Young people from the Germany Servicemen Region and other small groups from Turkey, Holland, England, and Greece gathered in Berchtesgaden, West Germany, for the annual youth conference.
The 348 youth in attendance enjoyed the socializing at the sock hop, the semiformal dance, and the talent show and skits. One group formed a choir and worked for hours on Saturday afternoon preparing music for Sunday’s meetings. They loved the two days of workshops on spiritual subjects. They enjoyed helping the surrounding community with a cleanup service project. And they enjoyed participating in a missionary experience where some of the youth were allowed to go tracting with the missionaries. For many, the experience reinforced their desire to serve a mission.
The highlight of the conference was the testimony meeting. Many of the youth were able to bear their testimonies before returning home to their own branches and wards.
Heather Henderson of Banbury, Oxfordshire, England, is an accomplished actress and especially enjoys performing in musicals. She played the part of the Artful Dodger in her community’s dramatic society production of Oliver.
Heather plays clarinet in her school orchestra and is studying hard to pass her O level examinations in dance and drama.
Seminary is high on Heather’s list. “It’s hard work,” she says, “but great fun too.”
James Christopher Dowdy of the Orlando Fifth Ward, Orlando Florida Stake, is an honor student in the gifted program at his high school. He worked extensively with the Air Force ROTC, serving as a student leader. He also received the Daughters of the American Revolution Award for patriotism and military and academic achievement.
In addition, Chris designed and helped construct the entry which received the first-place award for two years in his high school’s homecoming parade. He also plays the piano and has completed four years of seminary.
Dixie Schwab of Afton, Wyoming, has been an outstanding participant in both basketball and golf on her high school teams. In her final two years, she played on the district tournament, state tournament, and all-state coaches’ basketball teams. In addition, she was named most valuable player at the 3A state tournament.
Dixie also received many individual and team awards for her play with the golf team. She has served in several Young Women class presidencies and graduated with four years in seminary.
Sara Wadsworth of Panaca, Nevada, resolved to read the Book of Mormon in one year. She had to schedule her reading around the many demands on her time. She took piano lessons, competed on the school’s basketball and track teams, maintained straight A’s, did not miss one day of early-morning seminary, and completed her chores at home and on the family farm.
One year later, Sara finished reading the Book of Mormon, not for the first time but for the third time that year.
The young women of the Ogden 84th Ward, Ogden Utah Lorin Farr Stake, have a special tradition of service. Each year for the past six, the girls have made a beautiful quilt and have donated it to the Primary Children’s Medical Center. After visiting the hospital, the young women tour Temple Square and other places important in Church history. It is a tradition they hope to continue in coming years.
In the Dominican Republic capital of Santo Domingo is a small school for poor children, held in the patio of a dedicated LDS sister by the name of Lubian Sequi.
When the youth of the West Bountiful Ninth Ward, West Bountiful Stake, heard about the school, they decided they wanted to help. After all, Sister Sequi was funding the school out of her own pocket, and she didn’t have much to spare.
The youth chipped in with their own money to buy school supplies like crayons, pencils, and paper, and they decorated school boxes for each of the students. Then they collected clothes from ward members to include, since Sister Sequi noted that sometimes the children were absent because they literally did not have shirts on their backs.
Once all the things were put together, a local shipping company helped them get the supplies overseas and through customs.
“It was one of the best service projects we’ve ever done,” said Scott Thomas, a priest. “More people came out to this project than any other. They came because they thought it was such a good cause. It makes you feel great to know that you’re helping those little kids.”
Erin Wasson, 13, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has received several Good Citizenship awards and is consistently on the honor roll. He plays percussion in the advanced band. In his spare time he studies karate, and he is looking forward to taking seminary.
Deborah Harlan of Puyallup, Washington, was selected to be a Natural Helper at her high school. As a Natural Helper, Deborah had a good academic record and attended several days of seminars to learn what was expected of a Natural Helper. She assisted with fellow students recovering from substance abuse. She would help them keep up with homework and help them adjust as they made a new set of friends.
Deborah was also crowned as the Daffodil Queen for the Puyallup Valley Daffodil Festival. She reigned over the third largest floral parade in the United States.
Deborah served as president of her Laurel class in the Puyallup Second Ward. In addition to her school and church activities, Deborah and her father, Doug, enjoy singing together.
Brande Mogstad of the Pinnacle Mountain Ward, Little Rock Arkansas Stake, enjoys the arts. She especially likes writing fiction and poetry and has won ribbons for her efforts. She also plays the violin and has performed in church.
The Scouts of the Millcreek Sixth Ward, Salt Lake Millcreek Stake, found a way to help one of their fellow Scouts and good friend earn his Eagle Award.
Kim Berry, 15, was diagnosed as having terminal bone cancer. When he realized the seriousness of his illness, he set three goals for himself: to get his patriarchal blessing, to read the Book of Mormon, and to finish the requirements for his Eagle Award.
Kim completed all his merit badges. But as his strength began to fail, he needed some assistance in completing his Eagle project. He turned to the members of his Scout troop. After receiving permission from the local council, Kim and his mother prepared a flyer announcing that his Eagle project would be gathering canned goods for the state food bank. His friends delivered the flyers door-to-door. Then all the boys in the troop, with the help of adult leaders in pickup trucks, collected the donated goods and delivered them to the food bank. The response was tremendous, and the troop gathered hundreds of pounds of food.
Craig Larson, Scoutmaster, said that the Scouts in the troop were very serious about helping Kim. They worked hard to get his project done quickly. They appreciated the chance to do something for their friend.
Kim received his Eagle Award one week before his death. He also completed his other two goals.
Cameron Johnson of Cairo, Egypt, was selected as an All Tournament player in the International School Sports Tournament for varsity basketball held in Paris, France. The tournament consisted of 12 teams in the International School system. Cameron was one of ten players earning the distinction.
Cameron served as captain of the volleyball and baseball teams in his school in addition to serving as captain of the basketball team. He is on the honor roll.
Cameron is a priest and serves as seminary president.
Mark J. Massey, Jr., of Sparks, Nevada, served as student-body president of his high school. In addition to his responsibilities as a student leader, Mark worked to promote Students Against Drunk Driving. He also participated in a group of 13 who regularly sing together at stake functions and missionary farewells.
Mark also served as first assistant in his priests quorum in the Sparks Second Ward.
Kara Leigh Hamilton of Hanover Park, Illinois, has finished her year as student-body president. Serving as the student leader in a large high school with over
2,000 students, Kara balanced the demands on her time. She also served as Spanish Club president and wrote a column for the school newspaper. One student adviser said of Kara, “Her success is dependent upon two very well developed skills—her winning personality and her excellent organizational abilities.”
Kara attended seminary for four years. She participated in regional scripture chases and in the Church sports programs.
Paul Sheldon of the Tucson Sixth Ward, Tucson Arizona Stake, was named Student of the Month at his junior high school. Paul is an honor student, a member of the special performing choir, and recently starred as the Cowardly Lion in the school’s musical production of The Wizard of Oz.
He has also used his musical talent in church, performing solos for many activities.
The youth of the Charleston, Fairmont, and Huntington stakes in West Virginia wanted service to be a part of their youth conference. In preparation for the conference, local governments and organizations were contacted and asked in what areas the youth might be of service.
Faced with funding problems, the public library asked the youth to help with a pledge drive. The librarians had not had the manpower to stage the campaign themselves. The head librarian said, “We were excited when the Church came to us and said they would like to help. I’m impressed with the Church and with their willingness to help. If every church made these kinds of efforts for the things they believed in, it would be exciting to see what would happen in the world.”
In addition, the youth helped with heavy yard work and cleaning for several widows in town. They also painted and cleaned the Head Start building. The youth presented a musical program at a local nursing home and spent time talking individually with the residents.
The youth also helped clean up along the roadways leading into town; cleaned, raked, and helped prepare a new soccer field; and painted park restrooms and a gazebo.
The group participated in a Book of Mormon marking project as well. They underlined specific scriptures in 120 copies of the Book of Mormon to be used by the missionaries in the Charleston West Virginia Mission.
At the testimony meeting at the conclusion of the youth conference, those involved left feeling better about themselves because they had helped someone else.
It will always do to change for the better.