News Release

Asia's Vibrant Youth Shine at 'For the Strength of Youth (FSY)' Conferences

Held in Indonesia, Mongolia, Hong Kong and Taiwan

(For non-Muslim use only)

This summer, there was an abundance of activity across Asia as nearly 1400 youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attended For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences in four different countries.  

The five-day conferences were held for the first time in Indonesia and Mongolia and for the second time in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The experience was not only beneficial to the youth participants, ages 14-18, but also to the 230 Young Single Adults (YSAs), ages 20-31, who served as their leaders.

“The future of the Church in Asia rests with the sustained faithfulness of our young people,” said Elder David P. Homer of the Asia Area Presidency who oversees FSY for the area. “Participating in FSY is a great opportunity for them to feel the spirit and strengthen their faith. FSY is one of the most impactful things we can do for our young people—both youth who attend and YSAs who lead are blessed.”

 

The FSY program includes a balance of spiritual, social, physical, intellectual and service opportunities achieved through classes, devotionals and activities to help the youth deepen their spiritual understanding, develop friendships and draw closer to Jesus Christ.

        For their venture to FSY in Indonesia, the three da Silva sisters Ariza, Asiza, and Azeni ages, 18, 17 and 15 from Timor Leste experienced a number of firsts—their first trip outside of Timor Leste, their first time on an airplane and their first time meeting other youth who are members of the Church—they are the only youth Church members in Timor Leste.

“It was so exciting to travel all the way from Timor Leste to Indonesia with my sisters,” Azeni, the youngest of the three, shared exuberantly. “What I loved most about FSY was the chance to meet other Church members and make new friends from Indonesia. Studying with the other youth at FSY and sharing testimonies and experiences helped me get a deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I learned so much from my friends, counselors and advisors. It really strengthened my faith.”

  

  

Preparation for each FSY conference begins 14 months prior to the conference date. YSA leaders are specially selected, called and trained over a nine-month period leading up to the conference.

“This is the genius of FSY—to have ages 20-31 YSAs serving as the counselors,” stated Elder Milton Shipp, a full-time FSY senior missionary serving with his wife, Sister Heidi Shipp. The Shipps oversee supervising the Asia Area FSY conferences, including training for the YSAs. “Not only are the YSAs able to easily relate to and inspire the youth, but the training and sacrifice they experience helps develop their organizational and leadership skills and accelerates their own personal growth.”   

The Mongolian conference was held at the Nairamdal International Children's Complex 13 miles from Ulaanbaatar in the lovely Bayangol Valley. Nairamdal means “friendship” in Mongolian. The crisp mountain air and blue skies served as an inspiring setting for the nearly 400 youth whose lasting friendships will memorialize their experience at the camp.

“The youth across Mongolia have stayed in contact with each other even though the conference is over,” said Misheel Enkhtaiwan who along with his wife, Anartas Sanatkhan, served as the session-directing couple, responsible for overseeing the Mongolia FSY program. “They video chat in their groups and continue studying together. This was one of the goals for FSY—to sustain the friendships and goals established.” 

He continued, “We have been contacted by Church leaders from all over Mongolia who are amazed at the excitement and enthusiasm they see as their youth have returned from FSY. We’re so pleased to hear that ‘the youth are on fire’ with a desire to serve and contribute.” 

        
  

  

This year’s conference theme was based on a verse from the Bible, John 14:15: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

“I didn’t know what to expect from FSY, and my mother was concerned about what I would be experiencing at the conference,” said Renee Esther Albino, age 18 from Hong Kong, a new member of the Church as of March and the only member in her family. “At the musical rehearsal, as we sang primary songs and then the theme song, ‘If We Love Him,’ I could not stop the tears. I experienced so much growth from attending FSY. I’m even more inspired now to serve the Lord by helping others every day.”  

Marisa Yoke-Yan Khong, one of the Hong Kong coordinators, observed the growth experienced throughout the week by each of the groups, including Albino’s.  

“The first day, we assigned a gospel question for each of the groups to study and prepare to teach on the last two days. Each day, the FSY activities increased in depth and substance. I was so impressed with the powerful teaching moments that occurred by the end of the week,” she reflected. “What took me by surprise was that as I went through the exercises along with the youth, my own conviction was strengthened and my resolve to be steadfast in spiritual pursuits resulted in a new awakening for myself. It reminded me of the growth I experienced as a missionary in New York City.”

  

  

Taiwan held their conference at Asia University in Taichung due to its central location and ideal setting. Steve Shih-Ning Yang, former stake president of the Kaohsiung West Stake and his wife Helene served as the session-directing couple.

“FSY is much more comprehensive than what the Church typically does for a youth conference. Since this is Taiwan’s second FSY, we wanted to be creative and build on the first conference for those who have previously attended,” Yang shared. “We designed the teaching segments to be more experiential based, which made it more engaging and real for the youth. My wife and I showed pictures of our life, including when we were the age of the youth. They could see we were just like them.”

Serving a mission for the Church is a big question in the minds of many of the youth. During the evening of day three, each of the youth in Taiwan opened a “mission call” letter from their stake president, which was actually a call to prepare to serve. The next morning in the full group of 600 youth, the counselors—the majority of whom had served missions—came marching in dressed like missionaries and singing “Called to Serve.” The youth erupted in a chorus of enthusiasm as they then each received their own missionary “tag” to pin on their T-shirts.

“My wife and I both served missions and had to overcome personal doubts and family objections,” Yang said. “My advice to the youth is to not overthink it.”

Wen-Yan Cao, a 17-year-old young man from Kaohsiung and the oldest of three brothers, clearly related to Yang’s experience. “I have felt inadequate when thinking about serving a mission. President Yang said to just do the best we can, and God will magnify us. His words and personal stories gave me the confidence and determination I needed. I have set goals and feel assured that I will be guided for my future as I commit to serve.”

Cao’s thoughts echo the sentiment expressed from the hundreds of youth across Asia who attended FSY 2019 and heeded President David F. Evans of the Asia Area Presidency’s pre-conference counsel to “prepare spiritually for this life-changing event where you will experience a fun and positive environment that helps you feel the joy of the gospel and develop wonderful friendships with others.”

  

  

Malaysia and Singapore will hold their combined FSY conference this December. In 2020, Thailand, Myanmar and Laos will also have a combined FSY, and Cambodia and India will hold their own. Over 2000 youth are estimated to attend these conferences.

The Church has announced plans to expand FSY for Latter-day Saint youth around the world beginning in 2020, in conjunction with the new Global Children and Youth Initiative. FSY will be under the direction of area presidencies and area leaders.

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