Houston area youths 'seeking higher ground' at conference

By Ramona Siddoway

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, April 21 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Youth in the Klein Texas Stake built a replica of the Houston Temple during their youth conference.

Thomas Kunz

Not many get the chance to help build a temple.

Yet more than 200 youths in the Klein Texas Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had a chance to help with a model replica of a their local temple.

“Journey to Zion . . . Seeking Higher Ground” was the theme for the 2013 youth conference during the Easter break for those 14 to 18 years old. For three days and two nights the Mormon teenagers and close to 100 adult volunteers participated in a spiritual — and fun — camping event put together in the Houston area.

The stage was set at Fritsche Park just north of Houston. Sixteen “families” were formed, each with a “mom” and “dad” and 12 to 14 youths per family.

Among the many workshops provided at the conference was a favorite among most of the youths was a chance to build their very own temple – fashioned after the local Houston Texas Temple. Near the entrance to the park is fairly tall hill, comprised mostly of gravel. Each “family” was given a large masonite panel with a grid pattern which allowed them to draw a specific scaled portion of the temple. Each completed panel was then added to a wooden frame. The result was a beautiful, eight-foot-tall replica of the Houston Texas Temple, complete with a 7-foot-spire topped with an Angel Moroni.

Also as part of the conference, the teenagers also participated in an indexing service project and were able to submit close to 4,000 names as a stake. The three-day conference culminated at the stake center on Saturday with talks and vignettes of various actors portraying notable church history figures.

“I really liked the vignettes about overcoming trials," said Katie Wheldon, a senior in the Kleinwood Ward. "I know that God doesn't give us any trial that is too difficult for us to overcome, and seeing the faith of the people during their trials inspired me to find the strength to overcome trials of my own.”

An 18-member youth committee met regularly over a seven-month period planning and organizing the conference.

“The best part of the entire experience was watching all our hard work in action during youth conference weekend and seeing the youth in our stake feel the spirit and learn the things we'd spent months preparing,"said Miriam Finch of the Windrose Ward who was a committe co-chairwoman. "My favorite moment was testimony meeting within my ‘family’, hearing that all my ‘siblings’ had enjoyed the weekend, felt the spirit, and internalized the things taught; it was then that I felt all my hard work and time I invested in the planning of this conference was worth it.”

Journey to Zion . . . seeking higher ground

Youth participated in building a 15-foot replica of the Houston Temple as part of a Seeking Higher Ground workshop.

Ramona Siddoway is a freelance writer who has published articles in Belgium, Angola and the United States. She and her husband were privileged to be parents of a family at youth conference. Her website is at ramonasiddoway.com

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