Contributed by Rebecca Ash of the Lethbridge Alberta East Stake, Jessica Jahn of the Abbotsford Stake & Ann Bernhardt of the Taber Alberta Stake.
In some parts of Canada this summer, several youth activities served to increase testimonies and build awareness of the powerful teachings of The Book of Mormon. These three accounts demonstrate the inspiration, creativity, preparation and work that went into such life changing activities along with a taste of the blessings they brought.
Lethbridge Alberta East Stake
During a three-day Youth Conference that included Moroni's Quest, 177 Young Men and Women of the Lethbridge Alberta East Stake witnessed episodes from the lives of Nephi, Abinadi, Alma the Younger, Helaman and Mormon that came to life through live re-enactments from The Book of Mormon. As youth and leaders of the stake, adorned in stunning costumes, participated in this unique outdoor production against the majestic backdrop of the Rocky Mountains, each story became a visual feast for all participants.
Following Lehi’s family toward the Promised Land and trekking three kilometres, youth watched Nephi’s encounter with Laban, his broken bow and the struggle he had with murmuring brothers while attempting to build a ship.
Organized into tribes, the youth stepped into the roles of ‘stripling warriors’ and the people of ‘Anti-Nephi-Lehi.’ Fighting wars, holding fast to the Iron Rod, witnessing the burning of Abinadi and sitting at the feet of King Benjamin as he bore testimony of Christ, the youth were continuously challenged to consider how and why this record of scripture was written especially for them.
The pinnacle experience, as it is in The Book of Mormon, occurred with the appearance of Christ, reverently portrayed by Stake President James Evanson who embrassed each young man and woman. They sat at his feet while he spoke Christ's words from Third Nephi.
Concluding the event, youth bore testimonies of the truths they discovered and the spirit of Christ they felt as they expressed a resolve to move forward in their lives with increased faith. One young woman said that this experience made the Book of Mormon come to life for her and strengthened her testimony.
During a special fireside, Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, General Young Women President, expressed her special love for The Book of Mormon, her genuine love for the youth of the Church and her desire for each to draw closer to the Lord. Despite a thunderstorm that rolled in, she and her husband stayed until late into the evening, visiting with each young participant.
In closing, President Evanson admonished the youth to remember this experience, encouraged them to consider their testimony of Jesus Christ and challenged them to ponder the personal message they felt from The Book of Mormon by recording their impressions of Moroni’s Quest to better prepare themselves to meet the storms of life.
Abbotsford British Columbia Stake
Dressed in Nephite-style costumes, youth of the Abbotsford Stake gathered for their version of Moroni’s Quest. New original music composed especially for the Quest along with dramatic sound effects, lighting and staging in a secluded wilderness setting provided the backdrop for events re-enacted from The Book of Mormon.
Holding on to the iron rod that led to the tree of life, assisting Nephi to build a ship and watching him break free of his older brother's bindings were some of the highlights in which the youth participated, prompting responses like 12-year-old Lauren's who said, 'I thought the tree of life was amazing!' and another youth who said, 'It was so cool, riding in the ship with Nephi!'
Other scenes included: Burning Abinadi, battles with foam swords and water balloons, Ammon protecting the king’s sheep and the birth of the Saviour. The two most memorable re-enactments were the death of the Saviour and His visit to the Americas.
Once the youth had settled for the night, a recording of destructive noises was blasted through the campsites. Sounds of screams and cries, collapsing buildings, earthquakes and general calamity abounded. Voices cried, “I wish I had read my scriptures more often!” and “I wish I had prayed more!” and “If only I had taken my covenants more seriously!” After the turmoil, a calmness settled as the gentle voice representing the Lord spoke peace.
Not a murmur could be heard the following morning when Stake President Neil McKenzie, in glowing white and arms outstretched, portraying the Saviour, crossed the field toward the group and reaching out to each person in a loving embrace. Tears were shed as both youth and leaders felt the Saviour’s love. The power of this experience was his being able to call them by name, just as the Saviour would have done. Many expressed in their testimonies a great desire to be there when the Saviour really does come and how this experience inspired a desire to be better and more prepared for His coming.
Youth weren't the only ones affected. One sister, who asked to assist, expressed her thanks for being part of the organizing committee and allowed to attend. Recently, she had prayed to understand The Book of Mormon better. With a strong testimony of the Church, but not being a great reader, she said that her involvement with and participation in Moroni's Quest helped her understand The Book of Mormon better than she had previously. One brother, who played the part of Alma, now feels he knows Alma better and has a deep desire to be more like him.
Abbotsford Stake Youth can now look forward to beginning the coming school year with an even greater love for and desire to live the gospel.
Taber Alberta Stake
Flooding in Southern Alberta necessitated a change in plans for Taber Stake's Moroni's Quest event. Since their campsite was flooded, a Flood Relief Service Day was organized instead for both youth and adults to help in the nearby High River community cleanup.
Six school buses full of youth with strong hands and willing hearts, plus a few trailers packed with tools, left Taber for a 2-1/2-hour drive to the High River Chapel. Under the direction of the High River priesthood, work groups were organized and sent to various places throughout the community. Some volunteers sorted and organized clothing and household donations received from various communities. Others were sent to canvas neighbourhoods and assess residents' needs while the rest went to neighbourhoods to help empty basements of furniture, appliances and tons of mud.
An arduous day of messy work produced nothing but smiles on the faces of everyone who participated. Amidst desolation, a feeling of hope and joy was felt as residents and volunteers worked side by side. Friendships were made. Help was rendered. The Spirit of Christ was felt.
Taber's youth may have missed their Moroni's Quest experience this year, but by serving their fellowman they fulfilled the ultimate test of coming to truly know what is at the heart of The Book of Mormon. “... when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)”