Pure religion: Earning the shirts

This November some 9,200 youth participated in a cultural program highlighting the many things Church members in the Boise Idaho Temple District treasure: The light of faith, heritage, industry, families, youth, liberty, service and the gospel. The Church staged the youth cultural celebration, titled "Treasure the Light," the night before President Thomas S. Monson rededicated on Nov. 18 the Boise Idaho Temple, which closed 15 months before for extensive renovation.

The production, held in the Taco Bell Arena at Boise State University, was less about dancing and more about preparing for the temple, explained Gary Walker, Youth Cultural Celebration Sub-Committee Chairman.

One experience illustrated that. In one scene of the production, youth from the Emmett Idaho Stake donned "Helping Hands" T-shirts and honored the thousands of Church members who wear the shirts every year as they respond to disasters across the globe.

Because of what the shirts represented, some of the young men in the scene decided that if they were going to wear the shirts, they should earn them, said Brother Walker. So they set out to find a service project.

An opportunity came up to pick apples at an apple orchard, owned by Dave and Shannon Anderson, for the local food bank. A service project was scheduled. However, a few days before the project was to take place, the Andersons became worried that the apples would not stay good.

When the youth learned the apples may go bad before the service project, they quickly responded. Text messages went out with a simple request: "Pray for the apples."

Apple trees at the Anderson Orchard were planted at the same time as apple trees on adjacent property. But a customer wanting to buy apples reported to Sister Anderson that while the apples on the adjacent property had gone bad, the Andersons' apples remained in good condition.

Sister Anderson immediately called youth leaders. She said, "Tell the young men that their prayers have been answered and to come pick our apples."

One youth leader said that is exactly what the young men did. "We picked over one ton of apples, then delivered them to the food bank," said Kari Hale. "I have never experienced anything quite like it as I watched 50 young men and leaders use the same buckets they will be using in their cultural celebration dance, to pick those trees clean."

Sister Hale heard one young man say, as he carried his bucket of apples, "I definitely earned my shirt today!" — Sarah Jane Weaver

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