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Star Search

by Janna Nielsen Editorial Intern

Our August issue is devoted to displaying the creative work of youth from around the Church who have accomplished great things with their talents. Enjoying the talents of others and developing your own talents are both important ways to appreciate the gifts that Heavenly Father has given you. Here are some ways to increase your appreciation and your ability.

Appreciating others’ talents:

  • Pick a classic piece of literature that has also been made into a film and read the book; then watch the movie with a group of friends. Don’t forget the soft drinks and popcorn.

  • Go to a symphony or check out a recording from the library.

  • Visit the library and check out several art books. Find one artist’s work that you like and learn about him or her.

  • Attend a sporting event sponsored by your local high school. If possible, pick an event you aren’t very familiar with.

  • Watch a rodeo.

  • Go to the state or county fair.

  • Read a newspaper or high-quality magazine.

  • Call your local newspaper or radio station to find out what type of conventions and trade shows will be in town. Check them out. They can range from interior decorating shows to car shows to computer shows to garden shows.

  • When your friends or relatives perform or share their talents, try to attend.

  • Pick a film genre, rent a few videos of that type, and have a video party. For example: Broadway musicals, old comedies, etc.

  • Go to a fashion show.

Developing and discovering your own talents:

  • Dress up as a clown and entertain your younger brothers or sisters and their friends.

  • Volunteer to referee for local little league or church ball teams.

  • Start a greenhouse.

  • Buy a chemistry kit and experiment!

  • Learn a song with your brothers and sisters to perform during family home evening, or teach your younger brothers and sisters a song that they can perform.

  • Enter a state fair competition.

  • Check out a cookbook from the library and prepare a full meal for your family using recipes in the book.

  • Plant a garden and care for it daily.

  • Take a public speaking class from the local community college.

  • Take a camera outside and take pictures of your neighborhood, family, etc. For an extra challenge, learn how to develop the film as well.

  • Buy a few old chairs from a thrift store and learn how to refinish them.

  • Write a poem or short story.

  • Buy some crayons and a coloring book and spend time coloring with your brothers and sisters.

  • Learn how to dip chocolates or make other types of candy.

  • Visit your neighbors, get to know them, and find out what their talents are. It is likely that one of them will teach you a lot.

  • Take swimming or diving lessons.

  • Join an intramural sports team in your community.

  • Take a drama class.

  • Write for your school’s newspaper or yearbook.

  • With the help of your leaders, plan a career day for a Mutual activity, and invite ward members from a variety of professions to speak to the youth.

  • Study and live by the principles taught in the scriptures. Don’t underestimate the talents of being an honest and kind person.

  • Learn how to arrange flowers in a vase or mug. You could check out a book for this or even take a class.

  • Take a class in car maintenance. Ask your dad to let you help make minor car repairs, change the oil, etc.

  • Learn how to rebuild cars.

Who’s News

Shaiann Shubert, a Laurel from Fort Wayne, Indiana, wants to make the world a better place. She spends much of her time volunteering at a local hospital and working on journalism-related projects. She is also an outstanding student and has 100-percent seminary attendance.

Youth in the Mesa Arizona Central Stake (all 430 of them) participated in 26 service projects ranging from cleaning a city cemetery to playing basketball with a homeless child. No matter what they participated in, the youth worked hard and had a great time.

Emily Wilkerson, a Beehive from Cincinnati, Ohio, was recently selected to represent her state in a nationwide essay contest. Emily’s essay highlights the life of Sacajawea, a Native American woman who acted as a guide for Lewis and Clark during the early part of the 19th century.

Jacob Walters, a priest in the Hyrum (Utah) Third Ward, recently finished earning every Boy Scout merit badge. That’s a total of 124 badges and countless hours of hard work.

Misti Tracy won the “Pride of Boise” award for her honesty in returning $250 to a woman who had overpaid her on her paper route. Misti, a Mia Maid from Nampa, Idaho, was presented the award by the mayor of Boise, Idaho, and a Delta Air Lines vice president during the opening ceremonies of the Boise River Festival.

At Home or Abroad

Stephen Norris (here with his dad, Kim) almost backed out of the opportunity of a lifetime. After being chosen as one of three students to live in Germany for a year, a former student casually mentioned that Germany had two religions, Catholic and Protestant.

“If you’re anything else,” she said, “you’re pretty much out of luck.”

Not wanting to miss church attendance for a year, Stephen was ready to decline the honor of being chosen, until the former student told him something else.

“Latter-day Saint kids are different, though. They always seem to find their church by bike or bus or whatever.”

That was the green light Stephen needed. This priest from Birmingham, Alabama, will spend the school year living with a German family and learning about German culture.

He will also have some new gospel experiences, like participating in the German Scouting program and doing a year of home-study seminary. And, of course, he’ll attend church. Even if it means riding his bike.

A Welcome Guide

Imagine having a best friend that you teach, spend every minute with, and then have to give up after only one year. For Jeremy Neff, a deacon in the Ruby Valley Nevada Branch, this scenario has already happened once and is likely to happen again.

Jeremy is a guide dog trainer. His first dog, Elvis, a yellow labrador, became his best friend as he brought him to school, to ward basketball games, and even to the grocery store. But after a year of training, the time came for Jeremy to give Elvis away.

Parting was difficult for Jeremy, but he says he learned a lot and is excited to train another guide dog. “It teaches you to be very patient,” Jeremy says.

It has also opened up many opportunities for Jeremy to answer questions about himself and Elvis. As Jeremy answers the questions, you can be sure he’ll bring up his values and beliefs. After all, Jeremy is an expert in giving guidance.

Saintly Southwesterners

Does hiking 16 miles in the Arizona desert pulling a handcart sound like a good time? Well, for more than 225 young men and young women in the Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake it was a great time.

The “trekkers” marched 12 miles the first day along the original Mormon Battalion Trail southwest of Phoenix. They traveled near the exact location where the Mormon Battalion was on Christmas Day, 150 years ago.

The eight companies, each including three handcarts with “Ma’s, Pa’s and children,” made camp on the second day, when they did a whole lot of “pioneering.” Many priests, Laurels, teachers and Mia Maids learned to kill a chicken and cook it.

“We did what they did,” says Rayna Martinez, 14, of the Sunny Mesa Ward, “but they had to do it every single day. It sure makes you more thankful for everything you have.”

The last day of the trek included hiking and pulling the handcarts about four more miles and ended when the tired and dusty youth were treated to a barbecue.

“It strengthened my testimony,” says Ronda Abel, 16, of the Fairfield Ward. “The pioneers went through all that because they knew that what they believed in was true. They endured those hardships. That makes me stronger. I know that if I ever have to stand up for what I believe in, I will because I’ll remember what they went through.”

Learning to Sacrifice

No amount of effort could keep even the most careful teen dry or clean as 110 young people from the Cincinnati Ohio Stake traveled along a slippery and muddy path during their annual youth conference.

Their theme was “Our Pioneer Heritage,” and they dressed their parts well: full-length dresses, bonnets, and bloomers for the girls; lace-up shirts and hats for the boys.

Each participant helped to pull loaded handcarts along the 7.5-mile trek. At one point, they emptied their carts, carried the contents up a steep hill, then returned to the bottom to pull the heavy carts up.

All along the way, they learned from their physical trials, mistaken turns, and growling hunger. As they learned, their trials contributed to a better understanding of the sacrifice offered by the early Saints. They were grateful for the example of faith and perseverance set by the pioneers.

High Adventure

Camping at a castle is just business as usual for the girls in the Adana Turkey Branch. All three girls live in Turkey because their fathers are stationed at the Air Force Base there. Because of their unique circumstances the regular girls’ camp program was modified to fit their needs.

The camp lasted only 24 hours (the girls spend their school vacations in the States with family and friends, so camp was held on a weekend), and the tents were pitched on rocks near an old castle in the Taurus mountains. Lots of other things were just like any other girls’ camp; they cooked tinfoil dinners over a fire, sang silly songs, and even made a craft.

“We’ve never had camp just for us,” says 17-year-old Hanim Christensen. “I wish I could have gone before. I really like it.”

The girls also certified and participated in a hike in scorching 90-degree temperatures, exploring the castle and mountain trails.

The girls had so much fun, they’re thinking of stretching camp out for two days next year.

Taken Over

No, the youth from the Muncie Indiana Stake were not taken over by aliens; they were taken over by compassion as they volunteered to help the Habitat for Humanity assist the needy in Muncie.

More than 100 young people came out for a Super Saturday to paint, dig trenches for sewer lines, put up aluminum siding, and install insulation in new homes. These youth, along with other individuals from the community, put in an accumulated total of 1,000 man-hours to provide this service.

One 12-year-old said, “It felt good helping out with this project and knowing someone would be able to enjoy this home and have the comforts which I enjoy every day.”

[photo] Photography by John Luke