Latter-day Saint Young Women: 'In the strength of the Lord, I can do hard things'
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
On a windy morning at 3:30 a.m., a group of young women and their leaders assembled at the temple. They had on their running shoes and their smiles, and they were excited about what they were going to do. Their goal was to walk from the Draper Utah Temple to the Salt Lake Temple — a journey of 22 miles.
They took their inspiration from the story of John Rowe Moyle, a pioneer and master of stonework who came West with the earliest handcart companies in 1846. He settled in Alpine, Utah, which was nearly 22 miles away from downtown Salt Lake City. He was called to be a stone mason on the Salt Lake Temple. In order to fulfill his calling and to be to work by 8:00 in the morning, every Monday Brother Moyle would wake up at 2 a.m. and begin his long walk over the hill and through the valley to the temple of the Lord. Like Brother Moyle, who carved the words "Holiness to the Lord" on the Salt Lake Temple, these young women also wanted to keep their focus on being worthy to attend the temple by doing the same walk. They had trained as a Young Women group, individually, and with their mothers and leaders during the summer months. For Mutual activities, they walked and talked about the temple. They followed a training schedule which if they were diligent would prepare them for the 22-mile walk.
These young women felt prepared and confident as they huddled together in the cool morning air. I asked one of the young women if she had thought a lot about the temple and her ancestors each day as she was walking the designated number of miles to prepare. Her face lit up with joy as she responded, "Oh yes, I have thought about the temple and I have gone there in preparation for this day."
This young woman expressed a serene confidence and inner strength that is possessed by one who has prepared both physically and spiritually. She had discovered what the scriptures mean when they say, "We did go up in the strength of the Lord" (Mosiah 10:10). She and her companions had come to understand that this kind of strength is different. It is the strength of commitment, of dedicated effort and of faith. Just as the young stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon understood their need for miraculous strength and knew the source, so did these young women.
Their ward Young Women president, Michelle Carnesecca, knew what every good leader knows: that there is no motivation in being involved in a mediocre cause. These young women were not only told that they were great, but they were given the opportunity to BE great, to ACT great, and to DO great things.
Many times leaders are tempted to protect the youth from experiencing and doing hard things. And yet these noble young women yearn to make a difference and to accomplish the seemingly impossible. This is one of the reasons the youth love to participate in pioneer treks, 50 mile hikes, and Young Women camp. And that is why they were gathered at the temple, ready to walk 22 miles.
Several months prior to this walk to the temple, these same young women were issued another invitation by their Young Women leaders. They were asked to read the book "Jesus the Christ" by James Talmage in its entirety. That's right—cover to cover—all 756 pages.
They were given a schedule which guided their reading chapter by chapter and an incentive. The reward for accomplishing this was a lovely dinner that would include a time for sharing their favorite insights from their reading of the life and ministry of the Savior with the entire group. Doing this reading project inspired greatness in unexpected ways as the young women helped each other to stay on task, to catch up, or to start if they had delayed.
One young woman read to another who felt she could not read fast enough. Leaders visited young women in their homes, enlisted parents and siblings to help, read together with several young women in a park, or just called to see how each was doing.
The bonds that were strengthened in families and with peers were amazing. On the evening when each young woman celebrated her accomplishment, a young twelve-year-old Beehive stood with the book in hand to bear witness of the Savior and His matchless life and infinite Atonement. It seemed that the book was too large for this small, young woman to even lift or carry, but she clutched it lovingly as she bore testimony and expressed gratitude for the Spirit which had accompanied this reading. Some said that doing this had made all the difference in their testimony and also in their confidence because they now knew that they could do hard things.
The walk to the temple was really an extension of this reading activity. With a testimony of the Savior's life and mission in their hearts, they knew they would not walk alone. Each young woman walked for an ancestor and for someone who had inspired them to always be worthy to enter the temple. They pinned these names with pictures on their shirts. Many young women remarked that they had an added measure of strength as they walked. One young woman said that she was about to stop and ride in the support car when she felt someone push on her back which helped her keep going. When she turned around to see who it was, no one was there. She said she felt angels were walking with them.
As these young women arrived at the Salt Lake Temple, their leaders had arranged for their families to greet them. Many tears were shed upon their arrival. They had walked 22 miles, they had prepared, they were determined, and they touched the temple and wept. They gained a gratitude for their ancestors, for the pioneers, for Joseph Smith, and for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Their hearts were turned to the temple and to their families and they were knit together in love. They had learned the joy of preparation, of unity in working for a common goal, and of walking together focusing on the temple.
As leaders ask the youth they lead to do hard things, they will grow and rise. They will become confident. The relationships that are built as leaders do what they ask of the youth are invaluable. Example and the Spirit teach powerful lessons sometimes without words. Each of the young women who participated realized that their personal journey to the temple will be challenging because of the world in which they walk. But as they walked, shared, and prepared, each one committed in her heart to arrive there one day no matter the sacrifice or how hard it may be. As a result of this activity, each of these young women has a deeper desire to remain pure and worthy and to be able to make and keep sacred covenants and receive the blessings that await. Each understands a little better what "Holiness to the Lord" requires. At the end of it all, one small exhausted Beehive asked: "Can we do this again next week?"