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!!!!”

Unwritten

“When she tells me her story, she doesn’t stop at the end of the chapter.  She doesn’t stop on the last page of the chapter; she stops three pages before the end of the chapter.  It’s terrible!”

This is what my friend Matt said on the way back from a soccer game. To be honest, I don’t remember what we were talking about.  Matt and I have known each other for almost a year now. He is a wonderful listener and I have appreciated his ear on multiple occasions. He was explaining this about me to Lisa–another soccer team member who had moved in two months ago.

What caught me first was how poetically beautiful this statement was and how it revolved around books and writing (Matt knows this about me–he also happens to read my blogs!). Then, I realized what he was saying.

Do I really stop 3 pages before the end of the chapter? Do I really not go fully into detail? Not finish my story? What am I afraid of?

But really, it reminded me of my Creative Writing Level 2 midterm I wrote back in high school, “Unwritten and Complete”. This song really is my mantra. I am an author, not only of fantasy and poetry, but also of life.

Maybe the reason I don’t end the chapter for Matt is maybe because I’m not ready to end it. Maybe it’s just unfinished and unwritten. Maybe I’m giving others an opportunity to become a shadow writer in My Fairy Tale!

What's In a Rocking Chair?

(mom…if you read this, please send me a pic of the rocking chair I love so much so I can put it on the blog…maybe one with me as a little girl?)
 BTW: This entry is officially dedicated to my mom!

In my Utah history clas, we have been discussing the turn of the 20th century and how the 1900s have changed the face of the state forever, especially in the loss and appreciation of the rich family and home oriented heritage. We read a short story called “Zarahemla” by Douglass Thatcher to illustrate the point.

In this short story, the main character is debating on whether or not to sell his grandmother’s old house. It was important to him becuase he grew up in this house, raised by his mother and grandmother. His grandmother was a plural wife to an early Mormon and this house was her own home. It still had a brass bed that the polygamous grandfather slept in and died in. The main character’s son wanted that bed. The house was full of memories of the past for the main character–his own childhood and the stories his grandmother told him. It was near and dear to him, it was a part of him. How could he part with this house?

***

That got me thinking of heirlooms.
What do we keep and why? What means a lot to us?

***

For Easter weekend, I went to my Grandmother’s. The whole time we talked about life–her life as a child, when she got married, my college life, my obsession and plans for Wales, my non-existant love life. Then we talked about my parents’ engagement and early married life. We looked at pictures of when I was a toddler.

In quite a few of them was a dark polished brown rocking chair with pink cushions. I have been rocked and nursed in that rocking chair, same as my siblings. I have rocked them to sleep numerous times as well as my mom. I have sat in my moms lap and cried as she rocked me after a bad day at school. I would rock in that chair and study for midterms. I would hurry and grab it when our Home Teachers came over every month. It is one of the few things left in the house that is as old, if not older, than me.

While looking at these pictues with Grandma, I realized, I wanted that rocking chair!

However, due to military transfers and poor housing economy, my family has moved 3 times within the past 3 years! I couldn’t remember if we even still had the rocking chair! I tried to imagine where we would have placed it in our newest home! I was nervous that I wouldn’t get this rocking chair!

I called mom. This is basically our conversation.

“Hi mom! Grandma and I were just looking at some old pictures and I was wondering…remember that old rocking chair? Do we still have it?”

“Ya, it’s in Dad and my bedroom. Why do you ask?”

“Cuz I couldn’t remember if we still had it or not. I like that rocking chair.”

“…You want it?”

YES!

“We’ll see what we can do…It’s not super comfy to rock babies in, though.”

“I don’t care, I want it! Please!”

So now, thank you mom! I may get this rocking chair! Why would I want a 20+ year old rocking chair, that doesn’t even have the pink cushions and is difficult/uncomfortable to nurse babies in? Why?
Because it is an heirloom. It meant something to me as a child and thus, it will mean something to me as an adult. Then the circle will continue–it will mean something to my children. And, I’ll always be able to remember and have my mom in the house with me every time I rock in that chair.

Poem for Today

A/N: No idea what to call this poem!

The smile lingers longer than expected.
I’m a contortionist in feelings,
Lost in a labyrinth of roses
Lined with rows of white dandelions.

I’ve been in this maze before
Why have I lost all sense of direction?
(again)

Hedges change their position
Branches cringing as they moved —
A cackling mock directed at me.

Running Suicides

As an athlete, I have had my fair share of these aptly named drills–Suicides!

But I have been lucky enough not to have to subject myself to this “death run” since I was on the Varsity volleyball team in high school 3 1/2 years ago.

However, it is turning spring. I am on an intramural soccer team. During the whole school year, I have slacked off in my eating habits and my running habits.

I want to train myself again. Train myself in perseverance, in determination, etc.

Saturday, I went running–a short run to a nearby park. I stopped to stretch by the empty parking lot. The lines reminded me of the lines on the volleyball court I had to run back and forth between. Back and forth and forth and back.

Before I knew it, I was standing on the 1st white line of the parking lot with the Training Montage from the Rocky Story on my iPod. I was running a suicide!!!

Why? I asked myself after. Why would I do that if I didn’t have to?
My legs burned after only one suicide. I was out of breath. Slowly, I made my way to the grass to work on curlups.

I was about about to leave to finish my run home, when, again!, I found myself with “Training Montage” playing just as I suddenly appeared at the first white line again. I told myself, “No,” but my feet begged to run past the white line.

So, I ran a second suicide.

Though this time I could breath easy, my legs had melted. Ground and leg became the same, became fused. Finishing my last double-back, time slowed as I inched toward the starting line.

Why?

My legs are still sore today, but I’m glad of it. I’m just not used to running suicides anymore.

And now, I’ve found a new method of torture when running:
Today, when I ran, I did 25 ups and downs on a 25 step staircase south of campus. Not to bad, honestly, but by the end, my fastest speed was slower than those walking down the steps.

Why?

Because I want to get back into shape. Because I’m crazy. Because I know I can. Because I’m “suicidal.”

Take your pick! =)