When the bishop came to my house, speaking in general conference was the furthest thing from my mind. When the bishop said that he was going to speak for twelve minutes, I remarked that that would be scary. Then he asked if six minutes sounded better; I said that it would be much better. Then the bishop told me that was how long I was going to speak. My jaw dropped. I didn’t know what to say. But I am grateful for the opportunity to speak tonight.
I am going to tell you a little bit about myself, my bishop, my quorum adviser, and some of the things we are trying to do to promote activation in our Aaronic Priesthood quorums.
First, my bishop is a pretty busy person, but I enjoy the time he is able to spend with me, especially the interviews. He also participates in our quorum activities.
I am happy that Bishop Pingel takes the time and effort to choose good advisers—for example, Brother Connell.
Brother Connell was a recent convert to the Church and was called to be the teachers quorum adviser. I was fourteen and a new member of the quorum. I was called as the president, even though I was having a great deal of trouble learning to control my temper.
The young men of the ward went on a cave exploration trip to a cave in Indiana, about two hundred miles from home. This trip was taken in the cool of October. I became very angry over a situation and said I was going to walk home. I started out on my long journey. After I had walked a short distance, all the cars in our party went past me and did not even slow down. My jaw dropped and I thought, “Oh, no, they’re leaving me.” Then I turned around and saw Brother Connell following me. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I stopped and waited for him to catch up. He told me he would not let me walk home alone and would join me. We walked for about five miles. Brother Connell helped me understand my feelings and straighten them out. By prior arrangement, one of the cars returned and picked us up. This was the beginning of a great friendship between Brother Connell and me. During the time that Brother Connell was my adviser, he helped me to control my temper and use my energy in constructive ways. He had me come and help him put a new roof on his house. He has had me babysit his children. Brother Connell has helped me learn more about the gospel and how to care about other people.
In one of our presidency meetings, Brother Connell brought up the fact that we had an inactive member and asked us what we should do to activate him. We decided to invite him to our next caving trip. Mike took us up on the invitation, and we all had a great time. We also invited Mike to several other activities. He enjoyed the outdoors activities the best. Mike has since moved to California, and I hope he is now listening.
This past summer our deacons quorum brought two members into full quorum activity and introduced three nonmembers to the Church. The quorum took a 270-mile bike trip from Kirtland to Dayton, following the path of the Zion’s Camp expedition. The deacons and advisers, the bishop, and many of the parents drove to Kirtland on a Saturday. They attended Church and visited Church historical sites the next day. That evening they had a fireside. Monday they started out on their bikes. It took a week for them to pedal to Dayton. They camped overnight at campgrounds, bicycled in the rain, and contended with traffic. One of the best parts of the trip was that one of the boys who was handicapped pedaled right along with the rest of the group.
In our ward we have early morning seminary. I have to get up at 5:15 every morning. That means I have to get to bed early enough to avoid going to sleep in school. We also have a “consecutive reading club,” which helps me to read the scriptures and learn more about the Church and its prophets. I am one of two Mormons in the junior class of about 750 people in my high school. Daily contact with the other youth in the ward at seminary helps me to maintain my standards. Being in the seminary presidency and quorum presidency helps me to learn to conduct meetings. Seminary, quorum activities, quorum advisers, and bishops have helped me learn to control my temper and use my excess energy in constructive ways. These things will help me while I am on a mission, after I am married, and after I become a parent.
I know that the Aaronic Priesthood and Young Men program works. It has worked in my life, and I have seen it work in the lives of other young men. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.