“FYI: For Your Information,” New Era, May 1980, 41–45
“Next to love, sympathy is the divinest passion of the human heart.”
The scene is a familiar one: a deserted high school weight room where an athlete is putting in the long, often lonely hours of preparation that precede the split seconds of competition. But the hours of sacrifice and dedication pay off well for 17-year-old Shellie Spencer. Among the rewards she has received have been two Idaho prep titles in the women’s discus; a trip to the National AAU Junior Olympics in the discus event; three high school varsity letters in girls’ basketball and track, being named “Most Dedicated” on the girls’ varsity basketball and track teams; shelves of other trophies and medals; and numerous ward and stake honors in various sports.
For Shellie, the ability to set reachable goals and do the tremendous amount of work necessary to obtain them are reflections of her upbringing in the Church and the encouragement of her parents and family. She is a member of the Emmett First Ward, Emmett Idaho Stake, where her father is the bishop. A track meet or basketball game involving one of the Spencer children will usually find the whole family there—mom, dad, Jennifer, Eric, James, and Ryan, in addition to oldest sister Shellie.
The Spencer home shows the signs of its athletic family. It includes a weight room for Shellie and a large basketball court on which Shellie has painted a discus ring. Still, even though she is ranked nationally as one of the top ten discus throwers in her age group, after high school Shellie plans to concentrate on basketball, hopefully at Brigham Young University.
And despite the numerous accolades she receives for winning, Shellie has also experienced the heartache of defeat. At the regional qualifying track meet last summer she fouled three times at distances long enough to win the discus event. Her only eligible throw, however, was nearly 20 feet shorter, and she failed to place. Shellie was deeply disappointed, but believes that sacrifice and dedication are never wasted. “One of my coaches has said that athletics is merely a scaled-down version of life,” stated Shellie. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but the perseverance you develop by doing your best will stay with you always.”
After months of planning and preparing, the Bowie Ward Mutual in the Silver Spring Maryland Stake presented their special treat to the senior citizen’s group of their city. Thirty of the older Bowie, Maryland, residents were escorted to the meetinghouse where they feasted on a dinner of chicken, Hawaiian casserole, jello, salads, home-baked breads, and ice cream. During the dinner the youths and the young-at-heart dined together, enjoying each other’s company as much as the delicious meal. Afterwards, the young people presented their award-winning roadshow, “The Knight Life—or a Short Dragon Tale,” as entertainment.
Plans for the evening began six months earlier when the Young Men and Young Women of the ward decided to collaborate on a service project. Details were worked out at the monthly bishopric youth committee leadership meetings. The youth sponsored a ward taco dinner and made and sold corsages to help provide the funds necessary to put on the senior citizens’ dinner. After the service project was completed, one of the youth of the ward summarized the feelings of many by saying, “The senior citizen dinner helped us to see the service we can do for others. Our guests enjoyed it, and it was a pleasure to meet them and be in their company for the night.”
A family home evening display similar to the one used in the Salt Lake City visitors’ center has been developed and constructed by the missionaries in the Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission. Pennsylvania residents throughout the state have viewed the display in malls and fairs, and many of these families have later been contacted in their homes by the missionaries. In one day 119 people visited the display, and of these, 52 invited the missionaries to their homes. Elder John Lowe built and painted the model houses, and Elder Richard Murdoch designed and built the unit used to automate the slide presentation and sound track. The slides and sound track were purchased from Church headquarters and are like the ones used in the visitors’ center.
Luci Lameman of the Montezuma Creek Branch, Blanding Utah Stake, has been serving as Miss Utah Navajo during the past year. A freshman at Brigham Young University, she was a Laurel and senior at Whitehorse High School when she received the honor. Her duties as Miss Utah Navajo have included representing the Utah Navajos in parades, pow-wows, and activities throughout the southwestern United States.
The day before Shan Harper of the Telford Ward in England was to participate in the Newcastle-Under-Lyme Stake sports day, she fell from her horse, caught her leg in one of the stirrups, and was dragged several feet. If she had decided not to participate in the sports events the next day, it would have been understandable. But Shan not only participated, she won three events! A Beehive, she beat all others in the 12–14 age group in the high jump and 100-meter race before running in the 800-meter race. To save time, it was decided to have all three age groups (which also included 15–17, and 18 on up) run the 800-meter race together. Shan again took first place, finishing yards ahead of all other competitors.
After enjoying several days of exhilarating camp activities, 130 young women from the Sandy Utah Hillcrest Stake shared an evening of spiritual refreshment in their own homemade chapel in the woods. Upon being placed in charge of the project, the fourth year campers (Adventurers) chose a secluded area on the stake-owned campgrounds that was surrounded by a natural shelter of beautiful quaking aspens. With three giant pines as a backdrop, the spot seemed the perfect place for the meetinghouse. The girls spent one entire day clearing out the dense undergrowth, and the next two days sawing, hammering, lashing, and carrying logs to form benches and a pulpit. Gradually the natural amphitheater became what the campers called their “little chapel in the woods.” They were able to participate in two devotionals and one special evening there with the stake presidency and bishoprics before returning home for another year.
“What Was I Cut Out to Be? (A Special Kind of Girl, That’s What!)” was the theme chosen by the North Ogden Utah Ben Lomond Stake Young Women for a Super Saturday last spring.
The walls of the hall were decorated with life-sized paper dolls dressed in clothing that represented different lifestyles. Fuzzy black-haired dolls complete with stands and surrounded by wardrobes were used as table centerpieces, alternating with wicker baskets full of paper-doll shaped sugar cookies. After a breakfast snack of apple fritters and orange juice, the workshops began. The girls were given a booklet that contained information on each of the topics to be discussed.
First on the program was make-up specialist Karen Clawson who taught about skin care and the correct use of makeup. To help convey the points more effectively, Margo Treece and Judy McGarry demonstrated while Sister Clawson narrated. They were followed by cosmetologists Faye Stacy and Janet Bingham who demonstrated new and creative hairstyles on volunteers from the audience. Hair-trimming and blow-combing were also taught. The final workshop was presented by Becky Toone who talked about color, style, and wardrobe planning.
For many, the most exciting event was the introduction of the “Cinderellas.” One girl from each ward had been chosen to spend the week learning how she could improve her own personal appearance. Specialists had worked with the girls on skin care, makeup, hair-styling, and clothing selections. Slides were shown of each of the girls “before” their week of education, followed by each of the girls modeling her new look.
Finishing out the morning was a fashion show, followed by a luncheon. Afterwards, a returned missionary who was married in the temple spoke to the girls about the importance of staying morally clean and spiritually beautiful. “Boys are attracted to girls who try to make themselves beautiful physically,” he said, “but more important is the ‘inner beauty’ a girl possesses.” A dating panel consisting of young men from the area concluded the full afternoon.
The shot of a cannon followed by three- to seven-year-olds marching in as toy soldiers started the “Evening’s Entertainment”—a family-oriented regional dance festival planned and executed by the Spanish Fork Utah West Stake last summer. More than 5,000 spectators watched the 1,300 dancers as they performed a variety of numbers on the local high school football field. Included in the evening’s festivities were Charleston dancers chauffeured onto the field in antique automobiles and square dancers who made their entrance on a hay-filled truck. The colorful Villagers’ Maypole Dance saluted the beauties of spring and a Hawaiian mother expressed her love to her daughter through song, accompanying herself on a ukulele. A disco-tambourine number complete with 1,400 tambourines brought the spectacular evening to a close.
All who wanted to participate in the event were invited to do so, the youngest performer being 3 and the oldest 72. Each of the 29 wards in the region had its own dance directors, activities chairman, and cultural arts specialists who worked with the regional directors.
By the time Buzz Burbidge of the Bountiful 34th Ward, Bountiful Heights Utah Stake, turned 13 and thereby became eligible to receive the Eagle Award, he had already earned 31 merit badges. He received 22 of these, plus the World Conservation Award and his Star advancement, during a three-month period last summer.
Claudia Laur, a Mia Maid in the Munich Third Ward, Munich Germany Stake, realized there were many activities in the ward for the young ladies but not many for the elderly sisters. Because she felt that particularly those who lived alone might not be benefiting from the same warmth of fellowship, she gathered the Mia Maids and Beehives together and planned an afternoon for the older sisters in the ward. The Merrie Miss Primary class was also invited to participate.
At a planning meeting, a program was outlined, including a difficult-to-learn round dance, a medley of favorite songs from the 50s, self-composed sketches and pantomimes, question-and-answer games in which the older sisters would participate, comedy, hymns (to add a spiritual side to the activity), and of course, refreshments.
Soon they had polished their routines, choreographed their steps, rehearsed their lines, and prepared their props. On the day of the gathering, decorations transformed the cultural hall into a cozy “Café in the Woods,” a comfortable setting for the older ladies to relax in while they enjoyed the show.
“We had a delightful afternoon,” one of the invited guests said. “They welcomed us warmly and escorted us to our tables, which were decorated with flowers and a nice little personal card. Their happy program put us in a joyful mood. We couldn’t help but feel that they served with love. It helped us to feel the unity that can come to sisters in the Church.”
Beehive Andrea Klein agreed: “It was really nice to see the older sisters so happy about such little things. The preparation and practices took a lot of time and required patience and effort, but it was well worth it.”
Grandma’s the one with the homemade bread,
and the beautiful quilt upon her bed,
and elegant needlepoint dining chairs.
She knitted the booties the baby wears,
embroidered the pillowcases under her head,
sewed the exquisite gown for the day she wed.
Of course, she’ll do all these things for me!
But when she’s gone, then what will become
of the talents I never learned,
never worked at, and never earned?
Lost! And when my children ask,
“Can you teach me this special task?”
I’d hate to say, “I can’t do that—
or crochet, knit, crewel, quilt, or tat.”
I can’t make special things for home or kids;
if grandma didn’t do it, nobody did!
I must confess as I rant and rave,
all I can work is the microwave!
I better start now so I can be
the very best grandma you’ll ever see.
This verse, a shawl, and granny glasses were given to each young woman of the Las Vegas 27th and 42nd wards as they entered the Relief Society room one special day last summer. The Young Women and Relief Society of the 42nd Ward (Las Vegas Nevada Paradise Stake) sponsored an evening of displays, workshops, fun, and refreshments in an effort to inform and motivate the young women about the arts of handwork. They were shown the basics of needlepoint, embroidery, crewel, quilting, knitting, crocheting, and tatting, and were encouraged to seek help from family, friends, and the Relief Society sisters in their own wards in developing those skills. Refreshments afterwards included home-baked bread, butter, jam, and milk.
Carol Burke, Relief Society president from the 42nd Ward, summed up the goals of the evening best by explaining, “An heirloom can only be handed down to one child or grandchild, but a creative talent can be passed on to an entire generation to enrich and beautify their lives.”