“Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, June 1999, 17
During the school year other people—teachers, parents, and leaders—have a lot to say about what your schedule is like. After you finish all of the regular school-year activities—school, seminary, Church activities, and extracurriculars like sports, clubs, music, or after-school jobs—there are probably only a few hours every week left over for you to take care of yourself. During the summer, however, the opposite is true. Even if you have a summer job, you probably have more free time than you’re used to.
All that free time makes summer the ideal time to strengthen your spiritual muscles. During the school year, you most likely go to seminary and then make your seminary reading assignment your scripture study for the day. Summertime is an exciting challenge because you determine what you’ll study, how you’ll study, and when. The danger, of course, is that if you opt to study nothing at all, your testimony can shrink in a hurry.
Avoid giving in to the temptation to let your scripture study slide. Instead, no matter how much you decide to study during the summer, make a point of doing it every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Challenge yourself. Read up on a gospel subject you’ve always wondered about.
In response to this question, we received several answers from elders and sisters who are serving missions. Their letters all said things like “prepare to be a missionary now. You’ll be glad you did,” or “I wish I had spent my summers studying the scriptures; I’d be a much better missionary now.” Summer is an ideal time to think about ways you can make yourself a better missionary, both temporally and spiritually. Focusing on mission preparation might even make it a little easier to save a substantial portion of the money you’re earning at your summer job if you have one. It’s also a great time to learn how to fix a few simple meals, iron shirts, and sew a button on a shirt. Of course, daily scripture study and prayer are the most important things you can do every day. If you want to make your preparations feel as much like a mission as possible, you could make scripture study the first task of the day, right after you wake up and pray. (Remember, missionaries are up at 6:30 A.M.!)
There are other things to do in the summer besides studying that will increase your testimony, too. The Apostle James wrote that we should be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). So look for ways to build your testimony through your actions. Do you have a Young Women or Scouting award that you’re working toward? How about a personal goal to improve yourself in some way? Seek ways to serve others in your home, neighborhood, or ward. Any of these activities can increase your spirituality if you approach them as a way to make yourself a better servant of the Lord.
Finally, the summer’s slower pace affords you a great opportunity to ponder the things in your life that are meaningful to you. Take time to enjoy the splendor of God’s creations, appreciate the people you love, and be grateful for your blessings. Evaluate the course your life is taking, and if necessary, make some corrections. Make the summer a time to rejuvenate and refresh your testimony. Then when winter comes again, you’ll have a light that burns bright, even when it’s dark outside.
Doing the things you would do on the Sabbath a little more often is a great way to stay spiritually fit during the summer. Things like reading scriptures, praying, watching Church videos, and reading Church magazines help a lot.
Stephanie Markworth, 14
I work at a fast-food restaurant, and before I go to work I say a prayer to help me avoid the temptations that might come during work. It helps me to stay closer to the Spirit. We also have family scripture reading, and that helps me to have a better feeling toward the day.
Daniel Magalogo, 17
Apia, Western Samoa
I look at summer as a great time to exercise my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by reading scriptures and having daily prayers.
Read the New Era, read your scriptures, and spend time with your family.
Andrea Clifford, 19
Machesney Park, Illinois
Re-reading what we’ve read for seminary in the previous year is a great way to remember what you spent the school year learning. I’ve been reading a section of the Doctrine and Covenants every night, and I can’t wait to read it again when seminary is over!
Natalie Nielsen, 16
In the summer we have to be more careful about the things we do so we don’t diminish our testimonies. If you go to a movie with your friends, check the rating and content. Don’t be afraid to stick up for what you believe.
James Darnell, 16
Maintain the good habits you’ve acquired during the school year. Read the scriptures, and serve others. Most of all, work to have a good attitude.
Kimberly Jean Anderson, 14