“Wholesome, Reviving, and Transforming.” Those were the words used by 19-year-old Selencia Saladier to describe her experience at last month’s Teen Girls and Young Ladies Christian Conference and Retreat in Koror, Palau.
The program was hosted by the Guam-Micronesia Mission’s Women’s Ministries Department and was the first ever conference of its kind in Koror, Palau. The four-day event took place over the Christmas holiday break from January 2nd through the 5th.
According to GMM WM Department Director, Carmen Ulloa-Kasperbauer, girls from all around the region converged in Palau to participate in the event which included a full schedule of learning, training, networking, and having great fun while exploring Palau’s natural beauty. She said, “The girls who participated were most importantly able to connect with God through different memorable and enriching experiences.”
Young ladies between the ages of 13 and 22 traveled to Palau from the islands of Majuro, Ebeye, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap, Chuuk, Rota, Saipan, and Guam. Ulloa-Kasperbauer said, “Our primary goal was to bring the girls together to get them excited about ministry. In this case, Women’s Ministry. They’re all on their islands helping their families, their churches, their communities. We wanted to encourage them by bringing them face to face with their counterparts from other islands. I say with much hope that these girls could very well be future leaders in WM, as well as in their island villages and districts, sharing what they can about God, helping wherever they can - revealing Christ-like character along the way.”
While there, GMM WM received much support from the women in Palau. All of their appreciated efforts were organized and led out by Bilung Gloria Salii, Palau’s traditional Queen of Koror. Multiple groups of the visiting young ladies were housed at the Ngarachamayong Cultural Center. Ulloa-Kasperbauer says she was very grateful that the girls were able to stay in such a beautiful and centrally located building.
One of the major features of the multi-day event was Friday’s conference, which was held in Ngarachamayong’s main hall. Featured speaker, Erica Jones, traveled all the way from Maryland to present a series of seminars, in which each honed in on the focal concept, “Am I Good Enough?” It was a question that all the girls seemed to connect with. In her discussions, Jones talked to the girls about coping skills, strategies for resilience, and she also encouraged them to put all their faith in Jesus. In addition, she discussed how important it was for young ladies today to truly understand and embrace who they are because, in the eyes of God, they are uniquely perfect. One very needed seminar led by Jones featured relationships and how they are truly important to God. The North American Division WM Assistant Director, Jones, made such an impact on the girls that several of them sought her out after the conference to speak to her further about her different talks.
Following the conference with Jones, the girls gathered pillows and twin-size sheets they brought along with them specifically for a special donation presentation to the Belau National Hospital in Meyuns. Much needed sheet sets, pillows, as well as small toys for the pediatric ward were gratefully accepted by the hospital’s administrators and Board.
That Friday evening, the visiting delegation attended vespers at Koror’s main Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ngesekes. The youth team there put on an amazingly powerful presentation that featured stories of different key figures from the Bible, as well as personal testimonies from girls from Palau. Kayah Whipps, 15, uneasily shared with a full church that although she was raised in a loving, Christian home, she felt at times in her adolescence, a separation between her and God. She revealed that her daily devotion life and even going to church on the Sabbath became an undesirable chore. Tears flowed both on the platform and in the pews as Kayah detailed how certain events that happened later would bring her heart to heart with Jesus Christ, and her life would be changed. There were lots of hugs and even more tears shared between others in the pews when Kayah concluded her testimony.
The following day, on Sabbath, several teams of girls - both visiting and local - headed out to about four or five hamlets for literature evangelism. The outreach was led by the Koror SDA Church’s youth ministry team. Native Palauan, Pastor Mesikt Idechong, who was visiting from Guam with the delegation, led out an afternoon service at the prison with several young ladies who prayed for the inmates and presented them with special books and handouts.
The group wound down their beautiful day with a “bonding fire” in Ngarachamayong’s courtyard. Pastor Mesikt sang, and Erica Jones spoke again to the girls, this time sharing Jesus’ Love Letter with them. The emotional, yet uplifting experience for the girls was indelibly etched into their hearts that evening.
Guam-Micronesia Mission’s Women’s Ministries Department and was the first ever conference of its kind in Koror, Palau. The four-day event took place over the Christmas holiday break from January 2nd through the 5th.
The schedule also included a visit to two locally owned farms, where girls planted a variety of fruits and vegetables. The products of their efforts will be donated to the hospital and to families in the Palau community. The delegation was also hosted at the Palau International Coral Reef Center, where they learned about the uniqueness of the country’s coral reefs, the naturally occurring phenomena in their ocean, and world renown and respected conservation programs.
“A major highlight for the girls surely was the day they spent visiting the incredibly beautiful Rock Islands. They were able to cruise in and out of the lagoons through turquoise waters, straight to the most pristine and gorgeous seascapes. The girls loved visiting the world famous Jellyfish Lake as well as snorkel at the Rose Garden site. A really unforgettable time was taking lunch with all their friends at Ngemelis Island,” said Ulloa-Kasperbauer.
Words used to describe their experience by girls who participated in the program were “life-changing,” “transforming,” “uplifting,” and “connecting,” just to name a few. GMM WM’s intention and hope is for attendees to take the information they’ve learned and share it with girls from their home islands in an effort to promote understanding and a personal, spiritual sense of peace.
The scripture that became a key theme for the four days was from the book of Philippians, chapter four, and verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
GMM WM is currently preparing for its 2021 Regional Women’s Conference, which features a concurrent conference for teen girls and young ladies. One segment of the program will encourage young men to attend for discussion groups. Look for this event coming next April.
Photo credit: Kelvin Dela Paz