After a year of coordinating, eight stakes from three Hawaiian islands and more than 500 people gathered in Laie and Waimanalo, Oahu for a four-day regional Young Single Adults (YSA) conference from July 11 to 14. Participants and Elder Taeoalii, Pacific Area Seventy, said this year’s theme “Finding Joy in the Journey” taught the YSA to not just endure but enjoy this life.
Iliana Sua’ava, a freshman from Hawaii majoring in business, told a new friend after a workshop on day 3, “If we take out the letters ‘J-O-Y’ from the word ‘journey,’ only ‘U-R-N-E’ is left and it stands for ‘You are now empty.’”
Sisillia Masima, a YSA from Hilo Hawaii Stake, flew from the Big Island to Oahu to attend this conference. She said the theme inspired her to not worry too much about the future and to find a balance between work and family time. “I strongly feel investing more time with those whom I cherish is essential for a happier home, which I am still working on now.”
Another highlight of the conference was a regional sacrament meeting with more than 1300 attendees on Sunday, July 14 at the Cannon Activities Center. Fourty-six priesthood holders from all different stakes blessed and passed the sacrament.
Takashi Masuda, a sophomore from Japan studying information technology, said that he was one of the priesthood holders who broke the bread. “I felt privileged to be part and contributing to one of the biggest church events in Hawaii.”
Mapuana Tauala, a junior from Honolulu, Hawaii studying political science, was part of the committee that organized the conference. Tauala said the idea of the YSA sacrament meeting was inspired by leaders to think outside of the box with the activities. After lots of prayer and a whole bunch of faith, “we were able get the approval for a first time ever in Hawaii.”
Tauala continued, “It was such a unique sight to see 23 men at the sacrament table and then to see it be passed was amazing as well. It was so quiet and still for 20 minutes straight.”
Sharon Yeap a junior from Malaysia majoring in biochemistry, said she was amazed to attend a large sacrament meeting. She added she was a bit worried at first but after seeing all the bothers coordinate passing the bread and water in an organized manner, she felt the spirit even more after the sacrament.
Yeap said it was inspiring to hear how the YSA from multiple stakes feel about their lives. “I learned life is a journey and you should do your best to make it worth it. It is important to not only be successful in career, but also be able to have friendship and companionship along the way.”
The conference began on Thursday with a walking tour honoring the 100-year anniversary of the Laie Hawaii Temple and an opening devotional, followed by a rodeo and local food trucks in Waimanalo the next day.
Yeap continued, saying the conference gave her a new experience, as it was her first time riding a mechanical bull. “At first when I was watching and wondering why people can’t stay on the bull until I tried it on my own. You really do need skills. It was so fun and I want to do it again.”
On Saturday, July 13, the YSA were treated with inspirational workshops held in the Heber J. Grant Building.
Shanae Foster, a participant from Orem, Utah, said a highlight for her was “finding those I’m distantly related to and connecting with them.” She was surprised that she has family in Hawaii.
Foster added she learned “God works in mysterious ways and answers our questions through means we might not recognize at first. Even though I chose to go to pretty random workshops on Saturday, every single one helped me find a little more clarity and purpose.”
Elder Taeoalii, Pacific Area Seventy, said these events provided an opportunity for the YSA to connect with other people and bring joy to one another. He said, “We might feel lonely sometimes, especially those who don’t have family here in Hawaii, but what is wonderful about the single adults is [their ability] to relate with others. We can be lifted, strengthened, and edified by sharing aloha.”
Elder Taeoalii finished his remark to the YSA saying, “My advice is stay close to the Lord. Heavenly Father is always a prayer away if you ever feel lonely. You will feel the love the most, you might not feel it from outside but just take the love and share with others and extend it.”