News Story

LDS Youth in Kilungu Hills Celebrate their Love of God

Every other year the youth of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints living in the Kilungu Hills participate in a Youth Conference. The planning of the latest activity began in October 2011 with the challenge that all of the youth and leaders read the Book of Mormon by August 2012. The youth are challenged to develop a theme around which the activities will be based; a theme based on the notion that you cannot share the gospel until you know and read the gospel contained in the scriptures. The purpose goes beyond just having a party. These young people (12-18 years) plan an agenda that permits them to enjoy the physical activities and games, as well as participate in spiritual activities that foster growth of their faith in God and to learn more about the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In November 2011, a Youth Council Meeting was held, attended by adult leaders and 3-each young women and young men who are selected by a Youth Council from each of the four branches (congregations) in the Kilungu Hills area. These young people are given the responsibility of developing the elements of the conference program. This Youth Council from each branch made all of the decisions about the program. The event planning started 9 months before the 3-day activity commenced. For the most recent activity the young men and women selected “A Light to the World” as their theme. They also decided that each branch would have a kick-off party that would be held in late December 2011 when all of the youth would be home from school.

The December kick-off party was planned by the Youth Council at each branch. Here, in addition to refreshment, games, etc., each youth received a personal set of scriptures and a challenge to read the Book of Mormon prior to the August 2012 conference. Between all of the branches, 250 youth received their own scriptures and were now engaged in the planning and execution of this event.

During the “run-up” to the August event many sub-events occurred that prepared the youth for the big activity.  Elder and Sister Hall (missionary couple) taught gospel principales to the youth in each branch, gospel related songs, and the importance of gospel scripture study. By early May, the news began to flow in as youth, as well as local congregation leaders, reported their completion of reading the Book of Mormon and other scriptures. The youth of each congregation chose a color for a cloth flag. As each member finished their commitment, their name was attached to the flag as a testimony of participation and spiritual growth. The youth of the Kilili Branch were the first to post their names on their flag and soon after the other branches began to decorate their flags in the same way. The competition was close, as each branch took the challenge seriously.

After nine months of planning and reading the Book of Mormon, the Kilingu/Kilili Youth Conference was held August 22-25 at a school and a neighboring conference center in Sultan Hamud, a small town/village off Mombasa Road. One hundred and ninety two youth and leaders attended.

By mid-afternoon all of the participants had arrived at Sultan Hamud. After sodas and a loaf of bread they were all ready for games, scripture chase, and Book of Mormon (team) quiz. Following these organized activities the youth stayed up most of the night visiting and playing games. After only 2-3 hours of sleep the youth were up and roaring to go with the day’s agenda; breakfast, scripture study, games, and then lunch. Following lunch, the afternoon fun began. Elder and Sister Rydalch, a missionary couple serving in Tanzania, assisted in the afternoon activities, teaching the youth to dance. The youth were divided into four groups of 50 each and these groups rotated around to four different activities. Dancing was the highlight. They just couldn’t get enough. The youth kept sneaking back in for another round of dancing, leaving the group that they were to follow. The cooks, who prepared the meals, came in to dance; two people from the school office came in; and additional youth were dancing outside by the window. Sister Hall stated “It was just hilarious and wonderful. It was the most fun I have had here in Kenya. I was laughing and dancing and they were laughing and dancing with/at me.” The “Chicken Dance” was the favorite but “The Macarena” was a close second.

Following 4 hours of fun and dancing, the group went back to the conference center and divided into four new groups. Each group was given a box of identical supplies: a role of masking tape, 15 balloons, 24 Pringle potato chip cans, and 40 paper tubes of various sizes. They were instructed to use all of the items and see which group could design and build the tallest sturdy tower. “It was fun watching them think and create.”

At the conclusion of the conference/activity on Friday morning, the youth were delighted to pick up 202 scripture bags  made by the youth in the Plain City Stake (a group of congregations), located near Ogden, Utah, USA.  Testimonies, skits, group pictures and singing closed the conference at mid-day. Nearly 200 young men and women went home very happy and very tired.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.