My Experience at the Guadalajara YSA Convention 2015 – Special Guest: David Archuleta
My Experience at the Guadalajara YSA Convention 2015 – Special Guest: David Archuleta
This post is a narrative and a collection of pictures about my experience at the Guadalajara YSA Convention 2015. There are several things about the convention here, so if you don’t want to read the whole thing, just scroll down and stop on anything you want to know.
What’s a YSA Convention?
Do you know what a YSA (Young Single Adults) convention of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is? A convention is a series of activities to help the participants to feel closer to God, find answers to very personal questions, meet other people that share the same values and principles, find the future spouse, and learn and develop other talents and skills. But in many cases, hidden somewhere very deep in our heads, and without saying it much, there is this belief of going to a buffet of potential prospects where YSA can find their contemporary Ruth or Captain Moroni (or in a more universal language: the prince or princess of their dreams).
|The story of Ruth is found in the Bible, precisely in the book of Ruth. In Ruth 1:16 you can see an example of her loyalty and fidelity. A brief description of the young Captain Moroni can be found in Alma 48:11-13, 17. In summary, a righteous man, valiant, and faithful.|
YSA conventions, also called regional or multistake conferences are a great opportunity to mingle with many young adult people with high standards and values from other regions or nearby zones.
The environment in these conventions goes in line with all what members of the Church should stand for at all times and in all places, in other words, participants should show a good behavior free of foul language, alcohol, cigarettes, illegal drugs, sexual relations outside of marriage, pornography, and more. There is also a kind and positive environment that encourages fraternity, honesty and friendship.
YSA conventions consist of messages and talks, games, dances, workshops of different subjects, and many more activities from early morning until very late at night. Generally they last two or three days.
Some YSA convention expenses are paid by the Church alone, others are paid by the participants, and some others are paid by both, Church and participants. There are also some private or independent conventions that are paid by the participants. YSA conventions around the world are very similar, but the individual stories and experiences are unique.
The Guadalajara YSA Convention 2015
In this convention, we had mainly YSA from Santiago Ixcuintla, Manzanillo, Colima, Puerto Vallarta, Ciudad Guzmán, Ameca y Guadalajara. From Guadalajara we had Independencia, Lomas and Union stakes (groups or congregations). There were over a thousand YSA registered, but only 750 made it to the convention. This is what Sister Solís said; and she was one who had a main role organizing the convention.
The theme of the convention was taken from a single line found in Acts 9:6 and it reads: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” We were encouraged to find the will of God in our own lives.
First Day – July 16, 2015
7:00 AM Arrival and Welcome
With a completely clear sky and the sun still below the horizon, my group arrived at the Guadalajara Temple. My sister and I got there very tired because the previous day we had had a surprise birthday party for our mom that had taken days to organize it.
Among the first YSA that arrived, we saw some still drowsy, others hungry, and others without any hope 🙂 We gathered in the sacrament room where we started singing a hymn followed by a prayer to give thanks and express our hope and enthusiasm for what it would follow. We waited for some minutes. It was until a happy orange sun lit up some faces when we were able to get on the bus.
I decided to leave my friends and meet new people so I sat alone on the front until a girl from Chihuahua sat next to me. She talked to me about the Mormon colonies during the trip.
8:00 AM Registration & Breakfast
In fact, around 8:30 AM, we arrived at the Hotel Villa Primavera. A place with a swimming pool, conference rooms, cabins, and over 30 hectares of La Primavera Wood. It is about 30 to 35 kilometers (18 to 21 miles) northwest of Guadalajara. The pure and fresh air softened the now intense sun that was giving life to all the green areas around.
Hundreds of YSA were now getting off their buses and started to carry their luggage. It was interesting to see that the girls’ luggage was three times larger than the boy’s. Some of them had brought more outfits than what it was required for three days. Some kind and strong men had to help some of their luggage.
We were asked to get a badge and a wristband and then our breakfast. Breakfast? Yes. At that moment, the word breakfast was my top priority. Behind a couple of tables some of our leaders were setting up the food. There were some boxes containing ham or pork tortas (a type of sandwich made with thick bread resembling some types of French roll). There were also oranges, chips, and flavored bottled water with a label of the convention.
9:00 AM LDS Fair
After eating and spending some time standing there with another friend and without knowing there was a fair going on, we saw other friends walking towards the fields. We joined them. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I saw some simple camp training areas. In order to get some enthusiasm we invited someone to try them out so we could follow. The luck fell on a girl, so we gave her some pressure… err… encouragement to get on a ladder that was tied from one tree to another. The challenge was crossing from one side to the other without falling down. No one in our group made it.
After that we went up to an area with Foosball, karaoke, giant bowling and some sort of a big goal and a football. We were now free to mingle and meet anyone. I departed from my group again and wandered around. The Foosball table caught my attention. I’m not a big fan of football (soccer), but give me a Foosball table and I can play for hours. There were so many people for just one table. The teams had two people and each match had one goal only, thus games ended faster so more people could play. I waited my turn. I played with someone I knew. We won five games in a row, then we had to wait for some time. I better kept wandering.
Once I got in the karaoke area, I was received by a group of people singing. There were probably around thirty voices singing in unison. There was even some people dancing. I also wanted to sing, but there was a huge line and I decided to keep exploring.
12:00 PM Welcome
It was noon when more than 750 participants and leaders were gathered under a huge white tent. President Ricardo Chavez from Union stake (my stake) presided and gave us a warm welcome. He reminded us the convention’s theme, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” The Solis’ marriage also took the floor. They had one of the top responsibilities in making the convention possible. They went to all stakes and district training and having family home evenings, they were coordinating all the convention under the supervision and counsel of President Chavez.
In summary, the program was a welcoming message. They told us about the planning of the convention, they encouraged us to take advantage of it followed by some instructions. They were also excited and they shared with us their testimony about God, the Church and how is that God gives us opportunities such as that convention to feel his love.
In the meantime, I walked around the audience taking pictures of as many YSA possible. I noticed that many couldn’t hide their enthusiasm. Despite a warm temperature inside the tent, their eyes were wide open and full of excitement.
12:30 PM Workshops
The workshops began on time. We were asked to choose a workshop. The options were self-sufficiency by President Olguin, Perpetual Education Fund by Elder Loza, education and employment by Brother Rivera, finances by Brother Garcia, and Pathway program by bishop Suarez.
I chose finances hoping that I would learn some magic secret to become rich and millionaire, but it was about something simpler and more in tune with reality. Brother Garcia showed some videos, asked some questions and responded some. The part I remember the most was putting God above all things.
2:00 PM Lunch
Right when I was feeling all the gastric juices controlling my thoughts again, we were told that the food was ready. The food was served in Styrofoam food containers (polystyrene). The guava drink we got was for me the best of all in terms of beverages. It was delicious.
The food was meat, vegetables, spaghetti and a bolillo (a type of Mexican roll). It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I was grateful and I didn’t starve, except for a few minutes before eating it.
After eating I took some more pictures and tried to meet some other people.
3:00 PM Relay Games
The relay games had 18 stations with a game each one of them. I remember the following in no particular order.
- Volleyball with a huge pink ball
- Throwing balls to get them inside portable foldable mesh fabric laundry hamper baskets (wow, that was long)
- Grass hockey with brooms
- Buddy walkers competitions
- Throwing bottles with small balls and a “goalie” or defender holding ping pong paddles (that was funny)
- Sack race
- Hoop relay (passing small Hula-Hoops across a circle of people but holding hands at all times)
- Filling cups with water and passing a small ball from cup to cup by blowing.
- Moving a ball from one side to another through some sort of squared path held by all participants
- Run mat
- Volleyball using towels
- Walking on planks held by others in the team
- Placing objects over other objects using a small hook that is connected by several strings held by all participants
- Passing rings from person to person using a straw in the mouth
- Pulling the rope
- 17. y 18. I honestly don’t remember.
The relay games were full of laughs. We were organized in teams with random participants so we would mingle with new people. A couple of minutes later, each YSA would be sharing ideas, enthusiasm, and creativity to help the team they were in.
Some games made me laugh a lot. I think throwing bottles with balls and placing a defender with ping pong paddles was funny. The grass hockey activity was also lots of fun. Everyone was running after the ball. And the match of volleyball with a huge ball was also fun. Some other games required a lot more precision and concentration.
After all the games we had delicious flavored shave ice cups that cheered up our sweaty, exhausted, and burned faces. The line was long, but we all got some.
6:00 PM Assignment of Cabins
We all got a place to stay. The girls got the rooms at the hotel and boys the cabins. We got random roommates. The impractical thing was that we only got one key to share. We had to wait or try to find the responsible of the key each time we wanted to get back into our place. Other than that the cabin was good.
I got cabin number four and the main bed. I won’t complain about that. There was another room with two beds and some spear foldable beds too in case there were needed more. In my cabin there were five of us. The other two without beds slept on the couches.
Once there we had some time to rest, get a shower, and/or mingle.
8:00 PM Dinner
I looked at the time and left my roommates who were still getting ready. Dinner was served on time. We got chicken, a baked potato, steamed vegetables, and a bolillo. The sauce was very good despite my piece of chicken was drier than the normal. My sister enjoyed the baked potato a lot and some others got better luck with the chicken, who would say it was their favorite dish in the convention.
9:00 PM Dance
The dance started with a brief welcome by President Chavez and a prayer. After that, our D.J. surprised us with an introduction full of light and sound effects, and a video. There was a cool combination of fog and colorful lights that I hadn’t seen before. I don’t doubt there might be a lot better, but for someone like me that doesn’t attend many dancing places, this was spectacular.
The music at first was techno and electronic with several percussion beats. A new dancing version of the song “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” by David Guetta caught my attention. The video was shown on a big screen. We all were so into the rhythm of the music and pleased by the electric guitars, reverberations, staccatos, and sweet sounds contrasted by dry beats that lead everyone to jump in synchrony while the lights changed in all forms, directions, intensity, and colors. During a climatic moment, the D.J. flaunted even more using indoor fireworks. After that there were Latin rhythms (cumbia, salsa, bachata, banda, etc.), some pop, and even Rock & Roll.
I left my camera and started dancing with some girls I didn’t know. We also danced in groups. It was hard to communicate because of the music volume, but at least we danced and several of us ended up with our clothes all wet, yes, I know, don’t get close to me, lol. All calories we got from dinner had been burned to the rhythm of the music our D.J. put into our ears. I heard new songs that made me wanting to dance like few times.
At a certain moment, the dance was paused to give awards to the winners of the relay games. After midnight we finished dancing with a prayer and went to bed.
Second Day – July 17, 2015
6:00 AM Rehearsal (non-official activity for Union Stake)
No, please, no! Not at 6 AM. Not when I’ve been deprived of sleep for a couple of days in a row! But we had to do it. My stake hadn’t had a final rehearsal with all the participants in the last two weeks, there was always someone missing. Besides, there had been some last minute changes. We would rehearse at 6 AM for a cultural presentation. We would meet at the main tent where we had been dancing just a few hours before.
I got up really sleepy wishing I could stay in bed a little longer. That night had been raining. Thunders had been heard really loud. No wonder, in the woods you hear nature louder than in the cement jungle of the city.
I left the cabin trying to avoid all water puddles, but in such a dark situation, it didn’t work much. It even felt as if I were looking for them and getting there on purpose. I got my shoes and socks wet.
I arrived at the main tent. There wasn’t any light. I asked aloud if anyone was there, but only the creak I made with each step on a wooded floor replied back to me. I continued forward in the middle of a large, empty and dark space. I looked everywhere for a light switch. One by one my stake started coming. Many of them sleepy. There wasn’t much conversation going on. A few minutes later I found the controls of some stage lights. We had light, now we had to find a way to have sound. A mic plugged to a huge speaker did the trick.
We would have two songs and a dance. The first song would be “Veracruz” by Agustín Lara 1. It would be a solo and then as a small choir, we would sing the original and traditional “La Bamba” (I said original and traditional, not the Ritchie Valens version) and at the end we would do a tap dance from Veracruz.
Once we got to the choir part, I noticed that my voice was hoarse and sounded different thanks to the dance last night (too much shouting and talking loud). I couldn’t recognize my own voice and the precise note. Even my ears were also affected by the noise last night. We rehearse a little hoping things would be better at night.
8:00 AM Breakfast
Breakfast was scrambled eggs in some sort of sauce, green chilaquiles, beans, a bolillo and juice from a box. Someone told me she loved the chilaquiles and wished the chilaquiles had been the main dish. I was grateful inside of me that wasn’t the case.
Few minutes after eight, I noticed many still hadn’t arrived. They were still sleeping. I sat alone at first. I pulled out my phone and called someone in my cabin to see if they all were awake. Fortunately they had had their devotional and were now on their way. And then some other friends sat next to me. I finished breakfast and went to the main tent alone to get ready to take pictures in the next activity.
9:00 AM Workshops
This time we had three workshops to choose from: Smart courtship and marriage by the Lopez’, law of chastity and addictions by President Reyes and how to make good decisions by President Ocampo. I took the latter.
I liked the message a lot, even though the content was simple. It was presented in a pleasant way; sometimes dynamically. During an exercise four people were taken from the audience and asked to choose one of a few numbered boxes with possible prizes inside. The audience shouted numbers suggesting what to choose. The teaching, think whether you make your own choices or let others influence on them.
We all got a piece of paper with a list of important events in life, such as serving a mission, finish college, get married, etc. We were asked to rank them according to our own criteria of priorities.
Besides these activities, two YSA no members of the Church went up to the stage and President Ocampo asked them why they had chosen to attend the convention. Some videos were also shown and there were some questions and answers. Part of the message was that we must not be afraid of making right choices and we should make important choices consciously. We were encouraged to consult God in all things.
10:00 AM The Color Race
The next activity was different. We all wore a white shirt in front of the main entrance and the dropping-off and picking-up passenger area of the hotel around a fountain.
After listening to a welcoming message we were introduced to Sister Olguin. She caught me off guard, I wasn’t paying attention, almost immediately a happy and contagious music started to sound everywhere and she did some dancing steps in front while every YSA followed her. If she raised her hands, everyone would have her hands up, if she went down, everyone would go down and so on.
It was fascinating seeing one person alone moving so many YSA in a synchronized manner. The cheerful music had quick and diverse beats. After a few minutes I got on a fountain and took more pictures.
When the music and dance stopped, we were introduced to the color race. They called it color race even in Spanish. By the way, there is a very popular 5K race named color run. It was founded in Utah by Travis Snyder, member of the Church and alumnus of my dear alma mater BYU.
The original color run is a race without any winners and no awards. Participants only run and have fun. It is one of the most popular 5K races in the US2. But part of the credit also goes to the source of inspiration, the Hindu festival Holi, which is a celebration of dances and games where attendants throw color powder to each other3.
The Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah hosts the largest Holi festival in the US (and perhaps in the American continent) and the interesting thing is that the large majority of the attendants are not Hindus but Mormons4. I wouldn’t be surprised that Travis had taken some inspiration from there. I remember when I was studying at BYU that the temple and festival were very popular. I even went. It was so common to see at certain time some friends from university to post a Facebook profile picture of them covered in color.
Coming back to the convention, we were asked to visit three stages. At each stage we would arrive with our arms in certain positions. The surprise was that on each station people would be waiting for us to throw at everyone non-toxic color powder. Here is the result.
After finishing the race we went to the starting point. Someone told me there would be a battle of color, but I wasn’t told that there would also be a message by Brother Gil linked to the activity and I missed that part. I was waiting at the “battle field” for everyone to come down.
Colors, games, jokes and chasing was the result. The colors made everyone so happy. Some ended up unrecognizable.
12:30 PM Devotional with David Archuleta
Once we finished our activity, there was very little time to have a shower and get ready so we just went straight to the main tent for the devotional with David Archuleta.
In case you don’t know him, David Archuleta is a young singer and actor from the US. Born in Miami to a Basque father and Honduran mother, David was raised in Utah5. He is a member of the Church and has won several singing competitions and awards. He was the runner-up in the American Idol in 2008. He has sold more than a million albums and more than three million songs5. He is particularly famous within the Church and in the US, but his fame has been increasing beyond that. He even released an album in the Philippines singing a song in Tagalog selling more than 7,500 copies there5 6. David also served a mission for the Church in Chile and he speaks Spanish.
Some weeks ago when it was announced that David Archuleta had been invited, I imagined that he would be mingling with all the YSA. I had thought that he would be part of all the activities. I had imagined he would be in the relay games and that he would even be covered in color during the color race. But it was until that day of the convention when I found out that he would be there for a devotional. During that devotional, pictures were prohibited except for me and four other people. Apparently this was requested by David’s manager. I got permission because I was helping the organizers with the pictures.
The devotional began with the testimony of one of the participants followed by an introductory video of David Archuleta so more people could learn about him. After that David was invited to the stage that had been arranged to look like a small living room. David sang and sat between both presenters.
The program consisted in asking some questions to David. These questions had been previously submitted by a few YSA. The questions we heard didn’t have to do much with the type of questions many fans ask the celebrities they follow. There weren’t questions like “What do you have for breakfast every day?”, “What’s your favorite pet?”, “Do you have some weird or random habit?”, or that type of things. As a matter of fact, the questions had to do a lot more with a spiritual nature, other aspects of life and the challenges that anyone could face as a member of the Church in general. I think that says a lot about the type of audience you have in front and I give them credit to those who made the questions for that. Such questions were mature and meaningful.
On top of that and to the surprise of some, the answers of David were very similar to those of other YSA. There weren’t rehearsed answers or too eloquent. And that has its advantages because you realize that you are talking to another human being just like you that also has his own challenges and difficulties. Those answers were from a YSA to a YSA and in many ways that causes a major impact in the life of a young adult than those that come from someone of an older age.
Among his answers, I would stress something that I felt identified with. Because of his travels, no matter where he goes, he attends Church because the Church is everywhere (well, almost). At the beginning, his people had told him that there wasn’t any time to attend Church, but then someone told David that there was, there was always time to go to Church and those people were working for him and no the other way around. He could tell him anything he wanted to do. So after hesitantly talking to his team about his desires to go to Church, they respected his decision and made the necessary changes so David could attend Church on Sundays.
We also heard some of his stories of his mission and other challenges he had to face. He admitted some personal difficulties regarding fame and how he also wanted to help people to feel the Spirit. Someone asked what would you say is the most important thing to look on a woman. His answer was, virtue.
Some questions he answered with songs and I should say that listening to him singing live is not the same than a recording. Among the songs he sang, two were my favorites: “Glorious” from the documentary movie Meet the Mormons and the hymn Come, Come, Ye Saints. This last hymn he sang it a cappella and with variations I hadn’t heard before. He ended up the last chorus in a high volume and reaching very high notes that pierced the inside of many. When he stopped, there was a peaceful silence that embraces us.
David’s talent is irrefutable, each note was well tuned and modulated. His breathing was well controlled and regulated. His range of high notes seemed to want to reach heaven and take our souls to the divinity with it. His body language and facial gestures were simple, but at the end genuine.
At the end of the devotional, everyone who wanted was invited to form a line and have a picture with David. The line was long, but reverent. It seemed to me more like greeting a general authority instead of a famous singer. But I couldn’t help noticing two people too close nearby as if they wanted to protect him from something. If you want to have an idea of how it was, check out the video of YSA getting pictures with David Archuleta at the Guadalajara YSA Convention that someone put in YouTube. We would see David again during dinner and at the dance. I say more about that below.
Oh, what would we do without them? Once we finished the devotional I knew I wouldn’t be able to take any more pictures. Unfortunately, I had mistakenly taken out a cable from my camera equipment and left it home. That cable would let me transfer pictures from my camera to a computer. Now my camera memory card was full. What? Taken the memory out and put it directly into the computer? No, that wouldn’t work either. My camera has a CompactFlash (CF) memory and it is not as popular as say SecureDigital (SD). Either way, I did try. I asked around to see if someone had a similar cable or CF slot in their computer, but no luck. Now what? No more pictures! I would now just enjoy the convention without my camera. I erased two or three pictures so I could take pictures of my next meals.
The cultural presentation was about to start. My stake would be the first one. We were dressed in white with red handkerchiefs and hats. Women were also in white with their traditional apron and hairstyle. There was some nervousness in some of them. Even some stress.
I had some questions, but I think they didn’t matter now. We were about to come in. Even in such circumstances we still didn’t know who would set and dismount a mic and other small details like that. And then a few words before our presentation there was a power failure in the main tent. We waited for several minutes and nothing. Our pianist had to leave soon. The presenters, other leaders, and some random people from the audience took time to entertain the audience with a hand speaker until it was clear that the power failure wouldn’t be fixed any time soon. The show was postponed to the following day. But for my stake, the problem was the pianist, it wasn’t sure if he would be with us by then.
8:00 PM Dinner
The next hour was to get ready for the dance. The dance had a theme: pirates. We all had to dress up like one. We went back to our places. I took a short and involuntary nap (I just fell asleep). My roommates were singing while someone played the guitar. I got ready, sang a song and left them.
I came back to the main tent that was dark again as I found that same day in the morning. But this time it was full of people working on decorations, giving away eye patches and bandanas. Decorated tables with tablecloths filled the tent and a group of waiters and cooks were making the last arrangements to start delivering the food to our tables.
Competing for the Attention of a Girl
I looked for a place to sit to meet new people, but I couldn’t see very well. There wasn’t much light. Finally, I recognized a girl I had danced with the previous night. I sat diagonally in front of her. After that two or three more friends came and sat. I tried to talk to the girl, who was very kind, but her girl friend next to her didn’t seem very eager to share the conversation and attention. I tried to include her also but with no results. Basically, I would have to speak too loud or seem too insistent. Finally I ended up talking to my friends and another girl next to me. The other girl was a complete prisoner of her friend’s conversation.
The tables had small boxes simulating treasure chests. They were open and one could see chocolate coins, artificial pearl necklaces, golden paper, covers of the Book of Mormon, and some candle lights operated by batteries that gave some soft light to the tables.
Dinner was delivered. It was meat, steamed vegetables, potatoes and tamarind flavored water. Again, my sister would later tell me that she liked the potatoes. I think she really like potatoes.
To be honest, I was really hungry and I wanted to eat a lot more, but unfortunately that time only nobody would get seconds. A friend of mine asked for a plate saying she hadn’t one yet. Once she got it, she handed out to me. Then another plate more also came for her. I felt bad once I learned that a couple of people didn’t get dinner. It was strange because for all other meals we always had a lot more. We usually had leftovers and were encouraged to have seconds, but tonight it wasn’t like that.
Dinner under dimmed artificial lights from the candles (no, nothing romantic) was great because of the mingling with friends. Then someone said that David Archuleta was still there and they pointed to his table. That caused a better impression for some because he was being part of the activity, but the apparent company made some people uncomfortable. It seemed that someone or some people didn’t want David to be approached by other YSAs.
A girl would later say that she was happy David was eating the same food everyone was eating. But fortunately most of our table topics weren’t about what David was eating or wasn’t eating. Instead of that we talked about the kind of shampoo he was using, lol. That’s not true, we didn’t talk about that. In fact, we talked a lot about the activities in the convention, the food in China and whether the power failure would be fixed or not for the dance.
The Pirate Dance
The Pirates of the Caribbean
Once we finished dinner, the power failure had been fixed and light came back. We all cheerfully clapped. The tables were taken out and we all looked towards the stage. We were asked to sit on the floor, leaving a walking isle between the audience. Once done there was a skit about The Pirates of the Caribbean.
Girls dressed up like pirates began to dance, preparing themselves to a battle. The roles of Elizabeth, Will, and Captain Barbosa were represented in a battle where these girls appeared again from the audience and would climb the stage as if it were a ship.
There was an explosion simulated involving heroes and villains jumping to cover themselves. And to the surprise of everyone, when the battle seemed over, with the movie’s soundtrack playing someone dressed up as Jack Sparrow comes from the walking isle among the audience. He is on top of a black box with wheels and a sail simulating a ship. His “ship” is pulled towards the stage with Jack Sparrow triumphantly on top of it. The audience clapped and shouted fascinated for the unexpected touch and excellent makeup and outfit.
The personage climbs to the stage with his well know and popularized body language, making laugh and fascinating the audience. After a little suspense and more funniness encapsulated in the role of the pirate, the battle resumes with more sword lunges, jumps, somersaults, a sword thrown and caught in the air and another one broken, and… an unexpected finale. The protagonists are killed. Something disappointing.
But then, to everyone’s surprise!, all actors rose up like zombies and began to dance to rhythm of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” causing the audience’s ovation. At the end it was clear that they had had the night. They were congratulated by many and even others wanted pictures with them.
I also join them and give them my appreciation and recognition. Great unexpected final, good effects, including the explosion, the costumes and makeup, everything great. And of course, the constant rehearsals for the battles. Congratulations to all of them. If you are interested, you can see a video recorded by someone in the audience.
After the show, the music began inviting everyone to dance. The same D.J. took the floor. Fog and lights came back again, but this time electronic music would predominate. There weren’t many of the other musical genres. It was common to see groups of people dancing. In some of them people jumping in the center to the rhythm of the resounding speakers. It looked more like a kind “slam” dance without pushing. I also joined jumping until I got tired. After that I went from group to group to just laugh with others and “dance” doing funny steps.
I missed what we had seen the previous night. The expectations had been raised too high because of that first dance. Lights and fog weren’t surprising anymore and musical variety wasn’t there. Despite all that we had a great time and we tested the strength of the wooden floor that resisted hundreds of YSAs jumping a few hours in an uninterrupted manner.
And for David Archuleta’s fans, yes, he was there and all the time near a corner with his mother and some adults. He danced with his mom and even with some YSAs that one or two people somehow chose and brought them.
I’m not aware of any turmoil, girls shouting his name or mobs of people trying to jump on him. The largest majority of the people remained dancing in their places. At a certain moment there was a small group of people, maybe no more than twenty that danced near David who later was part of it.
I think this could have been a better opportunity for him to get closer to his fans, or at least to show his personality in a normal setting. It gave me the impression that he was being isolated. I don’t have any doubts that strong measures must be taken when the situation is needed, but wisdom means adapting things to each situation. I think, if not all, most of the YSAs were very courteous and respectful. And if you want more details, yes, he smiled, he danced and he seemed to enjoy the dance, which it ended late and with a prayer.
Someone also recorded some parts of the dance and you can see it in this video.
Third Day – July 18
8:00 AM Devotional, Breakfast and Luggage
Next day we woke up and had a devotional in our cabin. I left before everyone else and arrived at the food court feeling really hungry. I picked up my food, which was similar to the one we had the previous day, scrambled eggs, red chilaquiles (previous day had been green), refried beans and a bolillo. I had it with my sister and some others from my stake, but I ate quickly and left them because I had found out that we needed to bring our luggage. I wanted to tell my roommates and also avoid having to look for them for the key.
9:30 AM Workshops
The topics for the workshop were how to exercise faith by President Chavez, mission preparation by President Clayton and Institute of Religion by Brother Gil. I went to the later. Brother Gil talked about several topics, but most of his message was derived from an old video of the Church titled Windows of Heaven. He talked about having faith, putting God on the first place and be grateful.
Someone also made a comment about the food. There had been so many leftovers that some leaders opted to give it away instead of throwing it away. They handed it out on the road. Skeptical people who passed by asked if they were representing a political party or something like that. After that these leaders went to a nearby cluster or poor homes named Los Ruiseñores where a woman was preparing tortillas with salt to eat with her children. That day, the next one, and perhaps one more, they would have enough food.
The convention meant a lot of money by the Church. We, the participants, hadn’t paid anything. That was a reminder of how important each YSA is for the Church. It was a reminder that we needed to be grateful for the food we had gotten, to ponder, to think what each participant had done during that convention and see if he or she had been taking the most out of it. And the emphasis in the comment: see if you are doing all what is in your part to meet that person with whom you can marry. More comments were said. There was one in particular that gave me a strong impact. Maybe one day I will share it.
Once the workshop was over, we went to the main tent and got ready for the show. My stake would be without our pianist and my voice was still hoarse. This time we wouldn’t be the first ones. The show began with a funny skit of Disney princesses traveling through time to the lands of the Book of Mormon to find Captain Moroni. After meeting some interesting characters, the princesses were met by their princes who also traveled through time after them. The message was that nobody is perfect and don’t expect perfection. Of course, they got princes 😉
Then Puerto Vallarta presented a choral poetry that ended up with a huge banner of the Book of Mormon. Colima followed them with a series of posters shown one by one while we hear a narrating voice.
Each poster had simple, yet for some piercing, phrases pointing out real challenges and worries many YSAs face or some sentences YSAs hear and add pressure to their lives. It was as if we had been pointed out in silence from the stage without being seen.
Some phrases were “My family and friends make fun of me”, “sometimes I don’t want to go”, “I lost my parents”, “going to the GYM is not enough”, “my parents want to divorce”, “my father left home”, “nobody talk to me at Church”, “will I see her again?”, “get married! You are a grown up”, and more. They definitely got the attention and with that the left a message of hope and strength emphasizing Isaiah 60:1 that says: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” Their participation ended with a dance.
After that it was my stake’s turn, but our presentation didn’t have any spiritual or inspiring message. A few minutes before I was asked to say something about being grateful for our country and see the blessings we have and avoid focusing too much in the negative things. We also decided to recite part of the thirteenth article of faith at the end of the presentation. So I went up still not sure of what I would say. Once in front of everyone, I tested the microphone without hearing much, but the audience said they could hear loud and clear. So I threw some ideas and after clapping we began our show.
First our director started to sing, but she also had some last minute adjustments since she didn’t have the background music she needed. She still did a great job singing a cappella. You can see the last seconds of her presentation in this video that someone uploaded.
After that we had the choir. There were two tenors, two basses, two contraltos and two sopranos. We would sing with a new pianist because the original pianist didn’t make it. I was still having a hoarse voice and the new pianist would only play the chords, making it hard to set the rhythm we would follow. We never had a moment to practice with her and let alone that arrangement. I felt so insecure.
The song ended up being… different. There was even a moment when I heard a quick laugh after singing “ta-ka ta-ka ta-ka ta.” I won’t say anything about the other voices, but as far as I’m concerned, I got completely lost. I had to stop singing and looked at the conductor with a smile as if it were all part of the arrangement. I was hoping I could catch up in the following part of the song, but seeing where things were heading to, the conductor stopped the song in a part that seemed like the end of the song. I felt grateful.
We lined up and danced trusting the dance would end up as we had planned it so I could keep some self-esteem in good terms. Once we finished, we men took our hats off and made some sort of a reverence. Then we all recited the third article of faith. We left the stage and I said to myself, I’m leaving the country, I’ll come back to China where nobody will know about this presentation. I will begin a new life without such an embarrassing moment. Either way, the audience was very kind with us and they clapped at us. Some even congratulate us.
And if you think that could be funny, read one of my most embarrassing experiences on my post I Wanted to Crawl into a Hole.
After our presentation there was another funny skit representing three friends that leave for their missions and come back. One left a girlfriend and his friend watches her for him getting married with her. The third friend doesn’t have lots of luck with girls. It was a drama comedy that ended up happily with three marriages.
The Independencia stake from Guadalajara was next. They presented a successful Christian skit with no words but music. The song was “Everything” from a band from the US. The band is called Lifehouse. They played a Spanish version of the song. The adaptation was a very good one.
For me this was the best presentation. After talking to some others, I wasn’t surprised that they would say the same. I even saw many wiping their tears away at the end of the presentation. I could describe the presentation, but it would be better if you saw it in this video of the Independencia stake’s presentation that someone uploaded.
And if you want to see the original Christian version, which I highly recommend, you can find it in this original version of the skit on video that I like a lot, or you can even look for other additional versions on YouTube with the keywords “Lifehouse Everything Skit”.
However, in my opinion, it is not the same watching a video than being there and have been prepared for the unexpected. The adaptation was the inclusion of missionaries and a bishop instead of the Creator. At the end the girl ends up being rescued, counseled, back to the path and with a marriage proposal. A reminder of the role the leaders have in the lives of others. Each version has its own great things, perhaps you prefer one over the other, and if that’s the case you can share it in the comments below.
After that we had someone singing a solo. Sorry I can’t say who sang and what was what he sang. However, I remembered that he had talent.
Talk with Elder Johnson
Elder Lester F. Johnson is a member of the Fourth Quorum of the Seventy. He is an Area Seventy or Area Authority7 and he is assigned to the Guadalajara Mission which represents a particular geographical area.
The meeting began with a hymn and a prayer. Then three YSAs were invited to share their testimony and impressions about the convention, among them there was one non-LDS. When Elder Johnson began speaking, he did it with questions. The audience had to answer to most of them standing up or raising a hand. The idea was getting to know the audience better.
Some questions were, how many of you are non-LDS? How many have served a mission? How many have family home evenings each week with your family? How many of you read the scriptures with your family every single day? How many have family prayers every single day? The answers weren’t very cheerful. Perhaps only ten percent answered positively to the questions regarding family home evening, reading the scriptures, and prayer.
He also asked how we saw each one of us ten years later. Some answered questions such as serve a mission, finish school, getting married, have certain numbers of children or start a business. Then Elder Johnson gave his talk focused on goals. He encouraged us to work hard and put the Lord in first place in order to achieve them. He emphasized that wanting is power. If we really want to achieve something we are going to work for it and overcome all obstacles. Wanting gives us strength. He also shared a personal experience about it.
You may also want to read Fewer LDS schools and Mexico in the vanguard of missionary work or another post about The Book of Mormon comic.
Once lunch was ready, I saw another friend and we sat on the same table. I sat with people I didn’t know. We ate some meat, vegetables and a bolillo. And I owe you the picture.
Once things were over, we went for our luggage in some rooms and waited for our respective buses. That would be the last chance to exchange contact info. Finally, we got separated. We were also told that we would have a stake family home evening to share some of our experiences in the convention. Riding back was quieter. Many fells asleep, I nodded off a couple of times. I was exhausted.
For me the convention was truly a great experience. I was surprised by the leaders’ hard work. They worked, coordinated, and gathered at least once a week for more than six months to make the convention possible. There are many things to take into consideration, such as advertisement, renting the venue, food, reminding assignments, expenses, music, sound equipment, decorations, cleaning, renting vehicles, managing databases, stationary, staying up late, social media management, preparing messages, inviting speakers, organizing more than 750 people for several activities, supervision, permits, contacting each YSA to confirm attendance, visiting meetinghouses and many more things that we don’t always notice but that are crucial to make a convention happen. Coordination, vision, patience, inspiration, dedication, willingness, and many other Christian attributes to make something so big. Thank you to all the leaders.
Besides that, thanks to all YSAs who were also getting ready and rehearsing constantly to share their talents as participants or directors. It was a great experience for me and I felt inspired. Everything was great, perhaps the top things about the convention for me were the Independencia stake presentation, a comment I heard during a workshop, and David Archuleta singing.
My only suggestions for now would be to include at least one activity of service such as planting trees, being part of a food drive, writing letters to terminally ill people, being part of a big choir and sing in a public place, cleaning somewhere, visiting asylums or orphanages, or some other humanitarian work.
My other suggestion, bring more speakers to the workshops. Some workshops could be taught more than one time, so we don’t have to always choose only one. That way, if one day I attend one, I could attend the other one the next day.
These are my comments, but I also asked others what was their favorite part about the convention and below is what some of them answered.
The Best Part of the Convention According to…
|Ana Novoa: It has been one of the best conferences! I was able to find my Heavenly Father again. I felt again such a personal relationship as I had with Him as when I was a missionary three years ago. It goes a lot further than just believing in Him, it is feeling that he is happy and/or suffers with me. I was able to remember small habits that I had neglected and are worth living them! (Alma 37:6).|
|Kevin Rojo: For me, the best of the convention was the perspective and activities that were able to motivate me to look for an answer about what the Lord wants me to do in this moment. As well as the activities that helped me to find new friends with my same principles such as the color race and the relay games.|
|Vida Rosas: For me the best of the conference was the spirit of the leaders and the organization! I really think the conference was very well planned, and even though, as always, there were unexpected events (there was a power failure for some hours), they knew how to accommodate/arrange the situation very well. Our leaders were always very smiley and kind; they transmitted fun and spirit. Besides, we had an excellent cultural event with also lots of preparation from the young adults.|
|Roger Soto: The best of the conference was that we remembered that our Heavenly Father loves us in different ways to each one of us. And even though you may be a normal person, as people say it, or a famous person, we all can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost in our life and we all can have the guide of our Heavenly Father no matter which socioeconomic or cultural level we have. The best of the conference was that we were able to know that our leaders are worried about us and that they have the desire to help us. In Elder Johnson’s message, I understood that goals are important and we have to work for them. But I also understood one thing, no matter how well established your plans are, those plans have to change and marriage almost always does it.|
|Jenifer: For me the best of the conference was the Spirit that we were able to feel during the entire conference, from the beginning to the end, it was full of it. I was able to realize how our leaders were inspired to create each activity and workshop and everything there was for us. I can say that it was exactly and even more of what I needed to feel strengthened. There was always something there for me in each of one of the activities; even the cultural activity was strengthening. That and the support and unconditional love towards us from all our leaders, from the inscriptions to the end of the conference, was the best part of the conference for me. I was able to recognize how the Father shows his love through other people.|
|Áxel Rivera: For me, the best of the conference were the dances. Both were well organized, the environment was optimal as well as the music since this was very different than the one it is played in most of the YSA dances.|
|Nicole Ríos: Besides a clearer vision of what I want to in my life, and a feeling of spiritual refreshment, I think the greatest part of the conference were the angels in the form of friends that God put in my path. They had clear values and clean spirits, a pureness, were down to earth, and showed me Christ-like love.|
|Luis Alberto Loza: Definitely these activities are inspired by our Heavenly Father. […] I found a teaching in each moment. It was pretty fun and especial. We had lots of emphasis on what decisions we must make since these will affect future generations. All was thought for us. In each talk, workshop, and activity was as if they had the name Alberto on it. Just as if they knew me, and certainly God knows me and knows what I needed, that’s why He inspired leaders for such activity. I received a confirmation that He is my Father and He loves me. When we were in the cultural [show], each performance was moving. With love and patience, each young adult performed hoping to have a change in our heart and mind, and that’s the way it was. There isn’t any doubt that this is His Church, Jesus is the Christ, and hopefully more young adults don’t miss these activities that will help them in their decision making.|
|Anet Quintero: In my opinion, the best of the conference was the workshop “let’s make Institute a priority” and the talk with Elder Johnson because I felt the Spirit of the Lord so strong, and I was able to know what was what the Lord wanted me to do.|
And now, what’s next? A lot of it has to do with applying constantly what we saw and learned. Reviewing notes, pondering, putting in practice things, discipline, even talking about it with others to exchange opinions, writing them in a journal or even a blog like this one. Everything that is needed to keep these things live and won’t be forgotten. So let’s grow and shine.
Another YSA Convention
Would you like to participate in another convention in Mexico? Are you curious? If that’s the case, you can be part of it. If you speak some Spanish, here is a five-question survey in Spanish with some brief info about it.
Now this was my experience at this convention. I would love to know what you think about it, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below. And subscribe to the blog if you want to know whenever I have my next post ready.
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1. Wood, Andrew Grant. Agustín Lara: A Cultural Biography. Oxford UP, 2014. 103-04. Print.↩
2. “BYU Alumni Association – True Blue BYU – The Color Run.” BYU Alumni Association – True Blue BYU – The Color Run. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. July 27, 2015. <http://alumni.byu.edu/s/1085/03-provo-alumni/templates/interior.aspx?gid=7&pgid=5053>.↩
4. Davis, Katherine. “Holi Festival a Hit Not Only among Hindus.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 17 Mar. 2014. Web. July 28, 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/holi-festival-a-hit-not-only-among-hindus/2014/03/17/62723388-ade6-11e3-b8b3-44b1d1cd4c1f_story.html>.↩
6. “Gold Record Award for David Archuleta’s Forevermore Album.” David Archuleta Vietnam. N.p., 25 June 2012. Web. July 28, 2015. <http://davidarchuletavn.com/2012/06/25/gold-record-award-for-david-archuletas-forevermore-album/>.↩
7. “Élder Lester F. Johnson.” Élder Lester F. Johnson. Ed. Dulce María Ruiz Suárez. La Iglesia De Jesucristo De Los Santos De Los Últimos Días, n.d. Web. July 28, 2015. <http://sud.org.mx/elderjohnson>.↩
8. All pictures, unless indicated otherwise were taken by Jesús Rosas.