PROVO, Utah – After a week of spiritual experiences, fun games and making new friends, youth at the year’s first For the Strength of Youth conference at Brigham Young University received a visit from Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“You’re making history this week,” Elder Rasband told the 1,700 young men and young women assembled in BYU’s Wilkinson Student Center on Friday afternoon, June 3.
“You’re the first session of 212 this summer — No. 1,” he said. “That’s worth making a journal entry.”
Those 212 sessions are only those in the United States and Canada, where FSY is running at full strength for the first time. The same program has been operating in other countries for differing numbers of years previous to this year’s launch in the U.S. and Canada.
Elder Rasband also shared a message for the youth from the First Presidency.
“First, we love you,” he said. “You are a treasure of the Church.
“Second, thank you for being willing to trust in the Lord. We hope you will trust God all the days of your life.
“And third, we need you.”
He told the youth each is needed to participate in building the Church around the world and to share the gospel with friends and neighbors.
“Set goals to go to the temple, to marry in the house of the Lord,” he told them.
Elder Rasband stood on the ballroom stage with a grandson on each side of him. Isaac, 16, and Asher, 14, McPherson spent the week at their first FSY.
“Their only regret is that they only get to do this every other year,” Elder Rasband said after talking with his grandsons. “That ought to tell you how good they thought it was.”
Having fun and building new friendships were a part of the week, but Elder Rasband said he had one goal bigger than anything else.
“I hope above all that their testimony of the Savior has been deepened,” he said. And by participating in FSY conferences, he said, he feels all the attendees “are going to have a spiritual connection with heaven.”
Young Men General President Steven J. Lund and his wife, Sister Kalleen Lund, attended the session with Elder Rasband.
President Lund said he hoped the youth, along with their parents and leaders, understood how significant it is that Elder Rasband took time to make this visit.
“Having a member of the Quorum of the Twelve be here to say that what you’re doing here is important to the Church and for us — I think is a very profoundly important message.”
As Elder Rasband walked the halls of the building, the young men, young women, FSY counselors and BYU students were quick to recognize an Apostle was with them. Smiles came quickly to their faces. Many offered a quick “thank you” to him in passing.
Before departing, Elder Rasband took a few minutes to greet members of his grandsons’ FSY company (youth are divided into groups of varying sizes for the week). With fist bumps, handshakes, smiles and tears, the two dozen youth seemed to recognize the uniqueness of the moment.
Elder Rasband felt it, too.
“I felt spiritual energy. I could tell that they had had a lot of fun, but I also learned quickly that they had some real spiritual connection time, too.
“This is one of the best things the Church has ever done,” he said.
Some youth came to FSY with friends from their neighborhood or school. Some came with a ward or stake. Others came on their own. Each had a personal story before FSY and a personal experience during FSY.
Elder Rasband and President Lund both shared a hope that youth who have not yet signed up to attend will do so.
“The Church has made a huge commitment to doing this throughout the world,” Elder Rasband said.
“We want our youth everywhere in the world to do this. We want the members, the families, the friends of members to encourage young people to participate in FSY.”
Even though the conferences have started, there is still time for youth to register and attend this year, President Lund said.
“We’re just at the beginning of the summer,” he said. “It’s not too late.”
President Lund said there are still openings in conferences around the United States.
For information about how to register in any of the 38 countries hosting FSY conferences this year, visit FSY.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.