Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Young Adult Conference

I am grateful for many things this week.  I am so thankful that after having another round of rainy, cold weather, last Monday morning turned out sunny and clear.  We enjoyed three days of perfect springtime weather.  We could not have asked for anything better.  Our conference was a complete success.  We are grateful for everyone who worked hard to make that happen.  We are also grateful for the wonderful young adults who attended.  And now to the details and the many, many photos!

Monday morning, after Elder Larsen dropped off the zone leaders at the airport, we headed to the church to get set up for the conference.  Most of the young adults from the other islands came over on the boat and arrived at 10:00.  Two young men flew over.  We were grateful for the help of some of the members in Las Palmas who picked people up.  We had one slight mishap.  Somehow two people were left at the dock, but we were quickly able to get someone there to pick them up.  The hermanas were so gracious to offer to help me on their free day.  We walked over to the grocery store to pick up the bread and produce that we needed for the conference.

The grocery store is right next to the chapel, so we just wheeled our two carts right into the building.

We started out with muffins and snacks, and then had a fun icebreaker game.  After that, Elder Larsen divided them into four groups for a cellphone scavenger hunt.  They all had a great time and came back with some wonderful pictures.  I am still waiting for photos from two of the groups.

This was our very happy winning team!
Mosíah, Josué, Mattia, Kris, Francisca


Fabio, Angel, Aida, Martin, Lady, Jose Christian


Zenon, Enzo, David, Carolina, Ruth, Legna

Ezequiel, Kimberlly, Bryan, Luis Miguel, Gabriela

I was so thankful for Hermana West and Hermana Rossberg's help in the kitchen.  We were able to have our sandwich spread ready when the groups finished up their scavenger hunt.

After lunch, we did 2 1/2 hours of Indexing.  This is an activity that can be done on FamilySearch.org.  Indexing is looking at records such as census, birth or death records, etc.  By looking at these records online, the information can be made digital.  This makes the information much more accessible for people to use in finding information about their ancestors. 

Then we watched "Meet the Mormons."  President Jackson allowed us to use his copy that is in Spanish.  We all really enjoyed the movie as it told the stories of six very different people who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.  Each of these people's lives were very inspiring.

After the movie, the young adults rode on a bus that had been chartered to take them to Santa Brigída, where we live.  Everyone got settled in their rooms or areas.  Elder Larsen had everything organized. The girls were on the top floor of the house, which is the floor where you enter.  We had a twin mattress or a blow-up mattress for everyone.  There is a bedroom on the main floor and two bathrooms.  Some of the mattresses were in the large entry hall.  And we had bathrooms designated for the "chicas" and "chicos."

Elder Larsen also had assignment charts for kitchen help with meal preparation and clean up.  I only took a couple of pictures of them helping, but everyone really pitched in.  Many of the kids would be in the kitchen helping even when it wasn't there assigned time.  I wish I had more pictures of my good helpers.

Some people took advantage of the nice weather outside and took a few pictures.

For dinner Monday night, we had Sweet Pork Burritos, Mexican Black Beans, Cilantro rice, and Texas Caviar.  I had prepared the meat and beans in advance, so there meal went very smoothly.  

President Deniz and his family came to have Family Home Evening with us.  President and Sister Deniz gave a wonderful lesson about the five areas of life that the young adults need to be focusing on: God, Church, Education, Work and Family.  They used personal examples from their lives and shared how they had started out with very little, but they new what they wanted personally and then as a couple after they got married.  It was a very inspiring message.  President Deniz also had some very kind words to say about Elder Larsen and I and thanked us for our service here on the island. He also gave Elder Larsen a few minutes to talk about us a little bit.  Elder Larsen shared how 35 years ago, when we first got engaged, we began to talk about going on a mission together.  And here we are, fulfilling that dream.  Of course, every home evening needs to end with a dessert, and we had one of their favorites, banana cake with cream cheese, whip cream frosting.

I snapped a few pictures as everyone was getting ready for bed.  Too bad it was after 4:00 a.m. before a few boys finally went to sleep.

We had a few sleepyheads the next morning!

We started off Tuesday mornig with exercise.  Some took a walk and others played basketball.

Then we had breakfast and scripture study time.

Elder Larsen devised a wonderful team-building activity.  He divided them up into four teams.  They were given an hour to memorize The Living Christ (You can read it here.) Because we know that the principles taught in this document are so important, we felt like it would be worthwhile for them to spend the time memorizing parts of this document.  Because it is a full page, small-typed document, there was no way that they could memorize it in an hour.  They would have to work together as a team to decide how to divide up the assignment.  

As they were working on their assignment, Elder Larsen went around the room and gave them a few clues as to how they might want to go about the task.  These young adults are competitive, so they were all working very hard on the assignment.

Then the real challenge came.  Elder Larsen had prepared wordstrips of varying length, of the entire document.  There challenge was to layout the wordstrips as it appears typed on the document.  Not an easy challenge!

And the winners were: Aida, Ezequiel, Xiomara, Josué, Luis Miguel and Gabriela.

Willy Roka and his wife, Sara Valido gave a workshop about the importance of doing Family History research.  They are such a fun couple.  Every received a "My Family" pamphlet to fill out.  This is such an easy way to record information about your family.  If you are interested in ordering a booklet, or filling one out online, go here

Elder Larsen gave a talk about the importance of personal scripture study.  We have taught these five principles during our Institute classes this year.  If these principles are followed during personal scripture study, true learning and spritual growth can take place.

1.  Understand the Context and Content
2.  Identify Doctrines and Principles
3.  Understand the Meaning of Those Doctrines and Principles
4.  Feel the Truth and Importance of the Doctrine or Principle through the Influence of the Spirit
5.  Apply Doctrines and Principles in Your Life

And we want to thank our talented son-in-law, Steve Lutes, for designing these book markers that we made for each of the young adults.  We are grateful for Steve's talent.

This is the only photo from lunch, barbecue chicken sandwiches, baked beans, and carrots.  They also had chocolate frosted peanut butter bars for dessert.

The last workshop was given by Paco Cruz.  Unfortunately, I was in the kitchen and didn't get a photo of him, but we are grateful for his time and efforts as well.  He also helped with some of the transportation.

We had a surprise event for Fabio.  He leaves April 8th to serve a two-year mission in Manchester, England.  He shared his story with us about the process he went through in making the decision to serve a mission.  Because he is the father figure in his home, to younger siblings, he didn't feel like he could be gone from his family.  But, because of his desire to serve the Lord, and through much prayer, he knew that he should serve the Lord, and that his family would be blessed for his service. We also had Mattia, Aida, and Ezequiel share some experiences and things that they learned from their missions.  We had everyone write messages to Fabio in a journal that he can take with him.  

Then we had free time. It felt good to sit down for a minute.

This night owl took an afternoon nap and his friends drew on his face with a marker!

Some people just talked.

A few watched "Cheaper by the Dozen" in Spanish.  
Steve Martin is funny in Spanish or Enlgish.

A few played ping pong.

A group played basketball.

And some when for a walk.


Then the decorating for the dance began.

And David made me a pretty balloon flower.  

For dinner that night we had spaghetti, salad, garlic bread.  I am so sad that there is no photo for proof of all the hard work.  

After dinner, the girls took a little longer than normal getting ready.  But, the young men waited patiently.

After taking many, many pictues, the dance finally began.  The Roka's joined us again.  They own a dance studio and are wonderful at sharing their enthusiasm for dancing.  We are so appreciative to them for sharing their time and talents with us. 

As you can tell, a good time was had by everyone!

They asked if we could end the dance at 1:00 instead of midnight and we consented.  They snacked on trail mix, chips, and snickerdoodles and talked until well after 2:00.  The lights didn't go out until after 3:00.  We might be too old for these activities!

We got off to a little bit of a slow start Wednesday morning with some tired people.  American pancakes and delicious Oscar Meyer bacon helped to wake them up.

We all dressed in our Sunday best to have our personal scripture study time before our testimony meeting.

President Deniz and his family joined us for the testimony meeting.  There was a beautiful spirit present.  Several young men who have been having a hard time making their decision about serving a mission said that now they knew that they were ready to put in their papers.  Many of the young adults expressed thanks to us for holding the conference.  Several shared ways that we have touched their lives while we have been here.  I even shared my testimony.  I hadn't thought out in advance what I would say, and I was able to express my feelings in Spanish.  I am sure it wasn't perfect, but I know I have come a long way in the past year.  Hopefully this next year I will see even more improvement in my ability to speak Spanish.  

It was Hermana Deniz's birthday, so she got to blow out a few candles.  

And then the sad time came at 2:00 p.m. when it was time for everyone to leave.  As much work as it had been, we had a great time and truly enjoyed having these amazing young people with us.  I learned so much from them, and my testimony was strengthened as I interacted with them and felt their love for their Savior.

Of course, I had to take a few more photos!


 I got on the bus to go home with them, but Elder Larsen wouldn't let me go!

And then I was very sad as the bus rolled down our street,
taking our young friends home.  
I cannot express how very grateful I am 
for the opportunity that we had with these young people.
It is going to make it very hard for us to leave.  

Elder Larsen dropped off two of the young men at the airport, and I started washing all the bedding, and trying to get the house back in order for the next activity.  The young women from our ward asked if they could use our house for girl's camp on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  President Jackson suggested that we take a little vacation after the conference and turn the house over to the young women.  So, we had everything ready for them on Thursday morning.  As we were leaving, the sang to us the song that I had accompanied them on several time.  It was such a sweet gesture.

We drove done to the beach of Port Mogan that we hadn't been to before.  We grabbed a bite of lunch and enjoyed the beautiful view of the ocean.

Port Mogan is an area for Scandanavians and so this snow-covered mountain village was perfect!

We checked into our beautiful hotel at Costa Canaria, in San Augustin.  We loved all the grass, palm trees, and beautiful views.

We enjoyed a very lazy, relaxing vacation.  Every morning we took a walk and enjoyed the ocean breeze and the scenery.

We relaxed by the pool, read our books and napped.  I enjoyed a book that my sweet friend, Lisa Bowerman, sent me about Christopher Columbus.  It is very interesting and hard to believe that he came to this very island on his trips to the Americas.  

We were so happy to have the opportunity to have dinner with Barbro and Hakan Palm.  He had a stroke several weeks ago and has had a miraculous recovery.  He has lost part of his vision in both eyes, but can still see quite well.  They are thankful for his progress.  We have enjoyed their friendship while we have been here. They are amazing people.  They head back home on Wednesday.

We came home to this beautiful surprise from the young women.  They bought us a 6-tile Canarian scene of Roque Nublo, a Gran Canaria sling shot, and delicious After Eight chocolate mints.  They had made thank you cards and had it arranged so pretty on the table.  And the surprises kept going when we found the house in absolutely spotless condition.  I would welcome this group to my house anytime.  What a wonderful group of girls and leaders!

We gathered up our things and headed to the church to listen to general conference in English with the missionaries.  This is such a wonderful weekend and a wonderful way to spend an Easter Sunday.

I am so glad that these missionaries are so easily pleased with just sandwiches, chips and cookies.

President Uchtdorf gave a powerful talk on Easter morning about the grace of Jesus Christ.  Click here to listen.  I love this quote from his talk.  I will be studying this talk and the others for the coming weeks to see what changes I need to make in my life to be more like my Savior.  

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