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‘FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOU’ 2013 – HARARE, ZIMBABWE, AFRICA

‘FOR THE STRENGTH OF YOU’ 2013

HARARE, ZIMBABWE, AFRICA

‘For the Strength of You” 2013 – Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa

We hear so many reports of sad and scary things going on in the world – all the beautiful and good things are not reported as frequently.  We hear so much about bad people making bad choices and doing bad things, however I have a fervent testimony that there are wonderful people making wonderful choices and doing wonderful things.

This year’s Harare, Zimbabwe – ‘For The Strength of You’ Camp held at Prince Edward School was an amazing reflection of some of these ‘wonderful things’.  People from near and far, rich and poor, black and white, companies and individuals, old and young, celebrities and everybody!  We all came together in an effort to strengthen and teach 800 twelve – eighteen year olds.  What a blessing this camp was, not just for the Youth, but for all those who had the opportunity to help, uplift, guide and serve.  Whether it was cleaning dormitories and toilets or peeling potatoes, or mentoring or teaching or simply being together – it was beautiful to watch our community unite in such a positive way, for such a great cause.

The Miracles surrounding these camps have always been a highlight and this year was no different.  It is always wondrous to be a witness as the path is cleared before us.  People are kind and selfless, and consider it a privilege to be a part of this project that in itself is a miracle.  Once again our venue was fully booked and the dates we had selected were possible election dates, but we had prayed and had been told to ‘Be Still’. People thought we were crazy not to have an alternate plan.  Of course everyone was surprised (except us) when different dates were confirmed for the election. 

The winter weather warmed up 2 days before camp and cooled down again shortly after, that was a Miracle as we had close to freezing point during last year’s camp. 

The injuries at camp were minor and all the Youth were safe.  Some of the celebrities we invited to participate had previous engagements, however we had been inspired to ask them and kept them in our plans even though they had said they could not make it – their events were delayed or cancelled and all were able to attend!  One of the National Soccer Stars said “I’ll know better next time you ask, I will know God is on your side and my other plans will get cancelled!” 

Shortly before camp when preparations were at their peak – some young volunteers from Germany arrived – they had been scheduled to assist on a project in a rural area, however with the pending elections they were not allowed to travel there.  In the group was a young LDS couple, they had heard my sister speak in Germany earlier in the year and had our contact details. They called out of the blue and offered their services.  Needless to say this was a blessing both for them and for us.  We were able to find them accommodation and keep them safe during a very sensitive period in Zimbabwe and they were able to pack and sort for our camp – God’s timing is always perfect!  We also received the great blessing of several American volunteers who sacrificed their time and money to travel and be with us for the duration of camp.  The Youth felt so loved and special!  What a Miracle it was for us to be able to share our faith and beliefs with so many who participated in our camp. 

The goal of this camp, as it always has been, is to teach our Youth that ‘It doesn’t matter where you start – it is where you finish’ and the very simple concept that ‘Good Choice = Good Life – Bad Choice = Bad Life’.  We strive to help them gain a testimony of Jesus Christ and to understand that if He is the foundation on which they build their lives, that they will be able to achieve anything.  We believe that through God and with education, exposure and empowerment we can enable them to live their lives more fully and with greater opportunities. 

After registering on the first day and settling into our dormitories, we held the Opening Ceremony.  With months of planning behind us we finally had all the Youth together and had their full attention – now it was up to us to make an impact in their lives.  Thankfully we had the help of some amazing people to make that difference.  Several local celebrities attended the camp at different times as surprise highlights for the Youth.  The main reason for their involvement was to convey the idea that they are important – important people gave up their time to come and serve and make a difference in their lives.  Many of the celebrities we invited had an inspiring story to share, testifying to the Youth that with hard work and faith in God you can attain your potential and fulfill your dreams.  The ‘Monomatapa Soccer Club’ and the Zimbabwe Womens National Soccer Team – ‘The Mighty Warriors’ came to the Opening Ceremony as a surprise for the Youth. When they entered the hall – the sound was deafening – the Youth could not believe they were there!  When we explained that they would be attending and conducting various activities throughout the camp – the Youth went crazy!  What a highlight.

The circumstances in which these Youth live are incredibly difficult.  Many are unable to attend school as they cannot afford the fees.  Many in attendance exist in abject poverty, so the gifts they received were overwhelming.  Due to the generosity of many we were able to provide each Youth with a hygiene kit (Soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels, a comb & sanitary pads for the Girls), a school kit (books, pencils, pens, eraser, sharpener, scissors, ruler, crayons), 2 pairs of underwear and 2 pairs of socks, Scriptures, Candy, books, pictures and Inspirational handouts with the Mutual Theme for 2013 ‘Stand Ye in Holy Places’ etc.  The Youth were spoilt and they felt it!  Incredibly there is always enough for everyone and this has been made evident by the fact that we were able to pack for the Youth from some of the Mission Branches who were unable to attend. We have also packed for the Bulawayo and Marimba ‘Youth Camps’ and we are currently packing for a Young Women Camp to be held in Beira, Mozambique.  Those of you that have contributed have no idea how far your kindness has and will continue to reach!  THANK YOU!

In past years we have held a Talent Show, however we felt this excluded many of our Youth and their talents as it focuses primarily on Performing Arts.  So this year we invited the Youth to participate in a Visual Arts contest.  They submitted their pieces in advance, which gave us time to curate and judge prior to the start of camp.  The pieces were on display throughout the event and it made them feel really special to have their art up for all their peers to see!  Similarly we felt those Youth with sporting talents have been unable to shine in past years, so the program after lunch on the first day was focused on sports. We had some accomplished volunteers (Who have represented Zimbabwe in their respective sports) who ran workshops and were able to identify some of the amazing sporting talent we have amongst our Youth.  The workshops that were held were, Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Basketball and Athletics.  The sports prize giving confirmed how important it was for the Youth to have a sporting platform from which they could ‘shine’.  These workshops also provided valuable exposure for those with promise, it could mean a scholarship, sponsorship or schooling.  

Due to financial constraints in previous years we have only been able to host the youth for 1 or 2 nights.  This year we knew we needed to hold the camp for 3 nights, as we felt it was very important to introduce a ‘Family Home Evening’ night.  We did not know how we were going to afford it, but we have learned that when God asks you to do it, He will make a way. We knew it was supposed to happen, so we went ahead and planned it.  Of course the Lord sent His angels and delivered His miracles. Through the great kindness of specific people we were able to afford everything we needed for all three days!  Thank you!

That first night we had planned to hold FHE in 50 smaller groups around campfires outside, however as fate would have it ZESA (electricity suppliers) turned us off (this rarely happens at Prince Edward as it is in town near the hospitals).  The only light on campus was in the main hall which was connected to the generator.  Without announcement the Youth began gathering in the hall – they were drawn towards the light!  This was the perfect illustration that in the darkness of the world people are compelled towards the light of the Gospel.  We simply could not have the Youth wandering around in the dark, so we changed plans and gathered the entire group in the main hall supported by generator.  It was perfect!  The Spirit was so strong and the Youth learned from many about the importance of Standing in Holy Places, the pitch darkness outside was an illustrative contrast to the warm light inside ….an amazing lesson …..and the Youth got it!

The next morning was greeted with eager smiles and energetic bodies.  The boys kicked off the day with Tag Rugby and the girls with Zumba.  A hearty breakfast followed and then we launched straight into our workshops attending 5 before lunch and 5 after.  These were amazing and were conducted by strong people with incredible life experience. They were:

·        ‘Standards for Salvation’ (Bishop Robert Spencer)

·       ‘Decisions Determine Destiny’ (Taught by Mercy Mugadza & Terri Jensen SLC)

·       ‘Sexual Abuse’(Reeve, Laurette & Marshall -‘Childline’ Representative)

·       ‘Self Defense’ (Coach Smart – An International Judo expert)

·       ‘Called To Serve’ (Taught by the LDS Missionaries)

·       Soccer (Taught by Zimbabwe’s National Soccer Coach and current Members of the Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer Team, ‘The Mighty Warriors’)

·       Dance (Taught by Josh & Lyfstyle Dance Crew – International Dance Competitors)

·       Newspaper Fashion Show (Cecilie Lundgreen, Francesca Mudzimba & Cornelia Rautenbach)

·       Table Tennis (Taught by John Muringani – Head of National Table Tennis Association)

·       Choir (Sister Myers from Idaho)

·       Basketball (Elder Myers & Kim Holzer)

·       Rugby (Reg Nield & Alex Demblon)

 

 

 

 


Two years ago Tinotenda received a wheelchair kindly donated to us by LDS Charities. After MUCH use, we were VERY GRATEFUL to be able to give him a new one!

Each of these workshops was mentioned as a favourite by some of the Youth.  They were the perfect combination of fun and learning.  After a hearty dinner and a quick shower the Youth gathered for the Talent Show.  Celebrity guest judges lent real credibility to the event this year and as usual this proved to be a very popular activity, which stirred great responses from both participants and audience.  Of course noise was the prevailing theme as they cheered and celebrated one another’s talents and abilities.  They were joyful in both their participation and appreciation and the excitement was contagious.  We all went to sleep shattered but content!

Day 3…Another 5am early start with zumba (YW) and tag rugby(YM) followed by showers and breakfast.  Our 2 hour Youth Conference is always a highlight!  All of the Young Men had received a tie and we had tried to also give them white shirts. Unfortunately we did not have enough for all those Young Men who needed it. However we had managed to provide the Young Women with Sunday attire.  Incredible reverence, love and respect fills that room as the multimedia presentation of Christ, invites the Spirit and teaches our hearts.  We were so blessed to have a special message from Sister Bonnie Oscarson (Young Women General President) & Bishop Paul Oscarson, an absolute highlight for them to know that they thought of them and cared how they are.  This was a particularly poignant moment for the many non-members in attendance.  It is impossible not to gain or strengthen your testimony of Christ as music, videos and speakers bear witness of His majesty and grace.  Since the conclusion of camp it has been wonderful to hear of the many converts who were introduced to the Gospel of Jesus Christ through this Youth camp who have since been Baptized.

Several of the Youth who had been impacted by the Sexual Abuse workshop the day before had the opportunity to meet with a counselor throughout the day and those with physical concerns were able to receive medical attention.  

After lunch we took our group picture which was followed by a rotation of 50 fun games.   This afternoon allows these Youth just to be kids and to play and laugh with abandon.  Of course many of the adults played like kids too!  During that evening we had the dance – in Africa all of life is music and we’ve definitely got some moves!  Everyone got dressed up and danced the night away, a rare treat for most of these Youth to be able to dance in a safe and moral environment.

Our final day started with a Sunrise Testimony Meeting.  Seated on the bleachers facing east, the Youth have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.  What an honour it is to provide this platform for these wonderful Souls!  They are strong, they are funny, they are resolute in their charge to Stand in Holy Places.  They love their Heavenly Father and their brother Jesus Christ, they believe in what they are doing and who they are becoming.  They are grateful to have found the truth. 

Breakfast followed and after breakfast we cleaned up both inside and outside the school, as part of the ‘Mormon Helping Hands’ initiative. 

At our closing ceremony we were able to show a few ‘I am a Mormon’ videos for the benefit of the many investigators in attendance.  This was followed by a great message from our Stake President, President Albert Mutariswa. 

As the camp drew to a close the youth sang:

‘THESE ARE THE DAYS’

 Noble Youth of every nation
We have heard the call
Born to lead this generation
We are standing tall
We are strong
And we are brave
We have the courage to obey
This is the time
We know the way
We believe in the difference we can make
(These are the days)
To hold up our light
Strengthen our brother
Help each other Home
(These are the days)
To live for what’s right,
Stand as a witness,
Share the truth we know.
We will raise our voice
We will make the choice
To take our place with hearts of faith
These are the days!
We will be the hands of heaven,
Messengers of God.
Faithful to the gifts He’s given
Holding to the rod.
We have hope
And we have faith
We believe that words can change
We rejoice
And celebrate
As we unite in the power of His name

(These are the days)
To hold up our light
Strengthen our brother
Help each other home
(These are the days)
To live for what’s right,
Stand as a witness,
Share the truth we know.
We will raise our voice
We will make the choice
To take our place with hearts of faith
These are the days!
Guided by His endless grace
We’re following his path
If we’re faithful we’ve been promised all the Father has!

Hold up your light!
Hold up our light
Strengthen our brother
Help each other home
To live for what’s right
Stand as a witness
Share the truth we know.
We will raise our voice
We will make the choice
To take our place with hearts of faith These are the days!
To take our place with hearts of faith, these are the days!

*****************************************************************************************

Followed by a montage of campwhich the Youth LOVED watching!

http://youtu.be/mR8LtJJSWXo

What an honor, what a privilege, what a Miracle to have had the chance to make a difference in their lives for these few short days! 

THANK-YOU for making it possible…we are changing their Lives, and they are changing the world!!!

THESE YOUTH ARE AMAZING!!!

 
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