News Release

Ipoh District Youth/YSA Learn to Visualize in order to then Realize Their Futures

A more perfect place could not be found for the Youth and Young Single Adult (YSA)

Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of the Ipoh District in Malaysia.

The setting was a breathtaking combination of jungle and river views with comfortable meeting

and sleeping houses. Kem Intan Suraya Park was the destination when all met in Ipoh on Thursday

morning to head to base camp.

Youth from 14 - 18 years of age and Young Single Adults from 18- 30 years of age came from

Branches in Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Sitiawan, Butterworth and Penang. Returned

missionaries and prospective missionaries came. Two siblings from a refugee family came. A

20 year old investigator attended, and asked to be baptized at the end of the conference. Two

non-members attended and were impressed and later expressed an interest in learning more

about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Around 40 people were registered for the Conference. They

were asked to open their minds and their hearts so that they could learn what Heavenly Father

wanted them to learn while there. Presiding at the Conference was District President and

Sister LeBlanc from Penang.

Unique to the Church members in Malaysia, are cultural challenges involving the small number

of church members, the size of branches in the Districts, and the diversity brought by three

languages spoken. Bravely acknowledging these facts, the leaders pressed forward to

encourage attendance and involvement in the three day event. One young woman was the only

one to come from the Johor Bahru area. The first day she felt alone, but came to realize that in

attendance at the Conference were others who shared her same beliefs. The experience

became sweet to her, as she made friends, felt accepted, and strengthened her testimony of the

Savior’s love for her. She was not alone. This was the third youth conference for a young man

from Ipoh. Leaders had heard him speak only Chinese. This time was different. At the closing

testimony meeting, he offered a simple, short, but strong testimony of the Savior in English so

all could understand him. One leader commented that witnessing the three day growth in the

testimonies of the Youth and Young Single Adults, caused her own testimony to enlarge. She

was more grateful than ever before for the Savior in her life and for the tender mercies that were

given to those who participated in the Conference.

Not new to those in attendance was the theme for the Conference, as it is this year’s Mutual

Theme, “Press Forward with a Steadfastness in Christ.” In advance, activities were carefully

and prayerfully planned with three objectives: 1. Increase testimony of the Savior and become

steadfast in following Christ. 2. Plan your own future by identifying what you want and outlining

how to get there. 3. Act on what you believe. You are not alone. The Savior will strengthen and

assist you. He loves all His children. The organizing force and inspiration for the Conference

was Emily Wong, a Young Single Adult from Ipoh, whose immense talents serve the Church both

professionally and personally.

The Conference began with several ice-breaking activities. A “snowball” fight began in earnest,

after everyone wrote 10 things about themselves on a piece of white paper, wadded them into

“snowballs” and threw them at one another! (It does not snow in Malaysia.) Then, each person

read a “snowball” and the person who authored it confessed if the guesses were not accurate.

This continued until all had been introduced.

Team building was next, with different stations involving ping pong balls and working together to

meet certain criteria. It was hard, to flip the cup over, to roll a coin, to throw a ball into a cup.

Patience was taught, as the teams realized that it was not about “me” as much as it was about

“we.” Winning was not the objective. They were to complete the tasks in less than 15 minutes,

but not compete with the other teams.

The first of several meaningful and pertinent workshops was “Launch Your Future,” presented

by Elder Benson. He emphasized the importance of developing a vision of what is possible

when goals, sacrifice and hard work are combined into a life plan. This helped the youth “see”

themselves in future roles as students, missionaries, parents, and leaders in the Church.

Church and scholarship funds are available for Malaysian students. Upon the completion of their

educations, they then return to build up the kingdom of God in Malaysia. Short term sacrifice

may be required to serve a mission, or attend an institute of higher learning, but the long term

dividends will be worth that early effort.

Imbedded in each activity were metaphors for life. Four teams competed in “The Game of Life.”

This lively and fun activity was enjoyed by all as they worked together to determine both winning

strategies and recovery strategies. When a turn gave a challenge or a trial instead of a

blessing, cries of “It’s not fair” were common. They were taught that life is not always “fair,” but

it is possible to succeed.

In the Jurassic Park game, each team had to find a flashlight before being “attacked” by the

raptors who wore purple glow sticks. The lessons learned were to look up, as the prophet,

President Thomas S. Monson advises, to have a plan in advance of the challenge, and to stay

focused when afraid or lost.

Mandarin and Malay scripture references were distributed at Friday morning’s devotional.

Groups teamed up to read the scripture and act it out, helping those who knew only English.

Simple props were allowed, so markers, paper and tape were handed out. Scripture stories

like Samuel the Lamanite and Nephi acquiring the brass plates, were creatively depicted.

Later that evening, the YSA group met in a dating and marriage workshop, conducted by Elder

and Sister Kane. It focused on learning skills and attitudes that are beneficial to the dating

years. Sister Benson spent the time with the Youth, sharing her faith promoting presentation

about Lehi’s Trail. She has traveled along the trail described in 1 Nephi Chapters 16 - 18.

The jungle trek was especially adventurous the next day, since the rain had saturated the

ground and moistened all the leaves. The group faced challenges like dense foliage, slippery

slopes, intense heat, clinging leeches, pesky mosquitos, and muddy trails. The participants

knew neither the destination nor the length of the hike but they were appreciative of their

machete-wielding guide! After two and a half hours, they reached the damn on the river, and

found out the objective was actually to help each other and to endure to the end, as none of us

knows when our life’s journey will end. It was a wonderful experience for these young adults

because they bonded, and learned to put aside cultural differences in their Chinese, Malay and

Indian heritages.

The raft building, carrying and floating activity taught life lessons in listening, teamwork, water

confidence, and most importantly, reliance upon the Savior. They were taught to build a raft

from inner tubes, wooden planks, and PVC pipe. After construction, all received instruction on

floating in the water. It was touching to see many of the youth who had never before been

swimming take on the challenge of finding comfort in the water. It required courage to trust the

life jacket and to lay back with ears submerged. Finally, rafts were ported over land to the

launch site and launched. Paddling began in earnest and the floating race was on. The point

was made that members of the Church need to stick together and move forward as one. They

should rely upon one another and remember that the Savior will keep them afloat through it all.

A favorite among the attendees was the “Communication and Relationships” workshop

presented by President Curtis of the Ipoh District Presidency. The Youth learned the importance

of relating in a positive and healthy way. Boundaries and expectations were presented, as well

as encouragement to “extend” themselves as they interact and get acquainted. The day

culminated in a dance, providing all with the opportunity to practice their newly acquired

communication skills that will serve them well in life.

Before the testimony meeting, Ensign and Liahona Church magazines were set out. All were

asked to consider what they want from their lives, what the Savior would want of them, and what

they want to become. To reinforce the idea of establishing a vision for their futures, they were

given the opportunity to create a collage with pictures, words and commitments about their life

dreams. They began enthusiastically to build their collages showing temples, missionaries,

studies and employment. Completion dates were written. They were challenged to display their

collages at home, so they could see them daily, as a reminder and a renewal of commitment to

those wise choices which would help them eventually realize their dreams.

The culminating testimony meeting on Saturday was a highlight. Each person bore testimony.

Several mentioned the challenges of living in a part member family, and being so grateful for the

gospel in their lives. A 19 year old young man said he was looking forward to planning his

future more wisely now. A 15 year old said he learned abut the meaning and aim of pressing

forward. A 20 year old said he learned a lot from the teamwork exercises. A 14 year old bore

testimony that Heavenly Father is always watching and guiding us. A 20 year old said she loves

being a member of the Church, that it helps her become a better person and that she may yet

become a missionary. She urged all to trust in the Lord. A convert of two years said the Book

of Mormon was the best medicine for our sorrows and afflictions, and that the gospel brightens

the future.

Upon evaluation of the conference, it was decided that everyone who came was blessed for

their attendance. The love of Christ was evidenced by the presence of the Holy Ghost in the

lessons taught, lessons learned, and love shared. Leaders expect attendance to soar for next


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