6.03.2012

Hear My Voice!

[Here comes a loooong post and some serious gushing]

Well, I'm done with my first week as an EFY Counselor. Let me tell you, it was one of the greatest weeks of my life! Not only was it amazing, it was also incredibly challenging and stressful. But most of all, it was SO rewarding. I feel so lucky to have spent a week with these beautiful, enthusiastic, hilarious, inspiring, wonderful youth! They changed and blessed my life in so many ways I didn't even know were possible.

Our Company was called "Hear My Voice". We had a BLAST.  Here are some highlights and pictures from the week in no particular order:

 1. I was completely scared out of my mind to meet these kids.  I thought I was going to be the worst counselor ever, and I didn't feel prepared at all. So, on Sunday night when I was putting up their door tags, I was shocked when I saw one of my girls in her room! She had checked in early. She was super sweet and I was excited to meet her, but reality really started to set in at that point that I was going to be in charge of these kids! Whose idea was that??  But, once I met all the girls on Monday afternoon, I got so excited. Seriously, I got so lucky this week.  I had the best group of girls ever! They were all so sweet and loving.

All my girls, minus Audrey. She was getting ready for the variety show
2. Being overwhelmed by how much I could tell Heavenly Father loved them, and how much I already loved them on the first night, and crying when I told them that at our evening company devotional thing. (I've come to accept the fact that I cry a lot and that's never gonna change, and that I'm not one of those lucky girls that looks cute when they cry. I'm definitely an ugly crier. It's great)

3. Feeling like I was just one of them, not someone that was 5 years older.  We discovered that I watch a lot of the same TV shows and listen to the same music as they do.  No wonder I was nervous about being their counselor! I still don't feel like I'm old/cool enough.
Games Night!
4. One of the girls asking me if my hair was red or blonde (oh the million dollar question. I get asked that all the time) and someone else saying "she's strawberry blonde!" And for some reason it stuck, and the boys called me "Strawberry" or "Strawberry Flava" all week. Loved it.

Gibby from iCarly and Justin Bieber were in my group. NBD. (You kinda have to hear them talk to understand though)
5. Crazy boys! Oh man. They were hilarious.  They would go around at lunch asking girls if they would be their "M.O.M.C.'s" (mother of my children) and they would actually get phone numbers! They tried it on me a couple of times, didn't work. ;) They also did an awesome dance to a Backstreet Boys song at the variety show, choreographed by my co-counselor.  It was so cool! They were also so sweet to me.  Always taking my tray at breakfast and dinner, and taking the other girls' trays as well.  Also loved when one of them wrote "Girls don't bite" in his notebook during one of the devotionals and was tracing it and underlining it like it was something really important he needed to remember. So cute.
After their dance at the variety show
6. My girls that were always trying to hook me up with other counselors.  I told them one day that I thought one of the counselors was cute, and it then became their mission to get us together.  Every time we saw him, they would nudge me and tease me, and try to get me to talk to him or smile at him. At the dances they would try to get us to dance together (though they were never successful. Turns out I wasn't the only one who thought he was cute).  And they started working with his boys to get him to ask me on a date! It didn't work out,  but man, it was funny... and awkward. Haha.
Sorry cute Audrey got cut off in the last picture!
Pizza Night! There may or may not have been some college boys outside playing basketball, and one of them may or may not have taken his shirt off, and I may or may not have had a hard time getting them away from the window. :)
7. We can't forget my awesome co, Kendall. He has been a counselor for a long time and had SO much experience! I was grateful for him this week, since it was my first, that he knew so much and could answer any question I had.  He also was such a good teacher and leader, and the craziest, BEST dancer ever and all the kids loved him so much. He was the bomb!
8. My kids telling me they wanted to be like me, that I inspired them, that I had made them want to be an EFY counselor when they got older, or that my lesson had touched them or caused them to really think about/reevaluate their lives. I always felt so inadequate and unprepared, but I couldn't imagine hearing anything sweeter from them. 
9. Watching so many of these kids who had their "cool masks" on at the beginning of the week, get up and bear the sweetest, purest testimonies on Thursday night. As tears rolled down their cheeks and they bore firm testimonies of the gospel, my own testimony was strengthened SO much. And, of course, I bawled. I was so touched by all of these beautiful youth and the wonderful spirit that they had with them! The spirit was absolutely palpable that night.  I finally understand what counselors mean by Thursday night being "payday".  Also, hearing one of the boys talk about how he was teased a lot at home, and was worried about being teased at EFY, and then once he got there he felt so loved and accepted by everyone - oh, it touched my heart so much. I will remember that night forever. It was truly beautiful.

10. The last night I was again overwhelmed with love for these sweet kids as we had our final devotional as a company.  At first, we split up and I talked to the boys, and my co talked to the girls.  The boy that said the prayer prayed that we wouldn't cry, and guess what? He and I were the first ones to tear up. ;) When we came back together, we had the kids write down who they wanted to be in 10 years and then had them go around and share with us. I cried and felt like I was seeing a glimpse into their futures as I listened to them talk about wanting to be loving mothers and fathers, returned missionaries, worthy priesthood holders, exactly like their parents, married in the temple, and so on.  I see SO much potential in these kids. They are so strong. I know they can all reach these goals and I want it for them so, so much.
aren't they adorable?
Words cannot describe how much I loved this week. Even though by the end I was so tired I could barely see straight, I made a lot of mistakes, and it definitely was far from stress free, I grew and changed in so many ways. I know I was supposed to bring these youth closer to Christ, but they brought me there as well! And any affect I had on these wonderful youth I attribute all to my Savior.  He carried me through this incredibly difficult and amazing week and I know I couldn't have done it without him.  I felt his love for me and for the youth every step of the way. Being an EFY Counselor is the best thing I have ever done! I wouldn't trade this experience for the world. I'm so happy I get to do it for at least 4 more weeks this summer!! Some counselors say it becomes less meaningful the more you do it, but I'm making it a goal to have an amazing time every week! I feel like it's the least I can do. :)

So, to my beautiful Hear My Voice babies: Thank you for the best first week a girl could ask for! You guys changed my life. Love you ALL!

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