Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 5: Lessons from flags

Day Five: A picture of [a] favorite memory.

I don't remember exactly when we started doing it (just that I was there), but throughout my teenage years the young men in my ward would get up early in the morning on various holidays and put up flags around the neighborhood.  It wasn't easy to drag myself out of bed--much less on a day when many would be sleeping in--but it was always worth it.

Everyone would show up at the workshop of our Scoutmaster, Wally.  There we would load a few trucks with the flags, rebar stakes, and driving hammers, then after a word of prayer, we'd all pile into the trucks and it was off to work.  When we had enough guys, I would often sit up front with a list of the homes that had ordered flags, and check them off as we went.  This was especially nice on the colder mornings, because I would hardly ever have to go outside and drive rebar into the hard ground.  But I also enjoyed unrolling flags and posting them.  With everyone helping, we would usually finish within half an hour or so. 

It was always nice to come home after that and see where flags had just been planted up and down my street.  Hardly anyone would have been awake yet; and upon reentering my quiet house, I too would fall back into bed for another while.  Throughout the day as we came and went, the flags were admired.

I had more fun taking down the flags in the evening.  We'd meet back up again before it got dark, and this time the work would move a lot quicker because it would take just one boy to remove a flag and its stake.  As the trucks went around, one of us would jump out when there was a flag to be retrieved, and sometimes there wouldn't be any of us on board because there were so many flags outside.  My favorite thing was when whatever truck I was riding in would get well ahead of me, and I would have to catch up.  With a flag waving proudly behind me in one hand, and a rebar stake in the other, I felt like a revolutionary running through those streets. 

I use this memory to represent all the little lessons I learned in the Young Men's and Scouting programs.  I talk often about youth conferences and other such big events, and they certainly deserve it for all the good they did me.  But the remaining ninety percent of the time, we weren't doing things like that.  We stayed in town, and sometimes wouldn't even leave our own neighborhood.  But these were some of the most important learning experiences of my life.  Our Young Men's president, Gordon, taught us that fun is "being where you're supposed to be, doing what you're supposed to be doing, and doing it the best that you can."  And that lesson stuck.  We learned to serve.  We learned to love the Gospel and each other.  We learned to learn and understand.  And the flags are only one of many examples of how we learned to work.  Much was expected of us, because our leaders knew our potential probably better than we did at that age.  We were given assignments and held accountable for carrying them out.  And you know what?  It was fun.  Not only did we learn to do these things, but we learned to love them, because we gained an understanding of the principles upon which they had been built.  I wouldn't be who I am without that.

And now I can look back and truly say all those early mornings contributed to one of my most favorite memories.


Nicholas Poole said...

True to the end my dear friend. I really enjoyed reading this it took me back to those days. I look back grateful and smile at those great men who helped mold us into what we are what we are going to become still.

Nathan said...

Amen! Thanks for your comment, Nick; it's always good to hear from you. :)

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