Friday, July 4, 2008
Mark,Michelle,and I are back from our stake youth activity, Moroni's Quest. It was a four day event which started last Friday at 6:45am and ended at noon on Monday. Our stake puts this on every four years and this year was the third time. I believe it started with a couple from the area who wanted to create an activity where the Book of Mormon comes alive.
We started with a bus ride to a designated stop where each "tribe" was to build a travoi to carry the needed items for the long day ahead of walking. Let me back up-before heading out, there was a re-enactment of Lehi telling his family that they were to leave their home and travel into the wilderness. We built our travoi and headed out as tribes but after about a mile we were told that we needed to go back and get the plates, and of course, there was murmuring.
When we reached the starting point each tribe found a stack of Book of Mormons, one for everyone. I think you get the idea. The whole weekend was full of re-enactments and hands on activities. Mark and I were tribe leaders which meant that after most re-enactments we gathered with our tribe to discuss the event and then try to apply it to their own lives and how each could learn from it. There were over 26 re-enactments and about 20 discussions with our tribe. Over the last 6 months all of the tribe leaders from the stake had training meetings so we could get familiar with the events and particular scriptures surrounding them and as you know, we had to wear our costumes to most of them.
There were 18 tribes with a couple as tribe leaders and 10-11 kids in each tribe. The tribe leaders were to come up with a tribe name, a flag, and trinkets for 4 of the discussions of our choice. We decided on the Mohanrites because we have a personal connection. Let me explain. Reynolds Cahoon was a close and personal friend of Joseph Smith and one Sunday after the birth of his son, Reynolds Cahoon asked Joseph Smith, who happened to be walking by if he could give their baby and name and a blessing. In that blessing, the baby was given the name of Mohanri Moriancumer, which was the first time the name of The Brother of Jared was revealed. So we thought the Mohanrites would be a fun name. We had to also come up with a tribe trinket so we came up with a light clearish stone like the Brother of Jared used to light up the 8 barges. The trinkets that we added to the necklaces were, small chains for Abinadi, a small gold ball for the Liahona, an arrow head, and a picture of Christ in a tiny picture frame charm. We would give these out during the appropriate discussion. Some of the kids loved them, some of them could take them or leave them. Mark and I each had a necklace as well, so if any of the kids lost their trinkets and wanted another one we handed ours over which we were glad to do. Here is Mark's necklace minus the arrowhead.
The land that we used for Moroni's Quest was a quarter section (165 acres I believe)that belonged to a Bishop from the stake. This land was prepared with a camp kitchen, a ton of newly built picnic tables,new bridges, and a stage with a wooden backdrop for videos and some of the re-enactments. They also had plenty of porta- pottys around. I don't want to lessen the impportance of this activity, but to see these things around in such a picturesque setting was too much of a temptation for me. This land was dedicated for this purpose. Two other stakes will use this same place for their Moroni's Quest in the next couple of weeks. There was the girls/leaders camping area at one end and the boys/leaders camping area across the way with seperate areas set up for each ward to have get togethers at night for treats and testimony meetings Sunday night.
The weather was fairly warm and hotter as the days went by but do you think this California girl complained even one bit? My motto was "bring it on"! And because it was so hot and dusty from all the walking and sitting in the sun for discussions and various events, I was dirty and after 2 days of no showers my hair was pretty gross. So you know what I did? I washed my hair in the creek. Yah, I bent down, got my hair wet, put on the shampoo and rinsed it good. It felt pretty darn nice. The best thing was though, was that I did something new.......since living here there has been alot of that for me.
We had such a good tribe, with such great kids and so fun to be around. Some were quiet,a couple of them leaders, some maybe struggling with different things, but they were all respectful, attentive, polite, and open to the spirit, which there were plenty of opportunities to feel it.
We had war re-enactments, about 6 of them. The favorite one was when one group was assigned to be the Lamanites and the other group the Anti Nephi Lehi's. The Lamanites were instructed to ,of course,run towards the Anti Nephi Lehi's and "kill" them with the their weapons.(see 1st picture). The Anti Nephi Lehi's were instructed to drop their weapons when the Lamanites were a certain distance away, drop to their knees and pray. You can't even imagine the over whelming feeling that came over us, over me, over the Lamanites. It was very powerful.
There was wicked King Noah who declared Abinadi put to death.Some of the re-enactments were pre recorded so as Abinadi was burning his "voice" was trembling and obviously in pain as he continued teaching. The kids were silent.
We also had Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty.And King Benjamin.
This is Amalakiah leading an army to destroy the Nephites, but as you can see there is a fortification there to stop them. You can't tell from this picture but when the army reached the fortification they were blasted with water blasters.
The best part of the weekend was on Sunday morning. We all gathered and were instructed to blind fold our eyes. We then listened to about 5-7 minutes of destruction and then complete silence. It seemed to go on for a very long time. We then took off our blind folds and there on the backdrop was a huge painting of the Cardston Temple along with music playing. Nobody was talking, everybody was silent because they knew what was coming. From behind us, "Christ" appeared from the brush. I can not describe the feelings that we all felt and the site we all witnessed. "Christ" was walking among us, at the beginning touching people and hugging others, but after awhile everybody wanted a hug from Him. Some people, adults and kids alike, went to Him for a second hug and embrace. There was music playing, which for me, always adds the spirit. As He hugged these kids, He called them by name and told them He loved them. We all knew it was not real, but with the spirit that was there, it might as well have been Jesus Christ himself! These kids experienced something life changing and unforgetable. I wish I could put this into words better.
After this event we took a short 10 minute walk to the place designated for Sacrament Meeting. An alter had been built for the priests to bless the sacrament and the teachers passed. After Sacrament was over we then had another discussion and another war and then the conclusion when Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith , where he then took the plates out of the ground and walked away. Then our stake presidency said some parting words and a blessing to each of us. They also each greeted us and bid us farewell individually as we walked back to camp. Our ward and another took the bus back to the Mountain church where we started and left our vehichel Friday. Mark picked up the truck but I wasn't ready for the weekend to be over so I stayed on the bus for another 10 minutes or so and I am glad I did. I realized something through my tears. A thought came to me almost 2 years to the day when we moved here and driving with all of our belongings. A soon as we passed the border I just wanted to be by myself and get geared up for the changes. And the closer I got to our new home (my in-laws) I didn't want to stop. I thought that if I didn't stop at the house and just kept on driving that maybe the move wasn't really happening. I just wasn't ready to leave the past. I felt that same way on the bus coming home from Moroni's Quest. I just wanted the bus to keep going and never stop because then the past would never be the past. I loved our weekend as tribe leaders and I felt like I finally had something that was ours(mine)that hasn't been for a very long time and I wasn't ready to give it up just yet. So you can probably guess that this week has been emotional for me.
Mark and I wonder why we were asked to be tribe leaders, but we are so glad we were. I have been to others youth conferences many times and have always enjoyed them and the testimony meetings at the end of the weekends were always the greatest, but to have this weekend where we learned more about the Book of Mormon, felt the spirit so many times, and our testimonies strengthened was, without a doubt one of the highlights of my life. When we picked Brad up from his mission in December it was such a great experience and I still tear up when I mention how great the trip was. And I know that Moroni's Quest will do that to me as well.
Posted by Marilee at 3:51 PM