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Game Day finally arrived. After a month of planning the night had arrived. It turned out so much better than we could have ever imagined.

It all started when the deacons learned they were in charge of the combined activity in February. Heath is the Deacons Quorum Advisor and he encouraged the boys to come up with a fun activity that fit the theme of the month. February’s lessons all centered around The Plan of Salvation. So the deacons suggested a full sized live game of Life. Heath thought the idea was brilliant and we went from there.

Heath and I both had participated in live action Plan of Salvation activities as youth. We recounted what worked and what didn’t work. Both of us had memories of failing. Heath was pulled out when a leader realized he had figured out the game. In my experience, I was convinced to let go of the rod which automatically landed me in the Telestial Kingdom. More than anything, we wanted the youth to have a positive experience to look back on.

Maybe it was a Satanistic approach to make sure everyone made it to the Celestial Kingdom. I don’t regret the decision. I hope we showed the kids that while there are positive and negative experiences in life, if we live righteously we can make it to the Celestial Kingdom.

There weren’t many choices in the game. They could choose whether or not to serve a mission. Unlike real life, they were able to choose callings if they landed on those spaces. Those were pretty much the only choices. Everyone was given a honeymoon baby in case they didn’t have the opportunity for babies later in the game! One girl forgot about her baby. “I’m sending a kid on a mission? I didn’t ever have a kid!” I reminded her that she should have had one when she stopped at the marriage table. “Oh yeah! I must not be a very good mom since I forgot!”

At the baby stops they rolled a die to determine their baby. Rolling a 1 or 2 gave them a girl, a 3 or 4 gave them a boy, a 5 meant twins and they could choose gender, and a 6 meant a miscarriage or stillbirth.

I saw a girl lying on the floor. Her friend told me she had a miscarriage. They seemed disappointed her roll didn’t result in a baby. One kid hoped for a boy after having a couple of girls. Many kids were afraid they wouldn’t have space in their car for any more babies after having a couple sets of twins! I told them they would have to hang kids out the windows!

Two brothers both landed on the space where they were left at the altar. The next stop was a mandatory stop for a temple marriage. The older brother was happy that one took! The currency in the game was burden stickers and testimony stickers. One kid was surprised to acquire burdens from getting married. In the end, they were instructed to tear out the burden page from their book of life, and set it next to a picture of the Savior. The Bishop explained how they would have a friend in Judgment – the Savior. He also explained how the Savior will take away all the burdens through His atoning sacrifice.

While kids compared the numbers of burdens and testimonies during the game, in the end they learned that the burdens don’t matter. We arranged the book of life so that they kept the page where they could write their thoughts about how burdens can be strengthening.

We tried to solve for every problem we could possibly think of. What would the kids do while they waited for their turn? What would they do when they finished? The Young Men’s President was brilliant when he suggested we put the kids in the Young Women room to start with. Heath and I were going to have them sitting in the foyer listening to Life is a Football Game by Troy Dunn. We still aren’t familiar enough with our building to easily visualize it. They had fun listening to that youth talk.

At the end of their life they left the gym to hear from the Bishop. After he talked about the role of the Savior, he directed the kids to the stage/Celestial Kingdom. Pandora was playing my Mormon Tabernacle Choir station. The kids were able to quietly sit and ponder answers to the questions on their book of life. They had access to scriptures. Heath reported that kids were actually writing in their books! We were thrilled. We also secretly want to read what kids wrote but we realize their books are private.

I love the story I heard about the leader in the Celestial Kingdom. She said she could hear the kids playing in the gym and she could hear them as they approached the stage. She felt excited thinking, “Oh that person is coming!” Can you imagine what our ancestors must be thinking as they watch our progress on earth? What will that homecoming be like?

Heath felt inspired to ask the missionaries for help with the activity. They were, of course, happy to help. In our early planning stages he showed me a funny cartoon about the game of Life. We never could figure out where to use it. But that cartoon led us to make invitations. The missionaries have asked us as a ward to invite people to an activity or to church. We planned on invitations before we thought of the Ward Mission Plan.

That part of the activity was amazing. The invitations were passed out on Sunday with the suggestion that the youth invite their friends. Two boys accepted the invitation to come to the activity. Gavin invited one of them! After that activity they have many questions. One has accepted the invitation to come to church this Sunday.

The leaders that read scripts at the mandatory stops in the game said there was too much to read. I write too much? *wink* Apparently most of the scripts were significantly shortened. Except the missionaries read every word to the two visitors. One boy heard the script on serving a mission and enthusiastically agreed to serve when he was given the choice.

Things turned out so well and we recognize the Lord’s hand in that. In big ways as well as little ways. Just as I arrived with Gwen and Parker, we learned that 11 Year Old Scouts was canceled. At first we didn’t know what to do with Parker. Gwen was excited to deliver baby stickers! Then Heath couldn’t get his remote clicker to work to advance the power point he built for the spinner. Parker sat on the stage next to his dad’s laptop that was hooked up to a TV. When Heath signaled him, Parker pushed the spacebar to advance the spinner so the kids knew how many spaces to move.

There are so many fun stories I could share about watching the kids experience this game. They all really enjoyed it and I was impressed with how they really seemed to “get it.” They took each scenario more seriously than I expected, which was cool to see. Heath and I keep pointing out how inspired the whole activity seemed to be. It all started with an idea from the deacons. It was very cool. I’m glad I was able to be a part of it.

Gwen’s Activity Days leader reached out to me on Monday night hoping I could teach the girls about personal hygiene as well as fun hairstyles for tonight’s activity. Apparently my skills are in demand all over the place! I told her I couldn’t do it this week. I was a little busy. I’m committed for the first Wednesday in April. I have no idea how to be brilliant for this one. Especially when I swore I would never “teach” another braiding class again after the failure it was the last two times the Young Women asked me. Gwen has been told to not ever volunteer me again. Of course I’m still on the hook this time …