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Youth Embark on First-Ever Micronesian Pioneer Trek!

Sarah Harris Church News

Youth learned about faith, sacrifice, and the power to do hard things as they trekked through the jungles of Micronesia.

Micronesian youth pulled bamboo travois, or sleds, along a trail through the jungles of Pohnpei during the pioneer trek July 18–20.

The event also commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Church in Pohnpei, a 129-square-mile island about 2,500 miles east of the Philippines, where the activity was held.

“I heard that this will be the first trek, and many said that it would be hard,” said Heinrich S., a young man who attended the trek. “One of the things that kept me strong until today were the testimonies of the adults and the other youth members.”

The group of 90 youth and 40 leaders walked for about five to seven miles each day and ended the three-day trek having traveled a total distance of 18.5 miles.

“I wanted to feel what the pioneers experienced,” said Denirose T., a young woman who went on the trek. “I wanted to see the miracles that the youth experience. I also wanted to mingle with the youth and learn a lot of things from the trek.”

Youth play a hoop race.
Photo courtesy of Asia North Area

On the first evening of the trek, the youth held ice cubes while they listened to pioneer stories. The ice cubes helped them remember the freezing weather many pioneers faced. Their trek also included pioneer games, service projects at the schools where the group stayed overnight, a reenactment of the Mormon Battalion, and a river crossing, during which the young men helped and carried the young women across.

“At that river, I could see that there was love between the people doing the trek because the men sacrificed themselves to help us through the hard part of the trek,” said Lucy L., a young woman who participated the trek. “To me, the Church [nurtures] love. They didn’t think of it as a burden. They were willing to help us.”

Young men helped carry young women across the river.
Photo courtesy of Asia North Area

Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita, General Authority Seventy and member of the Asia North Area Presidency, and his wife, Sister Tazuko Yamashita, visited the youth on the second day of the trek. They gave a devotional that evening encouraging the youth to listen to the Holy Ghost as a personal Liahona in their lives.

“Seek guidance from your Father in Heaven with all your heart as you think about and decide your future,” said Elder Yamashita. “Ask Him in faith to send the Holy Ghost to teach you what to do.”

Sister Yamashita shared during the devotional about following the Spirit in her decision to go on a mission. Lucy said the story inspired her to serve a mission.

Elder Yamashita greets youth.
Photo courtesy of Asia North Area

“[Sister Yamashita] was very conflicted about whether she should go serve a mission, but the Lord helped her and she was happy after her mission,” Lucy said. “I can now think that I don’t need to worry about anything else. If I really want to serve the Lord, I know He can help me.” (Read “Preparing to Serve: Suggestions for Young Women.”)

Although the trek was difficult, Lucy said she is grateful she was able to attend and finish the journey with the Lord’s help.

“Before I went on the trek, I did not have the faith that I would be able to do something like this,” Lucy said. “Now I can say that my faith is stronger because of what I did.”

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