Youth in Mexico Participate in “For the Strength of Youth” Summer Conferences
Contributed By John Griffin, Church News Contributor
- Youth from Mexico attended a weeklong For the Strength of Youth camp.
- Mexico Area youth have been challenged to become a force for change and “hasten the work of salvation.”
- One nonmember received permission to be baptized at the camp at the end of his session.
“After leaving FSY I do not want to hide my testimony. I want to share it with everyone.” —Daniel Flores Sánchez, FSY participant
Situated at about 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) is Rancho El Guarda, one of Mexico’s beautiful Church-owned camps. During the summer El Guarda serves as a temporary home for over a thousand youth each week who come to participate in For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences.
This year youth from the coordinating councils in Oaxaca, Queretaro, Xalapa, and Puebla South participated in weeklong sessions at El Guarda, during which they associated with other young people, shared talents and testimonies, and were taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The other Church-owned camp located near Monterrey, Mexico, Campo Sion, hosted sessions for the Monterrey West and Saltillo Missions. Some 12,000 Latter-day Saint youth were able to attend one of these Church camps this year.
Lessons are taught and led by young single adult counselors, many of which are returned missionaries. General themes are emphasized each day, including the annual theme for Young Men and Young Women, which this year emphasized the words from section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants: “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.”
Mexico Area youth have been challenged to become a force for change and to help Mexico to take its place in the Church by helping the Lord to “hasten the work of salvation.” The Mexico Area Plan Vision is often memorized and quoted by youth: “We will hasten the work of salvation by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ. We will make the sacrifices needed to become temporally and spiritually self-reliant, to provide for our own needs, and to support the growth of the kingdom throughout the earth.”
It is not an uncommon event for less-active members of the Church and even nonmembers to attend. All share testimonies of the influence of other Latter-day Saint young people. Many return to activity, and this summer, one young man, Bryan Ricardo Cosío Marín, was baptized in a stream at the camp.
Ricardo’s parents were introduced to the gospel 11 years before their baptism. At the time they did not accept the gospel, but last April they were baptized. Ricardo, who was 14, did not get baptized with his parents because of doubts and lack of testimony, but he regularly attended church with the family. In February he registered to attend the FSY conference in July at Camp Sion.
Ricardo arrived at FSY on Monday. By Thursday, he felt so impressed by the Spirit that he wanted to be baptized. The FSY leaders called the mission president, the stake president, and Ricardo’s bishop. Permission was granted for a special interview and baptism. On Friday afternoon in a small stream that bisects the camp, Ricardo was baptized by one of his counselors in the FSY program. The setting was beautiful, with the stream surrounded by trees and 600 fellow FSY participants. The choir from the music program of the night before sang hymns, and a counselor who had greatly influenced Ricardo gave a talk. His parents and bishop were able to drive to the camp and be there for the ordinance. “I am so happy to take this first step,” Ricardo said. “Now I know that this is the true Church.”
With 1.3 million members of the Church, 13 temples dedicated or soon to be dedicated, 34 missions, more than 7,000 missionaries, and 231 stakes, Mexico is becoming a multigenerational force in the Church. The youth are strong and taking their place as future Church missionaries and leaders and as stalwart citizens of Mexico.
“After leaving FSY I do not want to hide my testimony. I want to share it with everyone,” said Daniel Flores Sánchez, one of the youth who attended this year.
Another youth, Carolina Olivares, said, “FSY is an activity that changes lives. It truly changed mine. I feel that there couldn't have been a better motto for FSY: Embark in the Service of God. If we pay attention to these words, they are really marvelous.”
María Fernanda Espinoza Núñez said, “This is my first FSY and truthfully I feel so good, very special. ... I know that if I want to have an eternal family I must make the effort to do it and be the example for my family.”