Lessons Learned from “Our Quest” for the Family – Part 1
January 20, 2011 3 Comments
In June of 2010, I was privilege to be involved in our Stake’s youth conference. We do “stake” youth conferences every two years to give our wards an opportunity to do their own; to build their own identity and unity. Two years prior, we had embarked in our first pioneer Trek. Many youth throughout the church have gone on these pioneer reenactments and I still have yet to hear major negative comments about any of them. They are always spiritual feasts where our youth not only learn about pioneers, sacrifice, testimony and the love of God but they get to experience it. They are spiritual highlights for both youth and adults.
When it came time to start planning for our next conference, we knew we could not have the typical Stake Youth Conference. The bar had been set too high for a day of “workshops on dating” and the “evils of music” followed by a dance. No, we had to do more. We had to do something equal to or better than the Trek. What resulted was what we called “Our Quest.”
On a wet day in June we boarded six (though we ordered just five. Miracle #1) yellow “barges” buses that were NOT “tight like unto a dish” but carried our 300+ voyagers to a remote, beautiful camp outside of Lowell, Oregon. It was our “Zarahemla”. Four days of “living” the Book of Mormon, guided by Mormon and his wife “Mara”, would become another incredible spiritual adventure. Many Book of Mormon characters visited including King Benjamin, Jacob, Enos, Lehi, Alma Sr. Moroni, Abinadi not to mention the infamous King Noah, Gadiaton and others. Miracles did not have to be artificially created or acted out, but were real and witnessed by all. From the miracle of the “sixth bus” to the miracle of the “extra cookies” to the miracle of lives being changed, (at last count three of the non-member youth attending have been baptized) we saw God’s hands everywhere. It was awesome!
I have learned a lot about planning these types of events and I dare say I will never do a typical youth conference again. In the planning, executing and then debriefing of both the Trek and “Our Quest” among other such events, I have noted some commonalities, even a sense of a “formula for success”.
More importantly, I have learned that these same ingredients or principles, when applied to raising a family, will result in the same spiritual success. We don’t have to wait for our Ward or Stake to do super events (though we should take advantage of all these when we can) but we can have the same experiences in our own families. The same spirit, the same miracles, the same affect can all be realized within the “family garden”.
Here are a few of those principles. This is not an exhaustive list by any means but a few “ingredients” for a spiritually successful Youth Conference and more importantly, for a family. I invite you to listen to the Spirit to find if there might be some ingredients your family could use.
1. A “main goal” that the entire family knows.
Our friend Stephen Covey calls this, “Starting with the end in mind”. On “Our Quest” our main goal was to “bring ourselves and others to Christ” (Moses 1:39). Everything else we did was to lead to that goal. What are we really trying to accomplish within our families? What are our family’s goals? Does our entire family, young ones included, know what the goals are? This is one of those things that should not go unsaid. Discuss it in family home evening. Write it down. Do whatever works, but know and discuss these goals.
2. Cherish the family.
During the “Trek” and “Our Quest” we divided the kids into “families.” They were big families with a mother and father, big brothers and sisters. These smaller groups made it possible to discuss and apply lessons, to support and love one another. To paraphrase Elder Maxwell, the family “plot” provides us with the “clinical material” needed for us to become who Father wants us to become. How blessed we are to be placed in our own “families” by a loving Heavenly Father, but we must cherish and protect it. If we lose this ingredient, the result will be devastating for the entire human family.
3. Foster faith and testimony through spiritual experiences.
I put spiritual experiences into two categories, 1) the ones we plan and 2) the ones we don’t.
- Planned: We prayerfully planned and created an agenda of activities that we felt would provide spiritual experiences for our youth. From the “woman’s pull” to “Lehi’s Dream” we did our best to create the conditions where spiritual experiences would occur.
- Not planned: We understood that just being there together and facing real life would create conditions necessary for all kinds of experiences, even experiences that would be full of spiritual opportunities. However, spiritual experiences would go unrealized if we, as leaders, were not discerning enough to recognize the opportunities and then bring them out, discuss them, and make them count.
Families are the same. Parents do their best to provide spiritual experiences. We put our children in situations where we hope they will feel the Spirit. We read the scriptures. We pray. We go to church. We send them off to Primary, Young Mens and Young Womens. We get them up early for seminary. We have Family Home Evening. We take them on church history tours and send them to EFY and on and on. We plan and do these important activities so our children will have spiritual experiences.
At the same time however, spiritual experiences are happening all around us. Again, the “clinical material” of a fallen world provides ample opportunities to have and discuss spiritual experiences. But often we as parents miss these opportunities. It is so important that we pray and seek for the gift of discernment so we recognize the times when circumstances present teaching moments. And then we must seize those moments.
Look for “Part 2” tomorrow. In the meantime, here are two “music videos” put together showing parts of “Our Quest”. Enjoy. Please leave comments!