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!!!