News Story

LDS Youth Conference Refines New Generation through Good Works

On rainy days, most youth stay home to watch movies, play video games, or browse the internet. But during last week's stormy days, an exceptional group of youth from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints challenged themselves by getting out of their comfort zones.

On July 23-25, the Church in Hong Kong held its annual youth conference at two different locations; with the Kong Kong and Kowloon "Stakes" (large geographic units of the Church) holding their events on Cheung Chau Island, and the New Territories and Tolo Harbor Stakes holding their activities at Lei Yue Mun. Even the Amber Alert storm warning didn't stop these 300 youth and their leaders from moving forward with the 3-day, 2-night event which was based on the 2015 Youth Theme, ""O Ye that Embark in the Service of God," a quote from one of the Church's books of scripture, "The Doctrine and Covenants."

Sky Tong, a youth participant from Kowloon City and one of the youth leaders who helped organize the conference, had prayed for good weather. Seeing an answer to his prayers, Tong said, "It took us more than half a year to prepare for this conference, so when it rained, we didn't want to just give up. It was a testimony-building experience to have our prayers answered. Although we needed to adjust some of our activities due to occasional rain, we were grateful for being able to carry out most of them smoothly. I learned that apart from having faith and hoping for the best, it is also important to be flexible and prepared with back-up plans."

Tong and other youth leaders mentioned how wonderful it felt to be able to create something from scratch and see it through to completion. They also acknowledged the need to acquire leadership, communication and organizational skills along the way. 

While the rest of the world is often concerned about what some call a "hidden youth" phenomenon, in which today's youth stay home playing video games, Latter-day Saint leaders find ways to help many of the youth come out of their shells by putting them to work in service to others.

Vincent Ho, Kowloon Stake Young Men's President, spoke about the youth leaders' service in the conference's activity, Tracking in the Dark, "They were very responsible. What impressed me the most was when they realized they were running short on time to set things up, they decided to skip dinner in order to get things ready."  

All event participants, young men and women ages 14 to 18 and their adult leaders, benefited from these activities. There was no time for the youth to play on their cell phones because each day was packed with meaningful games and spiritual lessons. 

"Due to a game called the 'Secret Angel,' many bore testimony of doing service," said Jaren Lau, the New Territories Stake Young Men's President. "The kind acts, whether great or small, were an opportunity for growth. It is important for the youth to see they have the ability to help others." 

Service is a huge part of Latter-day Saints' lives. The service rendered during the youth conference was part of a larger pattern. Prior to the conference, the four participating stakes in Hong Kong carried out various service projects to teach the new generation at a young age that serving God and fellowmen isn't just a one-time thing, but something they should and can do on a regular basis. Examples of previous service include picking up trash at community parks, visiting nursing homes with pre-packaged snack bags and cleaning elderly apartments. 

Lau saw a refinement in the youth as they did good works, "It was beautiful for me to observe the changes that happened in them as they improved their attitude. That's what we want. We want them to build confidence in themselves, believing they can do hard things by following the Savior's example with 'heart, might, mind and strength.'"

While each youth conference is tied to a different gospel theme, the purpose is always to help youth build faith in Jesus Christ, strengthen testimonies, develop talents, make new friends, and have fun with those who share similar beliefs and standards. No wonder it is always the most popular stake youth activity that every young man and young woman look forward to each year. 

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.