Lorin Nicholson, a blind Latter-day Saint musician and motivational speaker shared a ‘Climb your own Mountain’ presentation, with teenagers attending a ‘Time for Youth’ gathering and inspired them to tackle challenges in their lives.
Brother Nicholson, from Brisbane, was one of several presenters sharing insights as part of the three-day ‘Time For Youth’ event, organised by Adelaide’s Marion Stake.
Legally blind from birth, Brother Nicholson knows a lot about achieving in the face of obstacles. His own disability did not prevent him from becoming an accomplished swimmer and springboard diver in his youth, and go on to create Australian history in 2010 when he and brother Dean became the first blind cyclists to ride (with tandem support) from Perth to Sydney.
“He had a great effect on everyone, including me,” said Caleb Rice, 16, from Adelaide. “He talked to us about achieving anything we have in our sights, and to believe in ourselves as we work towards that.”
Brother Nicholson used a unique blend of story-telling bridged with virtuoso guitar music to highlight achieving potential, and each session dove-tailed into the challenge of a rock wall climb set up on church grounds.
“My wife Lisa and I had a wonderful time working with the LDS youth in South Australia. It's simply inspiring to witness hundreds of young people with a desire to serve God, serve in their community, and be the very best person they can be,” Nicholson said.
Caleb was one of 200 young men and young women from across South Australia and Victoria who took part in TFY at the end of October. The theme ‘Stand Ye in Holy Places’ emphasised living with faith and integrity, no matter where they were.
Organisers balanced social and spiritual classes, with fun moments and time to develop talents. The programme of activities included workshops such as: ‘Knowing and Believing in the Best You’; ‘Stay Chilled under Pressure’; ‘Cyber Safety for the Soul’; ‘Healthy Mind and Spirit’ and ‘Learning to Learn’.
Dating, dancing, friendships, coping with anxiety, and recognising talents and gifts were covered, while participants also created a musical talent show.
Peer support from young adult advisors was another important aspect of the conference. Advisor Cassie Scott, 21, from Adelaide, lent a hand and friendly support on the yellow team named, whimsically, the ‘victorious super nuggets’.
“TFY was a great opportunity for the youth to take a break from their lives and come together with others who share similar standards,” Cassie said. “They were able to make a lot of new friendships which will last a long time.”
Kristina Brooks, 16, from Mildura, agreed: “Seeing and meeting so many youth who share the same beliefs, and who stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places was so strengthening.”
Attendee Joanna Paton, 16, from Mount Barker, appreciated the spiritual aspects: “TFY was by far the best spiritual experience I’ve ever had. You could feel the love through each of our brothers and sisters (and that) we were all one with each other. The messages from our leaders … were constantly building us up, trying to make us better people, and most importantly true followers of Jesus Christ. We don’t get that encouragement out in the world.”
She continued, “I can honestly say we all felt the spirit in such a powerful way that our testimonies grew from it. The spiritual workshops really helped (by) giving us a better knowledge of things we come up against in the world and increasing our faith in Jesus Christ.”
Many of the youth also created an ‘I’m a Mormon’ profile, outlining their personal conviction regarding their faith.
Additionally, they undertook a service project of Christmas-giving, as they filled 200 shoeboxes with stationery and other goods for disadvantaged children in South-east Asia, via Operation Christmas Child (an initiative of charity organisation Samaritan’s Purse).
For Hannah Sims, 14, from Adelaide, it was a highlight of the event.
“It was great to be able to support such a good cause, and put caring into action,” she explained. “My friends and I can access what we want, whenever we need to, but it’s not like that for less-fortunate children.”
Operation Christmas Child area coordinator Alison Elliss, who attended TFY on the project morning, said: “Many children live through very difficult circumstances – poverty, war, any number of things – and it does touch them, knowing that someone cares. We’re very happy that the LDS youth got involved this year.”
The shoeboxes will be sent throughout November to Thailand and Cambodia. The youth also included a photo and brief profile of themselves in the gift boxes.
Marion Stake President Paul Granger said TFY was a ‘defining moment’ for the young men and young women who attended.
“What stood out to me was lives were changed, friendships built, testimonies developed, commitments to serve missions made, and a greater appreciation of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness gained,” he said.