News Release

FSY Cape Town: ‘Heavenly Father Will Always Be There for Us’

Almost 450 young people gathered on the Western Coast of South Africa for a five-day spiritual feast.

Written by Nicole Annear

In a geographical region that covers more than 1000 kilometres, an area spanning from Cape Town in the Western Cape to Mthatha in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, youth from five stakes and one district came together to participate in a week-long For Strength of Youth (FSY) camp during the week of 6-11 January 2023.

Almost 400 youth, aged between 14-18 years, and 55 Young Single Adult counsellors (aged 18 to 30) gathered at the Hartenbos venue just outside the Western Cape coastal town of Mossel Bay. Many young people travelled 11 hours by bus to get there.

The conference focused on the 2023 youth theme, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). The youth were taught how to focus their lives on the Saviour, how to build their relationships by using Jesus Christ as their perfect example, likening scriptures to themselves, to allow God to be the most important influence in their lives, and “Does the Lord have a plan for me?” amongst other key topics.

Some wards encouraged their youth to leave their cell phones at home for the week. This was a difficult sacrifice to make at first; until some youth like Asitha Qengqa (16) from the East London 2nd Ward in the Mdantsane stake, discovered the benefits of connecting to the spirit. As a recent convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Qengqa said she is already applying the lessons she learnt at FSY and seeing a noticeable difference in her life. She has been able to be more committed in her scripture study, has felt the power of the Holy Ghost help her make difficult decisions, and has developed the courage to invite her mother to church. She noted, “Yes, we were disconnected from the internet but I’m grateful for that because it has taught me how to spend my free time. It has improved our family time at home because I’m no longer addicted to my phone.”

Chloe Hearne (17) from Lorraine Ward in the Port Elizabeth stake, said “Everyone was saying it was going to be an amazing experience, and I was like ‘We’ll see!’ But it honestly was! The people that I met, and the spiritual experiences I had; I’ll never forget! And having my testimony grow was really special because I didn’t think that would happen, but it did. I’m really grateful I had the opportunity to go.”

Benjamin Hammond (18) from the Mowbray Ward in the Belville stake, said he felt united with his fellow youth as they held hands and formed Christ’s battalion, that he was a genuine disciple of Christ and that he is part of His great work and throughout the week he was impressed by others acts of service, humility and was touched by genuine heavenly love for all his peers at FSY. The most valuable lesson he learnt was to stop comparing himself to others.

He witnessed, “Before the camp I knew we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others when it comes to material possessions; but on the camp I learnt not to compare myself to others with spiritual progression. We are all unique. Each of us have gone through very specific life experiences and everyone [progressing] at a different pace.

“I learnt that we are to set all forms of prejudice or hopelessness aside and see each other’s true potential as God sees in us. We are to be friends to everyone and to be there for each other.”

Gabriel Gertze (14) from the East London 3rd Ward in the Mdantsane stake, said he learnt that “Heavenly Father will always be there for us.”

Levina Nyoni, a young woman from the Khayelitsha ward in the Cape Town stake, said, “I prayed for the first time in forever…and in that moment when I prayed everything washed away and I remember that moment being clear in my head. That experience has been really special to me more than anything.”

Tanelle Gemmell, (18) from Lorraine ward in the Port Elizabeth stake, shared the most spiritual experience she had at FSY. “We … had a testimony meeting and it was just amazing to hear how many people have gone through something similar to everyone else but have gone through a lot and still in the gospel and still so strong in the gospel. And how the gospel has comforted them in their life and I just thought it was quite amazing. It made me love the gospel even more and find comfort in it even more.”

Lihlo Mhini (14) from Lorraine Ward in the Port Elizabeth stake, shared her highlights, “Every time it was gospel study and we would have a personal study, it was so nice, because I wasn’t someone who would read the scriptures, but the way it made me feel, I could feel the spirit every time we would read the scriptures.”

One Young Single Adult coordinator, Lauren Palmer, from the Mowbray Ward in the Belville said she observed the strength of the young counsellors in leading and supporting the youth. “Something that was quite special for me to observe were the efforts of the YSA counsellors in ministering to the youth and guiding them along their spiritual journeys. There were many youth -- more than expected -- who struggled with anxiety, panic attacks and related disorders. I can only imagine this could be partly due to the overwhelming number of activities and people they were surrounded by after many of them spent important years of their youth under covid restrictions. But the love and patience we saw being shown towards them from the counsellors and other youth was beautiful to witness.”

Dylan and Lee-Anne Chazen, from Somerset West ward in the Cape Town stake, were the session directing couple for FSY and witnessed the Lord’s hand in guiding the camp. Chazen said, “It was an incredible experience. It had the feel of being at the temple, on a mission and a camp all wrapped in one. We were in the world but not of the world - like the feeling of being in the temple. It was not easy, and we felt stretched almost to the limit at times, but that was when the spirit would lift us and give us added energy.”

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