I Hope…This Message Finds Its Way To You!

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TheDiscipleMD

Many years have gone by since I arrived with my family to the stake. Most of those years I have spent with you, the youth! Time has a funny way of changing things. Many of you are now my peers. While I accept and welcome you as such, you will always be, in my mind’s eye, one of the young men or young women of the church.

Some of you I see often, most of you have moved to other places. Many of you I have lost contact with and sadly a few of you have already passed from this life to the next. From time to time I hear from some of you. Mass communication has made it easier to keep in touch. I have not forgotten good times spent together. Recently I asked one of the kind sisters of the ward to compile a list for me of those who had signed my scriptures over the years. She found 355 signatures. I still have that set of scriptures with your names. I think of you every time I open them. I won’t give them up. The other day one of the missionaries saw them, picked them up and said, “How old are these things?” “About thirty years”, I replied.  He just shook his head and smiled. I’m sure he thinks it is time that I moved on and got some new ones. But I keep them because your faces pop into my mind when I see your “autograph” inside it’s pages, and I recall the conversations that we had.  A number of years ago my wife bought me new ones. When I opened them on that Christmas morning I know she was disappointed when I didn’t look excited.  I never use them because they have no memories in them. They have quietly sat on the self. Unused and unwanted.

Many of you have become parents. Some of your children may even be teenagers. It is a strange thing…time! It never stops…and it is eternal! Yet this life is measured in finite time. The closing of this earthly life will come to us all. So it was that I was pensively thinking of you, the youth of the stake, as I sat peacefully on a flight this week. And I thought to myself. Where are they now? How is their life going? Are they married and enjoying life? Do they have children and do they relish parenthood? Are they strong in the gospel or have they chosen a different path? Has their life turned out to be everything they ever wanted? A more personal question I had to ask was, “Do they know how much they have blessed my life?

So, I am taking the time, right now, when I can, to write you a message of appreciation. I don’t know if this message will reach you, but I am in hopes that it does. So to all you youth, “Thank you,” from the bottom of my heart. “Thank you”, for your kindness and goodness; your thoughtfulness and for your smiles. Words cannot express my joy in serving with and beside you. The youth conferences, the dances, the meetings, and the sports programs; I have enjoyed them all. Girl’s camps were always memorable. One of my favorite memories was the opportunity I had to do my “Cal Ripkin” record-breaking trip around the campfire and slapping all your outstretched hands. What a privilege that was for me! I owe you girls! But most of all, I have relished the private conversations we have had together. I learned much from them.

I am sure that for some of you, your dreams have not come true. Perhaps you have not found a partner to share your love with. Maybe children will not bless your earthly life. Heath and financial issues may keep you up at night. A broken marriage has surely come to some. There is plenty of pain and sorrow that this life has to offer. For some of you it is a frequent visitor. Still, happiness is to be found in this life. It is there amongst the trials. I am sure that many of you are enjoying happiness in its fullest. Life can be good! But for those of you that are suffering, I want to say that there is hope to be found in the gospel of Christ. True believers go through trials but the strength and comfort that come to those who follow the Savior is powerful and true. There is hope in the teachings of the Savior. There is great everyday counsel found in the words of the apostles and prophets. Their words can truly uplift and inspire you to unseen heights of joy.

For those who have left the path and want to return; come back. There is love and warmth to be found in the church of Christ. I have great hope in the gospel. I hope you find all the happiness promised to the children of God. I hope you still remember the teachings of your youth! I hope for you! I hope…this message finds its way to you! I hope you will always know that you are remembered! I hope!

 

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