FHE: Potential

Conference Talk: For more information on this topic read "Mind the Gap," by Barbara Thompson, Ensign, Nov 2009, 118-20.

Thought: It's not just what you get out of active participation in [the Church] but what you can give and contribute as well.

(Barbara Thompson, "Mind the Gap," Ensign, Nov 2009, 118-20.)

Song: "I Am a Child of God," Children's Songbook, p. 2.

Scripture: For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

Object Lesson: Items needed: Two similar articles of clothing: one unused, but outdated or moth-eaten; the other well-worn but still valued.

Presentation: Show the two articles of clothing, pointing out the differences.

Suggested wording: Here was a once hightly-prized gift. It was prized so hightly that it was not placed in immediate use, but hidden away, waiting for the right occasion to use it. Now it is out of style (or ruined by moths).

But here is a second gift. It was well used and fully valued from the first. It is now worn, but the owner still finds a friendliness and warmth in it whenever he sees it.

Some lives are a little like the first item. God gives us our talents, but we often do not appreciate their true worth and put off using them until just the right occasion. Then, when it is too late it is found that what was held as precious is no longer valuable.

Let's shape our lives and our talents as they were intended to be used.

(adapted from Alber L. Zobell, Jr., Talks to See, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971], p.36.)

Story: In the summer of 1834, the Saints who had been driven out of Jackson County by the old settlers were living in Clay County. Many found shelter in barns or sheds or abandoned cabins, and were scraping along the best they could. They still hoped to return across the river to their homes. Governor Daniel Dunklin had promised to help them return if they could organize their own army to protect themselves.

In Kirtland, Ohio, where a large number of Saints still lived, Joseph Smith received a revelation that he should create a little army to aid the scattered Saints. Just over two hundred men agreed to serve. They planned to march a thousand miles to Missouri and help their brothers and sisters return to Jackson County, the place they called Zion.

George A. Smith felt honored when he was invited to travel with the militia that would be called Zion's Camp. At sixteen, he would be the youngest soldier to make the long march. George A., who was Joseph Smith's cousin, was even more thrilled when the Prophet invited him to sleep in the same tent and serve as Joseph's personal guard.

George A. was a big, awkward boy with poor eyesight. He wanted to serve the Prophet well, but he had very little confidence in himself. Comparing himself to Joseph, who was such a great leader and speaker, he didn't think he was very talented.

And in truth, anyone who had seen George A. at that time might have thought him a rather sorry sight. His parents had given up almost everything they owned to gather with the Saints to Ohio. They were left with little money to outfit their son for the march. George's mother made him a pair of pants out of striped mattress cloth and a backpack from checked apron fabric. His father gave him a new pair of boots and an old musket left over from the Revolutionary War.

George A. reported that after a few days of walking, his new boots had worn bloody blisters on his feet, so that every step he took was painful. He had also ripped his pants to shreds, and he had sat on his straw hat, smashing it into a shape like a bird's nest.

Besides comparing himself to the Prophet, George A. also compared himself to another of his cousins, Jesse Smith, who was also a member of the camp. Jesse was a little older, and he had more of the dash and personality of their older cousin Joseph. Still, George A. tried to make himself valuable in all the ways he could. He kept a careful record in his journal of all that happened. Because he spent his days with the Prophet, he knew most of what was going on.

George A. was also loyal to Joseph when other men turned against him. Times got very hard, and it's no wonder that some of the men became discouraged. They marched twenty-five to forty miles each day and then could hardly sleep during the hot, muggy nights. Mosquitoes and flies made life miserable, and food was in short supply.

One of the brethren, a man named Sylvester Smith, got tired of the conditions and complained bitterly to the Prophet. Sylvester was "strong-willed and sharp-tongued." His nasty attitude threatened to destroy the spirit of the entire group. Joseph told him and some other rebellious brethren that if they didn't repent and show more loyalty, serious trials would come on the camp that very night. The next morning, most of the pack horses were so lame that they could barely be led to water.

The Prophet asked all the men to humble themselves. He promised that if they would, the horses would be made well. By noon, all but one of the horses was ready to move on. Sylvester Smith's horse had died.

George A. watched all this and learned. Young as he was, he tried to do everything he could to support the Prophet.

As the camp reached Missouri, the situation became tense. Joseph learned that Governor Dunklin had changed his mind and had withdrawn his support. War might be ahead, and the outcome didn't look good. The Saints, even with Zion's Camp for support, would be greatly outnumbered.

The camp was spared from fighting any battles. But the long march ended in frustration. Attempts to buy the land in Jackson County or to work out some compromise failed.

Most of the members of Zion's Camp, though they were disappointed, accepted the word of the Lord. They began to organize for the march back to Ohio. But some were bitter. They accused Joseph Smith of leading them on a pointless, miserable trek. They claimed he was no prophet.

Joseph, humbled and disappointed himself, told the men that if they continued in their rebellion, he feared that a terrible fate would come upon the entire company. A few days later the members of Zion's Camp began to fall ill with cholera. Sixty-eight were stricken, and fourteen died.

Among the dead was Jesse Smith.

And so, it seemed, Zion's Camp had turned out to be a long, frustrating march that accomplished nothing except to kill a few of its members and drive a few more away from the Church.

But in the next few years, the value of the march began to be clear. Those who remained loyal, who learned leadership, who gained strength, became the leaders of the Church. Nine of the members of the first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and all of the members of the original Quorum of the Seventy were chosen from men who had made the march and stayed true. Brigham Young, who would later become the leader of the Church, said that he wouldn't trade all the wealth in his county for what he had learned from his experience with Zion's Camp.

And what about George A. Smith, the awkward boy who thought he should have died in place of his cousin Jesse? Less than five years later, at the age of twenty-one, he was ordained an apostle. He later served with Brigham Young as a member of the First Presidency of the Church. His experience in Zion's Camp prepared him for a lifetime of leadership. His only mistake had been to underestimate his potential greatness.

(Tom Hughes, Dean Hughes, Great Stories from Mormon History, [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1994].)

Activity: Play "Funny Face."

The players sit in a circle with a solemn expression. One player is "it." He suddenly bursts out laughing and as suddenly stops, wipes the smile from his face and tosses it to another who in turn bursts out laughing. This continues. Any player who laughs when they are not supposed to, drops out of the game. The last player in the game is the winner.

(Alma Heaton, The LDS Game Book, [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968], p. 103.)

Refreshment Banana Cream Dessert

  • 1 c. flour
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 c. nuts
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 (12-oz.) tub Cool Whip®, divided
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 to 3 bananas, sliced
  • 2 (3.4-oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
  • 3 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. banana extract
  • Chocolate shavings (optional)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine flour, sugar, and nuts. Cut in butter and press mixture into a 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Prepare the cream cheese layer by combining cream cheese, powdered sugar, 3 cups of the Cool Whip, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until well blended.

Spread cream cheese mixture on top of baked shortbread; top with 2 to 3 sliced bananas.

Prepare pudding layer by mixing pudding, milk, and banana extract on low speed for 2 minutes. Spread over sliced bananas. Cover with remaining 1 1/2 cups Cool Whip. If desired, sprinkle with milk chocolate shavings.

(Elaine Cannon, Five-Star Recipes from Well-Known Latter-day Saints, [Salt Lake City: Eagle Gate, 2002], p. 203.)

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