Whether it’s a pioneer handcart trek, youth conference or a service project, Mormon young men and women from around the country are staying busy this summer.
Young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in New York and Missouri recently spent several days pulling handcarts and re-enacting pioneer activities in an effort to better appreciate the sacrifices of pioneer ancestors. Sam Derby, 16, of Yorktown, N.Y., told The Journal News in the Lower Hudson Valley about his experience.
"It's turning our sympathy into empathy," Derby said about his first trek, which he dedicated to Angus Munn Cannon, his great-grandfather's great-grandfather. "It's showing how our faith worked to keep strong through the elements."
More than 170 youths from Maryville, Mo., were organized into families with an adult “ma” and “pa” and several youths. Mark Galbraith, an adult leader who participated, said the activity was meant to teach lessons and perspective.
“Throughout the (experience),” Galbraith said, “we were reminded in various ways about the connection between physical sacrifice and spiritual blessings; how doing hard things that are good always bring blessings that we would have missed out on if we hadn’t tried.”
More than 75 young women, ages 14-18, from the Houston Texas East Stake recently participated in a youth conference at Camp Pryor near Nada, Texas. The purpose of the conference was to build unity, build testimonies and come closer to Christ.
“They get a chance to strengthen each other and experience spiritual things that help them choose the right (path) as they go out into the world,” young women’s president Kathy Watts told The Atascocita Observer.
The Liberty County Vindicator also reported on the Houston East Stake’s trip.
James Banks, president of the Houston Texas East Stake, said, “Our primary goal in bringing our youth together is to teach them those values that we want them to live by. When they come together, they strengthen one another and demonstrate a desire to follow common goals.”
Joshua Hair and his wife Catherine were among 25 adults who volunteered to attend the conference.
"There's nothing better than being with the youth," Joshua Hair said. "We get the privilege of visiting with the youth. We have the joy of seeing them grow. They set such a great example. Their testimonies are so strong. They buoy us up."
A group of about 65 young men and women from LDS wards across Indiana were in Crawfordsville to do a service project as part of an annual three-day conference. Groups of students from various LDS congregations performed service projects in every Indiana town in which there is an LDS ward.
“There is always a theme for the conference,” said Kim Clark, an adult leader from the Crawfordsville LDS Ward. “This year’s theme was, ‘Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?’ ”
More than 130 teenagers of the Marysville Washington Stake packed up their bags and headed to Cascade Park outside of Granite Falls, Wash., for three days. Among their activities, the youths and adults pulled weeds, waxed vehicles, scrubbed vinyl fencing, attended classes, played games and had fun, according to The Lake Steven’s Journal.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to show what we’re all about,” Joseph Lawrence, 18, from the Cedar Crest Ward, said. “We’re learning to become better people. By making service a part of our lives, we can make the world a better place.”