Monday, December 3, 2018

Our New LDS Youth Programs (Part 1)



by: RB Mac




Yesterday I had an amazing experience.  

I was invited to do a presentation at Ellington Joint Reserve Base. Its a multipurpose base in Houston Texas that serves NASA, the Coast Guard and acts as a military base for reserve units of each branch. The entire experience was amazingly impressive.

About twenty minutes before I was scheduled to arrive, I got a text from a Petty Officer in the unit I was going to visit.
Petty Officer: “Sir, just wanted to confirm your arrival time?” 
I answered: “I’ll be there a bit early in about five minutes”
Petty Officer: “That’s fantastic, the guards at the security gate are expecting you and have directions for you to our building. This is my cell, please let me know if there are any issues”

I got to the security gate, presented my ID. The guard said they were expecting me and handed me a customized map of where I was to go. 

The map guided me perfectly to the building and as I was getting out of my car was greeted by the Petty Officer and a Seaman. The seaman immediately asked to carry my bag and then politely took it from me.  There was no option, he was going to carry my bag.  I had a few more things in my truck for the presentation and in about two minutes four very fit, very well-behaved gentlemen were carrying the contents of my truck into the presentation room. I got to the front door of the building and immediately I was greeted by another sailor who opened the door for me, “good afternoon sir my name is seaman Yadul, welcome to Ellington we are all looking forward to your presentation”.  

Once to the room the four sailors immediately started to setup my presentation.  I did not give them instructions and if they had a question they asked, but for the most part they looked at what I had brought with me, accessed the items and set them up just as I would have. I was absolutely shocked. I have done hundreds of presentations all over the world, this level of competency and professionalism was a first.

Just as we were finishing setup the Chief walked in, introduced himself, thanked me for coming and explained that in about an hour Airforce One was landing to take the body of President Bush 41 to Washington DC for the Funeral. He then said “Sir, with your permission I would like to interrupt the presentation to take the entire unit out to the landing deck to see Airforce One land and pay our respects, if you would like we would love you to join us.” 

Do I want to stand on a runway while Airforce one lands and then see them prep the plane for the late president and his family?  YA I do!

Just then the unit of about thirty people filed into the room from lunch, everyone introduced themselves and welcomed me.  The Petty Officer stood up, the room immediately went silent. He walked to the front of the room and introduced me to the unit.  I started what was a rather technical presentation.  About thirty minutes latter the Chief walked in, waited for a natural break in my speech, then said it was time for Airforce One to land.  Without instruction and in almost perfect order the unit emptied the room, walked down the hallway, out the building, over to a hanger, through the hanger, out the big door and onto the runway.  There about three hundred yards in front of me Airforce one landed.  I could feel the wind the landing made, it was awesome! It then taxied around us and parked about five hundred yards away next to a long line of black suburban’s, buses and a hearse.  The unit was at ease (no president in the plane) but they were near silent talking in whispers.  None of them were old enough to have even been alive when Bush 41 was president, but I heard several of them say “I read this about him” or “do you know ___ about him”. You could feel the level of respect they had for Bush 41.  It was actually very touching.


We stayed there for about thirty minutes then the Chief took a phone call and announced that Airforce One would not leave until tomorrow. Without even being asked the unit stood at attention for a few moments and then walked back to the presentation room.  I finished the presentation in a few hours and I have to say it was the most interactive presentation I have given in a long time.  I was amazed by the number of good questions and the attentiveness of the class.  

You may be questioning the comment I just made about none of the unit being alive when Bush 41 was president. Surly one of them is older than 26?

Actually, one two were older than sixteen. Except for the guard at the gate not a single person I had meet in the unit that day was older than seventeen. The unit was the Houston Division of the United States Navy Sea Cadets Core (USNSCC).  It’s entirely youth lead. 

The rest of the day was just as impressive. After my presentation each member of the unit thanked me, shook my hand and most of them asked sincere, probing questions about the presentation. This took almost an hour. While there were many conversations going on in the room behavior was professional yet energetic. There were no fights, no sarcasm, everyone complemented each other. They were an absolute team.

I then saw what I guess was a twelve-year-old walk by me on the way out of the presentation room and say to himself that the room could really be vacuumed. He then went and found a vacuum and vacuumed the room, having never been asked to do it.  from the corner of the room one of the older cadets was watching this and locked eyes with this younger cadet and simply signified his approval with a nod.

I was in total awe!

They loaded my truck for me, shook my hand again and we said our goodbyes.
The entire drive home all I could do was contrasted Wednesday night Mutual at church with this.

Now I know why the church is retooling the youth programs, why BSA is really out of the picture.

I hope, really hope that whatever Salt Lake has planned for us they can take our youth to the level of the kids in this program.  Especially in regards to developing leadership in our LDS youth.

So, Salt Lake if you are reading this you might want to reach out to USNSCC HQ because whatever they are doing really works.  If we can combine the power of our youths faith with the maturity, energy, teamwork and wisdom these USNSCC kids have the devil himself would run for fear! 

Stay tuned for Part two: What the Adults had to say. 



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