Friday, June 24, 2011

EF- Why?

**Belated Post. My apologies. I was still trying to decide what I was going to do with this Tumblr/Blogger fiasco. I love my blog. I like my Tumblr. I made the executive decision yesterday that this would remain the permanent location for my existential, philosophical detox, while Tumblr will be my spot for my funny links, photos, etc. Facebook is on it's way out, I feel. Who knows. Anyways. Back to a philosophical rant you've all been waiting for.**

Two weeks ago I was an EFY counselor. Some people were surprised, others were less surprised. It was long, exhausting and 100% worth it. Let me tell you why.

Secretly, I've wanted to be an EFY counselor since I went to EFY 50 years ago. {Ok. 4 years ago.} I thought my EFY counselors were rockstars. They were nice, cool, going to college, and were totally outgoing. Not to mention I was greatly impacted by their teaching and bearing of testimony. I knew I would love to do that. I wanted to help youth like they'd helped me.

My first summer of college, I wasn't old enough.

My second summer of college, I went on my Study Abroad instead.

Finally, I had a free summer. No classes, no travel and plenty of perk.

So I applied. In January I had an interview. After some complications with the EFY system, I was finally offered contracts in March, but none that I could accept since my situation changed. I thought I had missed the boat.

Right before Memorial Day, I got an email from EFY asking me if I could fill in for the June 6-11 session in Provo. Yes. I would love to. I hurriedly completed the employment information, read and re-read the handbook and began preparing all my devotionals and lessons. Come Sunday I was excited and well-prepared.

When I showed up for the training session from 3-5, I quickly shrunk to be 2 inches tall. Really. They pounded in our heads how the youth watch our EVERY MOVE, how influential we can be, and how the Lord was relying on us to rescue some of these kids. I felt pretty inadequate. I would have felt much more confident coming right out of high school, when I was meticulous about scripture study, attended every hour of church and had this insatiable need to be the best. Over the past few years I've gotten more lax. I let myself get away with more. I have more fun, and concentrate less on work and spiritual growth. I was truly humbled. I learned a lot in that moment. You can study every scripture reference and conference talk, attend the temple, pray for your kids, and try to be good for 2 weeks straight, but it will never compensate for the righteousness and spiritual power you will gain by consistent good decisions over time. I felt weak and never wanted to feel that way again. Luckily, they tried hard to buoy us up and meeting my awesome Co's - Mike and Amy - made me feel a little better.

Monday morning began bright and early with breakfast and our business meeting. Obviously I LOVED my enormous bright green and purple EFY tees {sorry BYUStylers...}. Don't worry. I'm not going to give you a day-by-day log of activities. Although it is pretty interesting.

Meeting my girls was awesome. It really alleviated stress when I could just feel love for these great girls and knew it would be easier for me to be better. I had a good mix. They were almost all 16, which intimidates a lot of people, but I just love teenagers. Crazy I know.

The week went super fast. I was exhausted. I never slept more than 5 hours a night and had to be perky and physically energetic all day long. We walked all over campus, and it was alternating between sweltering heat and windy chill several times a day. The schedule was jam packed, because they never want to waste a moment of precious time during the week. Every activity is carefully planned to maximize fun AND spirituality, which, amazingly enough, CAN go hand in hand.

By Thursday (the most spiritual day), I was completely exhausted and the kids were starting to bond. I can't explain how amazing it was to see some of my girls get up and bear their testimonies in front of the big group, and several later in our small devotional. If these kids stick to what they know right now, the next generation of the church is going to be absolutely fine. Again, I was humbled and uplifted by their faith for the future.

Friday's dance was super fun, and the "Taking It Home" afterwards really motivated participants and counselors alike to examine their lives, make the hard and scary improvements that we need to, love others and be better. The coolest thing that I learned was the idea of "practice." {Our director was way into sports analogies, which obviously I loved.} He said we should start practicing being the person we'd like to be in the future. When he put it that way, it sounded realistic and far less daunting than an immediate 180 degree switch. I can do a little practice, can't I?

Following "Passion Patrol" - keeping participants from getting too lovey-dovey and physical (yes it's actually called that) - I did our last devotional and then reported for Lockdown Duty. As the last night, post-dance, when no one wants to say goodnight or goodbye, kids try to sneak out. Therefore, counselors on Lockdown Duty are placed strategically to guard halls and doors. We can't go to bed until we have 1 incident-free hour following kids going to sleep. {Everyone made fun of me all week for sneaking in my Diet Coke. Joke's on them. I was 100% alert during Lockdown. Suckas.}

Thanks to some idiot running around Helaman Halls in a wolf costume, I couldn't go to bed until almost 2 am.

Up at 6 to check my girls out, sad to see them go, and then off to our wrap-up meeting. By 9:30 I was home and climbing into bed.

I slept till 4 pm. Yikes.

It was hard getting no sleep. It was hard walking all over the place with a heavy backpack in the hot and cold. It was hard minding my every individual action to be the best example I could for these kids. It was hard being perky and spiritual every waking minute for 5 days straight. It was hard to not see Ryan.

But so worth it.

It was a small price to pay (....and I was getting paid) for the opportunity to spend time with the most amazing youth in the church. I got to spend literally HOURS in the scriptures. I practiced my teaching and management skills (they need some work). I made friends, danced my heart out, and had a blast.

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