“Look What I Found,” New Era, Sept. 2000, 12
It was a hot summer day in southern California, and I was a typical teen enjoying my summer by sleeping late. I was getting out of bed when the doorbell rang. I raced my mom to the door. We were both surprised by a group of 10 to 15 teens my age.
They greeted us with a smile and explained that as part of a youth conference they were on a service scavenger hunt for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They showed us a list of services and asked my mom to check off the items on the list they could do. My mom did, and they were soon busy pulling weeds, washing windows, and mowing our lawn. It was fun watching them all work together.
When the chores were complete, you could tell they had worked hard by the sweat on their faces and the dirt on their hands, but they looked pleased with the work they had done and thanked us for the opportunity to serve.
My mom offered them a big tip, but they refused. Feeling like they should not leave without us giving them something, I quickly ran into the house and returned with cold glasses of water.
After refreshing themselves, they asked if they could leave us with a song. As they sang “I Am a Child of God,” I felt a respect and love as you would for old friends, even though I had just met them.
I joined them for the next few houses, working side by side, feeling a sense of peace and acceptance. As I walked home, I was consumed in my own thoughts. I was in awe at how the youth were spending their day serving others.
I went straight to my room and wrote a thank-you letter for their service and how they had touched me. Without signing it, I put the letter and all the money I had, about $39, inside the envelope and drove to the church to tape it to the door.
From that day on, my life would never be the same. Not long after, I started spending time with youth in the Church and was touched spiritually by so many members helping me on my journey. Part of that journey was hearing the missionary discussions that led to my baptism a year later. Since that time, I have been married to a worthy man in the San Diego California Temple, and we have two beautiful daughters.
But there is a twist to my story. Five years after the experience with the youth, I was giving my first talk in sacrament meeting. I told the story of the day the youth came to my house. After sacrament meeting, the stake president introduced himself and told me he was at that same youth conference. At the testimony meeting ending the conference, some of the youth told about finding my envelope taped to the door. The stake president said that he still had my letter in his office because he knew that someday he would meet the person who wrote it and would return it.
I cherish that letter and have tucked it into my diary to remind me of those youth and their example to me and to so many others on that hot summer day.