News Release

Wellington Youth Focus on Building Faith in Christ and Helping Others  

“When I learned about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ it filled a hole in my heart that I never knew was there”

Young people from across the Wellington region gathered at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Porirua meetinghouse on Sunday evening 21 March to hear inspiring words from members of the Pacific Area Presidency, their wives, and two young New Zealanders.  

Leading the meeting were members of the Pacific Area Presidency who came from Auckland to Wellington for this gathering of youth and young adults from three stakes (groups of congregations) ─ Wellington, Porirua and Upper Hutt.  

Elder Ian S. Ardern taught a powerful lesson when he held up a bag of potato chips and then slowly crushed it, breaking the chips inside. “People often look fine on the outside, but they can be crushed on the inside by comments from others,” he said. He invited the young people to commit to “make a positive comment to others or about others, once a day, on social media.  

He taught another lesson using a fishing lure and a rat trap and compared them to the traps and snares that can set us off the path of doing the right things. “These traps look very appealing from the outside but lead to great unhappiness on the inside. These are the fiery darts that are talked about in the scriptures.”  

He also said, “If we fall into one of these traps, there is no need to fear. There’s always a way out. It begins on bended knee. Jesus Christ paid the price for all humankind.”  

Sister Paula Ardern encouraged everyone to “stay on the covenant path by standing in holy places and stay aligned with the prophet.” She shared her experience about choosing not to go to a popular movie with offensive language. Don’t go places that offend the Spirit,” she urged.  

Gaining a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon was talked about by several speakers. Elder K. Brett Nattress, a member of the Area Presidency, said it very plainly: “I cannot read the Book of Mormon without receiving a confirming witness that it is true.”  

His words were reinforced by his wife, Sister Shawna Nattress, who shared an experience when she was very ill. “I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow, but I could read the Book of Mormon and it gave me great comfort. It’s my “Liahona,” as it guides and directs me each day.”  The Liahona, is a kind of spiritual compass described in the Book of Mormon, that gave direction based on faithfulness.  

Elder Nattress continued, “I am grateful for the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith…though he was hated and persecuted for saying he had a vision, yet it was true. He knew it and he knew that God knew it and he could not deny it. I stand with Joseph in my testimony. I know that he saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ in that sacred grove.”  

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita and his wife Sister Tazuko Yamashita also spoke to the young audience. Soon after joining the Church, she served as a full-time missionary when she was 24 years old and was worried that she would not find someone to marry when she finished her 18 months service. “I trusted the Lord’s direction to go on a mission and found my future husband, who was also a young convert to the Church.”    

Elder Yamashita talked about one of his favourite words in Japanese: “The word is susume, which means to go forward, having a positive, forward-looking attitude. This word has helped me to do what the Lord prompted me to do many times in my life.”  

He then looked up at his young audience and said emphatically to them, “Susume!”  

Awanuiārangi Morris, from Auckland, also spoke at the devotional. He told of his experiences as he was looking into the Church a few years ago.  

“My life was great but when I learned about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ it filled a hole in my heart that I never knew was there. I am so grateful for the joy that the gospel brings me in my life.”  

He made a decision to serve a mission and he is now Elder Morris, a highly enthusiastic missionary who is currently serving in the New Zealand Wellington Mission.  

“Now is the time, this is the place, we are the ones,” he told the young audience about the charge to share with others the truths and joy of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Local young Latter-day Saint, Kelsea Elkington, also spoke. She talked about her recent missionary experiences in Australia and New Zealand. “I was so happy to be serving in my own country, even during the lockdown,” she said.  

During her mission she had an experience that taught her the value of trusting her first impressions, when a troubled man appeared during a Church service and suddenly left. She had the strong impression that she and her companion should help him.  

“That day was a reminder of how important it is to follow our first impressions from the Spirit, and not only hear, but to hearken. I am so grateful that I hearkened and took action to help a person who was in desperate need.”  

After the meeting, several young people shared their thoughts. 

Ariana Taula, a 14 year-old from the Porirua 3rd Ward said, “I felt the Spirit strongly tonight. The inspiration I personally received in the meeting was that I need to come to Church every week and not be distracted by other things.”  

“I already had a desire to serve a mission and tonight that desire has been strengthened,” said 17 year-old Celestine Taula, a member of the Hataitai Ward. “I feel motivated to prepare myself more spiritually by saying daily prayers, fasting and reading my scriptures daily.”  

Wilford Roberts, also 17, is from Paraparaumu. He said, “I liked the part about what the fiery darts can be . . . that Satan makes temptations personal; he’s subtle and cunning. It means I need to be aware of him. I really need to read the scriptures daily in order to protect myself more fully.” 

Victor Misa is married with a new baby from the Hutt Valley Samoan Ward.

He said, “I was simply but powerfully reminded of the power and beautiful blessings that the Book of Mormon bring to my life and my family. There is power within that book that cannot be felt anywhere else, and I urge everyone to read it.”  

Kingston Miller from Upper Hutt Stake said, “I really enjoyed the devotional. It helped me to think more about Jesus Christ and what I can do to be more like Him.”  


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