“You are the great promise of the future. You are the young people of whom we expect so very, very much as we look ahead. Keep yourselves worthy. Live up to the highest standard of which you are able. It’s so important that you do so.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley (Ensign, Aug. 1998, 72)
Senior year was awesome for twins Maren and Megan Jensen of the Penasquitos California Stake and Terri and Kerri Bell of the Morgan Hill California Stake. Both sets of twins finished at the top of their classes and gave valedictory speeches at their high school graduations.
Maren and Megan shared valedictory honors with Allison Harrell and Jacque Gilroy; Terri and Kerri shared the podium with valedictorian Collin Tungate. All seven of these outstanding students also graduated from seminary and were heavily involved in service and school activities.
When young women of the Charleston West Virginia First Ward finish high school and go away to college, they don’t leave comforter-less. Every year, all of the young women and their leaders get together to make quilts for the graduating seniors. Each quilt block represents a gospel value or experience, so the departing young women are literally wrapped up in memories as they leave home. If they ever get homesick or lonely, the girls can comfort themselves with this reminder of their spiritual heritage.
After two students were killed and 22 others wounded in a tragic school shooting in Springfield, Oregon, last May, LDS teens in the area wanted to do something to help their community heal. A tri-stake youth conference was quickly rearranged to include a service project at the high school where the tragedy occurred.
Three bus loads of LDS youth from the Eugene, Eugene West, and Santa Clara Stakes cleaned and beautified the school grounds. Many of the teens who worked on the project had been at the school when the shooting took place and had friends who were wounded. For these students, the service project was as healing for themselves as it was for the community.
“It was such a good feeling to put things back together for our school and community and ourselves,” said Kawika Lawther. “Having the gospel in our lives also helped us get over our feelings so much faster,” added Corwin Lewis, student-body vice president of the school.
May brings Teacher Appreciation Week, and youth of the Jurupa California Stake did not let their teachers be forgotten. Each student invited the best teacher he or she had ever had to a teacher appreciation dinner held at the stake center.
During the dinner, the young men and young women provided musical entertainment, and Bishop David Hanson of the Jurupa Fourth Ward spoke about Christ as the Master Teacher. Many of the 50 teachers who attended the dinner wrote thank-you notes commenting on how impressed they are with the youth of the Church and with the Church’s emphasis on education.
The 20th century has seen amazing growth in the Church. In 1900 there were only 283,765 Church members, four operating temples, and about 1,000 missionaries serving in 20 missions. Today there are nearly 10.5 million members living in 161 nations and territories, 58 temples in 23 countries, and nearly 60,000 full-time missionaries serving in 331 missions.
Remarkable, isn’t it? But even more remarkable are the stories of faith of the people behind the statistics. Perhaps your grandmother was the first person in her family to join the Church. Your parents may have attended the dedication of a new temple in your area. Or maybe a relative or friend was among the first group of missionaries to serve in a certain country.
A great way to find out about these stories is to do an oral history. (For how-tos on doing a successful oral history, see the Idea List, p. 15.)