Saturday night I got to attend youth conference. I’m not currently a youth leader, but the stake young women presidency asked me to run a booth for game night. They asked me to focus on sharing positive religious content on social media through QR codes. I struggled a little with how to make that a game but finally landed on a little scavenger hunt for four QR coded pages around the gym. It was easy, but took a little commitment. I also asked the stake if we could have a youth conference hashtag and set up a photo booth, props, and the hashtag for the kids to use.
There were a lot of booths for game night. Each ward got to choose their game and there were some really fun games like pie eating, trash bag races, basketball hoop games, and Minute-to-Win-It interspersed with games like Meet the Prophets, Book of Mormon Scriptures Chase, Name that Hymn, Family History, and Missionary Prep.
Just before game night started, the stake leaders collected us leaders together and told us the rules. They said youth could do as many games as they wanted and stay at each game for as long as they wanted to. Each youth would be given a form with boxes. As the youth came to our games, we needed to mark a box with our specific colored pen. There were three different colored pens.
I got neon pink. So did the Elders right next to me doing the scripture chase game.
I was parked in the hallway by our ward’s game room—gaming. They had TVs and projectors set up with video games. Brother Jim Aronica’s marker was orange. It didn’t take me and Jim long to figure out what was going on. Hordes of kids went into the gaming room. I could hear him saying, you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like, but there’s a lot of games available if you’d like to try some other things.
My game became the perfect analogy and personal reminder. With the stake’s permission, I had multiple options for checking boxes. If they took a picture and posted with the stake hashtag, I could check a box. If they completed my scavenger hunt they could check a box.
Since kids could do games as often as they wanted, several posted several pics on different social media platforms and got checks for each one. But they hadn’t been told that the number of checked boxes mattered, so most of them didn’t care that much about checking their boxes.
My scavenger hunt required some commitment. They had to find the four pages (not hard) and return and report. None of the kids had QR code readers, so luckily I’d followed the prompting to make an extra set of the pages. After they found the four pages around the room, I showed them the clues at my booth. It took commitment but was super fast really.However, most of the kids I explained the game to never came back.
About an hour and a half into a three hour game night, the lights went out and thunder roared. A loud voice on the microphone said we were all dead (a little more eloquently than that.) Everyone moved to a single file line and were filed into a room. Leaders on the side watched as youth handed their form to kind bishopric and stake leaders in suits who judged and graded their forms. They assigned the form a letter, B, R, or G and the youth took their form to a stake young woman leader who stamped their form with Good, Better, or Best. Then the youth formed a single line again and exited the judgment hall.
Their reactions during judgment were diverse and interesting. Kids who had been in the same group were getting different stamps and wanting to know what the other stamp was. But the atmosphere was extraordinarily quiet with just curious whispers and communicative glances.
The Spirit World
Leaders joined the line of youth periodically and we walked through a contrived “hallway” of white sheets and white Christmas lights into the chapel overflow area. We walked past “Welcome, Home…” “my child” and saw our reflection in the mirror. We turned a little corner and walked into the arms of stake presidency, the patriarch, and other leaders right before a life-sized and gorgeous image of Jesus Christ.
The leaders in the chapel, all dressed in white, hugged us as we passed them towards chapel seats. While seated and waiting, we listened to members of the talented stake choir singing hymns. Glorious.
When everyone arrived from judgment, a speaker explained what happened and particulars of the plan of salvation’s death and judgment. She kept saying “Choices matter. Your choices matter.” We don’t know how long we have on this earth and every choice matters. We watched several impactful videos about choices and the Savior.
After a wonderful fireside, we exited the chapel released to return home. The life-sized Savior had been moved to our exit route. He was so beautiful there.
What an awesome opportunity to participate in that special moment. I’m glad I made the choice to stay when they asked for leaders to help instead of heading out immediately so I could finish a work project. I finished the work project at 11:57 pm, just in time. So it all worked out.
I loved having this experience right before Palm Sunday. I felt like my heart shifted a little to appreciate the Savior’s sacrifice a little more.
I thought about all of the people who died without hearing the name of Jesus Christ or the promise of His resurrection. I imagined some of their reactions were similar to the youth screaming when the lights when out. I felt so much appreciation for the Father’s plan of salvation that prepared a way for all of His children to hear the gospel message.
I also compared how I felt to the visible shake-up of some of the kids. I didn’t know exactly what would happen, but I knew something would happen and had a basic strategic assumption of what that would be so I actually looked forward to the revelation of that experience. Instead of fear or dread, I felt anticipation.
I thought of President Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the faithful awaiting the Savior’s arrival to the Spirit world after His crucifixion. I can’t even comprehend how they felt, how that anticipation felt.
As I pondered over these things which are written, the eyes of my understanding were opened, and the Spirit of the Lord rested upon me, and I saw the hosts of the dead, both small and great.
And there were gathered together in one place an innumerable company of the spirits of the just, who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality;
And who had offered sacrifice in the similitude of the great sacrifice of the Son of God, and had suffered tribulation in their Redeemer’s name.
All these had departed the mortal life, firm in the hope of a glorious resurrection, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
I beheld that they were filled with joy and gladness, and were rejoicing together because the day of their deliverance was at hand.
They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death.
Their sleeping dust was to be restored unto its perfect frame, bone to his bone, and the sinews and the flesh upon them, the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided, that they might receive a fullness of joy.
While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful;
And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance….
Their countenances shone, and the radiance from the presence of the Lord rested upon them, and they sang praises unto his holy name.
I know the Savior lives again and His atoning sacrifice enables me and you to live again!
On Palm Sunday, multitudes praised Jesus as He entered Jerusalem’s gates.
And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.
Most of those people turned from Him in the coming week. But as I apply this to myself and my worship, I read this as the multitude of believers that went before His birth, crucifixion and resurrection. I am one that followed those glorious events. I stand with those before, after, and during who proclaim, “Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb. Amen, Amen, and Amen,”
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.