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The Book of You

by Tamara Leatham Bailey

“Your journal should contain your true self rather than a picture of you when you are ‘made up’ for public performance. … The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Angels May Quote from It,” New Era, Oct. 1975, p. 5).

Next century, when your grandchildren read your journal, will they get an idea of how you really are, or will they get a boring review of your daily schedule? Or will they have anything to read at all? When you don’t know what to write in your journal, it’s easy just to list the week’s events, and easier still just to skip it altogether. Here are some ideas for different things to put down that will be just as much fun to read as they are to write.

Up-close and in-person. Write interesting descriptions of the people in your life. Your mother, math teacher, dog, or anyone else will do. Describe them physically, or describe their personalities. You might also want to describe yourself.

As mad/happy/sad as … Describe how you feel and what you do when you’re emotional. Make sure you record different emotions, both positive and negative. Do you giggle? Do you jump? Do you cry? Do you pout? Do you hug? It will be interesting to see how these reactions change over the years.

From where I stand right now. Try taking a look at yourself and your life from a distance. For example, write your testimony, how you feel about it, and how it compares to what it was awhile ago. What do you see as your biggest problem in life? Writing about it can help you sort it out. What do you see as your greatest blessing? Take inventory of you, and write it all down.

The lists are endless. Make all sorts of lists—your friends, your classes at school, your favorite foods, songs, movies, books, scriptures, etc. Make a list of your own, personal assets, or of the assets of your family.

Take a letter. A journal is a good place to write a letter you can’t or don’t want to send. If you’re happy with someone, get the words just right before you thank them. If you’re upset with someone, vent your feelings in your journal. You could also write to a future person in your life, like your child or spouse, or you could write to someone in your past, like an ancestor.

  • Day one—Describe your best friend. Tell why this person is your best friend.

  • Day two—Describe the dream you had last night, or the most recent one you can remember.

  • Day three—Imagine that it’s exactly ten years from today, and describe what you’d like to be doing and what you’d like your life to be like.

  • Day four—Tell about something current you heard on the news or read in the newspaper. Tell how you feel about it.

  • Day five—Describe your favorite Book of Mormon character.

  • Day six—Write down your favorite joke.

  • Day seven—Write down exactly what you had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  • Day eight—Write a letter to your great-great grandchild.

  • Day nine—Describe your bedroom.

  • Day ten—Tell about your last truly spiritual experience and how it affected you.

  • Day eleven—Describe your favorite sport, team, or player.

  • Day twelve—Write about what you’d do if you were given a million dollars.

  • Day thirteen—Make a list of the people you spoke with today, what they said, and how it made you feel.

  • Day fourteen—Write down the goal to continue writing in your journal.

Well Preserved

When the Young Women of the Merthyr Tydfil First Ward, Merthyr Tydfil Wales Stake, learned the chapel of another denomination nearby was in peril, they stepped in to help preserve it.

“The people who use it are mostly older, and they couldn’t afford to have it redone,” explained Natalie Davies, 17. “Unless we helped out, they would have to close it down, and it’s quite a piece of history in this area.”

So the LDS Young Women spent time scraping walls and painting the interior of the old stone building.

“We didn’t expect to enjoy the work,” Natalie said. “At first everyone groaned and said, ‘Oh, we’d rather be playing rounders’ (a British game similar to baseball). But when the older people started saying ’thank you for coming,’ we felt really good. They were so appreciative.”

Special People

Trish Goodsell, of the Atwater Second Ward, Merced California Stake, is especially sensitive to the needs of the handicapped. She is handicapped herself, and this inspired her to plan a Laurel project that involved helping the teachers and Mia Maids in her stake put on a Halloween party and dance for the residents of a local facility for the mentally and physically disabled.

The youth provided games, a costume contest, a parade, and, of course, a dance that even those in wheelchairs loved. Each guest was escorted by one of the young people, so no one was left alone.

Never Giving Up

Back when Barbara Hong of Singapore got her patriarchal blessing, she was surprised to be promised that her family would be sealed together in the temple. After all, she and her brother Phillip were the only members of the Church in her family. Their parents were active in another religion.

Last Mother’s Day, however, a step was taken in fulfilling that promise. Their mother accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. She studied it, and after long discussions with the missionaries, was baptized.

That was an exciting day for the Hongs, and for their entire branch. Both Barbara and Phillip were serving as full-time missionaries in the Singapore mission.

They’re confident that the rest of their family will soon follow their mother’s example.

Mormon Battalion Rides Again

The William S. Hart High School varsity football team in Newhall, California, had a record 10–0 season, thanks, in part, to the 12 Latter-day Saints on the squad, who dubbed themselves “The Mormon Battalion.”

They thought, since they had the reputation for marching over and through one opponent after the other, that the nickname would fit. Prior to the games, the LDS players would quietly band together for a prayer. Their other teammates said the Mormon boys earned their respect.

An Important Link

The New Era is about the only thing that connects Jenelle and Matthew Stabler to other LDS youth—they are the only two LDS teens in a very isolated mining town in the Northern Territory of Australia.

Matthew, 17, is working as an apprentice instrument electrician while he prepares for his mission. He recently won his company’s Most Outstanding Apprentice of the Year award.

Jenelle, 16, just completed year ten at high school and won the Country Women’s Association’s citizenship award.

They both love going to church, although they’re the whole youth program. They must have plenty of opportunities to help out and to explain their religion to others.

Service with a Smile

People in the poorer areas of the Barahona District of the Dominican Republic are smiling bigger and brighter since they got a visit from the local LDS Young Women. For a service project, the 35 girls gave them presentations on dental hygiene and other areas of good health.

The girls spent two weeks preparing posters and talks. They then divided into groups and went to four of the poorer neighborhoods in their area. They took turns explaining how to brush and floss correctly, the importance of washing hands, and how to make inexpensive cotton swabs and toothbrushes.

“I learned that we should serve our neighbors,” said Aracelis Rubel, 15, of the Dominican Republic. “When they need something, we can be there to help. I know God is happy with me because I taught many things and learned a lot.”

Jumpin’ Jack

If you were one of the highest jumpers on your high school’s basketball team and your two-handed dunks helped earn you the title of “Jumpin’ Jack,” you might be reluctant to give up the sport because the practices coincided with seminary classes. But that’s exactly what Jason Blue of Poplar, Illinois, did.

You might expect that from someone who is president of his Sunday School class, second assistant in the priests quorum, and an Eagle Scout. Still, it wasn’t an easy decision. Although some of the team members’ extracurricular activities weren’t exactly the types of things Jason wanted to be a part of, he liked to be involved on the court.

He knows, though, that seminary is better preparation to reach his future goals, which include going on a mission. He also played both offense and defense for his school’s football team, and might play a little college ball before he’s called to serve.

[photo] This was the first time many of the youth from Modesto, California, had ever associated with handicapped people, and they found they loved it.

[photo] Singapore’s Barbara Hong (far left) and her brother Phillip (in baptismal clothes) celebrate at their mother’s baptism. Other ward members lend support.

[photo] Australia’s Jenelle and Matthew Stabler, along with their mother, Ella, use the New Era to keep in touch with the rest of the world and the Church.

[photos] “I learned that we should serve our neighbors,” said Aracelis Rubel, 15, of the Dominican Republic. “When they need something, we can be there o help. I know God is happy with me because I taught many things and learned a lot.”

[photo] Jason Blue of Poplar Grove, Illinois, doesn’t mind being “different,” for heaven’s sake.