Cloudy day of service

With the 2015 Mutual theme in mind, Young Men and Young Women leaders of the Roswell Georgia Stake felt impressed to help the youth “embark in the service of God” by organizing a “Day of Service” that would engage 200 youth. Soon, the Birmingham Alabama Stake joined in the planning, adding another 100 youth to the group.

After contacting city governments, chambers of commerce and other such organizations, the leaders received an email from Lynn Brecht, a single mother of two boys — one with special needs — who runs a therapeutic horse ranch called Dustin’s Place. The ranch was badly in need of repairs, making it a good candidate for a service project for the youth.

As the planning and detailing ensued, the leaders began to wonder how this service project would all come together. Fund-raising was going slowly, they weren’t sure if the ranch would have enough to do to keep the youth busy and the forecast looked dismal with cloudy and rainy weather. Only a week before the service project, enough funding had come in that the leaders felt like the youth would have enough to do.

On Friday, March 14, the youth gathered at the Roswell Georgia Stake Center for a western dinner and speedy get-to-know you activities. Even then, rain was falling all night and was expected to continue until 9 a.m. The youth were encouraged to come to the service project the next day, rain or shine.

In the drizzle of rain and cold weather, youth and leaders gathered the next morning in their bright red T-shirts. At 9 a.m., the rain stopped and the work began. They were divided into smaller groups to work on various projects including thinning a forested area and taking the wood to an industrial sized chipper, preparing and pouring cement for a handicapped parking space, inserting a French drain in the base of a barn, cementing posts and constructing a new arena fence, and seeding the property.

By the end of the day, the youth and leaders were exhausted from the extensive work done on the ranch, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, and the neighbors expressed gratitude at the cooperation and dedication to the work given by the youth. They also realized that the overcast sky kept sunburns away, the need for hydration at a minimum and the ground soft enough to drive t-poles into the Georgia clay.

On Sunday night, the youth bore their testimonies on the value of giving service, something that had been strengthened significantly the day before.—Valerie Johnson

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