On July 14, four students in the Rexburg YSA 101st ward went to the juvenile correction center in St. Anthony to help run the services for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Two students administered the sacrament to the volunteers and two gave talks. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, with only six volunteers being there that day.
Shortly after sacrament meeting, the youth inmates came filing in for Sunday School. There were 40 to 45 attendees. Of those, four are going home this week.
“They started off with sharing little good-bye testimonies,” said Janessa Cunningham, a senior studying exercise physiology. “The last girl that went, she wrote four pages worth of words, and it was really cool to see. You could just tell how much she had grown.”
The first half of Sunday School was singing time. The volunteers let each of the youth that were going home and the youth that have birthdays this week choose a song. They chose songs like “2,000 Stripling Warriors,” “Gethsemane,” “A Child’s Prayer” and “As Sisters in Zion.”
Skylar Waite, a sophomore studying accounting, said, “I thought it was really nice to see how enthusiastic the kids were to sit down and sing hymns together.”
The youth took part in the lesson the students had prepared, and many amens were pronounced. Several volunteers had the object lesson while students read the scriptures aloud.
There were youth of various religious backgrounds there. When there were prayers, some would do the Catholic cross, but everyone bowed their heads.
“It was different,” said Lucas Moreira, a sophomore studying computer information technology “It was not like a church lesson, especially when they clapped instead of saying amen.”
The youth clapped at the end of the lesson, they clapped for Cunningham when she said she was graduating.
Waite said he loved going because “it’s a great opportunity to get outside of yourself.”
Moreira said his favorite part “was seeing all the kids, how even though they had been through some pretty bad stuff in their lives, they still want to change and be better and that they are … changing.”
Cunningham said her testimony of the Atonement was strengthened.
“I was talking to one girl and it was her second time being there,” Cunningham said. “Just because you mess up once doesn’t mean you’re done for. The Gospel is a gospel of 1,001 chances.”
Even though it was a church experience most BYU-I students haven’t undergone, “you could still feel the Spirit there,” Cunningham said.
All the students that volunteered said they would recommend going to anyone.