Dear Family & Friends: We are having so many new and exciting adventures to tell you about. We get up around 5:45am and go as fast as we can until bedtime, learning our new responsibilities and having a peek at this BEAUTIFUL country. We hope in this blog we can express how blessed we are to testify of Jesus Christ and serve Him in this amazing corner of the world! HAERE MAI* to our blog, we're glad you are visiting us!.....(*This means 'WELCOME' in the Maori language)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Youth Minister to Youth:

 "You Are Not Just Our Future, But Our Now!"

Wellington, New Zealand  — 

New Zealand's Minister for Youth Affairs, and Minister for Social Development and Employment, the Honourable Paula Bennett, urged a group of Latter-day Saint young adults yesterday to prepare to lead in the future, and to lead now.

“We have a democracy. What a great country we live in," Ms Bennett said. "If we strive, achieve, and believe we can be great leaders. Why not you? You have been identified as leaders and have a responsibility to speak up for those around you. You are not just our future but our now.”

40 young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited Parliament in Wellington New Zealand yesterday, part of a leadership forum.

The aim of the visit, according to organizer Anthony Wilson, is "to give some of our young people a chance to meet our nation's leaders, but even more importantly, to help the youth develop their vision and ability to become leaders in their homes, universities, workplaces, congregations and communities."

 Young Single Adults from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Young Single Adults in Parliament

 Young Single Adults in Parliament

We have just returned from Wellington, NZ and are still relishing the success of the event we helped organized.  This project has been a year in the making and had so many details to work through that we are pleased it has finally come to fruition.  Every stake president in NZ was asked to nominate 2 of his most outstanding young single adults (YSAs) as delegates for a trip to Parliament.  The purpose was to expose our youth to opinion leaders and to inspire them to become as educated as they can and to make a difference by serving in their communities and government.  

We want to encourage our young people to get involved, stand up and take a stand for moral issues.  Based on the decisions made in Parliament this week, confirmed that our efforts are well placed.  Several days ago Parliament voted to take the first step to legalize gay marriage.  In addition, they voted to make 18 the legal age for legal drinking even though there is a severe alcohol problem among the young people in NZ.  What are they thinking!

But back to our event.  We arranged for our 35-40 delegates to fly, drive or take a chartered bus to Wellington.  The evening we arrived we had a wonderful fireside.  Elder Kevin Pearson, of our Area Presidency was our special speaker, and he was so inspired.  He told our youth to dream big, and to get all the education they could get.  He said 'average' was the enemy of  excellence.  There will always be room at the top for those who work hard and have great determination.  He told them they were accountable for what they made of their lives.

The next day was spent in Parliament.  It was an eyeopener to me to see how well respected the church is in NZ when 25 Members of Parliament took time out of their busy schedules and accepted the invitation to speak and mingle with our youth, make presentations and share lunch with them.  

It was fascinating to learn about how their form of democracy works.  The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the most powerful member of Parliament addressed the youth and answered their questions, as well as the Senior National Party Whip, and the Senior Labour Party Whip.  (We learned the history of the title 'Whip').  We were able to tour parts of the historic buildings and later in the afternoon we observed Parliament in session. (Gives a whole new meaning to juvenile, and disrespectful behavior.)

After a very long and exciting day, we met back at the chapel for pizza, socializing and testimonies.  I could tell by many of the testimonies shared, that this experience will be a turning point in the lives of some of these wonderful, faithful, young people.  

 Dr The Right Honorable Lockwood Smith
Speaker of the House

 Honorable Paula Bennett - Member of Parliament
Minister for Social Development and Youth Affairs

 Elder Kevin W. Pearson
Pacific Area Presidency

 Chris Hipkins, Member of Parliament
Labour Senior Whip
Nicky Wagner, Member of Parliament

 Michael Woodhouse, Member of Parliament
National Senior Whip

 Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Member of Parliament

 Anthony Wilson, Coordinator of the event

 Melanie Riwai-Couch, DPA, Elder Pearson, Eileen Mueller, DPA, Su'a William Sio, Member of Parliament

 What a great group of young Latter-day Saints!!!