Browsing Category: religion

EFY Week #4 – "Lifted Up"

Lifted Up!
My last week of EFY was probably my best. This week, my company’s scripture came from Psalms 24:3-4 “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.”
So our name was Lifted Up!
This week, the Red session was the largest for Provo this year: 700 participants! The average is 350 for a session. Add that to the fact that all 4 sessions were going on at once (2500+ youth!) and all having classes and lunch together!
At least the Red were housed in on-campus apartments rather than the on-campus dorms like the rest of the youth. We also had our own cafeteria for breakfast and dinner. But, with 700 participants, the only place we could fit on campus was 1 auditorium on the opposite side of campus. Getting place to place and sitting down was ridiculous. However, all the counselors and the coordinators all agreed that even though we were super worried about this chaotic week, it turned out to have less problems than the week we only had 250 youth!
My girls were amazing! I didn’t have any problems with any of them! Two of my boys tried out for the variety show and four of my girls did the musical program. They were all super tight, always hanging out in each others’ rooms. They all participated in discussions and devotionals, which made me very happy.
However, there was one girl who wasn’t able to be in the same company as the rest of her friends. It was her first year at EFY and she felt quite isolated and shy. I tried my best to make her feel welcome and even talked to some of my girls with kind, strong personalities. Her mom even called me to talk to me about the situation. Sadly, I feel like I failed in this instance because she left early on Thursday night.
Then, on Friday, one girl threw me for a loop. It was her 3rd year at EFY and I didn’t see any problems with her. However, she said she was going to make herself sick so she wouldn’t have to go to the dance (she is lactose-intolerant). She did this because no boy had asked her to dance during the Tuesday dance. I talked to her about how she was worrying not only me, but the rest of the girls because it isn’t healthy for her to have milk. Then I also told her how the past couple of years have been hard for me because I’ve seen so many of my girl friends get asked out on dates, start dating, and get married; whereas, almost all the dates I have been on in the past 3 years, I have asked the boy out and they usually have turned out bad. So I knew how she felt and told her I was tired of waiting for boys to ask me out so I started asking them out. That situation, and knowing the love she had from the other girls gave her enough courage to go to the dance. Then, she even asked my old co, the one with the same name as me, who all the girls have a crush on, to dance, and he danced with her! She enjoyed herself.
That night, I also had dance duty–I had to sit down in a corner and make sure no youth left or hid, etc. One of my girls sat somewhere near me and talked on the phone. I assumed her mom had called, but then, after about 15 minutes and her ending numerous different calls, I decided to go over and see what the problem was. She was losing self-confidence. Yes, boys had asked her to dance, but they were all weird, awkward, or not-that-cute. She sees other girls who she thinks are prettier then her being asked to dance by good-looking boys. She didn’t feel she was as good-looking as them. Kind of the same situation as my other girl. Coincidentally, they were both mixed races and gorgeous. I love mixed race girls–they get the best of both races. So I told her that, she was beautiful. Told her my story. Told her to be a huntress. She finally went to go dance with my other girls.
I was glad for such a wonderful week to end on. I was able to memorize the names of all my kids, the second time I was able to do it!
I am so thankful to have been able to do EFY this summer. It was an amazing experience and allowed my testimony to grow so much. True, I am thankful that it is over for the year, but I am still sad–I felt such at home being a counselor. My patriarchal blessing* tells me that I will use my written and oral skills to teach. I feel as if I have truly made that come to pass. I was meant to be an EFY counselor and I will never regret doing it.
 * patriarchal blessing (a blessing LDS members get that tells them Heavenly Father’s expectations and promises for them)

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

EFY Week 3: "Wise Men!"

This week, our scripture came from Isaiah 29:13-14.
“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”

So our group name became: Wise Men!

I had the younger group again this week. This session was also the smallest–only about 250 people. However, I was in a group of 3 counselors: 2 male counselors and me–18 boys and 9 girls.  (It was easy to remember my girls’ names this week!)

My co’s and I got along real well–we had the playful yet serious mode about us and we would all switch it off so none of us were the mean counselor.

There was one girl, however, that I was really worried about. I mean, I am not a returned missionary, nor am I a veteran counselor. I am only a 21 year old girl who has never had any spiritual challenges in her life and here was a girl who was a little indifferent about the church. She loved EFY and went last year, was deeply impressed by her previous counselor and decided to come again. This girl was super cute and super talented: she could sing and dance. She was not shy in the least and participated in all the activities, except any that had to do with the spirit.

I pray for my girls by name every night during the week, just so I can help be the best counselor I could be. I wanted to help this girl too, to at least feel the Spirit at least once during the week. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I was nervous. I didn’t know what to do or how to help. So, I asked to be a tool in the Lord’s hands. I knew He loved her dearly and so I asked to be used to help her feel the Spirit…not even to change her entire life, but to just feel the Spirit. I felt an overwhelming warmth. He loved her deeply and from that moment on, I did too. We became quick friends–like I said, she wasn’t shy at all. She seemed to me like a younger sister, so I acted the older, caring sister part.

That seemed to be all she needed. She (and her counselor from last year) both told me bits and pieces of her childhood, which has been something I never had to deal with, nor knew any one who had the challenges and trials she has been through. However, I felt that she loved the idea of a Celestial Family. In our church, we believe that families are eternal and we can be with them after the Resurrection. She has one older sister, so I explained to her that I like to view Jesus Christ as my older brother, and that He cares for us and we are never alone because we have an older brother who is willing to protect us. I kept with that idea the rest of the week in all my devotionals and lessons. I tried getting her to go to all the spiritual activities.

Near the end of the week, I wasn’t sure if I had done anything to help her feel the Spirit. Thursday night during Testimony Meeting, I felt impressed, to write her a letter. I told her how much I loved her and how I have been through some tough times this past year, too. But how I know that Jesus Christ has always been with me. I also bore my testimony about forever families and told her that not only will I always be there for her, but her family will too, as well as Jesus Christ. Then, during the Service Project, she wrote me a thank-you letter. It said:

Dear Tayler, 
Thank you for hanging with me and not shooting me. (she was a 16 year old girl…all teens can be brats sometime during EFY, but we counselors love them anyway.) Thanks for helping me get back in the Gospel. I love you so much. I would probably be in a lot of trouble. I love you so much.
Then, during our last morning side, she told me that by EFY next year, she hopes to be going back to church full-time. I cried. That night during the last devotional, we had it as a company–our entire group and all three of us counselors. I could see the light shining through all my youth; they all had come such a long way in the Gospel. I also saw a tremendous light in this young girl’s eyes. She knew the Gospel is true and that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ loves her. She knew the church is true, she just had to admit it to herself. And she did.
This week was probably the most spiritually fulfilling week I have had at EFY. Then on Sunday, we talked on Facebook and she said that she went to church and felt so good being back. I love her dearly.

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

EFY Week 2 – "They Shall Hunt Them!"

Last week was my second week of EFY!

The coordinators of this session thought it would be hilarious if they put the two counselors with the same name together, so that is how I got my co. (No, his name wasn’t Tanney–that is just my pen name!)

This time, I worked with 16-18 year olds. I did really well and learning all their names on the first day.
Our scripture was Jeremiah 16:16 “Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.” Our name became “They Shall Hunt Them!”

Again, on Monday, we played Family Home Evening games and our session director joined us. 

My co and I had a really good connection with each other (I think it is because we have the same name). Because of this, our group was really excited for EFY. This week, I was also partially in charge of the Musical Program, which meant I couldn’t spend lunch or free time with my company because I had to help with practices. I was really nervous about it as well because I am not very musically talented.

Tuesday’s dance was a fun-tastic night. My co-counselor is an insane dancer! So cool! Everyone loved watching him and cheering him on, especially when he challenged our session director to a dance battle!

Wednesday was THE day for us! My co had never not been in the top 3 for the cheer off, so we pushed and pushed our youth to make the best cheer ever and they did not disappoint–we WON!!!
Pizza night was awesome! Again, funny stories, like the night I had to sleep over in Paddington Station in London and my awkward first kiss. 

Thursday was the day I was most worried about because of the Musical Program. However, that wasn’t until the evening. During the variety show, I had 3 of my youth participate. One played the piano with a song they wrote. One played guitar with his brother with a song they wrote. Another played the guitar to a famous song. They were all very good. Then came dinner and the moment I was dreading. However, the Musical Program went well and as I was directing, I heard sniffling and crying behind me–we had touched them. My kids came up to me and told me I did a good job. At testimony meeting, a few of the youth me and my co were worried about bore their testimonies and we were glad.

Friday during free time, I took my kids to Hokulia Shaved Ice Shack, owned by a Social Studies Teaching Major friend of mine.

The small is HUGE! You get 3 of 30 flavors, and for $1 extra, you can have a scoop of ice cream in the middle or a snow cap made of sweet cream. The best part, EFY counselors get a free small!!! Once we got our shaved ice, we went to watch our boys play basketball.

At the dance, my girls got me to dance with my co. Then, a few of them shyly did too. Not only was he all my girls’ COW (crush of week), but he was numerous other particpants’ crush as well as other counselor’s crush!
Lockdown went pretty smoothly and my girls bought me a bouquet of flowers. 

Again, I love EFY and I am sad I am already half way done. My testimony just keeps building and my love for the youth of our church keeps expanding!

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

EFY Week 1 – "Work and Glory"

So this summer, I have dedicated a chapter of my life to being an Especially For Youth Counselor for four different weeks this summer.

Especially For Youth is a Mormon church camp. We do numerous church-related activities such as classes and devotionals, but we also do fun things like competitive games and dances.

I have wanted to be a an EFY counselor since I went for the first time at age 14. The requirement to be a female counselor is to have one year of college behind you and be 21.

Done and done!
  This was our theme for this year.  

Sunday night rolls in. I go to the session director fireside–it is amazing! I met my fellow counselors, including my co-counselor Richard.
On Monday, counselors helped with the check-in, then we meet our group. I had 12 girls who were 14 or 15 years old. However, my group was confusing because out of those 12 girls, I had 2 Megans, 2 Kaylas, a Kaylee, and 2 Haileys. After we got to know each other, we met our boys and Richard. Each company (group of boys and girls) are assigned a scripture from which we can create our Company name. 
Ours was Moses 1:39 (the Book of Moses is in the Pearl of Great Price, another set of scriptures used by Mormons including accounts of Moses and Abraham). “For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” So our name became “Work and Glory!”
The rest of Monday was spent playing Family Home Evening games.
Tuesday’s activities included gospel study and classes. After classes and lunch, participants had the opportunity to have free time. After dinner, we had a dance. Of course there are EFY line dances, so we as counselors went crazy-spastic!
Wednesday is basically the same as Tues. But, after dinner, all the participants wear their EFY t-shirts. We make a banner with our Company name on it and create a Company cheer. Then we play against other companies in games and have a cheer-off. 
However, unexpectedly, it rained on Wednesday night. We were able to get our cheers all prepped before hand, so we counselors decided to scrap the banner and the games and load everyone into the closest building and pile them all into an auditorium room. We had the cheer off there, counselors sung and dance, we had noise competitions, and watched our session director’s favorite episode of Kid History. Finally, the rain had stopped, so we went back to the dorms, just in time for pizza night!
This is the night were we stuff our faces full of pizza talking about our COWs (Crush of Week) and crazy-random-happenstance stories. 
Thursday is the spiritual day; we dress up in Sunday clothes. We had gospel study, a fireside, did some youth activities, and had lunch. Then, we had the variety show–allowing the participants to show off their true talents, silly talents, etc. Free time, dinner, then the Musical Program. Participants and Counselors who decide to participate learn a few hymns and EFY church songs and bear their testimonies. Then, we split up into our companies and have our own testimony meeting. 
This is my favorite part of EFY–seeing the light shine through these teenagers as they testify of their faith and knowledge that our church is true is quite the sight to behold. 
Friday was the last day. Youth in our church carry around pamphlets called For the Strength of Youth. We had mini-lessons on each of these strengths. Then, after lunch, we did a service project. This year, it was to thank the different people on campus who help out with EFY. Most of these go to food services, custodial, and the like. Then, they were to write thank-yous to family, friends, and other people they knew. A few of my girls wrote thank-yous to me. I cried. Free time and dinner. Then there was another dance! Crazy insane time!
Lights out each night is 10:30 because youth are expected to be dressed and ready for the day by 7AM. Counselors go door to door, making sure their lights are out and the participants are quiet. However, since they are all expected to be picked up and checked out by 7:30 the next day, Friday night becomes LOCK DOWN — the night all counselors dread!
We are stationed at each end of the hall. We have to make sure their lights are out and they are quiet, but more than that–they need to go to sleep. We aren’t allowed to go to bed until an hour after we can’t hear them at all. This way, they don’t sneak out on the last night. Counselors don’t go to bed until at least midnight. Most counselors go to bed around 1or2 am. I was lucky and was able to go to bed at 12:30. 

Saturday, we said our last goodbyes. But, as I was checking them out of the dorms, I noticed they had heart attacked my door!

This was truly an amazing experience. I was on a spiritual high the whole week and learned so much from these young teenagers. My own testimony was strengthened and I realized that our future lies with them.
It was a wonderful first week of EFY!
“Work, work, work, GLORY!!!!”

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.

High Moral Standards

A friend from work was revealing to me all the reasons he liked me: cute, smart, funny, kind, high moral standards…

Wait. High moral standards? Wow, he noticed that? More than noticing, he cared about it enought to mention it? Wow. That’s why he likes me? Becuase of that little part in my life that I have always taken for granted growing up in my church?

I smiled when he said that last night.

I am still smiling.

I want to take what he said and improve on it. I have been lacking a bit. I could do better in what I say and do. I could do better in my daily scripture reading. I should do better – I will do better.

If that small comment can affect me this much, make me smile and lift my self-esteem? And then take it and improve on it? Who else will notice? How will I feel about myself?

Thank you so much. You don’t know how much those small, plain words meant to me.

Tayler is a work at home mom. She does free lance articles and dabbles in graphic design and virtual assisting for bloggers. She spent 3 years as a history and English teacher. Her passions are her husband, two children, history, reading, nature, and her Savior, Jesus Christ.