Youth Conference 2016

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This particular post is a bit overdue but I was waiting until Sunday was over to post it. A few weeks ago my three oldest children had the amazing opportunity to attend a Youth Conference with around 1000 other teenagers at Robert Morris University. They were looking forward to this big 3-day event for months. I dropped them off on Wednesday and when they arrived they were assigned their dorm rooms and found out who their roommates were.

All three kids were pleased to discover that they had been paired with friends. The next three days were spent living on campus, attending workshops, playing games, making new friends, and listening to amazing speakers. There were even dances in the evenings for the kids to enjoy.

On Sunday Grace had the opportunity to speak at church about her experience at Youth Conference and how the experience strengthened her testimony. Here is what she shared:

“Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a 12 stake youth conference at Robert Morris University. There were around 1,000 youth and leaders at this incredible youth conference.

As part of youth conference we were able to listen to 4 keynote speakers as well as pick from 40 different workshops that we could attend.

Today I would like to share how some of these firesides and workshops strengthened my testimony.

One of the most influential lessons that strengthened my testimony was the message that I am a child of God.

I already knew this and had a testimony of it, but the messages shared at youth conference only helped to strengthen and fortify this knowledge.

Two of the keynote speakers shared this message with us in their talks…Sister McConkie and Kenneth Cope.

In her message Sister McConkie shared the story of a group of children who were playing “church” one day. The children came from a mix of backgrounds with some being members of their church and others not. As they played the children began to sing “I am a child of God” and one of the non- member children spoke up and questioned the other children and asked them if they really believed that. Did they really believe they were a child of God? When they responded with a firm, “Yes” she spoke up with eagerness and conviction and declared, “I knew it! I knew I was a child of God!”

There is a part of us that already knows we are children of God but in the noise and confusion of the world it can be easy to forget.

This is why opportunities like Youth Conference can be so strengthening. We have to opportunity to step away from the noise of the world, feel the spirit, strengthen our testimonies and remember what we already know.

Kenneth Cope helped me better understand that because I am a child of God I can strive to be like Him.

In Psalm 82:6 it says- “I have said ye are gods and all of you are children of the most high.”

I also learned that because I am a child of God that He loves me and wants me to succeed in returning home to Him.

In Isaiah 49:15 it says: “See! I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand”

But sometimes we do feel forgotten, especially when we are going through hard times and trials in our life, but we must remember that all that we go through serves a purpose and that purpose is for a greater good…to make us better and draw us closer to our Heavenly Father. Great blessings often come from the greatest pains.

‘Among the most valuable creations to be found in the world is the pearl that comes from the soft inside of an oyster.

An oyster is soft, tender, and vulnerable. Without the sanctuary of its shell it could never survive. But oysters must open their shells in order to “breathe” water. Sometimes while an oyster is breathing, a grain of sand will enter its shell and become a part of its life from then on.

Such grains of sand cause pain, but an oyster does not alter its soft nature because of this. It does not become hard and leathery in order not to feel. It continues to entrust itself to the ocean, to open and to breathe in order to live. But it does respond. Slowly and patiently the oyster wraps the grain of sand in thin, translucent layers until, over time, it has created something of great value in the place where it was most vulnerable to pain. A pearl might be thought of as an oyster’s response to its suffering.

In life, God offers us the opportunity to transform experiences of pain into pearls of discipleship as we seek comfort and guidance in a relationship with Him. The Lord has the capacity to calm the storms in our lives.’

Heavenly Father has promised us that we never need to walk alone, that He will be with us every step of the way, but our job is to keep going. To keep moving forward. To keep progressing and striving to endure to the end.

 Brother Larkin shared the following story in his class entitled “Self Worth Amidst Trials”

 “More than one hour after the gold-medal athlete had crossed the finish line during the marathon in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania entered the stadium. Only a few spectators remained as the lone runner appeared. The athlete’s leg was injured and bleeding. He was dehydrated and confused.

As he crossed the finish line, the small crowd cheered in appreciation for what would become one of the most famous last-place finishes in history.

But it wasn’t the runner’s performance that caught their attention — and the attention of thousands more during the almost five decades since. It was his desire to finish the race, to endure to the end.

After the event in 1968, a reporter asked the runner why he had not quit the race since he had no chance of winning. The Tanzanian athlete was confused. “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race,” he replied. “They sent me to finish”

Each of us, facing the challenges in our own race of life, should have the same attitude’

I left youth conference feeling uplifted, strengthened and rejuvenated. I left with a stronger testimony of my purpose here on earth and a greater love for my Heavenly Father. I left with a desire to give more and be more. My sentiments could be best expressed with the words of this song that was performed by Kenneth Cope entitled “More”

  More steady, more sure

More trusted, more pure

Some say it doesn’t matter

  More trained and more aware

 More aim to get me there

 I climb this far

You raise the bar

 You want my heart 

 CHORUS: More fierce desire To stand against the wind

 More blazing fire When dark is closing in

 More love inspired change within

 So there’s more and more of me to give 

More words to learn and know

More etched upon my soul

 Some say it doesn’t matter

 More tried, more true

 Less me, and much more You

I stretch this tall

You sound the call

You want my all

 REPEAT CHORUS

 You keep reaching out—

You’re calling out to me for More strengthened shoulders To face the war with sin

 More wise and bolder To save the souls of men

A more faithful soldier to the end

 You want more and more of me to give 

More and more of me to give

 More love, more light, more purpose, more serve

with all my might I need more hope, more faith, more patience, each day

 I pray for more

More and more of me to give

More fire, more zeal, more spirit to know what’s real

 More courage, more joy, more, more and more of me to give

 More grateful, more true, more humble to trust and do

 You call, I hear

 I’ll walk the path that’s set in stone

 My heart is fixed on getting home

And what on earth could ever matter more?

 More and more of me to give.”

I leave these thoughts with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen”

Since I was home with the boys and Toby, and since Gracie accidentally left her camera at home, I had to rely on Molly for documentation of this epic event. Here some of the photos I stole off her I-pod.

You can see by the smiles It was a HUGE hit with all three of my teens!

YC10YC11YC12YC3YC5YC4YC6YC7YC8YC14YC9YC13

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