Lae Youth Conference

Papua New Guinea | 26-29 September 2013

“How is it that you can arrive 15 minutes early to a session and still feel like you are running late?” asked one of the three Continental Counsellors representing the Universal House of Justice at the youth conference in Lae, Papua New Guinea. He then explained how at 8:15 a.m. every morning of the three-day youth conference, the representatives of the Universal House of Justice and the National Spiritual Assembly would enter the hall to find 620 youth already seated, singing songs, eager for the start of a new day of exploration of their role in contributing to the building of a new world. As one body they would respectfully stand while these guests found their seats. A glance up would reveal a panorama of beaming and expectant faces. He felt that “It was an imperishable bounty to witness that moment.” His impressions provide an insight into the spirit of the group of young people who gathered from 26 to 29 September to engage in conversations about the opportunities available to them as they strive to make their contribution to the betterment of their communities.

By land, air, and sea, youth from the Highlands, the outer Islands, and Momase regions of Papua New Guinea travelled to the second-largest city in the country to attend this historical gathering. In the months leading up to the conference, the youth made efforts to invite their peers, and found many willing to join them in striving to become active agents in a process that seeks to transform the spiritual and material condition of their neighbourhoods and villages.

“We need to be an example for others, especially those younger than us.”

A participant at the conference

For many, this was the first time they had an opportunity to reflect, with so many others, on what it means to be a youth. The challenge of trying to achieve a common vision around such deep concepts was soon overcome as the themes of the conference were studied; very quickly they started to think about how they could continue this conversation upon their return home. One youth shared that he had been involved in gang activity in his region but, after partaking of the conversation about the nobility of the human soul and the role of his generation in society, he recognized his own potential to become a positive influence for those around him, acknowledging that, along the way, many others would be ready to assist him. “We need to be an example for others, especially those younger than us,” shared another participant on the second morning of the conference. After reflecting in small groups about the implications of fostering mutual support and assistance, many expressed their joy for having gained a deeper appreciation of what it means to develop true friendships based on a common desire to serve their communities.

The last day of the gathering, which also marked the conclusion of the conferences in Papua New Guinea, was one filled with both joy and sadness. Continental Counsellor Jalal Mills remarked that the sadness of leaving behind the wonderful experience of the conference would be overcome by the joy of knowing what steps to take upon their return, and that each participant can turn to those next to them as they walk on a path of service to their communities.

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  • 620 youth from the Highlands, outer Islands, and Momase regions of Papua New Guinea attended the conference

  • The study of the materials was carried out in large and small groups

  • Participants discussed various themes, including the role of youth in society

  • The conference was filled with both purposeful study and joyful fellowship

  • Many made concrete plans on how they would share the ideas they discussed with their friends back home

  • Cultural music and arts were a significant component of the conference, and contributed to creating an uplifting atmosphere

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