Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
Robert Daines was selected as one of the top ten student leaders in the state of Pennsylvania by the Century III Leadership Foundation. He also serves as his high school class president, was on the varsity basketball team, and was honored by the members of his class for his service. Robert is a member of the Carlisle Ward, York Pennsylvania Stake.
Little finger puppets crafted by the young people of the Stillwater Oklahoma Stake take the sting out of a blood test for children at the local medical center. Over 50 young men and young women got together to make over 200 bunnies, snowmen, and chickens that just fit the fingers of small patients at the hospital.
Having a finger pricked for a blood test is a necessary but often traumatic experience for children. Gail Vest, the coordinator of the project, thought the finger puppets would help turn the tears into smiles. She went to the stake’s young people to see if they would like to make it a service project. The project was performed with enthusiasm, and the hospital is delighted with the results.
What could a handful of Young Women do to make a contribution to the new Chicago Temple? A group from the Hebron Branch, Chicago Heights Illinois Stake, discovered a way. They held a talent auction.
The girls led the way by offering such services as babysitting, catered meals, car washes, and gardening skills. The branch members joined in by offering specialized talents such as tennis lessons, car tune-ups, and landscaping service, plus handcrafted items. After a potluck meal, the auction was held. Besides having a lot of fun, the Young Women were able to give the money raised to the branch president to be donated to the building of the new temple in their area.
A Royal Generation
The clock read 6:45 A.M. on a Saturday morning. The Alaskan sun was hidden behind rain clouds for another hour as people trudged toward the chapel through the pale dawn. They separated to sing and dance and act their various parts in every nook and foyer of the building and then came together again to practice the finale. “We are royal children; we are kings!” sang the deeper, male voices. “We are royal children; we are queens!” replied the sopranos. And then together: “We are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. We’re a royal congregation, a royal dispensation. We’re a royal generation. Hear us sing!” And sing they did. The Anchorage Alaska North Stake completed five months of rehearsals and four successful, sold-out performances of their own original Mormon musical production A Royal Generation. Over 70 teenagers, 15 children, and 40 adults were involved in acting, singing, and dancing in the production. In addition, the Anchorage Youth Symphony Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment with a 17-piece orchestra. Church members and nonmembers encouraged, supported, and delighted each other in this experience.
The musical was the creation of three women, Joyce Cox, Barbara Sinclair, and Kaye Wallace, whose goal was to fill a need. They wanted to provide an experience that would be wholesome and that would try to answer many of the questions Mormon youth have about why it is important to choose to obey their Heavenly Father.
Each of the acts of A Royal Generation tells the story of a group of young people who had to make decisions and who found successful ways to do so. Act one concerned young adults deciding about missions, college, work, and marriage. The second act dealt with teenage dating problems, the selection of appropriate friends, and how to become independent though obedient. The final act outlined the difficulties of Mormon youth as they enter the teen years and select their directions and attitudes. When the Anchorage Youth Symphony Orchestra, most of whom are nonmembers, agreed to provide the music, the cast was thrilled. The orchestration was written by a local professional, and a 30-voice choir began to rehearse to back up the actors on stage.
The missionaries in Anchorage (who ushered at each performance) reported that many people expressed interest in the Church, and each request for more information was further adrenalin for the cast, crew, and orchestra.
Was all the time and effort, the cost and sacrifice, the sleeplessness and practice worthwhile? “My two friends who came to see me are taking the missionary discussions,” said one cast member. One look at her face was all the answer that was needed
Two young Hawaiians were credited with saving the lives of their friends in separate incidents. Ranceford K. Shea of the Waianae First Ward, Waipahu Hawaii Stake, received the Honor Medal for Lifesaving from the Boy Scouts of America for helping his friend, Max Miller, reach the safety of the beach after being knocked off a reef by a wave. The younger boy hit his head, and Ranceford pulled him to safety.
While on a class outing near Kualoa Beach Park, Leandra Arlyn K. Data of the Waipahu Ward, Waipahu Hawaii Stake, helped save the lives of several of her fellow classmates. The large group was following a reef to a nearby island when several got out of line and fell off into deeper water. Leandra was one in this group. She resisted panic and helped her friend who couldn’t swim to relax and float. Then after being picked up by a rescue boat, she helped pull others to safety. Even though her friend was carried away by a current, Leandra’s quick instructions saved her life. Her friend was found in good condition still floating like Leandra had taught her.
“No mail was delivered this week, so I opened my mailbox and got out a card from mom. It was just what I needed.”
A week without mail is a big disappointment to any missionary. But when Randy Hart, Kearns 17th Ward, Kearns Utah East Stake, misses his weekly mail call in Honduras, he can turn to his own personal mail supply and find a note from mom or grandma, dad, the bishop, or his girl friend.
When Randy received his call to the Central America Mission last September, his girl friend, Kathy, knew all about the uncertainties of mail delivery in that area. Her brother, Steve, had served in the same area several years before.
So Kathy purchased a miniature mailbox and shopped for a collection of cards small enough to fit in the box. She wrote quite a few cards herself, handed out cards to members of Randy’s family, his bishop, and his friends, then collected the messages and stacked them in the box. She added several tiny packages such as small bars of soap, candies, a tiny note pad, and bubble gum, all wrapped and with a few words of encouragement included in each.
There were enough letters for Randy to open two each month throughout his mission.
His instructions were that the box could only be opened if he hadn’t received any regular mail that week, if he was going through some discouraging times, or in case of “acute personal need.”
Another package Kathy included contained a selection of small toys, each bearing a message—small boats for “smooth sailing on your mission seas,” yo-yo’s for “help in overcoming your downs and getting back up,” and puzzles—“together you and the Lord can solve any problem.” The toys can be given to small children in the mission field.
Lengthening Their Stride
Bang! The runners spring into action in response to the starter’s signal. Tiffany is ahead in a second. Her feet pound the soft pavement of the track. She sets her pace, expecting to be passed by the other runners. As she runs, she looks over her shoulder. They are all there—all six of them—their faces strained in their effort to maintain the pace Tiffany has set. She looks forward again, her mind now racing faster than her feet. She is ahead! She has never raced before, so she really doesn’t have anything to compare the experience to, but she feels as if she can go the distance at this pace. The realization that she is ahead seems to give her an extra boost—a little extra energy.
Members of Tiffany’s ward track team line the inside of the track, calling her name, shouting their enthusiasm and encouragement. Tiffany takes one more look over her shoulder. With an exhilaration she has not experienced before, Tiffany bursts through the ribbon at the finish line.
Tiffany won first place in the 12- to 13-year-old division of the 880-yard race in the annual West Jordan Utah South Stake Youth Track Meet. She was one of 200 participants in 11 track and field events. But victory at the finish line was only the beginning of Tiffany’s story. In all her 12 years, Tiffany had never won anything and had never felt that she excelled in anything. She had been an average student because she lacked the self-confidence required for achievement. During the track meet, Tiffany learned she has a physical prowess not enjoyed by many young women. She now trains at least once a week with her Beehive leader, a former high school coach, in preparation for participation in high school and college track.
“Minor” miracles are almost commonplace at the annual West Jordan South Stake track meet. The meet affords the youth of the stake an excellent opportunity for fellowshipping and activating. They take advantage of that opportunity in a setting that is comfortable and pleasant for them.
Teamwork is the rule of the day. Preparing for the track meet is hard work for most of the youth. Many of the wards practice once or twice weekly beginning as early as three months in advance. All of the wards hold preliminary track meets to establish their individual and team contestants for the stake meet.
When everybody assembled for the awards ceremony at this year’s meet, the young people really outdid themselves in expressing their love and friendship to each other. It all started when one young woman went forward to accept her medal and her brother shouted, “She’s my sister!” Not to be outdone, a friend of the next award winner stood and yelled, “He’s my friend!” Soon entire ward teams were standing for their team members, chanting “He’s our brother” or “She’s our friend.” Their pride in each other was unmistakable.
The annual West Jordan Utah South Stake Youth Track Meet is more than a sporting event. It is a training ground where gospel principles can be taught through example and participation.