News Release

Latter-day Saint Youth Conference in Samoa Draws Over 1,000

A total of 1,057 Samoan Mormon young men and women, ages 14-18, attended a five-day conference on the campus of LDS Church College Pesega, last week. Titled, “For the Strength of Youth” (FSY), the conference was the first ever to include youth from all 14 stakes on the island of Upolu.

They participated in scripture study groups, devotionals, religion classes, musical and dance performances, missionary preparation activities, dance etiquette instruction, games, and singing.  There were special speakers, a talent show, a musical concert and a testimony meeting.

Formed into groups of 30-35 for the entire conference, they created their own flags, cheers, and skits. They taught each other in small devotionals. They made new friends.

Each youth received a backpack, a conference handbook, a journal and a conference T-shirt (“FSY Samoa”). Conference leaders frequently encouraged them to record special and important experiences in their journals.

Meals were served under large canvas canopies erected for the occasion over the school’s outdoor tennis and basketball courts. As expected, they were a popular part of the program.

When asked what they enjoyed about the conference, many described a spiritual experience, a special class or devotional. Most also mentioned the opportunity to make new friends. Many told how their faith had been strengthened.

“This is a one-time event and I want to make some good memories,” said Ammon Arp from the Pesega 5th Ward (congregation).

“I came to change my life in a good way,” said 17 year old Kayanno Lesa from the Lalomanu Ward.  “The experience I had was something I never expected...and I’m grateful for it.”

SeritaTaupau from Pesega 2nd Ward said, “The greatest thing is getting to know people from other villages and learning more about God.”

Her new friend, Faafetai Tuimageve, 15, from the Tulaele 1st Ward said, “I appreciated talking about problems with friends and that if we do something wrong we need to repent and say we’re sorry.”

Valina Leota, 16, from Navu 1st Ward, shared her feelings during the conference.   “It makes me happy!” she said, “I like being with the other girls. They’re like sisters to me now.  It’s a blessing for me to teach and prepare a lesson.  Today I did that.  I shared my experiences about an eternal family.”

When the teens began arriving at 7:00 am on Monday morning [April 7] they were greeted by colourful signs, festive music, and 202 young adult counsellors who welcomed them with smiles and open arms.

The counsellors acted as greeters, manned the registration tables (each youth received a photo identification badge), checked in luggage for later delivery to the correct sleeping area, and directed the youth to the first of the day’s events.

Some counsellors responded to the lively music, by clapping, cheering, jumping up and down, and dancing as the youth arrived.  “All Right!  All Right! Allrightallrightallright. FSY Samoa!” was a popular cheer.

One of the counsellors, Asofai Faiupu, from Faleasiu-uta Branch, said,  “I love hearing the youth.  They have strong testimonies and that strengthens mine,” she said.

Crystal Soloai is one of nine counsellors who travelled from Australia to serve at the conference. “I came to Samoa specifically for the youth and to support the FSY Conference,” she said. “I love serving others and working with youth.”

Some of the young men were assigned to sleep under wall-less canopy tents erected over the outdoor tennis and basketball courts. (The traditional Samoan house has no walls so the experience would not be something new to most of them.) Unfortunately, on the first night, a powerful rain and windstorm struck and drenched them, their clothes and their bedding. (Samoan houses have drop-down blinds to keep out the rain – the tents did not.)

When conference leaders asked the them if they were discouraged and wanted to return home they unanimously responded, “No! We want to stay.”

After commenting on the destruction of the storm, fourteen-year-old Ammon Arp added, “…but it was also fun, because everyone was into the adventure, everyone was working together to fix things up, to help each other.”

During subsequent days young men commented that the storm was an obstacle to overcome, a trial to surmount, and an experience to build their testimonies.

On Tuesday, nearly 60 specially-invited instructors, including stake presidents, bishops, other church leaders, and senior couple missionaries, taught classes on a variety of topics. Each company was assigned to attend four different classes, in rotation. Subjects ranged from how to prepare for a mission to learning to recognize the promptings of the Spirit.

Heat and fatigue began to take a toll on Thursday evening with some youth falling ill. The conference organizers decided to cancel the dance scheduled for Friday night (it was going to be a hot and humid evening) and end the conference after dinner. The announcement was made Friday morning to the disappointed group.

At the testimony meeting prior to dinner the youth thanked the leaders for the conference, testified that their faith had been strengthened and that they would never forget the wonderful experiences they had had.

Elder Meliula M. Fata, an Area Seventy, was the concluding speaker at the meeting. When he thanked the conference organizers, Brother Viiga and Sister Lupe Fuimaono; the young adults who had volunteered as conference counsellors; and all others who donated time and effort for the conference, the youth applauded and cheered enthusiastically.

Elder Fata then talked about the necessity of making sacrifices to achieve good things in life. His daughter was a track athlete in Samoa in 1989. After seeing how well she performed in a meet in Fiji, he challenged her to prepare for the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. He made a poster for her room with these words:  “No train, no pain, no gain, no Spain in 1992.” He compared that experience and her preparations to the lives of the youth and taught that it will often be through sacrifice, hard work, pain and trials, that they will learn their most important lessons and make the greatest and best changes in their lives.

At the conference’s end, Viiga Fuimaono, In-Area Coordinator and Session-Director, said, “An overwhelming experience for me was the faith of these kids and what they taught me. They trusted in the Lord. My reward was seeing them so happy.”  He added, “We’re really only instruments in the Lord’s hands, to give what is needed.”

Mormon Newsroom states: “Teenage members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all parts of the world use school vacation time to join in educational workshops, cultural presentations, service activities, pioneer treks, dance festivals and spiritual discussions. At these summer conferences, young men and young women connect to learn more about each other and the beliefs they share. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides a comprehensive program for youth through its Young Men and Young Women organizations.”

Read more about these kinds of activities for youth at the global edition of Mormon Newsroom.

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