Explore and Endure, Woodbridge Stake YW Camp 2016

By Camille Kerr and Amy Buongiovanni

Girl Camp 2016 Group in TShirts

“Explore and Endure” is exactly what the Woodbridge Stake Young Women did at a new location for Girls Camp 2016: Verdun Adventure Bound in Rixeyville, VA.  From June 27th to July 1st the girls participated in many new and exciting adventures, physically and spiritually.

Some of their first explorations were in setting up their own tents and cooking all their meals outdoors, which were new challenges for most of the girls and many leaders. They also befriended the horses at the camp, learned to ride, and learned to fish.  Verdun offered other fun activities to the girls such as kayaking and swimming in the lake, volleyball, craft activities, and swimming in the pool.


Girls Camp 2016 kayaking

The young women tested their endurance in the challenge course, where they played team building games and helped each other with the zip line and bungee swing.  Tiana Kelley from the Quantico Ward said, ““Girls camp is awesome because all of the girls in the stake come together to help each other and encourage each other no matter who you are.”  And this is exactly what they did in the team building games and the challenge courses.  One of the favorite team building games involved working as a team to get every member across the pretend acid river, by only stepping on the three safe spots.

Girls Camp 2016 Team Building

For part of the challenge course they climbed a very tall pole.  The reward of their endurance and strength at the top of the pole was the thrill of riding the longest zip line in VA!  Another thrilling adventure was the bungee swing where team members pulled together to raise the swinger high in the air.  The swinger then released themselves and soared through the air.   Aleen Gonzalez of the Quantico Ward said, “Girls camp was very fun and was a great opportunity to conquer the challenge course.”

Girls Camp 2016 Challenge Course 2Girls Camp 2016 Swing

Each specific camp level had time with their leaders, passing off the camp requirements such as cooking, first aid, knots, and fire building. They also participated in service projects with their levels and each ward also received the opportunity to entertain by performing skits with their wards.

Girls Cammp 2016 4th Year Adventure

Kim Blair from the Lake Ridge 1st Ward, arranged a special Stake night.  Each ward received a special box in the morning with a beautifully painted Liahona and a scroll. The girls opened the scroll at 7:00 pm that evening and then were directed to three different stations with their wards.  At each station a speaker shared a spiritual message.  At one station they learned about enduring in personal situations and how little achievements are important in our lives.  Another station taught them to explore, specifically how exploring spiritually will strengthen their testimonies.  The last station taught them how Patriarchal blessings can be a personal Liahona.

The final scroll instructed them to meet at the amphitheater.  As the girls arrived there it began pouring rain, which miraculously and thankfully stopped after a ten minute wait.   The young women were then treated to inspiring music from a group of young women who stepped right out of the audience and sang a lovely arrangement of “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” while a slide show with pictures of the Savior was presented.

Debbie Roderick, the Woodbridge Stake Young Women’s President, shared some concluding remarks focusing on the spiritual symbolism of the journey they had just taken.  The girls had collected special rocks from each station, which Sister Roderick used to teach them how the Savior can be their rock and foundation.
The spirit of the evening was then enhanced by a traditional Girls Camp nighttime activity called Singing Trees. Each ward chose a tree to stand around, and when it was that ward’s turn to sing, all of the girls and leaders turned their flashlights up towards the tree. When they finished singing, they turned the flashlights off and the next tree lit up as the next ward sang.  Of the many spiritual experiences at camp, one young woman said, “It was so lit…Because of the spirit.”

Of course Bishop’s Night and testimony meeting contained evidence of how the young women endured and explored throughout the week of camp.  So many girls shared their testimonies about how much they had felt the spirit at camp, and about how the challenge course had really helped them grow and accomplish new things.  For example, Faith Oryang from the Quantico ward said, “This year was my favorite year because I got to experience a new camp site, new adventures, and conquer my fears while putting my trust in the Lord, although I was terrified.”  Quite a few girls who were not members of the church stood and shared their feelings as well. The evening was a spiritual highlight of the week of exploring and enduring.



By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Aloha!  The Polynesian culture is alive and well in the Woodbridge Stake.  Saturday evening, April 30th, the Quantico Ward hosted a Luau complete with a roasted pig, Polynesian entertainment and a Samoan fire knife dance.  This incredible Luau was thanks to members with Polynesian background from not only the Quantico Ward, but also the Woodbridge 1st ward and the Young Single Adult Branch.

Tahiti Dance

Quantico Ward families with Polynesian background include the Travis family, the Brash family, and the Anakalea family. The Travis family was integral in the planning of the Luau, putting together decorations and cooking food.  Brother Maui Travis is from Kaneohe, Hawai’i and his wife Patricia was born in Kahuku, raised in Hau’ula, Hawai’i, and is Filipina (Visayan-Ilocano).

Luau decorations

The Brash family also helped, providing food and decorations and their daughter Sulieti performed the Tongan tau’olunga as part of the entertainment.  Sister Tita Brash is from the island of Tonga, the only remaining monarchy in the South Pacific.  She explained that Tonga became known as the friendly islands because of the warm greetings received by Captain James Cook back in 1773.

She said, “We are a very proud people. Not in the material riches of the world but in our heritage and culture. And I believe Sulieti lived up to that as she has been sick the last few days and still wanted to perform and share a part of her Tongan culture with her ward family. And it was her very first performance ever.”


Crowning the Luau feast was a whole roasted pig, along with authentic Polynesian dishes such as Chicken Long Rice, Huli Huli Chicken, Hawaiian Mac Salad, Banana Bread, & Ambrosia Salad, which were provided by Quantico Ward Relief Society members thanks to recipes from the Brash, Travis, and Anakalea families.  Each of these families also cooked and shared food from their islands; the Brashes made Haupia, the Anakaleas made Pork Pimientos and Chantilly Cake, the Travis family made rice and the Brash & Faumuina families made Lupulu.

The highlight of the evening was the entertainment provided by the Polynesian Fusion Entertainment.  Sister Lagi Faumuina of the Woodbridge 1st Ward, the director of the group, began the entertainment with a hula hoop contest for various groups: Primary girls, primary boys, Young Women, Young Men, Relief Society Sisters, Elders Quorum, and the Quantico Ward Bishopric along with Stake Presidency members President Clark Price and President David Oryang who arrived just in time for his part in the contest.    A primary girl, Lauren Basham, beat them all with the longest hula hooping of all the groups.  The most entertaining group was the Bishopric and Stake Presidency members.

Hula Hoop Contest

Faumuina as director of Polynesian Fusion Entertainment introduced and participated in a myriad of dances native to the islands of Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, and Fiji.  She said that she formed the group in 2015 with her friend Siela Ulugalu-Shirley, who is Samoan, from Manu’a in Am Samoa.  Their goal is to, “try and keep our culture alive and blend other cultures to come together as one. Being that we are a long ways from home, we feel it is our duty and responsibility to teach our children where they come from and who they are.”

Polynesian Fusion Entertainment

Faumuina was born and raised in Hawaii and grew up on the North Shore and experienced the life at the Polynesian Cultural Center. She said, “I’m from Oahu and pretty much spent most of my life around BYU-Hawaii because my grandfather and mother attended school there.  Today, I still have family members that are employed with PCC.  I come from a long line of dancers and entertainers so it’s really in my blood.”

Samoan Dance

Several of the dances were performed by Faumuina’s daughter and Ulugalu-Shirley’s daughters.  Pictured below are the girls at the Luau from left to right: Myrah Ulugalu-Shirley (12), Leilani Faumuina-Carr (11), Natalia Ulugalu-Shirley (10), and Serenity Ulugalu-Shirley (8).  Wearing native costumes to represent each dance, they performed dances from Tonga, Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and Fiji.


PFE girls in Hawaiian dress

The men of the group astounded the audience with their warrior dances: a solo dance by Faumuina’s son, Darrell Posten, and a group warrior dance with Darrell; Dwight Ulugalu-Shirley, who is Siela’s husband, the father of the 3 girls and from Jamaica; and Phetta Konelio, who attends the Young Single Adults branch in the Quantico Ward.

Warrior Dance 2

Phetta’s full name is Fetalaigalelei Pupu Konelio and he was born in Tahiti.  He said that he is “of Samoan, Tongan, Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Bulgarian heritage.” Faumuina explained her connection with him.  “I sent for him to come to Hawaii to have a better opportunity at life. Life adventures had us ending up in the East Coast.” He is a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a missionary in Arizona, speaking fluent Spanish.

Sulieti Brash is new to the group and she is 8. Missing from the group on the night of the Luau were Faumuina’s 2 sons Joseph Poston (16) and Cory L. Faumuina-Carr (12) and her business partner Siela Ulugalu-Shirley.

The Polynesian Fusion Entertainment group has performed at birthdays, corporate events, and luau parties.  They even performed at Montclair Day last year with another group. They are looking forward to being a part of the Around the World Cultural Food Festival at the Washington D.C. Mall in June and they have a performance this month at the Fiesta Asia.

Phetta blowing the conch shell

Konelio opened the entertainment with the traditional blowing of the conch shell and concluded the evening outside the building with an amazing Samoan fire knife dance called “Siva afi”, tossing, twirling and dancing with fiery flames. The Quantico Ward members extend a huge thank you to all those who put together the Luau and provided the entertainment. Dance

Savior of the World

Celebrate Easter by attending the Easter Musical Drama at the Washington, D.C. Temple Visitors Center.  Many members of our stake and the Centreville Stake are participating in this production.

Gifts of the Heart Event Engages Community

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Woodbridge, Virginia welcomed the general public to an event on Saturday titled “Gifts of the Heart.” Over one thousand people from the surrounding community attended the event which successfully  contributed donated household items at no cost. The event also mobilized food donations for Action in Community Through Service of Prince William, Inc. (ACTS), a local charity which serves people in crises due to hunger, homelessness and interpersonal violence.

Youth Volunteers

Youth Volunteers

The Woodbridge Stake Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in charge of organizing the event and relied on approximately 300 volunteers – including many youth. In all 150 youth contributed to the volunteer effort. One of the participating youth was Hannah Griesmyer of Dale City. She said, “It is so interesting to have the youth here coming together and it is wonderful to help out – it warms the heart.”

Woodbridge Stake Relief Society President Pam Gauch said, “This annual Gifts of the Heart event draws together a diverse set of people in special ways, and we so appreciate all our volunteers.” She added, “It truly makes a difference for so many individuals and families who are in need of some kindness and relief.”  The Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the world. The Relief Society was established in 1842 for women 18 years of age and older and one of its central and fundamental goals is to help those in need.

From the Book Area

From the Book Area

Rooms throughout the church building located at 3718 Old Bridge Road in Lake Ridge were full of clothing, shoes, books, electronic equipment, children’s toys, and a variety of household items. The gathering and donation of food items was also directly related to an effort the church has been directly involved with for several years called Day to Serve. Day to Serve is a unique annual initiative that unites people of all faiths, races, cultures, and backgrounds with the shared goal of helping those in need and improving the communities where we live. See more at http://daytoserve.org.  1,213 pounds of food was collected and donated to ACTS.

The Shoe Room

The Shoe Room

The Woodbridge Stake President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Clark Price, whose duties include overseeing and administering to the temporal and spiritual needs of thousands of individuals in Prince William County, said, “We live in an area of great material abundance, and so we must always be mindful of those brothers and sisters among us – whether of our faith or not – who need a loving hand.”  He added, “Every day our church and other churches of multiple faiths are focused on helping people with daily challenges – overcoming material or spiritual hurdles.” President Price concluded, “This gathering and others like it represent the loving gospel of Jesus Christ in action.”

One young girl who participated was overhead as saying, “It is like heaven.”  To learn more about the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visit www.lds.org or mormon.org.

By Ian M. Houston, Director of Public Affairs for the Woodbridge Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 

Serve Him With All Your Heart, Might, Mind and Strength

Youth Conference Group Photo“Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day” (D&C 4:2).

 Three hundred youth from the Woodbridge and Centreville Stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent July 23-25 at Southern Virginia University focusing on missionary service, particularly how to serve with all of their heart, might, mind, and strength.

The Stake Presidents from the Centreville and Woodbridge Stakes and University professors from Southern Virginia University taught classes based on these four key words from the scripture, which is the theme for the youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints worldwide for 2015.

The Provost of Southern Virginia University, Madison Sowell, and his wife introduced the conference as keynote speakers with powerful stories about their missionary service. Brother Sowell served in the Italy mission and then went back years later to be the Mission President of the same mission. He earned a PhD from Harvard and taught at Brigham Young University for many years before moving to SVU to become Provost.

The youth chose from a variety of classes with catchy titles such as the following:

“Girls vs Guys: What should I know”

“Pause to Help and Lift Another”

“Use Your Head!”

“Recognizing the Spirit and Finding your Faith”

“Navigating the Worldwide Web in the Latter Days”

“I’m lost and I have no clue where I’m going”

“The Book of Mormon- Evidences of Christ”

Returned missionaries from both stakes were counselors for the youth.  They each lead a group of twenty youth and called their groups the names of the missions they had served in as missionaries. Groups with names like Frankfurt, New York, Arizona, Belgium, England, Utah, and Taiwan became unified as they spent a lot of time together, playing get-to-know-you games, attending activities and classes, and participating in a service project.  Leah Gaush, from the Lakeridge 1st Ward, said, “You always meet a lot of new people at youth conference and this year was no different. I made a bunch of new friends at SVU and we grew close through all the activities we did together. There are always great people to meet!”

Quantico Ward Young Men

Jolene Houston, a counselor in the Woodbridge Young Women Stake Presidency, explained that the service project was also based on the missionary theme of “Oh, ye who embark in the service of God.” She said, “The youth wrote letters to missionaries serving from their wards in the mission field, to the missionaries serving in their wards here in Virginia, and to the parents of missionaries serving in their wards. They also brought household items from home like laundry detergent, toothpaste, soaps, etc. to give to the missionaries serving in their wards here in Virginia so those missionaries didn’t have to spend their own money on those things.”
In addition to the service project and the spiritual uplift of classes, various activities such as Bubble Soccer, field games, dances, a variety show and the Hakka dance were in the line-up for the youth’s fun. Marion Watson, from Lakeridge 1st Ward, said, “I really enjoyed getting to know people better within my stake and experiencing Bubble Soccer for the first time ever! It was a blast!” And Hilary Watson, also from Lakeridge 1st Ward, spoke highly of the dances.  “Being able to go to dances with all the people in our stake was such an awesome and fun experience!”

Youth Conference

The Hakka is a Polynesian warrior chant. Phettah Konelia, from the Woodbridge 1st Ward, first taught the chant to all of the counselors who then taught it to the youth.  The youth divided into two groups who faced off and performed the Hakka to each other.

The Variety show showcased eighteen youth acts including such talents as acting, poetry, dancing, singing, piano, violin, cello, and guitar. One particularly amusing highlight of the show was a spoof of “Napolean Dynamite” which both youth and leaders talked of afterward.

Dr. Matthew Rasmussen and his wife Dr. Jessica Rasmussen closed the conference with a powerful talk about using your heart, might, mind, and strength to serve the Lord. Sister Houston explained, “Jessica invited her husband up to arm wrestle her at the podium, which got the kids’ attention! And then she talked about how we all do our most important work when we wrestle within ourselves to follow the will of the Lord and it takes all of our heart, might, mind and strength to win that battle.”

Dr. Matthew Rasmussen taught about keeping all of those four energies in balance so that one doesn’t overpower the others. He shared a story about trying to drive a stick-shift car once without any knowledge or training.  He couldn’t make the car move forward because he didn’t have the right balance between the clutch, gears, and gas.

The youth felt the spirit throughout the whole conference and were uplifted. In turn they strengthened each other. Rachel Pixton, from the Lakeridge 1st Ward said, “There is a spirit there that isn’t anywhere else.”  Faith Oryang shared, “Testimony meeting touched my heart.  I came into Chandler Hall not wanting to bear my testimony, but ended up bearing it, and listening to others which strengthened mine.”

Quantico Ward Young Women

President Price and Ethan Gibson

By Camille Kerr

Writing Specialist on the Woodbridge, Virginia Stake Public Affairs Council for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints