Early in June the Mesa Lehi Stake youth conference officially began at Long Valley Camp. Lehi’s Book of Mormon Quest started earlier in the year with a film trailer showing one of the vignettes participants would relive during the conference and a challenge to read the Book of Mormon by the end of May.
Steve and Kristy Beck of the Lehi Stake, Ridge Ward, called to chair the conference, said that the most important purpose of this youth conference was for the youth to have their testimonies of the Book of Mormon strengthened by seeing the story come to life.
The three-day conference began Thursday night with Lehi’s journey into the wilderness (leaving the stake center) and ended on Saturday with Joseph Smith giving the brass plates to the stake president. Through games, activities, vignettes and battles, every portion of the Book of Mormon was covered in just three days.
“The Tree of Life and the reenactment of Christ appearing were the most powerful and meaningful to the youth,” says Sister Beck.
While holding to the iron rod, two of the young women let go and lost their way. They were tempted and teased by hecklers to join in activities they knew weren’t right. Both girls said they felt a physical power stronger than themselves pulling on them to let go of the rod. They were unhappy and didn’t know what to do to reach the Tree of Life until their tribe mother found them and led them back to the rod.
Another potent experience for the attendees was the reenactment of the Savior’s appearance. On Saturday morning the youth assembled at the amphitheater to wait for the devotional to start when they began hearing muffled sounds and voices. By the third time they heard a voice, the youth knew what it was and turned around to see a brother portraying Christ in brilliant white standing on a hill just above them. He spoke, and when he beckoned to the youth, they all ran straight toward him.
“We knew he was an actor, but with everything that lead up to this event and with such a strong spirit, we couldn’t help feel just a little of what it would really be like to meet the Savior,” says Sister Beck.
The youth were given the opportunity to share their feelings at a recent fireside. “I found a better understanding of the people and events of the Book of Mormon by reliving them,” says McKenna Bohn. “My favorite part, besides seeing the Savior, was the Tree of Life. Walking in the dark was scary and I had to rely on the iron rod.”
“This youth conference has changed my life and I will always remember this experience,” says Larson Marziale. Besides seeing Christ, Larson also has vivid memories of his experience following the iron rod. He recalls hearing the voices from the large and spacious building and seeing an angel beckoning the youth to follow him. “Hold tight, knuckle white” was the watch cry for holding to the rod.
Several youth didn’t want to attend the conference at all. One young woman especially didn’t want to go. “She had turned 18 and graduated. She argued that she had done enough youth conferences and was done with it all,” says Sister Beck. That young woman was one of the first to bear her testimony at sacrament meeting the following Sunday.
All in all, the conference was a triumph. “The last vignette of Moroni burying the plates, Joseph Smith meeting Moroni, and then retrieving the plates made the conference come full circle. There was no doubt that what was relived in these three days was true,” concludes Sister Beck.