Oakland, California temple

This weekend I spent a small amount of time helping a photographer organize and download photos of a stake youth activity for church. I sat back and watched live (in addition to viewing photos) of the grand events executed beautifully. I saw over 300 youth having a blast! I saw them interacting with one another in games and laughing and smiling. It could have been a stadium of kids in the year 1950, that's how wholesome the engagement of fun was. Of course, the computer / card reader on the table in front of me reminded me it was 2012. The same collection of youth leaders gave talks or cheered on the teenagers that carried them through girl's camp in the summer. Everywhere I looked were adults contributing their time and talents for the sake of these kids. No rewards would be given to them, no paycheck, little to no recognition whatsoever.

I thought of how sweetly I would have enjoyed such activities in my own youth and wondered if these kids had any idea how very lucky they each are. For the many hours of work and hearts of love that make such things happen and if they have any clue how different it could be without. I then thought of my own children and how I hope I get to be part of this when it's their time to be a teen. I secretly wished for such inspired and devoted leaders to support them while being hopeful for a little part behind the scenes or in the midst of it all helping it all happen.


That day in 1998 when I prayed on my knees to know if I should join this religion, it was my future children I was thinking of. It was of great concern to me that the one-day family I would have would be raised the way God wanted me to. When I knew it was right, when I knew it was correct, and when I knew from the core of myself- that very place where my heart beats and my soul rests- I would lead my family in the way of The Mormon Gospel, I had no idea how many amazing experiences would accompany that decision. Not just for me, but for my whole family.

In the past decade plus I have watched kind people teach my children on Sundays and bring us meals on a hard week. I have seen the testimonies of Christ's love blossom in my children from another's shared story or simple songs learned in the nursery program about building houses upon rocks. I have been woven into every single Mormon community I have lived in regardless of what my personality is like and regardless of my personal interests (or flaws). I have been given so many opportunities to help other people by bringing them food on a hard week, teaching their children, and participate in behind-the-scenes or up-front efforts to organize activities for hundreds of people/ kids simply for the purpose of helping them strengthen their relationships with and through Christ.

I am always amazed and sincerely humbled at each and every single event to see the dozens upon dozens of parents who show up to lead an activity or event in support of the group of children (or teens or adults). Often we don't know the hours that went into planning the activity, the stress associated with it, the number of phone calls made, time it took to collect and prepare the food, dishes in the sink sitting that mothers skipped to turn their attention (for a time) to The Lord's work.

Taking a moment to watch it in action sprouts love blossoms in my bones.