by Gary Wood
“We felt that it was important for the young people from different stakes to get together and get to know each other. And how much closer together can you get than 800 young people on one boat?”
So spoke one of the adult leaders of a bi-regional youth conference for Church members in the San Bernardino, California, area. The youth conference was held one weekend on the Queen Mary ocean liner near Long Beach. Within the unique environment of yesteryear’s “Queen of the Atlantic Fleet,” the large gathering of youths from the San Bernardino and Palm Springs regions enjoyed many workshops and activities.
“By any standard the conference was a marvelous success and accomplished the objective of providing an opportunity for the young people of the two regions to get to know each other better and to share testimonies,” said Donald Hainsworth of the Fontana Second Ward, San Bernardino California Stake, who served as adult chairman for the event.
“The young people came up with all the ideas—location, speakers, workshop topics, and everything—and did almost all of the work,” Brother Hainsworth added. “Youth leaders also conducted all activities during the conference and really did a super job all the way around. The different setting, the whole project of putting the program together and getting everybody here, and just holding it in such a great place made it a good experience for the youth.”
In order to accommodate the overflow, arrangements were made to have one of the three youths in each stateroom take along a sleeping bag and sleep on the floor. Also, two live bands were needed for the dinner-dance Friday night.
“It was great having so many Latter-day Saints together,” said Greg Echols, a priest in the Banning Ward, Palm Springs California Stake.
“Getting to meet young people from other stakes and hear their testimonies was a fantastic experience,” said Edward Johnson, of the Indio Ward.
“Several nonmembers expressed the feeling that this must be the true church because of the way they were treated, the way the young people acted, and the things that were taught,” said Michelle Sims, an adult leader from Palm Springs California Stake.
One nonmember, who said he belonged to a family of another faith, bore testimony that he was going to go home and tell his parents he had to join the Church, that he knew the Church was true, and that the Savior loved him.
Tourists inundate the center of Philadelphia during July, particularly on Independence Day.
What better place, then, for missionaries to contact people who would be interested in knowing more about the Church? And one ideal location would surely be the Independence National Historic Park, across the street from the Liberty Bell display and near Independence Hall, site of the Constitutional Convention.
Using heavy cardboard backing obtained from a local art club display, missionaries and members of the North Philadelphia Branch built a three-sided display, eight feet high and nine and one half feet wide, and obtained Park Service permission to display it near a large fountain in the park.
The triangular display featured displays on genealogy, America’s 200-year history, and America’s 2,000-year history. It featured a screen on which films could be shown.
But on the fourth day, a wind-and-rain storm snapped the frame.
Instead of abandoning the project, the missionaries were encouraged by members’ efforts to keep the display alive. A new display, including an additional presentation on family home evening, was built, this time with plywood. Brother Arthur Abraham, a counselor in the branch presidency, donated a trailer so the proselyting aid could be moved.
While using the new display on the first day, the elders taught 17 discussions. On July 4, they served as an information booth for Independence Day visitors. Their records show they talked to more than 1,000 people, and at least one person will be baptized as a result.
“The project caught the members’ attention when they saw that the missionaries were sincere in doing a good job,” Cheryl Ann Murdock, a young adult in the branch, said. “They became excited about missionary work, and the Church received a great deal of exposure to the public. We were proud to see the Church represented in the park.”
When 250 Latter-day Saint young people from all across Sweden returned home from a four-day youth conference at the beginning of this year, they could say they literally “had a ball.” “Bolliaden 1977” was held in Falun, Sweden, and though the name means a sports event of many ball games, they also participated in spiritual and social activities that strengthened not only their muscles but their testimonies.
Sponsored by the Sundsvall District, the conference attracted people from both the Sweden Stockholm and Sweden Göteborg missions, pitting them against each other in several games of basketball and volleyball and joining them together for workshops, service projects, a dance festival, and a testimony meeting.
The conference began in a family home evening with the theme of love and marriage, during which discussions were held and a film, “For Time and All Eternity,” was shown. With 5,000 members in the well-populated country, the conversation often turned to the problems of dating in and out of the Church. The young Swedes reaffirmed their goals of temple marriage, and the evening ended with a dance.
Tuesday was spent mostly in competition and preparation for the next day’s championship games. Both boys and girls’ teams had cheering sections and a prize was awarded to the Sweden Stockholm Mission for the best cheering group. Even after an exhausting day, the youth found the energy to dance that night at the “Grand Ball,” which featured a live dance band.
After the championship tournament Wednesday, service projects included visits to hospitals and homes for the aged. The afternoon brought workshops in genealogy and food storage, which were “much appreciated,” according to program committee chairman Kristina Palm. Later they gathered for dinner and prepared for an eagerly anticipated festival of drama, music, and dancing. Like other youth in the Church, Swedish young people love to perform, and the program included tap-dancing, musical numbers, and skits from the various wards and branches. “The festival was so much fun and the performances were all good,” reported participant Signhild Arnegard.
But the best was yet to come. As the conference drew to a close, a testimony meeting was held and “there was a long line, because we all wanted to bear our testimonies,” said Kristina. “One could feel the strong spirit that was present,” added Signhild. “I am so thankful to my Heavenly Father that I may live in these days when the gospel has been restored to earth.”
Executive secretary in the Sundsvall District, Eric Martinsson, summed up the feelings of the organizers of “Bolliaden” when he said, “We are so deeply thankful to the Lord that everything went so well and that ‘Bolliaden’ was such a success for our district. Our reward came as we listened to grateful young people bearing their testimonies. These wonderful young people are the future of the Church.”
Nobody was a stick-in-the-mud when everyone got stuck in the mud at the annual Lethbridge young adult football game. Part of one of Rex Brandley’s fields on his farm in Raymond, Alberta, Canada, was flooded in anticipation of the “Mud Bowl,” and everyone wanted to play.
At the kickoff there were two opposing teams. But soon jersey colors were obliterated by a covering of goo. It was hard to tell one squad from another, let alone find the ball or execute a play!
Some of the players did score a first down or two, but whether or not there were any touchdowns is still being debated. A few hats and boots remain buried in the quagmire.
Following the battle, irrigation canals and the main irrigation ditch in the center of the town served temporarily as wash sites for the grungy gridders, who then topped off the afternoon with a barbecue.
Sometimes the best place to get counsel about how to cope with the problems of youth is from young people themselves. Such insights are made available once a week on 250 radio stations around the country during broadcasts of a new program “You and Your World.”
Featuring the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus, the program follows a varied format. Sometimes interviews highlight the verbal portion of the program; sometimes the narrator conducts informal chats with young adults. Elder Paul H. Dunn of the First Quorum of the Seventy recalls personal experiences in his life and shares them, often before a live audience.
The goal of the program is to provide thought-provoking, 15-minute presentations aimed at facing the challenges of leading a successful life, offering hints about finding the path to happiness and following it. Broadcasts are directed toward both members and nonmembers and may be heard on KSL Radio in Salt Lake City, Sundays at 9:15 P.M.