At a youth conference that has become an 11-year tradition in eastern Canada, Young Women Gen. Pres. Ardeth G. Kapp called on LDS teenagers to help "make miracles happen."
The Young Women leader was the keynote speaker at the Toronto Ontario Region Youth Conference, Aug. 29-Sept. 2, which was attended by nearly 400 young people, ages 14-18. The conference, the theme of which was "Let Your Light So Shine," drew participants from six stakes. It was held on the University of Toronto, Erindale campus.In telling the youths how they could be part of making miracles, Pres. Kapp said, "One of the greatest miracles in the New Testament occurred as Christ was teaching 5,000 people."
She related how disciples searched for food to feed the multitude, but could find only five loaves and two fishes, which had been supplied by a young lad. After blessing the food, the Savior instructed His disciples to distribute it to the multitude. After the people had eaten, 12 baskets of food were left over.
"The young boy gave all he had and the Lord took it, blessed it, sanctified it and passed it," said Pres. Kapp. "Sometimes we hold back because we think our offering is meager or we don't feel comfortable, but if we offer all we have, it will be enough and miracles can happen."
Pres. Kapp urged the youths to hold up their own light and watch the miracles happen in their own lives and in the lives of those around them, as others follow their example.
The Toronto Ontario Region Youth Conference has become one of the highlights for LDS youths and their friends. Eleven years ago, the conference began as an opportunity for a select group of youths, said conference director Courtney J. Lassetter, a counselor in the Toronto Ontario Stake presidency. "It was designed to be a conference for the most committed youths in the stakes to give them leadership training and experience," said Pres. Lassetter.
However, through the years, the concept behind the conference has expanded and evolved into a week of workshops, lectures, and entertainment open to all youths in the area and planned almost entirely by area youths. "We still give that small group of youths leadership training and experience, but we have opened the conference to the larger group of youth members. We try to meet a little broader range of interest and needs," Pres. Lassetter said.
This year's conference attracted not only LDS youths, but also many of their friends, he reported. "Last year we had one baptism as a result of this activity. I am sure we will have even more this year." The only requirement for conference-goers is that they abide by Church standards during the week of the activity and participate in all the events.
The conference also gave youths an opportunity to develop socially, said Pres. Lassetter. Basic etiquette and social skills were taught in workshops and then, as one of the conference highlights, a dinner-dance was held on the conference's closing night. Although it was not a date activity, young men were assigned partners whom they were to escort to and from the dance. They were also to ask their partners for the first and last dances of the evening.
The conference was definitely a success, Pres. Lassetter said. And the tradition can only get better.
"For next year, we think we will start planning earlier. We hope the conference is strengthening the youth program in the wards and stakes throughout the area."