Book of Mormon-thon
Book of Mormonthen, where we read the B of M in 24 hours.
Book of Mormonthon
As done by the Alum Rock Ward, San Jose California East Stake, August 16-17, 1996.
WARNING: This took a lot of preparation time!
1. Announced both in YM & YW and over the pulpit for a couple of months in advance. Any time any of the organizers talked about it (i.e., to youth, friends, parents of youth) we used positive words like “cool”, “great spiritual experience”, “exciting”. We didn’t use the word
“marathon” because it seemed to imply a loonngg time involved. We didn’t want anyone discouraged before they began.
2. We set up in the cultural hall. Using the soft Relief Society chairs, we had everyone sit in a circle. Portable dividers were placed, two sort of on each side. Everyone could see the stage and the spotlight in the overflow could shine through the circle onto the stage.
3. The Sunday before, we had a brief parents and youth meeting to set the ground rules. No electronics (walkmans, beepers), no sleeping bags. They could bring pillows. The parents signed permission slips, including phone numbers where they could be reached at all times (if anyone acted up we weren’t keeping them!). Brother Hunter explained that this was like a mission. They shouldn’t have any distractions or responsibilities outside of the activity. Anyone not staying for the entire time (we had 3 come and go.) had to have their parents note that on their permission slips.
4. At the door, we handed out copies of the Book of Mormon and survival kits (lunch bags with a Tootsie Pop, a couple other pieces of candy, a colored pencil for marking, toothpicks taped to index cards marked “to keep your eyes open” – just fun stuff).
5. At the were a couple of rolling cork boards with Book of Mormon pictures pinned on them. One blocked off the way to the kitchen so the youth would naturally go into the cultural hall and not wander.
6. As they arrived there was a tape of church instrumental music playing.
7. The rules were gone over one more time. There was a “potty pass” a purple cut-out of a toilet seat) that only one person could use at a time. No talking.
8. After a kneeling prayer, we read the 1st chapter of Nephi in unison. Then we took turns reading a page. That seemed too long and after everyone had a turn we switched to reading columns.
9. There was a completion chart on the wall (tall enough to need a ladder to reach the top) which we filled in book by book. On it was also the meal breaks and the approximate time we should be at each book. We were DRIVEN to adhere to our timetable. When we were behind even 20 minutes we put on the tapes and used the high speed (need to find a player with this feature) to catch up. The player we used was quite small but worked fine set up in front of a microphone.
10. Sometimes we played church music in the background as we read. That added to the spirit (even though sometimes it was hard to read and have the words of the hymns going through my head)..
11. No matter who was reading, when we read, “And it came to pass” or “behold” we said it in unison, then the reader continued. As time wore on we added “wo” and “yea”. Sometimes only one person would say it because we were zonked, but it kept us on track.
12. We stood up and read, walked around the gym and read. Eventually most people were lying on the floor in the middle of the circle. Some brought blankets and sleeping bags, even though we had asked them not to in order to prevent snuggling up and falling asleep. Oh well.
13. We tolerated some talking. Peer pressure kept it down, plus a gentle sshh! Or hey, let’s listen to the tape. When we ate the noise was the greatest.
14. FOOD: An Essential Ingredient.
3 p.m. – Snack: grapes, apples, crackers, cheese, carrots, celery, dip
6 p.m. – Dinner: baked potatoes, baked chicken, lots of rolls, salad
9 p.m. – Snack: banana splits, cookies
Midnight Buffet: English muffin pizzas, brownies, hot chocolate
Wee Hours of the Morning: trail mix, cookies, mini candy bars, leftover crackers, ice cream
7 a.m. – Breakfast: French toast, melon, yogurt, o.j., (cooked by the bishopric)
10 a.m. – Snack: fruit roll-ups, granola bars
Noon – Lunch: sandwiches (make own), chips, leftovers
Parents cooked the chicken. An extra adult came to help put together the little pizzas. Most of the preparation was done in advance and set out by the adult women participants. For about 30 people (24 youth plus adults) I spent about $200. The biggest surprise was how little everyone ate for breakfast (too much junk in the night???). We ate at tables set up along the side of the gym, with serving tables against the wall.
15. Now to explain why the women were doing the food. Brother Wright handled queuing up the tapes when we switched over from reading aloud, the “actors” who came to read from the stage, and playing the music tapes. Brother Hunter led the group from one way of reading (columns to verses to tapes and back). He sat behind and to the side of one girl
who was not a good reader and coached her the entire time so that she had a wonderful experience and is no longer afraid to read in public. The food was easy.
16. The “actors” read their addresses and if there was narrative, Brother Wright read that from behind a curtain on the stage. There was Nephi (2nd Nephi), King Benjamin, Alma’s address to his sons, Samuel the Lamanite, Christ in 3rd Nephi, and Moroni. All of them came in costume (I think a santa beard was used by several). We applauded them when they finished, except Christ because most people were asleep. Moroni jumped off the stage and nudged sleepers as he talked.
17. On sleeping: We encouraged people to stay awake. Once they were out we left them
alone mostly. Brother Hunter and Brother Wright and two or three youth were the only
ones to make it the entire 24 hours. It was very difficult to stay awake, even with the
desire to do so.
18. We finished right on time. Other wards we talked to finished in up to 30 hours. NO WAY did we want to stay an extra minute!!! We read the final chapter of Moroni in unison, cheered, then had a kneeling prayer. Our hope was that they would write their testimony in the front of the copy we gave them and then give it away or leave it for us to give to the missionaries.
19. Clean up: Too exhausted, arranged for someone to come who is fresh to take care of putting up chairs, sweeping, tiding up the food.
20. The Sunday before we had class lessons on an overview of the Book of Mormon, it’s translation, what plated are involved. The Sunday after we had a Book of Mormon Sacrament Meeting, including testimonies of several youth about their experience.
This is a wonderful spiritual experience. About the 17th hour it doesn’t seem like it is.
Just keep going.