Monday, March 28, 2016

Yaoundé District First Ever Youth Conference

First Ever Yaoundé District Youth Conference

On Friday and Saturday, the 25th and 26th of March, the Youndé District held its first Youth Conference.

On Friday, we went to a beautiful exercise park not far from the dedicatory site.  In the morning, we had teams that worked to clean up trash.  One group helped fix a children's playhouse that was missing twelve steps leading up to it.  Another mended the nylon netting that keeps tennis balls in the court.  The last group worked to fix the chain link fence around the basketball court, while a welder we hired put a rim on one of the baskets and added supports to that one as well as the other.  It was a great day!  (This week has been really rainy--except for Friday and Saturday.  We were so grateful!)

On Saturday, we met at one of the buildings that we have recently begun to use as a chapel.  It was a little small, but provided a beautiful setting for the activities of the day.  The youth were in charge of all of the activities--getting to know you, communication, trust, working together, family history, the armor of God, choice and accountability, repentance, friends, language, priorities and staying the course.  They did a great job.  It was a bit of a logistical challenge getting things going in an orderly way--usually they come and meet all together to hear someone talk--that's a typical activity, which is very infrequent.  Hope you enjoy some photos!

Friday at Parcours Vita--the Exercise Park

Registration table.  

Pres. Luc Njumbe greeting the youth.  Don't they look good in their T-shirts?

The welder we hired made the basket on-site.  He did a great job!

Part of our service involved re-installing the chain link fencing around the basketball court.  It was on the ground, covered in vines on one end of the court.  Here are youth working together!

The stairs leading up to the children's playhouse were nearly all missing.  One group did a great job repairing them and fortifying the sides--they were pretty wobbly!

Very few of the kids have ever used tools other than machetes.  They were anxious to learn.

The park has a 2 kilometer path with 19 exercise stations along it.  The largest part of the youth worked in pairs to pick up plastic bottles and trash--that get left all over here.  It looked fantastic when we left.

Here are some of the youth trying to fix a hole between some nylon netting and the chain link fence.  Teamwork!

There wasn't much we could do in some areas, but they were determined to find some way to make it better!

They ended up threading nylon twine between sections of the nylon mesh, as well as between the nylon and chain link.

It was amazing how fast they worked.  It took just over an hour for them to get things looking great!  Lots of bags of garbage were hauled off.

Here's our welder.  There was no hoop--and a hole in the metal backboard when he started.

Here are some youth tying the chain link to the top wire to hold it up.  (Right here, they're really longing to be playing soccer with the young men down on the soccer field!)

The district bought lots of bananas for a snack.

After the snack, we had the soccer field reserved for a game of "Capture the Flag".  That's probably the first time it's ever been played in Cameroon.  At first, they wanted to tackle each other and drag them to the prisons.  After stopping that, things went a little better, but they love to argue......

Notice the line between sides.  There was a spot of lighter colored sand.  They picked up handfuls and made their demarcation.  Pretty ingenious!

Here are the sisters working on lunch.  Avocados, tomatoes, and cabbage mixed with a dressing in French bread for a sandwich.  It wasn't bad!

After lunch, one of the coaches that works at the park took us through the course.  Here, they dip under the bar and go back up on the other side, numerous times.  Each station works a different set of muscles.

Pull-up bars.  I'd hate to meet some of these girls in a dark alley!  They are strong!!!

There are two stations that use these logs.  It's a good workout!  You can see the coach on the right in the light blue shirt.

Here's the finished stairway, complete with supports on the left.  They worked hard and did a great job!

The finished basket, painted and all.  (I'm not sure why the rim is painted white--camouflaged!  You'd have to be a good shot to make baskets here!)

Saturday's activities at the Manguier Chapel

Anne helping with name tags.  Colored dots divided them into groups both days.  One large dot for the morning activities, and a small dot for the afternoon's.  The kids stayed in their groups pretty well!

Different branches arriving in the courtyard.  We had activities planned outdoors both days, and were so grateful that the rain held of until Saturday night.  (It's the rainy season, and when it rains, it POURS!!!)

There wasn't enough room for everyone to sit in chairs, so we scrunched together on the floor.  Here, they're learning the youth song of the year, "Press Forward".

Pres. Luc Njumbe speaking to the group.  Pres. Modest Awomo, 2nd counselor, seated.  Pres. Modest was a great help in putting this together.  He was the link to all of the branches and district auxiliary presidencies. 
One of the first activities Saturday was a "getting to know you" time.  They had a sheet with 15 things describing someone--read the entire Book of Mormon, first members in their family, liked chocolate, traveled outside the country, etc.  They needed to find 15 unique individuals who fit those characteristics. 

Part of the acquaintance activities was forming lines in groups of 8 to 10 youth based on height, number of letters in their name, month they were born, etc. 

Here's one of the four activities directed by the youth.  This anglo young man is showing a presentation of how to create an account and getting on to

In one group, they had to work together to try to stand up without using their hands to push off the ground.  They worked in groups of 2, 4, 6, even up to 10.  They also did the "Human Knot" activity, trying to get untied and just form a circle.

Here's Dax.  He was the designer of the armor.  (Anne copied what he had done and cut it out of some cardboard we found at a supermarket that was foil covered.)  This group talked about the fiery darts of the adversary, and the importance of putting on the armor of God.  They were all given little pieces of red paper that had a bean enclosed, secured with a rubber band.  As they began, they talked about some of the temptations we face today.  They threw them at Dax, without the armor.  Then they talked about the different parts of armor as described in the scriptures.  Anne helped him into it, and then they talked about how the temptations of our time are so numerous, and come at us almost constantly.  The kids were allowed to throw lots and lots of the fiery darts, with no effect on Dax.  It was a fantastic lesson!

The "Shield of Faith" is there in the background.  They're all very attentive.  It's nice when the kids are in charge and doing the teaching.  Very powerful!

At lunch, Dax was eager to still wear his armor.  He was a good sport and let some of the others pose for pictures with him.

One branch taught a line dance to "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.

For lunch, they had a sandwich with a little meat, carrots, onions, tomatoes.  If you look closely at his T-shirt, you can see the logo we put on.  We were going to have the shirts all silk-screened, but the cost would have been $80--total budget was about $200, so we found some iron-on transfer paper, got out the ink-jet and went to work.  The paper must have been 10 years old--they definitely didn't peel off like others we've made before.  A little water, a rag, and some rubbing took the paper backing off all right.  Only a few that were deformed terribly.  Cost:  $14.

It doesn't look too appetizing, but it really does taste good.

After lunch, we had six short object lessons, again led by the youth.  

This group is explaining the importance of doing the important things in life first, then the rest will follow.

One group talked about choices and the inevitability of consequences for our choices.  Choice was written at one end of the two sticks, consequence at the other.  When a person makes a choice (one of the group members is asked to pick up the "choice" end of the stick) a consequence is automatically going to follow.  Some consequences come right away....some aren't seen for a long time--the long stick.

One powerful lesson was about the gift of repentance and the atonement.  The youth held heavy pieces of pavers in their hands, with their arms outstretched.  The young woman leading the group read the section on repentance from "For the Strength of Youth".  When they got tired, the were asked to put their burden in front of a chair that had a covered picture of the Savior.  When she had finished reading, and all had put their "burden" at the base of the chair, she uncovered the picture and talked about the atonement--how the Savior has already paid the price and asks us to repent and let Him heal us.  It was a great lesson!

Another of the activities concerned our influence on friends, and their influence on us.  Dry sponges were placed in a glass casserole dish.  Water was slowly poured on one of the sponges.  It soaked it up, and then began to overflow.  They talked about filling our lives with good things so we can have a good influence on others.  As the sponge could no longer hold any more water, the water began seeping into the dish and the other sponge began to absorb it.  A good lesson that for good or ill, we have an influence and are influenced by those around us.

Here are some videos that might give you a feel for what it's like to work with these great people.

We loved our two days with the youth and their leaders.  We hope this is just the first of many youth conferences and weekly activities!  The youth throughout the church are amazing!!!!