My 4th week of EFY is over! I can't believe it. I have 2 official weeks left, and possibly a 3rd (I have an on-call contract) and if I get that one I will have worked 5 weeks of EFY in a row by the end. Ah. I don't know if I'll be able to survive that. ;) EFY is incredible. It's amazing how I come away from each week learning so much about myself and having a lot of my own questions answered. Even though it's Especially For Youth, I gain a lot from all the classes, devotionals and morningsides.
This week was actually pretty tough. We had a group that had a bit of a slow start to becoming unified, and there were a couple of kids who, well... let's just say they struggled to be obedient. :) There were many times where I felt overwhelmed or absolutely stretched to my limit and it was all I could do to find a quiet place to plead with Heavenly Father to help me be strong. He blessed me so much this week, but I'd be lying if I said it was a perfect week. There are never perfect weeks though. And this one ended up being very rewarding in the end. All's well that ends well! This week we called ourselves "Shall Be One", and we really did have a good time. Here's some highlights:
1. Guess what? I sang again! But this time I got to sing for everybody, not just the girls! I was a little bit nervous, but I think it turned out well. I'm liking this new ability I've found in myself to sing in front of people and not freak out. That never would have happened in high school. (Case in point: I got a solo last minute in the madrigal concert because the girl that was supposed to do it got sick and I practiced it probably like 200 times and I felt like I was going to throw up in the moments leading up to it. Haha.)
2. Two of my girls performed in the variety show this week! They sang a parody of "Firework" called "Firebolt" done originally by Divine Comedy at BYU and it was all about Harry Potter! Oh man it was so hilarious. I was dying the whole time, and of course I just loved every second of it. Yeah HP! They were so good!
3. I got to see one of my girls from my 3rd week! She was there for a volleyball camp and I saw her in the Cannon Center and I was so excited! She was like the sweetest girl ever and I saw her at a time when I was pretty stressed so it was nice to see someone that was happy to see me. ;)
4. Aubrey, my BC, was incredible this week. Seriously, she is like the sweetest, most genuine person ever. One of those people you feel like you've known forever. She even cancelled our morning meetings on Thursday and Friday which was soooo nice! I knew she was always there for me when I was feeling stressed and she is just so upbeat and wonderful. She's getting married in a few weeks and I'm so happy for her!!
5. I got two TWO-HOUR naps this week! I don't even know how it happened, seriously. But it was the best thing ever. I actually started feeling a little sick on Thursday, so it was nice to get those naps in. I really needed them. However, even though I got those naps in, I was still exhausted come Saturday. And I haven't recovered yet. I don't know if I will ever fully recover until I'm done with EFY for the summer. :)
6. I had some really awesome experiences with my personal scripture study this week. The kids read for 30 minutes every morning and they encourage the counselors to do the same to set the example for the kids. I have seriously loved it. I just finished the BoM a couple of weeks ago and prayed again to know if it was true and I got it reaffirmed to me and it was such a great experience! I have loved starting it over and reading Nephi's stories for the zillionth time. I learn new things each time I read. I've been learning a lot just from the principles we teach the kids about making scripture study more meaningful, and it has made my reading much more enjoyable. I love the scriptures!
7. Our session directors, the West's, were incredible. It's amazing how much I learn from the classes and morningsides. I know it's Especially for Youth but sometimes I feel like it's Especially for Ashley! This week he challenged us to write down some questions that we had about life or the gospel and then pray to Heavenly Father to have them answered this week. I had three very specific (and personal, sorry) questions that I wrote down and they were ALL answered! It was seriously so amazing. I was so shocked each time they were answered. It was like Brother West was speaking directly to me, even though I knew it was the Spirit. I'm so grateful for Heavenly Father and the way he knows each of us so individually.
8. I had to rely a lot on Heavenly Father this week. Seriously, not a day went by when I didn't have a prayer in my heart all day long. I was very blessed with peace multiple times but I definitely wasn't perfect and I couldn't have done all that I did without Heavenly Father's help. I was talking to my mom about this and she told me that it was great that I was doing that but I need to remember to rely on Him even when times are good. That was a reminder I really needed! Sometimes it's hard to remember to pray as much when everything is easy breezy. But boy, I'm grateful He was there for me when I was feeling overwhelmed.
9. My co-counselor, Eric, oh goodness. He was great. He was a total goof and we had a ton of fun! He's engaged and is getting married in a couple of weeks and I'm excited for him! His fiancee is a very lucky gal. He had awesome object lessons and the kids really loved him. I know he changed some lives this week. It was kind of a weird week because since it was a small session one of us was always on duty so we didn't see a ton of each other, but when we were together it was great. He had this awesome idea to make a "title of liberty" thing for the kids and have them sign it saying they're committed to reading their scriptures and praying everyday for the rest of their lives.
10. Even though these kids were kinda punks sometimes (like telling me they wouldn't go to bed, or glaring at me if I asked them to get their scriptures out, or running around screaming and jumping out at people when we were supposed to be quiet), they followed the tradition of surprising me on the last night by the things they said they learned and loved during the week. Some of the kids that had the hardest time listening to me really gained a lot from the week and it was very rewarding in the end to see that they had at least learned something. ;) Even though I felt like a failure a lot of the time during the week, it touched my heart to see that the spirit had touched them and they were going home a little better than how they came. I also had some very personal chats with one girl who had some very difficult trials and I loved hearing her new found conviction to read her scriptures and stay committed to the gospel! One of the best things about being an EFY counselor is watching the kids change. It's truly so rewarding and fulfilling. The best part about that though is that I know it wasn't anything I did necessarily, it was all the spirit. I was just a vessel for the spirit to work through, but it's all the Lord's work. Nothing I can do or say can compare to the spirit speaking directly to their hearts. That's something I've come to know very strongly.
I love working with the Youth. And although sometimes they can be a little strong-willed (and so can I) I love getting to know these kids from all different walks of life and helping them Come closer to Christ. Next up, I'm in Logan for a session (thanks Kj for pulling some strings and getting me up there!) and I'm so excited to be on my own turf! I really do love Provo, for reals, but there's just something about Logan. Yay for EFY!