News Release

Church Conference Strengthens Cambodia Young Single Adults

YSA throughout Cambodia gather for workshops, activities and a special Sunday sacrament service

Young single adults (YSA) from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout Cambodia gathered for a three-day conference from January 6-82023.   The conference provided an opportunity for more than 300 YSA to gather from around the country at the Garden City Resort, near Phnom Penh, for workshops, devotionals, games, water activities and a special Sunday sacrament service.

Conference-goers were welcomed with a balloon backdrop for photos and a beautifully decorated conference room. The conference started with a song and prayer.  After some announcements and a welcome by President Eng Bunhuoch of the Cambodia North Stake, the YSA participated in get-to-know-you games. Participants were divided into 30 random groups and then answered questions about themselves. 

Following the games, classes were held in the conference center by selected speakers chosen by the YSA committee, including Church leaders and young adults. 

Work and education was the first topic introduced by Saret Long of the Cambodia Phnom Penh Mission Presidency. He shared a story from when he was young and started working.  He said that while he was trying to finish school he started working as a guide, but still needed more money, so he took a second job cleaning shoes.  He said we should start with at least a small job, maybe not the job we want for the rest of our career, but it is a start to a better job. We should work and study hard. Brother Saret said that even though he had a job when he was younger, he continued to study and improve so he could better support his family.

The second speaker was Samnang Sea.  Samnang spoke about education and said that we should not delay our education.   He discussed how education opens opportunities for us to have better employment.  He discussed how to find answers to the questions of how we know where we should go and what we should do.  He said Heavenly Father knows what we need and can guide us in our decisions.  He shared a quote he used to hear from his grandpa when things were hard.  He said, “After the rain, the sky will be clear.” He asked the YSA to consider who they are and what they want to become and to set goals and focus on what they want to accomplish and when things are hard, they will get better.

The next two speakers were YSA participants.  Boran Oroum spoke about how BYU Pathways Worldwide changed his life.  He started on Pathway, then BYU Idaho, and now he will attend BYU-Hawaii.  He said, “Trust in the Lord, continue with Pathway so we can continue with education."

Devona Jackson spoke about education and BYU Pathways Worldwide. Devona is a YSA and has a bachelor’s degree, a master's degree, and a Ph.D. in educational programming. She said education is the gateway to a better future and a way to better support a family and become better servants in the Church. BYU Pathways Worldwide offers those tools to help.

Palla Yen spoke about marriage and finding a spouse.  He said that we should set goals and be in a good environment. He advised us that we should work hard and spend our time wisely and not focus on material things. 

The temple was the topic of discussion by Chan Sophornn.   He spoke about the need and purpose to get married in the temple.  Temple marriage, he said, is necessary to receive the greatest blessings of the gospel.

Mari Na, who is the family history consultant from the North Stake, shared her expertise in family history and the need to prepare for the temple by downloading the family history app and adding family names to a personal account.  She asked the YSA to go online with their phones and download the app and sign into their accounts.

The Friday classes were attended by almost 250 participants and there were over 300 YSA for the Saturday and Sunday portions of the conference.  Upon the conclusion of the classes, they adjourned for dinner in the hotel, which was a very nice buffet-style meal.  The first day of the conference ended with a question-and-answer session, with panel members, which included some of the conference speakers and Church and stake leaders. 

Day two of the conference involved the YSA attending the nearby water park which included water slides, a wave pool and a wave rider.  The weather was cool and overcast with small rain showers, but it did not deter a fun day in the water and meeting new friends from all over Cambodia.  

Dinner was held in the Sou Sou Suki Soup Restaurant in Phnom Penh.  The restaurant was large and was able to accommodate the buses and all of the YSA and leaders and was enjoyed by all.

Day two of the conference concluded with a pool party consisting of three hours of dancing, singing, and mingling around the pool area.

Sunday morning was held in the large conference room where the YSA enjoyed a special and very spiritual sacrament meeting, conducted by one of the YSA .  Priesthood holders from each stake and district blessed and passed the sacrament.  One person described it as a "special and holy event filled with the spirit."  During the sacrament portion of the meeting, it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

President Eng said, "It was a miracle considering 300 young adults were gathered together from all over the country in one place. I believe nearly every person in that room was touched by the reverence and the Spirit that was present as we renewed our covenants together, and it was the first time that members from every area of Cambodia had gathered together to partake of the sacrament with each other as YSA."

Following the sacrament portion of the meeting, approximately 30 YSA members stood and shared their testimonies and experiences about the conference and how they now understood the importance of temple marriage, and not procrastinating, and some even shared that they were going to serve missions because of what they had learned and felt throughout the activity.  Some of the YSA expressed that they not only enjoyed the activity but were willing to make important life changes because of it.

At the close of our meeting, Cambodia Mission President Veasna Neang bore his testimony that the YSA are the generation that the Lord has prepared for the last days, and that "the people in this meeting will be the future leaders of Christ's restored Church." He said that "you are children of God before any other title the world gives you, and you need to believe in your potential."

The conference concluded with lunch at the hotel before departing for their many destinations.  Many traveled from the provinces to enjoy each other’s company. Some of the YSA traveled more than seven hours to meet with other YSA who share their same beliefs.  The countrywide YSA conference is often the only opportunity many YSA  have to meet with others who share their same beliefs.

The success of the conference stemmed from the YSA planning committee meeting together early in the summer to start preparation.  Discussions about the topics for the conference began in August and September of 2022.  The last few weeks before the conference involved the YSA planning committee sprinting to finish final preparations.  Committee members arrived at the conference early to decorate and prepare for guests’ arrival.

YSA were asked what they liked best about the conference.  Ratha said she loved the talk about Pathways and education because Pathways changed her life.  Changlim said she loved the conference and liked the talk about marriage and the temple best.  She also said she had friends who told her that because of the conference that they were going to make positive changes in their lives.  Several others loved the classes and the sacrament meeting. 

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