Recipe for a Testimony

by Lisa M. Grover
Editorial Associate

Like anything worth having, a testimony takes time, patience, and lots of effort to develop. But, unlike other worthwhile endeavors, finding and building a testimony of the Savior will be the strongest foundation on which to build the rest of your life. One great way to better understand the Savior is to serve others, and the following FYI pages highlight acts of service performed by youth from around the Church. Another way to strengthen your testimony is to learn from the testimonies of others (see our special Christmas feature “I Believe in Christ,” page 20). There are many other ways to learn more about the Savior. Here are a few:

Use the Scriptures

  • Read about Christ’s ministry in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.

  • Compare the similarities and differences between the Christmas story in the first four gospels.

  • Read the Christmas story to a child. If you are reading to a very young child, you may wish to use an illustrated version.

  • Read a specific chapter in the scriptures concerning the life of Christ. Then offer to give a devotional in seminary or in your home-study group about that chapter.

  • Memorize your favorite scripture concerning the Savior.

  • Read the testimonies of the Apostles who lived during the Savior’s time and learn as much as you can about their lives.

  • Read the testimonies of Joseph Smith and the Three and Eight Witnesses.

Use Your Talents

  • Learn all of the words to the hymn “I Believe in Christ” by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (Hymns, no. 134).

  • If you play a musical instrument, accompany others in your ward so that they can sing about the life of the Savior.

  • Put it in writing. If you like to write, write a poem or a short piece of prose about what you have learned from the Savior’s life and atonement.

  • Make a joyful noise. If your ward is having a musical Christmas program, volunteer to participate in the choir. If your ward isn’t having a program, talk to your leaders about coordinating a youth choir or a choral reading of the Christmas story.

  • Open your mouth. Offer to give a spiritual thought in an appropriate meeting, or offer to help give a lesson in your quorum or class. Center your thought on the life of the Savior.

  • Use your talents in the kitchen. Make a batch of Christmas cookies or other holiday treats for the missionaries in your area. Or, take a treat to a nonmember friend or neighbor.

  • If you are an artist, paint a picture of a beautiful scene and give it as a special Christmas gift to a friend or loved one along with your testimony of the Creator.

Learn with Others

  • Read what our modern-day prophets have said concerning their own testimonies of Jesus Christ. Read about the experiences that built their testimonies and then try to follow their examples.

  • Share your testimony with others. Sometimes sharing your beliefs helps you to define and expand them.

  • Look for Christlike qualities in your parents and siblings. Not only does this help you have good role models; it makes it a lot harder to get angry with them!

  • Write to missionaries in the field and share your testimony of the Savior with them.

  • If you have access to the journals of your ancestors, read them to find out how they felt about the Savior.

Bright Ideas

Here are some service projects performed by youth around the Church. Maybe one of them will inspire you!

  • Youth in the Torrance California North Stake collected 200 used toys to be used at the bishop’s storehouse for Christmas. The youth washed and shrink-wrapped the used toys.

  • Young men and young women in St. Anthony, Idaho, spent a Saturday doing “work for the dead” in three local cemeteries. They spent the day pulling weeds, trimming grass, and washing headstones.

  • Mia Maids in the Oregon City First Ward, Oregon City Oregon Stake, anonymously took plates of cookies to members of their ward. One of the members who received cookies said it was just what she needed to lift her spirits during a lonely time in her life.

  • Centerville, Utah, was the site of a flurry of Christmas activity as all the youth—that’s right, young women and young men—tied quilts, made Christmas decorations, and cooked treats for a Utah charity event to benefit Primary Children’s Hospital.

  • Young women in the Ashlan Ward, Fresno California West Stake, gathered needed items for a local battered women’s shelter. They sorted and organized donations and then presented their gifts.

  • The Salvation Army got a little help from young women in the Dubuque, Iowa, area during its Christmas “Toys for Tots” campaign. The girls gathered, cleaned, and repaired toys for distribution.

  • Seminary students in Ocala, Florida, borrowed an idea from an old favorite and sent “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to two missionaries in their stake. Each day’s package contained a clever poem and a treat or two. Of course the missionaries loved it, and the students had a great time.

Sweet Is the Work

When disaster struck in Oklahoma City last April, rescue workers were on the scene almost immediately. Many workers, who gave up regard for personal safety, made one request. They wanted some candy—it helped to keep their energy up while they were working.

Laurels in the Choctaw Ward, Oklahoma South Stake, went to work, stringing candy “leis” together for the workers to wear around their necks. Other leis were given to bomb victim’s families as a symbol of the love and prayers the Laurels were sending to all the people involved.

“We took the leis to the hospital and met a man whose wife and two sons had been hurt in the bombing. Our leis let them know they were loved and we were behind them,” says Laurel Rebecca Nevin.

A “Can Do” Attitude

Packing up enough food and supplies to feed and take care of 50 families for an entire year is no easy task—just ask the young women of the Reading England Stake. They spent a day packing boxes for Europe’s “Feed the Children” program into a truck which then transported the supplies to hungry children and mothers in Albania.

The boxes—2,450 in all—took an entire day to pack full of canned beans, sausages, vegetables, soup, sugar, powdered milk, candy, matches, and toilet paper. At the end of the day, the young women returned to the church for a devotional in which many young women bore their testimony of service.

“I know that when we serve in a spirit of love and sincere concern for the welfare of others, the Spirit of the Lord can work through us,” said one young woman.

A Labor of Love

Annie Van Komen of Salt Lake City, Utah, took an unusual vacation last summer. Annie went with her father, who is a doctor, to South America to treat children in a large La Paz, Bolivia, hospital. Annie went armed with homemade blankets and slippers made by the Young Women in her stake, to give to the children.

“It took a real effort by the girls in my stake to make all the gifts I took. They wouldn’t have meant nearly as much if we had bought them at a store,” says Annie.

Annie acted as her father’s assistant during much of the trip. Although she spent most of her time in Bolivia giving to others, she feels she gained even more.

“Something like this makes you really grateful for your situation. You really appreciate all the things you have,” says Annie.

Everyone Wins

It wasn’t easy for Shawna Burnham to get out of bed at 4:30 A.M. to go to a service activity, but she’s willing to admit it was worth it.

“By the end [of the activity], everyone was smiling,” says Shawna.

This unusual activity that coaxed smiles from dozens of sleep-deprived teenagers was a day at the Special Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Shawna and the other young men and young women in the Yorba Linda Second Ward, Placentia California Stake, spent the day helping with meals for the athletes and coaches at the event.

The activity was not only fun for the volunteers, but it also provided a different perspective on athletics and competition.

“Those athletes did the best they could with what they had. That’s something we should all be doing,” says one youth.

Living Dolls

With this certificate, I do promise,

To give you a bath, a new hairdo, and

something pretty to wear.

And even though I only get to keep you

for just a little while,

I know you’ll leave with lots of love

and give a child a great big smile.

So I’ll give you lots of T.L.C.,

Then send you off to your future

Mommy to be.

Girls in the Taylorsville Utah West Stake took the above pledge just before Christmas last year. Then they cleaned and refurbished more than 200 dolls to be given to families in need. When the dolls were finished, they were displayed at the stake’s “Young Women in Excellence” program for all to see. All the girls say they had a great time getting the toys all “dolled up.”

Photography by John Luke