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Youth paint roadside walls

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Even service can be plagued with obstacles, young members of the Church in the El Paso, Texas, area have learned.

They had planned to paint murals on streetside walls to beautify the city as a service project during their August youth conference. However, mix-ups with the city government foiled their advanced planning. They were able to clean up some roadside property as an alternative.

Approval was given for one mural to be painted the following week, and many of the youth jumped at the chance to return and help, said Linda King of the El Paso 13th Ward, El Paso Texas Mount Franklin Stake, an adult supervisor of the painting project.

Lead artist Christie Keime of the El Paso 13th Ward, had to adapt plans she had made to do several walls to fit on one 139-foot wall. The talented Coronado High School senior put about 15 hours into the planning.

The mural which she entitled "Visiones del Paso," depicted early settlers moving into the El Paso area. A big challenge was keeping the perspective as the wall ran downhill, but Christie solved it with a skyline and distant mountain range at the top of the street. The rest of the mural was of settlers, buildings and landscape.

She drew the outline of the mural on the wall in a paint-by-numbers fashion and then the other youth, using paint and equipment donated by the city, filled in the colors with brushes and rollers.

"I learned a lot of patience," Christie said after the mural was completed. "I learned to really trust in God.

Sister King said the youth who helped, representing several stakes, put in about 700 man-hours to apply 75 gallons of paint.

Gary Pratt of the El Paso 5th Ward, El Paso Texas Mount Franklin Stake, said the project was tiring — they could only work from 7 a.m. to about noon because of the blazing afternoon heat — but was also a lot of fun because of the association with other youth. "It wouldn't be fun doing it alone," he said, but as it turned out it gave he and the others a "real sense of accomplishment."

Sister King said the project resulted in lots of positive responses. They have already been asked if they would do more in helping change previously graffiti-covered walls into delightful works of art.