Thursday, April 23, 2015

[Love this youth activity idea that involves seniors!]

 What a great idea! I'm sharing this whole New Era article. Poor seniors are often so lonely. This is a GREAT way to bring some cheer into their lives and help youth realize that age doesn't matter when it comes to friendship. 

Youth in Arizona took a blast to the past with a memorable service project.
man at microphone
photographs courtesy of Keaton Allen
Time machines have been dreamed up in all shapes and sizes. Such fantastical devices have been represented on screen and in books as everything from hyped-up supercars to phone booths.
For a large group of youth from Arizona, USA, their blast to the past took place inside their local stake center.

Connecting Generations

This particular journey began after President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, told youth, “You may wonder, at my age what I can contribute to your lives. I have been where you are and know where you are going. But you have not yet been where I am” (“Counsel to Youth,” Ensign, Nov. 2011, 16). These words prompted leaders in one stake to start thinking about ways to help youth connect with elderly people in their area.
As youth and leaders began planning, they decided to put together a program in the spirit of The Lawrence Welk Show, a popular American TV show featuring music and dancing that ran from the 1950s through the 1970s. This was a show many of the seniors in the stake knew and loved well.
Most of the youth, however, had never heard of it, and at first some of them didn’t know quite what to think of the idea.
“I was unsure,” says Lisette L., a Laurel from the stake. Adds Slade C., 15, “Honestly, I thought it was going to be kind of weird.”
After all, we’re talking about barbershop quartet music, dance styles from decades past, and the hope to form close friendships across wide generation gaps. Still, the youth jumped in with both feet and started preparing.
“We wanted the youth and the elderly citizens to get to know each other,” says Pam Nielson, one of the leaders. “We wanted them to realize they have a lot in common.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

barbershop singers
This wasn’t an activity that could be thrown together in a few days. Preparation involved weeks of rehearsals. There was an all-youth orchestra, an all-youth barbershop chorus, an all-youth band, and all-youth dance teams who learned songs and routines from the 1920s through the 1960s. That takes time to create. “These kids were amazing,” says Pam.
For their part, Slade and Lisette were both chosen as part of an advanced dancing team. “There were lots of rehearsals,” Slade says. “After Mutual, we went down to the stake center and practiced.”
As the show began coming together, the excitement grew. “It was really fun,” says Lisette. “For most of us, it was our first time hearing any of this kind of music.”

Unexpected Friends

young man and old woman dancing
When the big day arrived, the surprise highlight—for many—took place before the first note of music even rang in the air.
The activity was scheduled in two segments. For the first part, the 200 youth from the stake were divided into groups of four, and then each group was assigned to visit an elderly man or woman in his or her home for an hour and a half.
“That was definitely one of my favorite parts,” says Slade. He wasn’t alone, either. For many of the young men and young women, these get-to-know-you sessions were fascinating as well as inspiring.
Slade’s group was assigned to visit Hazel Cameron, a widow in their stake who lived through the Great Depression. “I never guessed at all the things she’s been through,” Slade explains. “She told us a few stories that I thought were pretty exciting.”
Slade and the others in his group spent 90 minutes getting to know Hazel, asking her questions about her life. They all enjoyed one another’s company—and none of them minded a bit when Hazel shared a few treats she’d made. It turns out baking cookies and making candy is one of her favorite hobbies!
Another of Hazel’s favorite hobbies is dancing, including the fox-trot. “She taught me a few moves,” Slade says.
At the end of their time together, the elderly members in each group shared a few words of advice with the youth. These messages were recorded and later compiled and handed out as treasured DVDs.


young women
When visiting time was over, the youth said good-bye to their new friends and got ready for the performance later that night. They could hardly wait to put on the performance.
After all the hard work, The Lawrence Wright Show was ready to begin. The event was named for the stake president, Lawrence Wright, who played the role of host Lawrence Welk, complete with a flurry of bubbles like they had in the original show.
The youth went all-out in performing for their new friends. All night long, the stake center became a time machine as song after song turned back the years for the guests of honor. “I loved seeing how happy they were as we performed for them and brought back memories,” says Lisette.
After the grand finale—a song and dance routine to the traditional closing song from The Lawrence Welk Show—music continued, and the youth invited their friends from the audience to join them for more dancing. “It was super exciting,” says Slade, who shared a dance with Hazel.

A Change of Hearts

young woman and old man dancing
The friendships formed that day have lasted well past the show’s closing curtain. The youth enjoy seeing their new friends at church and around town. Slade, for example, drops by Hazel’s house now and again just to say hello. He often thinks of ways to brighten her day. “I didn’t think this activity was going to be amazing, but it was,” Slade explains.
Pam hears all the time from senior members in the stake who tell her how the youth will come up and talk with them at church. “They truly made friends,” she says.
This activity ended up providing much more than entertainment. By getting to know those they served, the youth formed friendships they never knew they were missing. “No matter what age we are,” says Lisette, “we’re all part of the same family.”

Monday, April 20, 2015

[personal story - Elder Christofferson]

Elder D. Todd Christofferson is one of the Twelve Apostles in our Church today. He became an Apostle in April 2008. This is what his biography states about his work experience: 

"Prior to his call to serve as a full-time General Authority of the Church, Elder Christofferson was associate general counsel of Nations Bank Corporation (now Bank of America) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Previously, he was senior vice president and general counsel for Commerce Union Bank of Tennessee in Nashville, where he was also active in community affairs and interfaith organizations. From 1975 to 1980, Elder Christofferson practiced law in Washington, D.C., after serving as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge John J. Sirica (1972-74)."

I just read an article written by Elder Christofferson in the New Era (a magazine geared towards the youth of our Church). I love it when the Church leaders share personal experiences as sometimes us Church members tend to think of them as having special lives with no troubles and trials. I'm pretty sure all of them had had many, many trials. Here is what Elder Christofferson shares in the April 2015 New Era:

"Some time before I was called as a General Authority, I faced a personal economic challenge that persisted for several years. At times this challenge threatened the welfare of my family and me, and I thought we might be facing financial ruin. I prayed for some miraculous intervention to deliver us. Although I offered that prayer many times with great sincerity and earnest desire, the answer in the end was “No.” Finally I learned to pray as the Savior did: “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). I sought the Lord’s help with each tiny step along the way to a final resolution.
There were times when I had exhausted all my resources, when I had nowhere or no one to turn to at that moment. More than once I fell down before my Heavenly Father, begging in tears for His help. And He did help. Sometimes it was nothing more than a sense of peace, a feeling of assurance that things would work out. I might not see how or what the path would be, but He gave me to know that, directly or indirectly, He would open a way. Circumstances might change, a new and helpful idea might come to mind, some unanticipated income or other resource might appear at just the right time. Somehow there was a resolution.
Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. I learned that daily bread is a precious commodity. I learned that manna today can be as real as the physical manna of biblical history. I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day."
The article is all about how we should look to God each day. How we can manage our trials by dealing with them little bit at a time with God's help. Elder Christofferson also shares this story about his mother:

"In the 1950s my mother survived radical cancer surgery, but difficult as that was, the surgery was followed by dozens of painful radiation treatments in what would now be considered rather primitive medical conditions. She recalls that her mother taught her something during that time that has helped her ever since: “I was so sick and weak, and I said to her one day, ‘Oh, Mother, I can’t stand having 16 more of those treatments.’ She said, ‘Can you go today?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Well, honey, that’s all you have to do today.’ It has helped me many times when I remember to take one day or one thing at a time.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[surely we must help others in need]

This was one of my favorite General Conference talks. Pure religion is taking care of the poor and needy. Love how tenderhearted President Eyring always is and how he can barely hold back the tears when he speaks. heart emoticon Love how organized our Church is with the task of helping people around the world (whether they are members of our Church or not). Just recently, due to my Church calling (my "volunteer job"), I helped five families receive food from the local food storehouse our Church has to help those who are struggling. Our Church is very well organized to help the poor and needy around the world. If a disaster strikes, our Church is instantly ready to ship supplies right away (the humanitarian center in Utah is an amazing place!) and thousands of Church volunteers always offer a helping hand as well. People often say that it's enough to believe in God and live a good life. But Jesus organized His Church for a reason - it's so much easier to help others when there is a well organized organization to do that. Plus the Church offers ton of opportunities for volunteer service. I have even crocheted bandages for people with leprosy (how can there still be leprosy in the world?!) and have made washable sanitary pads for girls who don't have access to them (and miss school because of it). I doubt I'd do anything like that if I didn't go to my church. I love the Church I belong to. I love the gospel! heart emoticon