Young women laughed, joked, and sang songs while the sausages they were roasting on an open campfire sputtered and sizzled to keep them company. The group had hiked all day, and the rest and food were welcome.
It could have been a girls’ camp anywhere in the world. But this was on the border of the Wildschutzgebiet (a game preserve), and the four days of nature treks planned during the camp would lead 22 Latter-day Saints from the Frankfurt Germany Stake and their three leaders through the scenery surrounding the towns of Laubach, Ilbeshausen, Lauterbach, and Schotten.
Each morning there was a devotional. One night Brother Baumgart from the stake high council came to visit and conducted a fireside and testimony meeting. And everywhere they went the girls sang folk songs like “Hejo, spann den Wagen an” (“Hey, Hook the Wagon Up”), or hymns like “Der Morgen erwachet” (“The Day Dawn Is Breaking”).
There were pillow fights, trips to town for food, a night spent in a quaint hostel with yellow shutters and squeaky beds, meals like goulash and rice, a daily quiz with questions such as “Does a cow use its front or rear legs first when standing up?”, and many entries in journals.
Two particular experiences remain impressed on the girls’ memory: (1) At Lauterbach, the group chanced to meet a couple being married at city hall, so they serenaded them. (2) Hiking in the woods during the only day with bad weather, the group got lost in the fog. After stumbling around for several minutes, they decided to say a prayer. Following the prayer, they all agreed on one direction and walked straight to their destination.
But perhaps the ideals shared on the trip show more than anything else that it was an activity planned by young Latter-day Saint women. The goals were: (1) to be together as girls and have enjoyable, beautiful experiences; (2) to get better acquainted with nature; (3) to increase physical endurance; and (4) to draw closer through spiritual moments and to learn to understand one another. As they rode the train back to Frankfurt, the girls’ comments suggested that those goals had been realized in many ways.
Last year six Latter-day Saint high school sophomores had the exciting experience of meeting in New York City with two youth representatives from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 11 foreign countries at the week-long Hugh O’Brian Youth Foundation International Leadership Seminar. The purpose of the seminar, which has been held annually since 1968, is to inspire young people to more fully express their citizenship through personal leadership. Each year a different topic is emphasized, and last year’s was “America’s Incentive System.”
The students attended five seminars per day, where they met or heard from presidents and corporate executives of leading businesses, economists, government representatives, media leaders, and sports figures while exploring issues pertaining to the American free enterprise system. Among those they met with were Andrew Young, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Juanita Kreps, Secretary of Commerce; James Schlesinger, Secretary of the Department of Energy; William Batten, the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange; and newscaster Walter Cronkite. Topics discussed included, among others, “Computers, Automation, and the Future”; “Advertising and the Consumer”; and “Energy—the Crisis is Real.” In addition to the lectures, the representatives visited Carnegie Hall, the New York Times building, the United Nations, the New York Stock Exchange, the Statue of Liberty.
The LDS representatives included Darren James Cooper of the San Manuel Second Ward, Tucson Arizona Stake; Patricia Stone of the Modesto First Ward, Modesto California Stake; Jona Ka Elleman of the Blackfoot Tenth Ward, Blackfoot Idaho South Stake; Sidney Thornton of the McCall Ward, Weiser Idaho Stake; Steven Swapp of the Las Vegas 35th Ward, Las Vegas Nevada Stake; and Bruce Nelson of the Monument Park 13th Ward, Salt Lake Monument Park Stake. John Haws of the Lehi Fifth Ward, Lehi Utah Stake (a 1970 delegate from Utah) attended as a counselor.
Patsy summed up the feelings of the LDS representatives by saying: “I learned so much more about the economics and social issues facing us than I could have without attending the seminar. People don’t usually get that kind of chance!”
The founder of the seminar is Hugh O’Brian, who is perhaps best known for his role as lawman Wyatt Earp on television. After spending some time in Africa with Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Mr. O’Brian decided he wanted to do something to help the youth of today better understand the responsibilities and opportunities that would be facing them. For this reason he organized the foundation, with the philosophy that “every person is created as the steward of his or her own destiny, with great power for a specific purpose: to share with others, through service, a reverence for life in a spirit of love.”
As last year’s Key Club governor of the district including Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska, high school senior Norman Merritt had 3,500 members in 75 service clubs looking to him for guidance and support. The theme of the year’s work was “Fulfilling Man’s Hope for Tomorrow.” In addition, Norman served as assistant to the priests quorum in the Colorado Springs Fourth Ward, Colorado Springs Colorado Stake, was a delegate to Colorado Boys’ State, and attended a model United Nations conference with other Colorado high school students. A two-year convert to the Church, he now attends Brigham Young University and plans to serve a mission in the near future.
Lisa Hancock, a senior at Mosley High School in Panama City, Florida, was honored with the Maxine Bentley Leadership Award at Florida Girls’ State last year. Lisa’s qualifications included being elected mayor of one of the 12 simulated city governments and county commissioner for one of the six counties. On the state government level, she was a candidate for governor, served as chaplain for the House of Representatives, and was a nominee for Girls’ Nation. Lisa is Laurel class president, Junior Sunday School chorister, and Mutual chorister in the Panama City Second Ward, Marianna Florida Stake.
Due partly to the efforts of David Alan Carter, Dodge City, Kansas, is in the news again. But this time, it’s not because of cowboys and gunslingers. David, a member of the Dodge City Branch, Kansas Central District, Independence Missouri Mission, was the moderator of a panel of four that took third place nationally in a tape-recorded discussion. The topic was pornography, and although they touched on many areas of the problem, most of their 20-minute discussion concerned constitutional questions. The four panel members (of whom only David was a member of the Church) were all students at Dodge City Community College, one of just two community colleges in the nationwide competition. David serves as elders quorum secretary and Course 8 Sunday School teacher in the Dodge City Branch, attends school, and works part-time at several jobs (including a family-owned and operated drive-in movie theater) to earn money for his mission.
Claudia Herrera, who joined the Church in January 1978, has been serving as Miss Nicaragua during the past year. As an official representative of her country, she is able to work closely with some of the Nicaraguan ambassadors and meet people from many other countries and areas. Her future plans include obtaining degrees in administration and economics, serving as a local missionary and in other Church positions in Nicaragua, and someday marrying and raising a family strong in the Church. She says, “As Miss Nicaragua I have the opportunity to serve the Lord doing missionary work by bearing my testimony often so that others may come to know the gospel.”
“With holy zeal—having no private views to expound, no personal doctrines to set forth, no ideas that originate with me alone—I desire to present those things which will cause men of good will everywhere to believe in Him by whom salvation comes.”
With this stated purpose Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve presents to the Church the first book of a planned three-volume set dealing with the Savior. This first volume, The Promised Messiah, reviews the teachings of the ancient prophets concerning the Savior’s first coming. The second volume, The Mortal Messiah, will deal with the life he lived among men; and the third, The Millennial Messiah, will summarize the scriptural information available concerning his second advent.
To know the Savior, the author contends, one must first know his Father and this first volume begins with such concerns as “Who Is the Father,” “Where Gods Began to Be,” and “How to Find and Know God.”
“However much philosophers may reason and reach this or that conclusion as to what God must be, or whence he came, or why things are as they are,” Elder McConkie writes; “however much scientists may assert that there must be an intelligent, directing force in this well-ordered universe; however much pagan or Christian man by instinct may choose to worship wood or stone, the sun, moon, or stars, or the forces and powers of nature; however much any mortal man by finite means seeks to find and know the Infinite, yet he has failed and shall fail for this one reason: God is known only by revelation. God stands revealed or he remains forever unknown.”
And to know the Father is to know the Son. Whenever and wherever there have been prophets, they have spoken of Christ; and all the acts, miracles, and ordinances they have performed in his name stand as witnesses to his greatness and goodness. Elder McConkie discusses the messianic prophecies, why and how they came, and how to understand them. He bears page after page of fervent testimony of the divinity of the Author of Salvation. This salvation comes, he proclaims, “to all those who shall believe on his name.” (Alma 34:15.)
The Promised Messiah is a book that will not only acquaint the reader with the Savior but will send him joyfully and hopefully to the scriptures and to his knees for confirmation of the truths it contains.
“By the time I reached the house knew something dreadful had happened. I raced through the front door and almost collided head-on with my dad. I looked up into a ghostly white, tear-streaked face, a face I had never seen before. He was trembling all over and could only mutter, ‘She’s gone, your mother’s passed away.’
“Oh, how I loved her! I was stunned. I turned and I began to run. I ran and ran and ran and my tears mixed with the rain. I ran until I was exhausted, but I did not stop. My face was swollen and my head hurt. Still I ran. Then, suddenly I saw from the opposite direction someone coming toward me. I paused and wiped my eyes. Could it be? One of those four Mutual girls, the girls who truly cared about me. One of those girls was running through the rain for me. I began to run again and when we met I threw my arms around that girl and we both collapsed to the ground. I sat there crying, and she cried with me.
“In the years that followed, I became [very close to those] girls. I learned to care, really care about others and to give of myself. I found that by helping others my own problems diminished.
“When the most important day of my life came, I knelt across the altar from my sweetheart and in the reflection of mirrors were those four Mutual girls, standing, with tears running down their cheeks.
“I’ll never know why I had been so important to them. Me, a nobody. I can only thank my Father in Heaven for those girls and pray with all my heart that there are many more like them in his Church.”
The speaker in this story, the first one related in Others by Blaine and Brenton Yorgason, was an inactive member who was failing school and heading for trouble with the law. Then one day, the four girls in her Mutual class appeared on her doorway and invited her to Mutual. She didn’t go, but for months and months afterward the girls visited her weekly, brought her a birthday cake, and visited her every day for three weeks when she was in the hospital. Because they didn’t give up, she eventually began to realize that they really did care about her, and this realization led to her reactivation in the gospel and a total change of life.
Others is a book packed full of stories and examples of people caring and sharing with one another, with occasional examples of the heartaches and unhappiness that occur when people don’t care. The responsibility of loving those we are called to serve, sharing sorrows with people who are grieving, and learning the meaning and value of friendship are only a few of the topics touched on in this very sensitive and motivating book.
Mike Downey of the Arlington Texas First Ward, Fort Worth Texas Stake, smiled as he listened to his newfound 93-year-old friend talk about turn-of-the-century dating customs. Down the hall, Diane Honeycutt of the Second Ward, and Kelly Molen, a First Warder, listened with interest to anecdotes and memories shared with them by 71-year-old Grace Minor. Twenty-five other young men and women in the stake were elsewhere in the building taking notes and recording reminiscences of members of the local nursing home in Arlington. It was all part of a unique and very successful service project originated by stake clerk (and genealogy enthusiast) David Hedgpeth.
A few days later, each of the 16 nursing home residents was presented with family group sheets, pedigree charts, a cassette recording of his personal history, and a copy of the Book of Mormon. Inside each book was a photograph taken during the interview and the handwritten testimonies of the interviewers. In addition, 42 new genealogy sheets were sent to the Genealogy Department in Salt Lake City and the genealogical section of the Fort Worth Public Library.
The experience was a rewarding one for everyone involved. Said Second Ward member DeAnn Boyer, “It was exciting to see the joy in the older people’s faces when they saw that there were young people who cared about them.” Another added: “The experience made me feel good all over. I learned a lot about real values in life.”
About a month was spent in preparing the questions and interviews. Topics of discussion included such questions as “What have you learned from life that you feel would help others?” and “What special memories do you have of your grandparents and parents?”
“I want to do an interview with my own grandfather,” decided one of the young men after the completion of the project. “I’ll bet he has many exciting stories he could tell about our own family.”
“One and two and three and four and five … and one and two and three and four and ten …” came the sound of voices at the Brookings Branch (South Dakota Rapid City Mission) Mutual recently. Although it may have sounded like the Young Men and Young Women were learning a new dance step, they were actually learning a life-saving technique.
During two Mutual nights, Sister Glenda Hecht used “Resusci Annie,” a special mannequin, in teaching the correct methods of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for reviving someone whose heart has stopped, and the Heimlich Maneuver for expelling a foreign object from the throat of a person who is choking. Personal experiences of several members helped emphasize the importance of having this training. They recalled situations where someone had had a heart attack or was choking on food and the quick action of a person who knew CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver was responsible for saving the individual’s life.
Sister Hecht emphasized that if a person hasn’t learned the correct method for CPR and tries to administer this type of aid, it could harm the victim, breaking his ribs or puncturing his lungs.
The seven members of the Brookings Young Men and Young Women organizations and their advisers completed the challenging course, including the written and skills test, and most of them carry cards attesting to their capability. However, they plan to review the training regularly to remain proficient in it.
Dan Hecht, a deacon, commented, “I found the instruction on CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver to be very interesting and challenging. It is good to know that I can help in an emergency.”
The Brookings young people encourage others who are interested in learning these techniques to contact the American Heart Association for additional information.
At a time when the family and the necessity of family life are increasingly in question and under attack, 35 young members of the Northwest First Ward, Wilmette Illinois Stake, have found a way to speak out strongly in favor of them. For their annual service project, the youth of the ward decided to present a pro-family program, which eventually evolved into a series of nine performances throughout the Chicago area.
Everyone in the ward between the ages of 12 and 18 was invited to participate. The young people wrote skits and musical presentations based on their own experiences in family life and their personal belief that it’s worth the effort. Some of the topics treated were: why parents don’t see their children’s point of view while children don’t see the parents’; the story of a boy from a broken home who finally finds his father and is told, “I never visited you because I didn’t want to see you,” and how he copes with such rejection; the feelings of a young man who wonders why his father never comes to see his wrestling matches, and what happens when he finally does; the triumph of a young woman who (in song) shows her father how much she loves him.
Some of the reactions: One of the young men in the cast was so affected by the program that he decided to accept a mission call. One young lady in the audience was so touched she started taking the missionary discussions and has since been baptized. A sociology teacher who saw the program at his high school changed his mind about never having a family. An Indonesian exchange student came up after the performance and said she appreciated her family much more after having seen the show. At an old folks’ home, one of the men stood up and said, “I’m Catholic; most of us here are Presbyterian or Lutheran; but these kids have just made us all saints.” The program was endorsed for presentation to sociology classes at local high schools, and the young people have been offered the chance to perform at many college campuses.
All of the cast members wore T-shirts with the inscription “Family Harmony.” Banners with the word Love were attached to curtains. Cast members divided into groups of various sizes, carrying numbers to emphasize that families come in a variety of sizes and combinations. A “harmonizer” box sounded an alarm when a situation demanding attention and understanding presented itself on stage. At the end of each hour-long performance, cast members took turns being interviewed by the audience about their feelings concerning the family and about their involvement in the show. “People were surprised,” one participant said, “to find out we were doing it all for free.”
The youth goals in originating the program were “to help the community as a whole with one large service project instead of a lot of little ones, and to find a new way to serve.” If service can be defined as arousing someone’s conscience, this was a service project that worked.
Eight pageants that will dramatically portray aspects of gospel history have been announced by Church officials for 1979. There is no admission charge for any of these presentations:
April 10–13 in Mesa, Arizona—Presented on the grounds of the Arizona Temple, this pageant depicts the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, including his ministry in the western hemisphere as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
June 14–16 in Independence, Missouri—“Missouri, Mormons, and Miracles,” a presentation of Mormon history in the 1800s and the Book of Mormon civilizations in ancient America will be staged outdoors near the Mormon visitors’ center. It answers the eternal questions, “Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?”
July 10–14, 17–21 in Oakland, California—The Oakland Temple pageant will be staged indoors at the tri-stake center near the temple. It tells the history of the restoration, from Joseph Smith to the trek west to the Rocky Mountains.
July 12–14, 17–21 in Manti, Utah—The “Mormon Miracle” pageant will be presented on the grassy slopes of the Manti Temple grounds. The pageant tells the story of the organization of the Church and has flashback scenes from the Book of Mormon.
July 24–27, 31–August 3 in Idaho Falls, Idaho—Its first year in Idaho, “III Nephi” will be staged outdoors at Freeman Park.
July 27, 28, 31–August 4 near Palmyra, New York—The famous Hill Cumorah pageant will be presented outdoors on a hillside staging area. This 42nd presentation of “America’s Witness for Christ” will depict scenes from the Book of Mormon.
August 15–19 in Nauvoo, Illinois—The “City of Joseph” will be presented at the Nauvoo Visitors’ Center near the banks of the Mississippi River. The pageant tells the story of Nauvoo, its rise and fall as a Mormon settlement in the 1840s, and of its founder, Joseph Smith.
December 18–26, Calgary, Alberta, Canada—This Christmas nativity pageant in Heritage Park depicts the birth of the Savior Jesus Christ.
Where am I going? What do I hope to accomplish in life? Are the decisions I am making today taking me toward my hoped-for destination or away from it? These are the kinds of questions we should all ask ourselves often to be sure we are still on the right path, setting and attaining worthwhile goals. These are also the kinds of questions Elder Marvin J. Ashton is concerned with in his book, What Is Your Destination?
In 31 short, easy-to-read chapters, Elder Ashton encourages, advises, and shares experiences as he emphasizes one major thought: “As we pursue our journeys, let us ever bear in mind that in life as in train travel, there are stations, departures, calls, and opportunities for being sidetracked and diverted. Our task is to follow that straight and narrow path which leads to our ultimate destination, eternal life and exaltation in our Father’s kingdom.” (p. 6.)
Elder Ashton explains that people can become sidetracked in many different ways. Some feel that because they have made mistakes and erred, all is lost; others place worldly trends and popularity above eternal values and principles; still others may spend all their time waiting for the future, and in so doing fail to enjoy the blessings and opportunities each day offers.
Acting rather than reacting, managing money, cultivating patience, and displaying courage in time of temptation are only a few of the many areas discussed in this book. Each is presented in a positive and straightforward manner, illustrated with stories, short poems, and quotations that will leave the reader with renewed determination to live a more perfect life.