A special meeting with Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve was a highlight on a varied list of activities during a young single adult conference in Seoul, Korea, Aug. 13-15.
Also available to the young adults were a Han River cruise, humanitarian project, tour of the Korean National Museum and visits with famous politicians at the National Assembly Building.
Nearly a thousand young people came together for three days of instruction, inspiration, interaction and just plain fun at the "Worldwide Korean Young Single Adult Conference – 2009."
The theme of the conference was "Gather in Zion," following scriptural guidance to "be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions," (see 2 Nephi 29:14) and to "seek to bring forth and establish the cause of Zion" (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:6).
Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve, who was accompanied by his wife, Sister Mary Cook, asked participants, "Why do we need nearly a thousand of our single adults together at this time?" He then answered his own question, speaking of how it had long been a concern of the area presidency that the young people of Korea need to be thinking about courtship and marriage earlier than has traditionally been the case. He invited Elder Claudio Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy and Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the First Quorum of the Seventy to share some of their courtship experiences, later allowing their wives, Sister Margareth Costa and Sister Bon Kyung Koo Choi, "equal time" to give their own versions of how it really happened.
Elder Cook concluded the conference with three principles he felt were important.
First, he reiterated the conference theme that participants should see Korea as a gathering place for Koreans to stay or return to. He emphasized that Church leaders have been saying this for some time — Korea is for Koreans.
"Get all the education and all the training you can," he said, "But make your plans to be in Korea and build the Kingdom in Korea. … Korea is a choice place, and you are choice."
Second, Elder Cook spoke of testimony. He noted that sometimes people of their age would like to have a dramatic visionary experience in response to their righteous desires and prayers.
He counseled, "I testify of the significance of answers from the Holy Ghost that come to you through prayer. When we study the scriptures, when we pray, when we have questions and seek answers from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost bears witness, we can be blessed by that all the days of our lives."
Finally, Elder Cook told the young adults, "I want you to know from the spiritual experiences I have had that it is easy for me to bear testimony."
He concluded, "If you will live righteously you will both receive answers and you will have peace; and you will prepare yourself for eternal life with your Heavenly Father."
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Seventy and president of the Asia North Area and his counselors, Elder Choi and Elder Koichi Aoyagi wrote to participants: "You are the 'today' of the Church in Korea. The strength of the Church in Korea depends on you, and you have the potential to build up Zion. Let us gather to Zion. The Church needs you. Let us be united and purify our hearts, and establish Zion with one heart and one mind. When we do so, the Holy Ghost will be with you to bless you with gifts and authority."
President Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Jean Stevenson, shared the podium on the second day of the conference and emphasized the importance of marriage — not marriage "sometime in the future," but marriage as a priority worthy of immediate attention.
In another conference activity, participants from all over the world worked together as a huge gymnasium turned into a sea of yellow "Helping Hands" shirts and young people filled what became a truckload of boxes — boxes destined to feed hungry mouths and to provide school supplies to needy students for the upcoming school year.
A special feature of the conference was the "Adventure Miracle of Han River." The area surrounding the Han River, which flows through Seoul, has been a focal point of the amazing growth that has taken place in South Korea over past decades. Prior to a riverboat cruise on the Han, conference participants were able to associate and develop lasting friendships as they visited a variety of memorable sites.
Then on the riverboat, while traversing up and down on the river amidst the beautiful night lights of Seoul, they were entertained by performances from talented brothers and sisters, a dance and plenty of free time to enjoy being with old and new friends. The event was also designed as an opportunity for Elder Cook to come aboard, share a message, and visit with participants in a memorable setting.
The whole conference was so well planned, and the events so varied, that the spiritual and faith-promoting aspects were naturally absorbed by the young single adults.
President Beh Dong Chol of the Seoul Korea Stake, a member of the planning committee, reflecting on this historic gathering, summarized all that took place in these words: "We had 800 young adults attend the conference, including 120 from the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Chile, Singapore, Japan, Mongolia and other countries. … As I looked at these beautiful youth, I was very proud. This conference was for them, but also for their posterity. I feel strongly that the Lord was with them in this conference, and that he was pleased with what he saw."