“A Little Miracle,” New Era, Mar. 1988, 46
If you had been in the small town of Wales, Utah, one Friday afternoon last June, you would have seen a miracle—bone-tired teenagers running uphill to go do some more hard work.
About 200 youth and leaders from the Orem Utah South Central Stake had already put in two days of hard labor. Sweating alongside the residents of Wales, they had cleaned weeds and brush from the town cemetery and cemented fence posts around it, painted the town hall and the pavilion in the town park, repaired roads and removed trash and debris, roofed and painted the water treatment chlorinator house, demolished old sheds and chicken coops, and repaired and painted barns and fences. They had installed a handsome new “Welcome to Wales” sign at the town park.
Now, as quitting time neared, most of the projects were completed. But the chain link fence around the cemetery was only about a third finished, and the workers there were exhausted. So a call went out for volunteers from among the tired youth who had finished their own projects.
Almost instantly, truckloads of young men and women came pouring into the cemetery. And those who couldn’t find a place in a truck came running up the hill. Within 40 minutes the fence was completed. There were high fives and handshakes, and a smile on every sweaty, sunburned face.
The project had begun with stake leaders searching for an activity that would not merely entertain the youth, but stretch their souls through service. The result was a “call” to the “Coalbed Mission” for every youth in the stake between the ages of 14 and 18.
The 12 youth from Wales were also called to the mission. The contingent from Orem nearly doubled the population of Wales. All were housed with local residents, and friendships quickly formed.
Since the project, young men and women from Orem have gone back to Wales every chance they get. Letters go back and forth. Long distance calls appear on phone bills. There are photographs of Orem youth on walls in Wales, and photographs of folks from Wales tacked on walls in Orem.
“The event had a big positive effect on Wales,” said the bishop there, Dennis Roberts. “All the memories come back every time we ride by the park or look at the post office or the new fence.”