Showing their light: Taking up challenge of the 2012 Mutual theme

Service a major focus for young men and women

Youth across the globe are meeting the challenge of the 2012 Mutual theme — "Arise and shine forth that thy light may be a standard for the nations" (Doctrine and Covenants 115:5) — by offering service to those in need. Such service also helps members of the Aaronic Priesthood realize the goals in the Duty to God Program.

Below are a few examples of young men and young women who are giving of themselves and "shining their light" to care for others.

Strengthened through service

Service is a priority for the youth of the Maeser 2nd Ward, Vernal Utah Maeser Stake. Each week, they provide service at the Vernal Utah Temple by being baptized for the dead, arriving together at the temple just before it opens so they can serve before attending school.

And the majority of their Mutual activities have focused on service as well.

The priesthood quorums have filled sandbags, moved furniture, chopped and hauled wood, repaired a shed, assembled hygiene kits and hauled hay. The young men of the ward say they would choose these service activities over basketball or sports activities because of the joy and purpose it brings. These Aaronic Priesthood holders have discovered as a quorum how to assist the bishop in "administering . . . temporal things" (Doctrine and Covenants 107:68) to the needs of the people in their community.

Ask them about these activities and their love for service is clear in their words and expressions. Many testify that this service is drawing them nearer to the Lord.

Said Caden Nerdin, a 12-year-old deacon: "I have grown a huge testimony about the gospel and been strengthened."

"There's a great feeling of the Spirit to help you make good choices," added Cairo, 14. "It helps me to be more like Christ."

Michelle Stewart, 18, said she has learned to love those she and her fellow youth are serving. Helping others has helped her grow.

"I can tell a difference in the way I interact with others," she said. "In the temple I feel closer to God, and I have come to learn of His love for me."

The more they serve, the more these youth want to continue to serve.

Amanda Christensen, 17, shared her feelings about service: "Every time [we serve] ... I realize the importance of each of us. I feel more love for my fellow brothers and sisters. I feel excitement to do what God wants me to do — excitement to serve Him ... I have hope for my future with God leading the way."

Implementing Duty to God

Wenatchee Washington Stake President Hal C. Hunsaker and his counselors recently wrestled with the most effective way to implement the new Duty to God program. They agreed the actions speak louder than words.

The stake leaders decided that in order to teach the principles found in Duty to God program they must first live them themselves. So President Hunsaker and the others taught the principles of "learn, act and share" by example, as well as through instruction. Their goal was to establish a culture of "learn, act and share" on every level throughout the stake.

The Wenatchee stake presidency has encouraged the stake high council to follow this same pattern as they prepare for monthly visits to the wards. When the stake presidency assigns a topic for the month, they suggest that the high council members follow the pattern of "learn, act and share" as they prepare their talks. This process has helped them gain greater personal testimonies and teach with more power, as they live what they learn and teach.

Youth and leaders from the Maeser 2nd Ward, Vernal Utah Maeser Stake, gather outside the Vernal Utah
Youth and leaders from the Maeser 2nd Ward, Vernal Utah Maeser Stake, gather outside the Vernal Utah Temple. Young men and young women from the ward serve each week in the temple by being baptized for the dead. | Photo courtesy of the Priesthood Department

They then invite ward members to do as they have done. The bishops were taught these principles through personal examples shared by the stake presidency and the stake Young Men presidency.

Following this same pattern, bishops were encouraged to organize training in their own wards with parents and young men advisers. Now on a weekly basis, in Aaronic Priesthood quorums throughout the stake, the young men are edifying each other by sharing what they have learned and what they have done. As ward and stake leaders come together for stake priesthood leadership meeting, they have realized the importance of sharing successes to edify each other. They have also discovered the importance of inviting the Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents to attend the stake leadership meetings. These young men hold the keys and have a great responsibility for presiding, sitting in counsel and setting an example of sharing within their quorums.

Young men and quorum advisers from the Maeser 2nd Ward, Vernal Utah Maeser Stake, gather for leaders
Young men and quorum advisers from the Maeser 2nd Ward, Vernal Utah Maeser Stake, gather for leadership meeting. | Photo courtesy of the Priesthood Department

Eighteen months after beginning this initiative, President Hunsaker has witnessed many blessings throughout the stake. They have enjoyed improved, powerful teaching. Young men in Aaronic Priesthood quorums share what they have learned and done, as they "sit in counsel" in every quorum meeting each week.

President Hunsaker has noted how comfortable the young men have become as they teach with the full-time missionaries, and how prepared they will be when the time comes to serve a full-time mission.

Extending an invitation

Marcus Vanderholm is a priest in the Wenatchee Washington Stake. Once a month, he and his quorum make individual plans to fulfill their duty to God. One month, his plan for his duty to "invite all to come unto Christ" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:59) was to invite someone to youth conference.

Youth from the Wenatchee Washington Stake enjoy an outdoor activity. The stake leadership has utiliz
Youth from the Wenatchee Washington Stake enjoy an outdoor activity. The stake leadership has utilized principles from the Duty to God program to improve their own teaching and learning. | Photo courtesy of the Priesthood Department

The youth conference approached quickly for Marcus. The day before the activity, Marcus fulfilled his commitment to extend an invitation. During school lunch, he told his friends about the youth conference and asked if anyone wanted to join him. To his surprise, his friend Jesse said, "I want to go."

The youth at the conference reached out to Jesse and helped him feel welcome. Jesse felt their love, and he also felt the Spirit. On the way home, he asked Marcus for a Book of Mormon. The night he received the book, Jesse read all of 1 Nephi. His testimony began to grow, and he started meeting with the missionaries.

Marcus has also shared his testimony of the Book of Mormon with other school friends and invited them to meet with the missionaries. Many lives have been blessed because Marcus made a plan to "invite all to come unto Christ" and was willing to share the gospel.

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