“FYI: For Your Information,” New Era, Sept. 1973, 10
Mike loves photography. He doesn’t like baseball or camping or anything else that most other deacons like. He wants to be one of the group anyway, but they don’t seem to want him, and now he’s almost reached the point where he doesn’t want them either. He still attends Aaronic Priesthood MIA meetings because he promised the bishop he would and because his parents want him there, but he spends most of his time loitering around outside the door. You’ve known people like Mike, and you know their stories may not have happy endings.
Becky is a troubled girl who has become inactive, associates with the wrong people, and has strayed from her former standards. Whenever she makes a small attempt to come back she is rebuffed by the girls her age because she is now one of the “wrong people” herself. She doesn’t get along well with her father and shares few interests with other girls-except for dancing. She loves dancing. All things considered, she’s headed fast in the wrong direction and doesn’t show much promise of turning around. You’ve known people like Becky, and you know their stories may not have happy endings.
How do their stories end? It’s up to you—the young people of the Church.
It’s up to you because Mike’s deacon quorum presidency and quorum have the basic responsibility for his needs and activity. It’s up to you because Becky’s Laurel class presidency and class are responsible for her. And that doesn’t mean the adviser or teacher—that means the young people—that means you.
The Aaronic Priesthood quorum presidents have direct line priesthood authority and stewardship over the young men in their respective quorums and the young women’s class presidents are responsible for the girls under them. That means that if you’re called to be a quorum president or group leader or class president, you’re accountable to the Lord for the young men and women under your direction.
The Aaronic Priesthood MIA was organized to bring all aspects of the Church youth program directly under priesthood leadership. But another important purpose was to give you young people the leadership experience you need to prepare for future leadership responsibility.
Consequently, you, the youth, will now lead in all phases of the program. It’s your responsibility to initiate, plan, and implement all youth activities in the ward and stake.
The ward Aaronic Priesthood MIA is directed by the bishop’s youth committee under the direction of the bishop. The quorum presidents and the young women’s class presidents sit on this committee, and the priests group leader conducts.
The priests quorum group leader and Laurel president, or someone assigned by them, conduct the opening exercises of Aaronic Priesthood MIA meetings and prayer meetings under the direction of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA presidents.
Every week each quorum or class presidency meets to review the needs of the young people under their direction and to make plans and assignments for the future. They will often call committees to help with problems or projects, thus extending leadership experience to still more young people. Above all, they look to the welfare of each person under their stewardship.
And that’s where Mike and Becky come in.
The Aaronic Priesthood MIA is designed so that if an individual just can’t be reached by the existing activities, a whole new project can be worked out—just for him. In Mike’s case the leaders involved could work through the ward service and activities committee to find a “specialist” in photography who could work with Mike on a one-to-one basis while the other deacons are playing softball or whatever else fulfills their needs. Eventually, perhaps, some other young men will become interested in photography, or Mike can use his skills to record the big moments in softball and basketball games and thus become an accepted part of the group. The possibilities are unlimited. Every member of the ward and stake is a potential specialist.
Perhaps Becky could be called as a specialist herself, to direct a dance festival or a roadshow. This would get her into a meaningful, fulfilling leadership contact with the other young people, and perhaps give her a start on the road back, even though the road may be a long one. It’s well worth the trouble of organizing two new projects if it will help two fine young people achieve their potential, and maybe give their stories happy endings. That’s the spirit of the program. Every youth serves and every youth benefits.
As President Harold B. Lee said, “The youth will serve and guide the kingdom during very critical years, and it is on their shoulders that the kingdom must be carried off as our Father in heaven directs them and blesses them.”
Susan Kelley of the Eighth Ward, Boise West Stake, Idaho, will appear in the 1973 edition of Who’s Who in American High Schools as a result of the many honors she has earned during her high school years. Susan, a former student at Borah High School, Idaho’s largest, was named a finalist in the 1973 National Merit scholarship program. Less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s graduating seniors are thus honored. In addition she was inducted into the Borah chapter of the National Honor Society and scored highest in the state for the third straight year in the National French Contest.
Susan is a former junior Sunday School teacher and has earned a three-year certificate for attendance at seminary. Currently she is attending Ricks College on a scholarship.
(This is a report on an activity that was carried out before the beginning of the new Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood MIA programs.)
Last March marked the beginning of a unique project in the Church when a regional MIA for the handicapped started operation for the qualifying youth in the Davis County (Utah) area. From a beginning handful the number has grown to fifteen enthusiastic members between the ages of fourteen and thirty. They have been overlooked in their own ward and stake programs because of their handicaps, but now even those who had found it difficult to converse have bloomed in their own special program.
A major activity for the group was held at Christmas time. Two plays were presented in which the members were cast. Ernest Nielsen and Marlane Flack, two talented young activity directors, were in charge of the event. They also accompany the young people and teach them to sing, give prayers, talks, and participate in the usual MIA achievement activities. The plays were successfully presented before an audience of one hundred and fifty. One of the plays was repeated as part of the stake road-show, earning a special award.
In February a gala dinner-dance was held. Lessons preceding the activity included table manners and etiquette. Decorations were made by the MIA members. One of the leaders made black-and-white silhouettes of each participant and these were posted around the cultural hall, interspersed by red-and-white lace valentines to be taken home at the end of the dance, mementos of a glorious achievement for them.
It was a unique dance—no wallflowers! Everyone had been tutored in a few basic modern dance steps, and they participated freely in the festivities. A ten-piece combo furnished live music, one of five groups who volunteered gratis services. Four volunteer youth served the dinner in style, and a local florist donated corsages and boutonnieres. A local dance group presented a floor show.
During the year other youth helpers have volunteered their assistance for the weekly meetings. Paula Sheffield, a teenager, attends weekly as an assistant. Kerry Brinkerhoff showed up one evening with a friend. As a self-initiated project for seminary, they came to see how they could help. Kerry stayed on to assist in activities with the fellows, especially sports.
Perhaps the climax of the season’s work was the patriotic program presented in May. The group had learned six songs and spoke lines between talks given by the adult leaders, all a part of an original script, God Gave Me Dear America, written especially for the occasion. A special American flag was displayed on the front wall. During the year, when any member gave a prayer, theme, or talk, his or her name was written on a white star to adorn the blue field. So that was truly a flag of achievement. Patriotic items made by the members were on display in the festively decorated cultural hall.
A number of field trips have been taken in addition to weekly meetings—Christmas Tree Land, the circus, roller skating, a Temple Square tour, a play at the Promised Valley Theater. Summer activities featured the group’s second camp experience, one for the girls and one for the boys.
Enthusiasm runs high in this new MIA. Whenever the members meet each other, one will say, “See you at MIA on Thursday.” They are experiencing the joy of achieving.
Dora D. Flack
Who would think that a fire in a sorority house could lead to new progress for the Church? The Alphi Xi Delta sorority house, located adjacent to the University of Michigan campus, caught fire last spring, and the first floor was seriously damaged while the upper two floors suffered smoke damage. Rather than make repairs the sorority sold the handsome brick structure to the Church. Plans were soon under way to make the ideally located building an institute of religion. Contractors took care of the major renovation but members of the Ann Arbor Ward subcontracted the painting of the structure as a building fund project for the new ward house.
Once the work was completed, the Ann Arbor Ward and the University First and Second Branches opened the building for public viewing in a “Meet the Mormons” night. Members and their non-Mormon friends were met with displays on Church publications, the Welfare Program, family home evening, seminary and institute, the Church auxiliaries, genealogy, and restoration. Tours were conducted past the displays and into the Relief Society room where the film “In This Holy Place” was being shown.
Currently classes are being held in the building and are attended by university students and Church members in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area. According to Warner Woodworth, director of the institute, the building is “a religious education center to bridge the gap between spiritual life and academic life.”
Alice told her parents she’d walk home after play practice. No one else lived close to her. Besides it had been a pretty day, and it would only take about forty-five minutes to make it from the school to her house.
But she hadn’t planned on the cold wind that bit through her sweater and slacks and chilled her through by the time she’d covered the first three blocks, nor on the dark clouds that were rapidly filling the sky.
So while the wind lashed her hair in angry patterns across her face, she turned to face the traffic and stuck out her thumb.
Alice didn’t get home in forty-five minutes that night. In fact, her family never heard from her again.
An imaginary tale to scare would-be hitchhikers? Not to the numerous girls the nation over who have stuck out their thumbs and pulled in nothing but trouble. Not many have disappeared like Alice, but more than you would imagine have been robbed and assaulted.
Where once picking up a hitchhiker threatened the driver with brutal attack, robbery, and sometimes murder, now the greatest danger seems to be to the thousands of young people, many of them girls, who are determined to save a few dimes or dollars in trips across town or around the world.
No reliable statistics are available on the occurrence of violence to hitchhikers because, for one thing, most police departments don’t report such cases under a special category. For another, only about one-third of the harassment is ever reported. But where statistics exist they are striking. In Boulder, Colorado, for example, 120 cases of sexual assault were reported last year—almost half with hitchhikers as victims. In the Boston-Cambridge area at least 3 of the 7 young women murdered recently were girls who willingly got into a stranger’s car. In San Diego, California, 80 to 100 women were assaulted last year as they thumbed their way to and from their off-campus housing and California State University.
What can be done to eliminate such statistics? Not much say policemen as long as young people refuse to use more acceptable means of transport. Only a few states strictly enforce anti-hitchhiking laws. Most areas of the country either do not have laws to cover the problem or do not enforce the ones they have. So, as a result, thousands of potential Alices, some for the first time, some for the hundredth, continue to trust their lives to complete strangers on the road. Don’t you fool yourself. Spend a dime and call your parents. That’s still the most dependable way to get home.
This year the BYU 9th Stake Relief Society held its third annual Gala Spring Fair in honor of the 131st anniversary of the organization of the Relief Society. Naturally a birthday party could never be authentic without candles, and there were candles in profusion to illustrate this year’s theme, “Light a Tall Candle.” Large pink candles decorated the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center on campus where each of the fifteen branches had set up booths. One booth displayed the various areas of Relief Society study and service, another offered booklets of handy household hints for the harried student, another instructions on wedding etiquette and traditions for couples ready to marry.
For the 1000 young men and women in attendance there were a variety of booths featuring food displays and samples of such delicacies as wheat-germ cookies, apricot leather, and tiger’s milk. For the less health-conscious there were chocolate dipping and cake decoration booths, as well as those specializing in different kinds of breads. One booth carried yummy-looking concoctions that were actually cosmetics made from natural ingredients such as buttermilk, avocado, and apricot.
One branch offered tips on creating interesting musical instruments from odds and ends around the house, while another demonstrated decoration ideas using photographic and paint art forms. Many learned how to create their own miniature gardens in glass jars, some using straw flowers and others live plants. Of course, no Relief Society fair would be complete without a quilting demonstration and that was also provided.
Everyone was impressed with the diversity of talent in the stake, and not one of the guests went away hungry.