Like most priests quorums, the priests of the American Fork 25th Ward, American Fork Utah North Stake, like to have fun on a super activity each summer. This year we decided to expand the activity to include a service project as well. And it turned out that the service project was the highlight of the trip!
We covered a need for help in constructing a prefabricated building in Many Farms, Arizona, a town of 5,000 in the Four Corners area where the borders of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado meet. Many Farms is on the Navajo Indian Reservation.
The first night of our activity, a recently returned missionary shared some of his experiences with us in a fireside. He had seen the Spirit touch the lives of people in Argentina, and his testimony touched us. One of our priests said he felt more than ever that he wanted to prepare for a mission.
The next morning we had a rafting competition in a nearby reservoir and went swimming to cool off. Then it was off to Many Farms, where we met the full-time missionaries working in the area. Our priests got to see firsthand what life in the mission field is like. They had an opportunity to work with the missionaries and to hear the conversion story of Elder Powell, a missionary from New York.
Then we started work on the building. As leaders, we had been concerned that the desert heat might make conditions unbearable. But we were blessed with rain and cool, cloudy weather, and we were able to finish the project on time. The work went quickly, and we all enjoyed doing something to help someone else. It was a super activity we will never forget.
Brother and Sister
Jennifer and Byron Jensen are both active in music, academics, and sports in Tucson, Arizona. In her high school Jennifer played the piano for the jazz band and accompanied the choir. She was also a member of the marching band in which she played bells and the tuba.
In addition to music, Jennifer enjoys singing and dancing. She was in the stake’s production of Brigadoon. She is also an excellent seamstress, often designing her own clothes.
Byron plays the guitar in the jazz band and is interested in science. Active in Scouting, he was named Outstanding Scout in his troop.
Jennifer has served as the president of her Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel classes and is accompanist for the ward choir. Byron has been the president of his deacons and teachers quorums in the Tucson Fourth Ward, Tucson Arizona North Stake.
With a Song
Lovey Mataele enjoys using her talents in music to entertain people. She started singing with her family when she was four. Since then she has participated with her family’s band at church and civic functions.
In speaking of her talents, Lovey says, “My Heavenly Father has blessed me with various talents that were developed in different Church activities. And by using these talents, I have been able to stay close to my Heavenly Father. Thanks to my parents and leaders I am very active, and I have a strong testimony that is continually growing.”
Lovey is a member of the Cerritos Fourth Ward, Cerritos California Stake.
Her Own Song
Elizabeth Wilkins of Chelmsley Wood Ward, England, really means it when she says she’ll play her own songs. She taught herself to play the piano and is so proficient that she plays at weddings, concerts, and church functions. She has been asked to perform at the next British Area conference.
Elizabeth also composes. She performed an original song at seminary graduation. She is the seminary student leader for the Lichfield Stake.
In addition, Elizabeth plays the oboe in her school orchestra and plays with a local jazz band.
Leah Janel Boni was named as valedictorian of her graduating class in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. She feels that being named valedictorian was the culmination of several years of hard work.
In addition to her academic studies, Leah participated in several clubs and as a school leader. She also served as a counselor in her Laurel class in the Monongahela Ward, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Stake.
About her high school years, Leah says, “My membership in the Church during my high school years has truly been a blessing to me. I was the only Latter-day Saint in my high school and always strived to be a good example. I always felt I was different, in a special way, because of the Church, my standards, and goals that I have set.”
Amy Joyce, 14, a Mia Maid in the Paducah Ward, Hopkinsville Kentucky Stake, was one of three students chosen from her area to attend the National Space Youth Congress in Los Angeles.
Amy was selected based on high scholastic standing, an essay, and an interview. Amy also participates on the math team, is the choir pianist, and carries flags for the marching band.
Top of Her Class
Laura Hill of the Fort Walton Second Ward, Pensacola Florida Stake, graduated as the valedictorian of her class. She also served as president of the National Honor Society for her school and received many honors in French.
Laura served as the Laurel president in her ward. In addition, she was a youth conference regional representative and a youth hostess on a temple trip.
Donna Martin of Baytown, Texas, has been rewarded for her efforts in the arts. She took first place in an essay contest and first in an historical fiction writing contest. She is also interested in art and has won several competitions with her sketches, watercolors, and silk screens.
About her work, Donna says, “I set high goals for myself and I am glad when I achieve them. I think I am teaching myself how to set goals in the future.”
Donna was the captain of the girls’ volleyball team at her school. She also serves as president of her Beehive class in the Baytown First Ward, Houston Texas East Stake.
Let Your Testimony Soar
They filtered into the room as they always had on Sunday mornings—greeting friends and gathering together to visit and laugh a little before the meeting began. But this particular Sunday was different. On the Sunday of their ward conference, each of the young men and young women in the Blackfoot Idaho South Stake had brought an item to church—pictures, basketballs, scriptures. All the youth had been asked to bring one item related to their Church activity and to stand before the group and explain what kept them active in the Church.
To introduce the activity, the first to stand in each ward was stake Young Men president, Joe Dayle. Many snickered when he held up an empty beer can, but they listened to his words. “As I watched my friends get involved in these kinds of things, and the problems that came along with them, I gained a testimony of the Word of Wisdom. I knew it was true.”
Many aspects of Church activity were evident as each stood and shared feelings. A young woman holding a Personal Progress book told of her testimony of goal setting. Another, holding a basketball, shared her love for the sports program. A Scouting manual showed the importance the program held to a young deacon. Many brought their scriptures and told of their gratitude for them and for the seminary program which helped them learn and better understand God’s word. The power of family influences was represented by the many pictures brought of parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters.
As each meeting in each ward progressed, the Spirit grew stronger. Testimonies were borne of the love felt for the Savior and the sacrifice he made.
In the fall, after all ward conferences were completed, a stake activation night was held as a culmination of the year’s program. Each young man and woman in the stake—active and inactive—was contacted and asked to write his or her testimony on a card. The theme for the night was “Let Your Testimony Soar.” That evening, hundreds of helium balloons with the testimony cards inside were filled and released.
Paul Brendon Levy of Johannesburg, South Africa, received the highest award as the Scholar of the Year and additional awards of merit for the highest academic achievement in his class and in the school during his final year at the Ridgevale Primary School.
Paul received a total of seven cups and eight certificates of merit for earning the highest marks in several subjects and for his overall academic performance.
In addition to his schoolwork, Paul enjoys playing soccer, cricket, and baseball. He serves as a deacon in his ward.
Earns His Eagle
Ray Bonnet of the Indianapolis Fifth Ward, Indianapolis Indiana North Stake, earned his Eagle badge, an outstanding achievement for a young man born with cerebral palsy.
Ray chose to earn is Eagle rank without any special considerations. It took six years of hard work, including a mile hike on crutches, week-long summer camps, swimming, completing the requirements for 21 merit badges, serving in various leadership positions, developing lifesaving skills, showing Scout spirit, and providing community service.
As his Eagle project, Ray organized his troop to assist in building six microfilm readers and developed a creative approach to extracting names from microfilm in genealogical research.
Jocelyn Johnson of Huntsville, Utah, earned a National Merit Scholarship and was named Outstanding Student for Utah by a national service organization.
In addition to her studies, Jocelyn plays the piano and played in her school band. She designed a bicycle safety program which she presented at local elementary schools.
Jocelyn is a member of the Huntsville Utah Second Ward. She graduated from seminary and received her Young Womanhood Recognition.
On the Ball
Michael Lim of the Vallejo Second Ward, Napa California Stake, enjoys both sports and music. He played on his high school varsity basketball team. He also plays the piano and has won numerous commendations for his performances.
Michael also followed the example of his older brother and his father by earning his Eagle badge. In addition, Michael serves as second assistant in his priests quorum.
Music and Sports
Jana Rae Later of the Riverdale Seventh Ward, Ogden Utah Riverdale Stake, stays active in music, sports, and schoolwork. She was a member of National Honor Society in her junior high school. She played bass guitar in the jazz band and was first chair oboist in her school band.
Jana enjoys all types of sports, especially skiing, and has successfully completed her first year of seminary.