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Keeping in Touch

Do you want to keep in touch with a group of friends while you’re away at school or on your missions, but you don’t like the idea of writing ten different letters every month? Instead of just a Christmas card during the holiday season, wouldn’t it be nicer to stay close to older brothers or sisters or cousins who are far away? Here is how several elders from the Provo, Utah, area keep in touch while serving missions in various parts of the world. The plan includes some examples from their letters to help you get the idea.

• 1. Each one of you write a letter at the beginning of each month. Write about yourself, the things you are doing, the people you have met, and the places you have seen.

“We’ve had to do a lot of walking over the weekend because my companion totaled his bike when he hit another biker head on. The man lost his false teeth. Luckily it wasn’t worse. He wasn’t very happy, but then again, who would be? We have his address and are planning to visit him, so who knows. Maybe we have a new investigator, although I’d recommend making contacts other ways.”

• 2. Write your letter just like you are talking to all your friends, but write only one letter that will go to all of them.

“How are you doing, Elder McIff? Don’t get down because of the language. No one understands at first. However, gradually things get better.”

“Terry, thanks for the letter, even though it was to your girlfriend. Do you want me to send it to her?”

• 3. Make a promise among yourselves to write every month without fail. It won’t work unless you all write.

“I love this letter. It was the first one I got here in Japan. Everyone in my apartment is jealous because we’re all doing this. You guys have the strongest testimonies. I love all of you, and I’m so grateful that we are all great friends.”

• 4. Each person sends his letter to a central source. It could be someone’s mother or another close friend. This person types all the letters, or photocopies them, and sends a copy of each to everyone who wrote a letter.

• 5. The final step is to sit back and enjoy your letters. With this system, everyone will get several letters at once and keep in touch with good friends without writing ten letters a month. It’s a great way to encourage each other and to stay close, whether you are off on missions, away at school, or just far from friends.

(Based on the real letters of Elders McIff, Kingsolver, McKay, Huber, Hansen, Wilson, Harris, Wimmer, Wilcox, and Reeves, who are good friends all originally from Provo, Utah.)

Custom Wreaths

The Mia Maid class of the Fair Oaks Ward, Oakton Virginia Stake, undertook a special project so that they could donate money to the general mission fund of the Church. They already had experience in making wreaths for the doors of their own families. They then took orders from members in the ward and friends for wreaths made-to-order.

The girls were kept busy and during the project learned some bookkeeping methods to keep track of their expenses and profits. And in the middle, they learned some practical lessons about enduring to the end. They completed their project and joyfully donated the money, along with marked copies of the Book of Mormon for use by missionaries.

Call Him Coach

Rick Robertson, a priest in the Auberry Ward, Fresno California North Stake, was only 14 when he started coaching a tee-ball baseball team of 5-to 8-year-olds who had never won a game. Under Rick’s leadership the team has completed their third season without a loss. In addition to coaching the baseball team, Rick coached a junior high basketball team without a loss. He has maintained straight-A grades in high school.

Rick’s younger brother, Shea Robertson, helped in coaching the tee-ball baseball team. Shea is also a National Science Olympiad winner, a recipient of the Presidential Academic Fitness Award, serves as student body president, and maintains straight-A grades.

Talented Seamstress

Courtney West, of the Mt. Rose Second Ward in the Reno Nevada Stake, is already a talented seamstress.

In 1987 she won the grand prize in the McCall’s Pattern Company’s National Sew and Show Contest. She combined several patterns to make her dress, which won in a competition of more than 500 entries. As part of her prize she won a trip to Hollywood and a modeling job in the McCall’s pattern catalog.

Courtney has spent the last six years participating in 4-H where she has been the junior leader in sewing and fashion classes. She was the 1986 and 1987 winner of the Nevada state “Make-lt-Yourself-with-Wool” contest.

She enjoys cheerleading, playing her viola, scuba diving and reading the scriptures. Courtney says she has many favorite scriptures that have helped her in her life.

Missionary Emphasis

The Young Women of the Orem Aspen Fifth Ward, Orem Utah Aspen Stake, chose to forego their traditional Christmas party and donate the money earned at a bake sale to the general missionary fund. In conjunction with this activity, each girl wrote her testimony and placed it in a Book of Mormon to be used for distribution in the mission field. The girls felt this was an especially worthwhile project and enjoyed participating.

Top Player

Jason Matheny of the Ventura Fourth Ward, Ventura California Stake, was chosen as the offensive player of the year for his high school football team. He was also voted team captain and most valuable player by the other team members.

Jason broke Ventura High School’s record for passing yardage in a single season and was chosen to be on the All Ventura County first team.

In addition, Jason was a four-year honor roll student and an Eagle Scout.

Cleaning Up

by Cathe Chapman

The memory of piles and piles of crushed granite remains in the minds of 70 youth from the Mesa Arizona Stake. As a service project in conjunction with their youth conference, they gathered at 5:30 in the morning at the Ho Ho Kam Park, winter home of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. They had been asked by the bicentennial committee of the city of Mesa to help improve the looks of the park. The piles of crushed granite had been dumped into the meridians that bordered the driveways and parking lot. Seventy-five tons needed to be shoveled and raked evenly.

“It’s a great project,” said Tony Curtis, a priest in the Mesa 23rd Ward, “because we are in service to the community.” The group worked at a fast pace because they were determined to beat the heat of the blazing Arizona sun.

When they finished the work, they were dirty, hot, and tired, and more than ready to participate in the water carnival planned for the afternoon.

The city of Mesa was so pleased with the work, they wrote a special letter thanking everyone who participated.

Serving as President

Michelle Mokihana Meyer of the Kaunakakai Ward on Molokai, Hawaii, has served as class president for the six years she was in the Young Women program. She also served as senior class president during her final year of high school.

In addition, Michelle was secretary and vice-president of seminary and graduated with a perfect four-year attendance record.

Top Secret

Each young man and young woman of the High Country Ward, San Antonio Texas Stake, received a mysterious message marked “Top Secret.” They were instructed to memorize the contents of the letter and discuss it only with their parents if they chose to accept their assigned “secret mission.”

Those involved in the planning of the event kept things to themselves. On the assigned day, 42 youth met at the church parking lot. After being divided into teams, the groups traveled to their final destination, Camp Bullis, a military installation nearby.

Then the real adventure began. The groups of young people were introduced to a specially designed obstacle course, created to help military personnel practice problem-solving and team-building skills. Each station on the course involved problem-solving situations and physical barriers that had to be overcome. The participants started to take the team building experience seriously. Amid high-fives, cheers, and hugs, a new feeling of concern for each other emerged in the teams. One young woman feared heights and couldn’t bring herself to climb a 20-foot cargo net, but she didn’t want to let her team down. An alert team member, sensing her dilemma, said, “Don’t look up or down, just look at me and let’s go.” Together they successfully made the climb.

As the groups began to work on the course obstacles, their differences seemed to evaporate.

Discord became harmony. Harsh words were replaced with friendship. A spirit of selflessness and caring among all the teams became evident.

After the morning’s exercise, they returned to the meetinghouse for a barbecue and to review what they had experienced. Overwhelmingly the response was positive, and for a time the youth felt a oneness that proved to them that by working together they could overcome any challenge they meet.

Music Makers

The young people in the Ontario Oregon Stake are influencing people all around them in two different ways.

Many of the LDS teenagers in Ontario are involved in music and get into the spotlight with their talents in this area. The talented young people include Amy Woodfield, a district first-place winner on the flute; Christine Putnam, a district first-place winner on the piano; Wyndi Best, a second-place winner in the alto division at the Oregon State Solo Festival; and Ron Winegar, a percussionist who was invited to play with the John Philip Sousa Honor Band.

Other music makers participate in the Treasure Valley Community College Prime Time Jazz Band, and the college’s choral group, Vocal Express. Through the example of the LDS members of these groups, many of their fellow musicians have been introduced to the Church.

Another way these young people have been able to be examples is through seminary. The seminary program in Ontario recently generated front-page news when it switched from an early-morning schedule to release-time. Because of the publicity, many of their friends have asked these young members about seminary and its influence on their lives.

“Release-time seminary is changing people’s minds,” said Christine Putnam. “Students are curious about it and come in to see for themselves.” Christine has brought several friends to seminary, and one is interested in baptism.

Between music and seminary, these students are calling attention to themselves and are great examples for the Church in Oregon.

For the Team

Five members of the Florence Arizona Ward, Gilbert Arizona Greenfield Stake, were a big help to their high school football team when the team took the state class A-2 championship.

Four team members were members of the priests quorum. Shawn Cluff played middle linebacker and is interested in rodeos when he’s not playing football. Stacy Sherwood played both defensive tackle and offensive guard and enjoys spending time with his seven brothers and sisters. He is on the academic decathlon team and the yearbook staff.

Lance Gardner played defensive corner and also played on the varsity basketball team. He is secretary of the priests quorum. Nathaniel Adams played tackle and recently became the first Scout to get his Eagle Award in the Florence Ward.

The fifth contributor to the football team’s success was Shirley Jo Applegate, who participated with the team as a cheerleader. She also enjoys clogging and attending seminary. She serves as Mia Maid class president.

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark

[photos] Rick Robertson; Shea Robertson

[photo] Courtney West, above, models her prize-winning design.

[photo] Jason Matheny

[photo] Michelle Mokihana Meyer