For the most part, youth in the Church are among the very few member students in their schools particularly in Europe. But despite being outnumbered, they are standing as examples of goodness to their classmates and proving valiant in their service in the Church, said Charles W. Dahlquist II, Young Men general president.
After visiting youth groups in eight European countries during a two-week period in October, Brother Dahlquist assessed that youth in Europe, and around the world, are doing well.
They are not without their challenges, he said, but in Europe, as in other countries, "there is great strength yet to be plumbed."
Among his travels, he spent a Sunday in Esperi, Sweden, where he participated in the ordination of a deacon. "You are now the 559,613th young man in the Aaronic Priesthood," he told young Mark Petersen following the ordination.
The faith of members in Scandinavia and central Europe is as strong as anywhere, he said.
Like all presidency members of general auxiliaries of the Church, Brother Dahlquist tours assigned areas of the world twice each year. On this occasion, he was accompanied by William Oswald, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, to 12 cities, confronting six languages in the countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary.
Each day between Oct. 17 and Oct. 31 they visited a new city. After arriving about mid-day, Brother Dahlquist would be whisked away to visit several young men in their homes with their families where he would learn about their lives and testimonies.
Several days prior to the dedication of the Finland Helsinki Temple in mid-October, Brother Dahlquist visited two families in the Helsinki stake.
"I will be meeting with the (president) of the Church in a few weeks," he said to the four children, Nikke, 17; Ninni, 16; Ville, 13; and Lida, 9; of the Auli and Riku Karjalainen family.
"What would you like me to ask him?"
The older ones then spoke of their lives and how they will miss their three-day temple trips to Sweden that included a drive to Turku on the coast, an overnight ferry ride, a day at the temple performing baptisms for the dead, followed by an overnight return ferry ride to Finland.
He then visited the Vesa-Pekka and Minna Kirsi family with their five children: Maria, 16; Camilla, 15; Kim, 14; Sebastian, 13; and Joonatan, 8. Sister Kirsi told how her grandparents were baptized into the Church by then Elder Spencer W. Kimball.
Brother Dahlquist asked the young men about their commitment to the "Duty to God" program and promised them spiritual growth and power by their participation.
Each evening he met with stake youth leaders for training, followed by a 1 1/2 hour fireside with the stake youth.
"These are times when you meet with the cream of the cream, or sometimes with those who need a special blessing," he said. "Quorums that are priesthood-centered, with regular activities, are a goldmine of good for developing young men."
Brother Dahlquist noted the "vibrant" Scouting program in Salzburg, Austria, and in Switzerland, that is "recognized among the finest."
"I was told of a father who lived next door to a meetinghouse in Salzburg," said Brother Dahlquist. "The father observed the young men who came, how they behaved, their deportment and their regular activities. He wanted the same wholesome activities for his four sons and asked how to get them involved."
Nothing comes easily in Europe, Brother Dahlquist said. "How mission presidents and stake leaders pray and work and teach for baptisms. There are great young men and women in Europe. And there are more to be found."
They are not without their challenges, Brother Dahlquist said, but in Europe, as in other countries, "there is great strength yet to be plumbed."