BETA

Handcart trek for youth of Taiwan

Pioneer experience is centerpiece of islandwide youth conference

TAICHUNG, Taiwan — A handcart trek was the centerpiece of a three-day youth conference for more than 1,000 young men and young women of Taiwan in late August.

Young people pull handcarts through bamboo forest as part of youth conference.
Young people pull handcarts through bamboo forest as part of youth conference. Photo: Photo by Alicia Watterson

The youth traveled by train from all points on the island, arriving here where they were welcomed by a chorus and brass band, and Church leaders including Elder D. Allen Andersen, Area Seventy and counselor in the Asia Area presidency, and Area Seventies Elder Tsung Ting (Jared) Yang and Elder Yu Chen (Philip) Ho.

Headquarters for the youth were at Feng Chia University. There they were housed and fed, and enjoyed various activities throughout the afternoon and evening. Dances were performed by members of various stakes and the youth learned new dances. Songs were sung and spiritual experiences were recounted.

The next day, the youth were up by 5:30 a.m. and each was given a bag of biscuits as their rations for the day. Handcarts were assembled, which was not an easy task for these Chinese youth who are not familiar with tools or assembling things. They generally don't have the facilities at home to make things with tools. Some handcarts were purposely missing various parts and the youth had to trade biscuits for those parts.

As the trek began, the young people were assigned to 100 carts and pushed and pulled them on mountainous terrain. At various stations on the trail, they played pioneer games and engaged in many activities. One was walking barefoot over blocks of ice to understand how handcart pioneers may have felt walking through snow and ice during early winter storms. Another was young men carrying young women across a stream.

The day concluded with a buffet dinner, "campfire" presentations of music, and fireworks. Along the path back to the dorms, the youth were greeted by full-time missionaries who told of their experiences and why they were serving missions.

On the final day, the youth assembled in eight groups on the university's gym floor and bore testimonies. Several expressed joy in associating with each other in the conference because many come from wards or branches with small youth groups.

Elder Andersen, Elder Yang and Elder Ho bore testimonies to the youth, as did Taiwan Taichung Mission President Scott R. Watterson.

With bare feet on ice blocks, youth discover what pioneers may have felt during winter storms.
With bare feet on ice blocks, youth discover what pioneers may have felt during winter storms. Photo: Photo by Alicia Watterson
In an activity to understand the trials of early Mormon pioneers, young men carry young woman across stream during youth conference.
In an activity to understand the trials of early Mormon pioneers, young men carry young woman across stream during youth conference. Photo: Photo by Alicia Watterson