveness and recalled with gratitude the members who invited her to sit with them on Sundays or participate in their family home evenings when she felt alone as a teenager. “The question,” she said, “is not ‘Is there room for me?’ but ‘Am I prepared to take up that space?’”

Elaine Dalton, former Young Women general president, visits with young single adults following a devotional Saturday evening at the Lincoln Square chapel. Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby.

One of several service projects involved making small scent dolls to be used in the NICU to help premature babies bond with their mothers. Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby.

Elaine Dalton poses for a photo with a young friend after speaking at a tri-stake regional YSA conference in New York City September 20. Photo by Laurie Williams Sowby.

Of the 800 registered for the annual fall event, 500 were from outside the city, said James Kissell, coleader with Katharine Dorny, whose New York New York Stake YSA led the way in organizing the event.

Sister Dorny, who has been involved in organizing the tri-state YSA event for four years, described its significance for many young singles outside the city who are not part of a large YSA group like Manhattan offers. “They get to be able to connect with such a large group [here]. It’s great to be together, serve, and be spiritually edified.”

The YSA conference was a first for Li Yun Lin, 19, who was baptized in March and attended with a friend from the Dyker Heights Chinese Branch in Brooklyn. She was thrilled to be in the company of so many other young single adults. Andrew Chacon, 24, made the hour-long trip by subway with a dozen friends from the Woodside Stake in Queens. He’s a repeat attendee who said he comes for the spiritual uplift as well as the socializing.

New friends sat together to enjoy pizza and conversation after joining in a variety of service projects around the city Saturday afternoon. Berenice Carballo, 20, from the New York New York Stake, regarded the conference as an opportunity to meet people and learn something new. She was on one of several teams who spread out in an effort to discover what facilities for people with disabilities are available in local stores and restaurants. The information gathered will be put to use in an app that is being developed for people with disabilities.

Other service included making scent dolls to be used in the neonatal ICU at a hospital; swimming with people with disabilities and participating in sports with children who have handicaps; providing child care for parents whose children have autism; teaming with a church of another faith to clean a gym for an event; and making cards for servicemen and women and the elderly. Several young adults took the opportunity during dinner hour to have a simple test to see if they might be able to donate bone marrow to a lab. A blood drive was also announced.

Brother Kissell said the service component was a challenge because of the numbers as well as the constraints of time and distance, so organizers also created sub-teams to help with the two lunches and dinner. Attendees also did a lot of set up and take down of tables and chairs during the two days and wielded vacuums and huge floor mops when the conference ended.