“The elect are whosoever will, and the non-elect, whosoever won’t”
Henry Ward Beecher
by Jeffery A. Lee and Paul Scott Embley
What do you get when you combine 39 Hollanders, eight missionaries, and five eight-foot sandwiches? The young members of the Groningen Branch, Netherlands Amsterdam Mission, found out when they joined their nonmember friends, the missionaries, and fellow branch members in the park. The combination means you’re having an American picnic, Dutch style.
Actually, the fun began the night before when the Aaronic Priesthood and the Young Women gathered to fill the lengthy loaves. Armed with spoons, knives, ham, bologna, cheese, lettuce, pickles, and condiments, they soon stuffed the “submarines” amply enough to satisfy any appetite.
The next morning, an unexpected problem arose: how do you transport five eight-foot sandwiches to the park when the major means of transportation is bicycles? The answer was easy—recruit a Volkswagen! Such a car may already seem small to some people, but it seemed even smaller stuffed with super sandwiches!
But the sandwiches arrived and so did the crowd, with young and old enjoying each other’s company. The picnic started with contests: tossing raw eggs between partners, three-legged races, wheelbarrow racing, Frisbee throwing, volleyball, and soccer.
The games were followed by a testimony meeting, during which the picnickers discussed their love for their Savior, Jesus Christ. Then, finally, it was time to eat. Even though everyone’s hunger was great, they found it small compared to the size of the sandwiches—a total of 40 feet of bread and fillings.
by Marco Holbrook
Everything was ready. Balloons and bunting were up; booths for the fair waited for the crowd. We, the 65 Mia Maids, Laurels, teachers, and priests from the Torrance California North Stake, focused our attention on the parking lot where our special guests would soon be arriving. It was almost noon.
Earlier, before breakfast at the stake center, each of us had signed our name next to a number on a list. The number represented one of the guests who would be coming. Following the meal, Mrs. Dori Livingston of the Southwest Association for the Mentally Retarded briefed us on what to expect. She showed a film of last year’s regional Special Olympics. She explained how these children, each a victim of a developmental disability, responded to the challenge of competing with others with similar handicaps.
The film was full of happy faces of kids of all ages. Some had noticeable problems, but most of them looked perfectly normal. It was their smiles, however, that caught our attention. There was something very special about those winning smiles as contestants crossed finish lines.
Mrs. Livingston explained some possible problems we might have to deal with and told us what to do in a matter-of-fact way. I’m sure some of us looked a little worried. She also explained that the parents of the children who were coming might be a little nervous, too, and therefore overprotective—after all, none of us had ever done this before, and they certainly didn’t want their children put in an unhappy situation. Somehow that reassured us, because our parents wouldn’t want that to happen to us, either.
We were bused to El Nido Park in Redondo Beach and spent the morning putting up booths, blowing up helium balloons, and tacking up signs. Now we sat wondering if we really could handle the service project we’d taken on for the afternoon.
As the first carloads started to arrive, it was quiet at the check-in stand. Each guest was paired up with a guide for the day. The guests, for the most part, were less shy than the guides. Hot dogs, punch, potato chips, and cupcakes quickly bridged the communication gap, and soon new friends were piling trash in barrels and heading for the games, including a fishing booth, a ring toss, pie-eating contests, and make-up artists painting clown faces on anyone who asked. At the ball toss, everyone won a prize. And everyone got a kick out of winning, though the prizes were nothing special. The smiles, those same winning smiles, radiated on the faces of our guests. After everyone had done everything at least three times, there was a ball game on the south diamond and a game of tag nearby. Even the parents relaxed and got acquainted with each other as they watched their children mingle. By 3:00 everyone was tired and ready to go home.
by Reed McColm
Early last spring at Camp “He-Ho-Ha” in Alberta, Canada, the Laurels and priests of the Edmonton Alberta Stake enjoyed a weekend-long Laurel-priest conference. The theme for the weekend was taken from Helaman 12:1 [Hel. 12:1], “Trust in Him.”
After arriving early Friday evening, the youth viewed and participated in a variety show. Previously hidden talents of youth and leaders were prominently displayed. The enthusiasm generated during the variety show provided an excellent setting for the computer dance that followed.
The evening’s activities concluded with the “Trust in Him” theme presentation, at which four youths spoke and slides from the previous year’s conference were shown. After the slides a family film entitled “Twenty-one Is Enough” (made by the Sixth Ward Laurels and priests) was shown, concluding the day on an amusing note. Laurels and priests retired quickly to their separate living quarters in order to be well rested for the next day’s fun.
Seven A.M. came early Saturday, bringing with it the first of several seminars, “Career and Educational Opportunities.” Other seminars included “Living a Christlike Life” and “Temple Marriage.” During each seminar the importance of trusting the Lord, especially when making important life-affecting decisions, was stressed.
An impromptu snowball fight, Ping-Pong and shuffleboard games, and an exciting eight-team New Era Bowl filled out the afternoon. After dinner a testimony meeting was held, at which the stake president addressed the youth and they in turn responded, freely expressing their love for each other and the gospel.
“Yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him” (Hel. 12:1).
by Frances Asselin
Allison Brandow unpacked her suitcase and glanced quickly around the room, waiting anxiously for her weekend roommate to appear. When they met a few moments later, it was instant friendship! The girls were among 300 youth and counselors awaiting the beginning of the Toronto, Ontario, regional LDS youth conference. Held at Guelph University in Guelph, Ontario, the theme this year was “Friends Are Forever.”
The weekend began with a Friday night sock hop and dance contest, followed by a talent display. Saturday morning workshops included self-defense, modern dance, and missionary cooking (among others), and were followed by a volleyball tournament, swimming, and other sporting activities. That evening Elder Robert L. Simpson of the First Quorum of the Seventy spoke about missionary work, emphasizing that any friend can truly become a friend forever in the gospel.
Sunday meetings included inspirational messages from Elder Simpson and the Washington Temple president and matron, President and Sister Aimes. Sunday workshops on such topics as honoring the priesthood, temple marriage, and goal setting continued throughout the afternoon and were followed by a testimony meeting.
The next morning a late breakfast gave plenty of time for taking photographs, exchanging addresses, and tearful farewells. Traveling homeward, each person was warmed by the knowledge that memories, like friendship, are truly forever.
Alan Howell, one of two young men holding the Aaronic Priesthood in the Alexandria Minnesota Branch, Fargo North Dakota Stake, is the first branch member to earn the Eagle award. Because there was no Scout program in the branch and the stake center was over 100 miles away, Alan joined a troop sponsored by the Calvary Lutheran Church. (His mother has been a den leader and his father is on the Scout committee of that troop.) To complete his Eagle project, Alan organized the Scouts in cleaning and repairing an old hockey rink for use by the community. The boys cleared weeds and debris, leveled ground, and repaired boards. The park association flooded the area for ice skating, and the facility was used free of charge throughout the winter. Alan serves as priesthood chorister in his branch and as a home teacher in a 43-mile district. He has received his On My Honor award and was elected into the Order of the Arrow. When asked if it was difficult to keep LDS standards in a non-LDS troop, he replied, “No, it wasn’t hard to do. You are always in good company when you’re with Scouts!”
When Casey Christopherson graduated from Primary, he had already earned the 24 merit badges required for an Eagle award. Since that time he has kept his enthusiasm for the Scouting program, earning an additional 29 merit badges. Casey also has earned his bronze and gold palms, is working on his silver palm, was awarded a World Conservation Award, received his On My Honor award, and became a member of the Order of the Arrow. Presently he is the second counselor in the teachers quorum of the Spanish Fork 13th Ward, Spanish Fork Utah Stake.