When the friends in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, learned that the historic gathering they were organizing in their city was to be one of the first of 114 youth conferences to be convened around the world, they responded with great enthusiasm and anticipation.
Some days before the conference was to begin, groups of friends from diverse parts of the region undertook long journeys to travel to Port Moresby. Those from Woitape walked for three days and three nights from their community through the rugged terrain of the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. They packed simple food for sustenance, worked to shield themselves against nighttime rain, and had to cross six rivers, all on foot. In recognizing the significance of the occasion, young people from Port Moresby spent the days before the conference cleaning and decorating the venue.
"I have a lot to do to help bring about peace and to contribute to the advancement of civilization.”
A youth from Papua New Guinea
And when the moment came, some 470 youth came together with a degree of excitement that electrified the air. They gathered together, full of joy and gratitude, in a government building in the Waigani suburb of Port Moresby to reflect on the contributions that their generation can make to the building of vibrant communities in neighbourhoods and villages. “I feel so blessed to respond to the call of the Universal House of Justice,” related one youth, “I am so happy to be able to attend [this conference].”
A spirit of jubilant singing, in a variety of languages, infused the conference proceedings. Participants welcomed in their traditional manner Continental Counsellors Kessia Aisoli Ruh and Tessa Scrine as representatives of the Universal House of Justice, and joyful singing filled the large hall as the two entered the room. Later, after the first plenary session concluded, the members of each community in attendance introduced themselves by offering songs.
Group discussions were marked by a spirit of mutual assistance and support, creating an environment where friends from a wide range of backgrounds and experience felt eager to contribute to the discussions. In this way, a sense of the collective was fostered, and those well versed in the concepts explored ensured that others newer to the community-building process were given ample space to reflect and in turn respond to the materials studied.
Participants consulted together on the need for individuals and society to advance both materially and spiritually, and what it would look like for this to happen in a coherent manner. A young student gained insight into the great responsibility that faced her during this unique time of her life, not only in her studies but also with respect to dedicating herself to the betterment of her community. With a sense of optimism and hope, she recognized that she had “a lot to do to help bring about peace and to contribute to the advancement of civilization.”
All of the participants gathered together for a plenary session each morning and evening, against the backdrop of a beautiful mural
The main hall and surrounding gardens of the Papua New Guinea Institute for Public Administration served as a befitting venue
Continental Counsellors Tessa Scrine and Kessia Aisoli Ruh were welcomed as representatives of the Universal House of Justice
Participants studied the message of the Universal House of Justice dated 1 July 2013
A spirit of joy and focus imbued the atmosphere
Youth between the ages of 15 to 30 came together to consult on how to better serve their communities
Groups of friends who travelled to the conference together consulted on their ongoing efforts to better their communities and on the work required ahead
An infant comfortably dozed in a portable hammock
Friends from a variety of communities took turns sharing songs
Participants consulted on how they can assist those younger than themselves to contribute to the well-being of their communities