Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Youth Conference helps with Restoration Project

    Last spring I was contacted by a lady by email that asked if her youth group could help this summer at the cemetery.  I am always in need of help so I agreed.  I was in nursing school so only brief thought was put into the email.  I sent her a list of my ongoing projects and told her that anything on the list or anything that comes to mind are fair game.  The date requested was July 21, 2012.  I was apprehensive of the date due to the intense heat of last summer, but I badly needed help after two years of nursing school and not much time to dedicate to the cemetery.
     Spring fell into summer and graduation from nursing school came and went.  As I began to work on the cemetery for the summer months, I emailed Simone again.  Thinking that she might have changed her mind, I braced for rejection.  I have been prepared to go it alone since many times I have heard promises of help and yet the help did not materialize.  Simone told me that the plans were still on and there would be 100 youth coming!  100?!  Really?!  Well, I did not have a children in a youth group so I could only picture tiny little boys running around.  Then she told me that the ages are 14-18 years old.  Well......I thought, if this materializes, it will be amazing, but my hopes were still not too high at this point.
    The morning of July 21st came and I prepared for the days work.  I prayed for cool weather for our morning.  The day before was 109 degrees.  My husband I drove out to the cemetery not knowing what to expect.  As we arrived, a few cars were arriving also.  Several teens bailed out the vehicles.  Not knowing they had pulled up to the Wilson's circle drive.  Mr. Wilson was on his porch.  He was standing there with hands on his hips just fuming.  I informed the drivers that the drive was Wilson's private property and to relocate the vehicles to a different location.  An attempt was made to apologize to Wilson but he just screamed at me to get off.
    After relocating vehicles we started to gather at the edge of the cemetery.  Standing amongst the infant graves was a small group of teens and a few adults.  I was pleased to have the 10 or so youth that had arrived.  As I was talking to them, more and more cars showed up with more and more teens coming out of them.  I could do nothing but stand in amazement with tears and smiles.  About 100 people did arrive.  These youth were from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The group that came to the cemetery were the young men and young women, ages 14-18, from the following congregations of the Oklahoma City South Stake: Mustang 1st and 2nd wards, Moore 1st and 2nd wards, Choctaw ward, Midwest City ward, Oklahoma City 2nd ward, and the Oklahoma City 6th branch (Spanish speaking).
    When the group was gathered, I was asked to tell a brief story of the cemetery.  A few questions were answered, teens were divided into groups by projects with one adult assigned per group. The list of "to do's" was handed out and the work began.  It was like an army was set to task.  The cemetery has probably never seen so many on it since the last burial in the 60's.
    A dozen 5 gallon orange buckets were handed out and the work began. One group aligned the 239 40 lb. blocks that George and I had set out last summer, then leveled them.  Another group numbered them, another affixed wire loops for flower holders.  Other groups removed saplings and tree roots, trimmed grass, cleaned up branches and debris and several other projects.  Discussion amongst the group took place regarding future projects.  Several hours of labor was completed and the group gathered again.  The group sang a beautiful song to me and we had prayer.  The youth all said good by and I could not thank them enough.  Tears again streamed down my dirty, sweaty face as I thought of the kind thing that they had just done for me.  God had blessed us with 80-94 degrees for the morning.  It seemed as they left the heat came on, and we saw temperatures of 105.
    I want to say THANK YOU again to each and every one of you from the church group that came out and blessed me with your hard work.  My ancestors would be proud of them, so am I.  If I could thank each and every one of them by name I would.
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My sincerest thanks,