First of all, let me just say Happy late Birthday to my good friend E-Flems! Considering you are probably one of the only ones reading this, if you read it at all, I thought i'd give you an extra special shout-out. Farewell from your teenage glory days, and I sure hope Saturday was the best 20th birthday you'll ever have. I'm still slightly ticked that I haven't met Troy yet.
I realized that I didn't post anything about Girls Camp. And that probably isn't fair because I had a really good time. And I learned a lot. But this is more about LTC because it was just a totally different level of learning and spirituality.
Real quick, Girls Camp was full of adventure. I went on my first overnight hike, built a tent using mismatched poles, duct tape, and a pocket knife. I had a good time getting to know the girls in my ward a little better. It was fun to see them out of their natural environment. Most of them are Hi-Lo's (the dance team for LHS) and thus were a little uncomfortable camping in the wild :) They really are cool girls though and i'm a little disappointed in myself that it took me this long to give them a chance and see past the dancer stereotype. Of course, me and some of my good friends were able to make some good memories. What else do you do when you have 17 year old girls without technology with a tent in the woods? Make memories :D
On to LTC, the real deal. For those who aren't hip with the lingo these days, it stands for Laurel Training Camp. It's not a church-wide program, but it is a church camp. The girls who just graduated and the girls my age, who will be seniors next year, go camping for a week. During that week, we get split into the different value groups, ( faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue) and attend different lessons and lectures with our groups. We got to have lessons from the 3 stake presidents on some awesome subjects and I know that I learned a lot for sure. Because of the sacred nature of the camp and the lessons learned there, i'll be using some discretion on how much I do or do not say on this post. Just know that it was a very spiritually enlightening time.
The groups get assigned after much prayer and consideration by the Presidency and I believe the Youth Presidency. Because of this, you don't necessarily get grouped with all of your best pals. In fact, I wasn't all that close with any of the girls in my group before this week. I won't lie, I was a little disappointed at first. If you know me at all, i'm not super comfortable around tons of people, especially those who I don't know very well. Luckily, that discomfort didn't last long. We jumped right into deep conversation the very first day. And i'm so grateful to whoever invented the whole LTC idea because I think bringing those walls down right at the beginning helped facilitate the growth that occurred in all of us. Now I can't say that a miracle happened and now the girls from my group are all my new best friends. But I can say that I got to see them in a new light and I learned to be less judgmental. I suppose you could say I have a better appreciation for them now. I never knew their stories before and I probably wouldn't have if it wasn't for this. And i still am not an expert on any of their lives, but sometimes a glimpse is enough to help build a friendship that has some solid foundation. OH! By the way, we were the Integrity group.
Our group had a pretty neat experience with prayer. One of the girls wasn't able to be there the whole time, for ease of reference, her name was Michelle. She had to come late and leave early and miss a day. Sadly, she wasn't able to be there for much of the group bonding. Well, she had work Thursday morning and Friday morning. So Wednesday night she was talking about how she might just stay in town and not come back at all since she would only be able to come Thursday night for a few hours. Thursday night is the key night! It's testimony meeting, the big dutch oven dinner, and the night when the most bonding occurs. Honestly, I don't blame her for wanting to just stay in town. But I kept getting this feeling that she needed to be at testimony meeting. I don't know why, but the feeling was there and it was strong. So I kept trying to convince her of how much fun Thursday would be and how good the food would be and anything else I could think of. Yet, when she left that night she still seemed very unsure and I got the feeling that she wasn't coming back. So I talked to one of her good friends in the other group and they said they didn't think she was coming back either. "How could this be?" I thought. I tried my hardest to persuade her and I was trying to follow the promptings I felt. But it hadn't worked. So I decided to turn to the thing that has never failed me. Prayer. But not just mine alone. I knew it would require something bigger. So I talked to my group at our evening devotional and we all decided to keep her in our prayers that night. The next day, I could hardly focus. I couldn't wait to see if she would change her mind and come back. Around lunch time, after some really good lessons from the VGP's, I realized that I had done what I could. I prayed and now it was in the Lord's hands and I needed to just trust him. So I tried to just put it out of my mind and focus on the lessons and experiences at hand. Well, fast-forward to dinner time. A few of us were done eating and I had just thrown my plate in the garbage and was getting some dessert when I looked at the bridge to see none other than Michelle! I ran over and gave her a huge hug and she looked at me like...umm, okay? I guess it was a little odd from her side. She didn't know how long I, along with my group, had been waiting to see if she would come back or not. And now she was actually there! It was just one of those moments for me when I stop and think, Hey, He really is listening to us. I don't know her end of the story. If she felt something that brought her back to camp or what. But I know it definitely helped strengthen my testimony of prayer. I don't know if i've ever been more excited to see someone. And as far as her needing to be at testimony meeting, I don't know if she got anything out of it or not. She's not real talkative when it comes to spiritual matters and I wasn't sitting in a spot where I could see if anything that was said affected her. But I know for sure that the spirit was super strong there and it would have been pretty hard to ignore it.
Testimony meeting was awesome, but one of those experiences of a sensitive nature that's not to be regurgitated online. I can say that I was very impressed by a lot of those girls and my love for them grew immensely. I loved the opportunity to share what I had learned. I don't know if anyone else really feels like I do, but I see testimony meetings sort of as an opportunity to show my gratitude to Him by sharing what i've been taught and declaring it to my peers. As awesome as the meeting was its self, I almost loved the post meeting "hug time" as they called it even more. There were so many girls that i've always wanted to get to know in school and that but i've never really had the opportunity until now. And to see them on such a deep level! If you know me at all, i'm not much of a crier. I have nothing against crying, i don't try to be 'strong' and not cry. It's just not usually how I show my emotions. For much of the meeting, I had a huge grin on my face while everyone around me was blowing noses and wiping eyes. I guess it just excites me to see other people learn of the Love that i've been feeling a lot lately from Him. Nevertheless, I cried like I haven't cried in a while during Hug Time. I look up to them so much and it was a lovely opportunity to see the real person inside and then to be able to tell them how much they mean and what a great example they are and to say thank you for that. As a very wise friend of mine once said, "Life is about people." And I know that is super simple, but I love it. I believe it and I love being able to express myself to people. I think we live in a world where we base too much of our self esteem on recognition. And that's sad because it means that we all forget sometimes just how great we really are. Thus, i LOVE an opportunity to remind people sincerely.
One more thought from LTC that I loved is the idea of Dippers and Buckets. Each person has a bucket. And they are fairly responsible to fill that bucket personally. We can also help fill each others buckets. When a person has a full bucket they feel loved, confident and more willing to help fill others' buckets. Unfortunately, we each have a dipper as well. And when we stick our dippers in others buckets, it doesn't help fill ours, it only spills theirs. And when someone has a lot of dippers in their bucket or if someone dips in too frequently, the person may feel inclined to put a lid on their bucket. And then no one can help fill it and they can't fill it themselves either. If you notice someones dipper in your bucket, gently remind them to take it out. If we can keep our dippers out of others buckets and focus only on filling them, we will all be a lot happier. So when you wake up tomorrow, are you going to be a Dipper or a Filler? Only you can decide.
Anyways, I wish I could just capture experiences and tap into them at will. Kinda like the 'pensieve' idea in Harry Potter. Just bottle up a memory and then relive it whenever I feel like at it. Until then, we'll all keep blogging and journaling I guess. I love all of my Girls Camp and LTC girls and it has been great to feel their love the last few weeks. I hope to become a permanent Filler because I sure appreciate all those who have helped fill mine. Lately it feels like its overflowing. And it sure is nice to feel overflowing rather than overwhelmed once in a while. Hope everyone is having a great day! (Ha, Like anyone actually reads this!)
ps the title is a song by POS. POS is an artist, not just an acronym for an inappropriate saying.
"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."