I figured that just writing about each and every day of EFY would get pretty boring, so I decided to spice things up a bit with ... (just) my favorite moments of EFY 2010.
As a bit of a prequel, the excitement I had for last year's (as in 2009) EFY barely lit a candle to 2010's. I was dreaming about EFY the second I left Nauvoo, so of course I was thinking about where I wanted to go a long time before the actual sign up. I tried to find a balance between practical (close) and fun. Long story short, I felt like going to San Antonio. Eventually, because I hesitated too long, the spots were taken for the only week that I could attend. Miraculously, there were a few spots open in a Provo session, which are almost always taken the first day, so I grabbed one and bought plane tickets.
10. The plane ride there. I had never ridden a plane by myself before. This was only the second time I could remember riding in a plane, period. I felt like such an adult at fifteen, which now seems really silly, but true. I sat next to an obvious hipster, and after a few moments of conversation, I cracked open my copy of Pride and Prejudice ... "It is a truth universally acknowledged ..." Meanwhile, my fifty+ pounds of luggage were weighing the plane down immensly, making it work extra hard. Sorry, plane! I just had all of the essentials, I swear. A couple extra large bags of Sour Patch Kids and Swedish Fish never hurt anyone ...
9. The EFY prep. Even better than actually getting to EFY was preparing for it. Since I had already been once, I figured I was a regular EFY veteran, but I scoured every packing list on the internet to create the maximum EFY experience, just in case. Hangers were a must, umbrellas, tons of extra clothes, food (to make quick friends) ... I really made a nice list of it all. I loved shopping for EFY, grooming in prep for EFY, re-reading manuals and the scriptures for EFY. It was a super fun, spiritual boot-camp of a month prior to the actual main event.
8. I loved meeting the people at EFY. For any of you who have wondered why I travel pretty far to places where I literally know no-one (well, actually ... more on that later), this EFY session was the determining factor. Since I traveled alone, I was pretty lonely on the first Sunday I spent alone in the dorm. I walked the deserted campus (because it was Sunday and it was summer ...) and pondered some beautiful things ... and I realized that I could be anyone I wanted to be. I could be as vibrant as I chose, as daring as I cared, and as carefree as a hippie in a hemp field. It was really all up to me how people saw me and it was liberating. I didn't lie at all when I was at EFY (I never do) but I made sure that all of my good aspects were prominent. As people in my company responded to those sides of me, I grew more and more confident. (It probably helped that at Youth Conference my dad set up 12 dates for me). The kids that were in my group were incredible. There were only a few guys, but they were hilarious and respectful (again, more on that). The girls were so stinkin' funny, and I loved to be around them and go crazy. Really, the people made this EFY. It was what I needed that year, more than spiritual experiences I think.
|Two of my fun, fun roommates!|
6. The food. I actually didn't eat much food at this EFY. I think my counselor thought I was anorexic, but I swear I wasn't avoiding food on purpose. There was so much to do and I didn't want to miss a second of time on campus for a thing such as food when I had pounds of it in my room. This year, I chose to participate in the musical program again, and we had practice during lunch and free-time, leaving me with very little BYU Bookstore shopping time (thus the skipped dinner). When I did eat though, I loved the food. The cafeteria workers were so nice, not to mention efficient, and the food was heavenly. I especially loved the French Toast Sticks for breakfast. The drinks in the soda fountain were so original, since there was no caffeinated beverages. POG ... oh my word. POG. I can't get enough of that stuff, but it doesn't exist in MO. I might go to BYU just for the POG ... and the Jamba Juice. I only drank Jamba once during my stay at BYU, but ever since that moment, I have been craving it. To be honest, it is pretty expensive and a thing I could make just as easily at home, but the experience was what mattered. It seemed like the epitome of college cool to be sipping Jamba and throwing a Frisbee around.
5. Thursday. This session of EFY was so interesting to me. Like I said, I think Heavenly Father wanted me to have a better social time with a subtler touch of spiritual this time around. Thursday was just the right way to balance the spiritual with the social, however, because it was so incredible. We had a special Q&A for an activity with the counselors, and I loved hearing that some of the girls (even thought it was anonymous) had the same struggles as I did. The musical program was perfect, and I once again found myself crying. The thing that really stood out to me though was the testimony meeting. Some of the kids in my group had individual problems that I was aware of, and it was incredible to witness them bearing strong and eloquent testimony of the gospel. When I got up to speak, I gave a quick testimony that was a powerful experience to me. The words flowed out of my mouth as I felt the spirit work in me. I wanted everyone to know that I knew, and I think that it reached a few people. I felt a confirmation that night that in my life, it was going to be important for me to testify of what I knew.
4. My special surprise. I mentioned that I came to EFY knowing no one, but that wasn't entirely true. Throughout the week, I had seen a boy that was super cute, and SUPER familiar. I couldn't put my finger on who he was, but I felt like I had known him for a long time, even though I hadn't ever talked to him. I found myself staring at him (in a completely non-romantic way) in my free time, and trying to figure out who he was. I finally discovered that it was one of my good, good, friends Garrett. He lived in my town when we were in grade school. I remember (innocently) fake marrying him in his bedroom closet, pretending, and laughing with him on the temple grounds. When I found out that it could be him, I called my mom instantly and tried to get her to do some stalking to see if it truly was. After all, I didn't want to look like a freak and go hug a random guy. I waited the whole week for an answer, and then finally, on Friday, my mom called to confirm. That was all it took for me. During our service project, I spotted him out and grabbed a friend to come with me to his group. I cautiously tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Garrett?" He turned around, and I don't think he recognized the total babe I'd become (har har). When we finally recognized each other, we had a mini freak out hug session and then swore that we would hang out at the last dance. It was so fun knowing that there was someone that I actually knew there at EFY, especially when he lives in Arizona and there was a very slim chance that I would ever see him again. (Funny story, I saw him again when I went to General Conference this year. I'm sensing a sign here). I also saw a girl that used to go to my ward walking around campus and it was so comforting.
There was one girl named Katie who was a little on the shy side who I especially befriended because she reminded me of my sister in a way. She was the answer to my prayers in more than one way, and the subject of one of my future general conference talks. I was leaving the BYU bookstore one day with some of my friends and I felt a strong prompting not to go the shortcut to the dorms with my friends. I waved goodbye from them, explaining that I needed to go back for something, and started the long trek across the busy street and towards the bookstore again. None of my friends were mysteriously kidnapped or ran over, so I figured that this prompting was silly and just my imagination. When I started to go up the ramp towards the Law School however, Katie ran up to me, winded a little and panicked. I calmed her down, which only took a few minutes, and she said, "I am so glad I found you! I was lost, and couldn't find my way back to the dorms," and get this, "I said I prayer to find someone who could help me, and as soon as I finished, I saw you." You can imagine the shock I felt. My silly prompting ended up being a spiritual validation for Katie that day. I get chills thinking about it today. Thank goodness for a Heavenly Father who keeps his promises and uses them to help others as well.
2. "I respect you," was a phrase I heard a lot at EFY, especially from one boy, Brennan. He always karate chopped me while saying it, and it never failed to surprise me. Once again, the respect I got from the guys at EFY was so refreshing. It was even better this year, because I was a little more poised and
|This is Brennan. We shared a very special bond. ;) The title of most awkward picture ever goes tooo...|
1. The commitment. My awesome counselor, Jessica, was big on commitments. She would always be checking on our progress (which I SO appreciated) and really cared about where we were going after we left EFY. That was something that I felt that I did awfully at after 2009's EFY. I was on fire for about four months, and then I started letting the gospel take a backseat again, partly because I was facing a wall of persecution because of my decisions and partly because I had overwhelmed myself with extra-curricular activities. This year, I wanted to do better, but I had no idea how to go about it. The answer, my dear friends it a dose of commitment and goal making. Make sure to drink POG before and after doses, and you'll be able to swallow it just fine. I made goals that were attainable for me at that time and specific, and I went with them. It was incredible to see the difference that commitment made in my life. Another valuable, VALUABLE lesson that I learned in my time at Provo.
And because I can't stop there, here are a few BONUS moments from EFY 2010.
The music for this session was INCREDIBLE. My favorite definitely from all of the EFY's I've ever attended. I still listen to them on repeat, so much that I have to listen to them on Youtube because I stripped my CD.
The variety show was great as well. I was sitting next to hilarious people and we had so much fun cat calling and indian whooping to the people that were performing. P.S. Talk about extremely talented, extremely intimidating kids from Utah.
The bells on campus remind me of the bells of Notre Dame. When they play Come, Come Ye Saints every hour on the hour, I felt the spirit every time. Speaking of, the BYU campus was beautiful and people were super friendly. Even when I walked to Wendy's I couldn't get away from waving to five people. BYU is a special place to just walk around and ponder life. I wonder, if I went to school there, would I be able to pass classes with the lawns enticing me to do other things?
The mountains. When I left BYU I cried over the mountains more than anything else. The people were an important part of my time there, and I missed them like CRAZY when I went home, but I truly grew to love the Wasatch mountain range. When we went driving through the range this spring, I felt an overwhelming sense of pride and longing. This is where Brigham Young envisioned a city rising out of the desert. You really can feel the majesty and power of God when you see the mountains. I sound like a hopeless sap, but there you have it.
This EFY was a great experience, but I left in a daze. It was a whirlwind of a week, and honestly, most of it didn't feel real. When the plane landed, I felt like I was waking up from a bizarre coma. I was anticipating to be spiritually on fire (and shedding buckets of tears), but instead I left with a comforting, subtle, assurance that Heavenly Father loved me. I had gained a bunch of new friends and found some old ones. I was able to figure out a lot about who my true self was and what I could do in my life to have a maximum amount of influence on others. I learned that the Lord listens to prayers and answers, sometimes in ways we can't even imagine. I might have had a completely different and equally jarring experience if I had followed the prompting to go to San Antonio, but in Heavenly Father's special way, he made it work out for the better, and I learned to be more diligent at following similar promptings in the future.
P.S. See where I'm going with this? If I keep up with one EFY week a week, I'll be blogging about EFY 2012 in three or four weeks. It's a nice way to alleviate the crazy anxiety I get when I think about how awesome EFY is.