Organizers of a young single adult conference in Suva, Fiji, consider the five-day event to be a success after having a hard time getting participants to go home.
“We couldn’t get them on the bus,” one leader told the Church’s Pacific Newsroom, “because no one wanted to leave.”
The conference, held Jan. 7-11, 2023, gathered roughly 280 young adults from throughout Fiji to the University of the South Pacific for activities based around the conference theme: “S.M.I.L.E. — Spiritually minded is life eternal.”
Conference activities included service projects for the community, a carnival, a talent show and a dance, as well as a devotional and panel discussions with Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, a General Authority Seventy and member of the Pacific Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Anita Wakolo. The young single adults also served in the temple.
Conference director Lote Qima told of getting “a big bear hug” at the end of the conference from one young man who had “experienced a spiritual awakening, which he had never felt before.”
The young man promised Qima he would return home, clean up his life and go on a mission.
“That’s what these conventions are all about,” Qima said. “They help bring our young people to Jesus Christ to allow Him to heal their broken hearts, bind up their wounds and lift them on His shoulders. What a privilege it is to witness His power in action.”
Prior to the conference, participants were able to submit questions or concerns to be discussed by the panelists, which included Elder and Sister Wakolo; Elder Paul B. Whippy, an Area Seventy, and his wife, Sister Olive Whippy; as well as other local leaders and young single adults.
“I was not really planning on coming,” said conference-goer Irene Diloi. “My questions about missionary service and the temple have been answered. I am grateful that I came.”
Another participant, Adarsh Pillai, also voiced his appreciation. “I enjoyed the panels and the devotional. I have been strengthened in my faith in Jesus Christ. This [conference] has helped me to put the Lord first.”
Elder and Sister Wakolo told Pacific Newsroom they were lifted and inspired by the energy and righteous desires of the young adult participants.
“They come from different backgrounds and each has a different spiritual capacity, but they have the desire to be at the right place at the right time,” Elder Wakolo noted.
Conference participant Sili Toganivalu said he was grateful for Elder Wakolo’s remarks about the conference theme and his insight that the theme “also works reading it in reversal word order: ‘Eternal life is being mindful of our spirituality.”
A local newspaper, the Fiji Times, reported on the young single adults cleaning up the shoreline by gathering trash at the Suva Foreshore and Suva Point.
Read more about the conference here.