“Gospel Gifts in Guam,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2023.
With its beaches, calm waters, and ancient caves, the island of Guam sounds like a dream vacation, but it’s a normal day in the life of 15-year-old Franchesca N.! She loves the beautiful beaches. “It’s fun to go out and explore nature.”
Born and raised in Guam, she loves doing things outside. “I’m an outdoorsy sort of person, so I really don’t like staying indoors,” she says. She loves paddle boarding on the ocean, snorkeling, and hiking with her parents and two sisters. They especially love to hike at a place with ancient caves.
“I’m really close to my sisters. They’re my best friends,” she says. Her older sister is attending school in Hawaii. “Social media is a huge factor in helping us to communicate,” Franchesca explains. She likes to stay close and connected.
Franchesca is a sophomore at an all-girls Catholic school, where she is the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being the only Church member at her school was a bit intimidating at first, but she’s used to being seen differently. Plus, others around her think it’s kind of cool that she’s part of a different religion.
For example, her friends were drinking coffee at lunch one day, and Franchesca was able to explain the Word of Wisdom to them.
Franchesca also chooses not to swear even though other people at school do. She says, “I was tempted many times before, but something that keeps me strong is my personal relationship with Heavenly Father through prayer.” She adds, “I shouldn’t be doing these things, because it’s wrong and because I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
Sometimes it can be lonely being the only Church member at her school. When she was a freshman, Franchesca felt very alone during the pandemic and didn’t have many friends. She was nervous to talk to her parents about it, but when she prayed, she felt prompted to tell them how she was feeling.
As a family, they decided to pray for her to be able to find friends she could count on. Miraculously, as soon as they finished their prayer, they heard a knock on their door. It turned out to be one of her friends from a different ward, and she brought cookies! Franchesca knew that Heavenly Father had heard their prayer.
Franchesca’s stake includes members from Guam and several other islands. Her ward has only a small youth group, but her ward is like a family. The members are close, and this encourages her to go to church each Sunday. They are big influences and role models in her life.
Franchesca has also found strength in her seminary class. “Seminary is one of the highlights of my week,” she says. “When I attend seminary, it feels like all my worries are gone.”
She loves attending seminary, whether online or in person, and never misses a class unless she has to. She says her weeks go much better because she chooses to be in seminary. If she’s had a stressful week, she makes sure to go to seminary because she feels peace there.
The youth also have activities about two to three times a month. Franchesca even planned one of them—a game night with lots of fun board games and a scripture game. They haven’t been able to meet much during the pandemic, so when they do get to meet, they have a great time.
The young women even made a music video of themselves lip-syncing to the Church youth song “Good Day” and posted it to share love and to lift others. “Social media can really bring everyone together, especially during times when we can’t really see everyone.”
In the October 2018 general conference, the Yigo Guam Temple was announced. Franchesca says, “The youth were so excited—we all prayed for it.” After that, she eagerly watched the construction and waited for their very own temple, which was completed in May 2022.
They’ve always had to travel to the Philippines for temple trips in the past. To pay for the trips, they would raise money with bake sales and car washes. Because it’s a big trip, they would plan it to last about a week. Franchesca is excited to be able to go to the temple more often and have the blessings that come from being baptized for her ancestors.
Franchesca says that she tends to worry a lot, but prayer has helped her. “Prayer is really powerful. Just talking to Heavenly Father really comforts me. He listens and can help.”
“When I pray, the answer doesn’t always just come to me just like that,” she says. “It’s just the feeling of guidance that helps me; that feeling of His presence and His love. It comforts me and makes me feel so much better.”
Her advice to other youth is: “Pray to Heavenly Father. Talk to Him. That helps a lot.”
She says her mom is also a worrier but is also a big support. “My mother is a blessing from Heavenly Father, and she has guided me a lot.”
“Family is a big blessing,” she says. “I think opening up to your family or a friend if you’re going through something is important.”
Franchesca wants everyone to see the Lord’s everyday blessings. “Daily blessings can be so simple. Going to school is a huge blessing. There are so many cool miracles if we take the time to notice them. I’m so grateful to have the gospel in my life.”