Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lean on Him

Well, it's official. Samantha Emmett has inspired me once again. If the girl who doesn't have WiFi unless she's at the classiest McDonalds on earth can keep a blog updated, I should be able to too...right? A combination of Sam's faithful posting and Ali Noorda telling me at LTC that she reads my blog like a novel has lit a flame under the efficient/responsible/blogging portion of my soul to last at least long enough to eek out at least one post. At least it will be fun to look back and see how long this stays in the drafts ;) (For the record, I started this on 7-4-11. It is now 7-14-11. Oops)

This link for this post's title probably won't make sense unless you read the whole post. So go for it if you'd like, or don't. It sounds like a personal decision.

Click here to watch Lean On Him video

Okay i'm gonna start this post out in the best way possible. With a really horrible, not actually funny at all, something I made up by myself joke. Ready? Here it goes.

What kind of fruit do you take on a submarine?


Or, if you were Paige at LTC, you would have told the joke like this.

What kind of watermelon do you take on a submari....I totally messed that up didn't I?

As you can probably deduce, LTC was a few weeks ago! If I had been a good girl (Like Sam), I would have posted about it before now. As in, any time in the last 7 or so months. You see, let me take you back in time to the Fall of 2010. It was a chilled, foggy day in early-November....

(Also, it might be helpful to read this post as a reminder of some of the things i'll be referring to in a moment. Click here to read Another Reason Not To Fear The Sky post.)

As mentioned in the above linked previous post, I decided not to play basketball (the sport I have eaten, drunk, and slept since before kindergarten) this year based on the feelings I got from what one man said. It helps that that one man has been called of God and I know that whatever he says, goes. Essentially, he said that we need to stop basing our self esteem off of how long our to-do lists are and start focusing on the things that truly matter most. I can honestly say that my decision was made by the time he ended his talk. The months of praying and fasting and earnest self-reflection all ended when Bro Uchtdorf gave his talk in Oct 2010 General Conference. Was it hard not to be able to tell people the real reason why I was giving up the sport that I had loved my whole life and played Varsity since I was a sophomore? Was it hard to leave my teammates, many of whom were my very best friends and girls who had become my second family behind? Was it hard when my coach practically begged me to change my mind? You bet. 

BUT if you could have felt the burning that I felt...if you could have sat and listened to the talk that was so profoundly the personal answer I was searching for that the message couldn't have been more clear if he had started his talk "Brothers and Sisters, today I'd like to speak to Missy Homer of Logan UT"...If you could have felt the tears stream down my face as I realized that the decision had been made, you could do it too. You could move forward with faith, with trust in the Lord, understanding that He knows what's best. Was the hardest part not really knowing WHAT I was giving it all up for? Certainly. But that didn't matter because I knew WHO I was giving it up for. 

So, the decision was made in the beginning of October. I tried to maintain normal-ish friendships with my former teammates, but in all reality, it just was not the same. To be perfectly honest, I felt really alone and really vulnerable. Sure, I had other friends who didn't play ball, but it was hard for them to understand what I was going through. Well, for some reason it had gotten into my head that if I did what the Lord asked me to, it would automatically mean smooth sailing. It would take me until the week of LTC during Lindsey Peterson's Faith lesson to fully understand that "God promises a smooth landing, not a calm passage. If He brings you to it, He can bring you through it." Sadly, I didn't understand that back in November when basketball workouts were going on but I was still sitting, trying to figure out WHY it was so critical for me to quit basketball this year. Sure, I understood the basic principles in Bro Uchtdorf's talk, but I had played basketball and been crazy busy before and I survived it. Well, then for a time I thought it was all so that I would have time to work on Sterling Scholar. But it really didn't seem like that was the meat of it all.  And then, little did I know that when the Stake President's secretary called me to set up what I thought was a random meeting with Bro Champlin, that it would be changing the next 7 months of my life, and probably all of the years after that.

You see, it was a chilled, foggy day in early-November...

Wednesday, November the 10th if I remember correctly. I knew it was gonna be a stressful day because there was a Hub meeting for the December Tijuana trip that day at 5:30 and Bro Champlin asked to meet with me at 6:15. Alas, I couldn't say no to either meeting so I did what any normal 17-year old girl. I wore my sunday clothes to the TJ meeting so that I could drive straight to the Stake Center and hopefully not miss much of anything in either place. So I went to the TJ meeting, filled out the contact info sheet, said Hi to Holly, met Brad real quickly, and yelled a quick hello to Katie as I hurried out to my car. As I was driving to the Stake Center, I realized that I had absolutely no clue what this meeting was going to be about. I couldn't think of any serious sins that I had committed, I'm not old enough for a temple recommend interview, and I had already submitted my BYU application weeks ago. I remember literally saying to myself as I got out of the car, "Well, here goes nothing." I recall one of my teammate's Dad's being in the Stake Center and asking me why I wasn't playing basketball this year before I even sat down to wait for Bro Champlin. Maybe I was just scared, but whenever people asked, I almost felt like it would desecrate the whole experience of finding my answer if I tried to truly explain the whole process to everyone that asked. So I smiled and gave the quick 15-second version of "Oh, I just had a lot on my plate. You know Sterling Scholar, colleges, scholarships, senior year, the works. *Awkward laugh to try to ease tension*." Next thing I know, i'm sitting in Bro Champlin's office and he asks the exact same question. I swear, word never travels faster and to more people than when you have something that you don't really want to talk about. Alas, I felt okay giving him the real, nevertheless summarized, version of the whole process. He said something to the effect of "Wow, that must take a lot of faith." And I secretly said to myself "You have no idea." because obviously, as a 17-year old high school girl, this trial of my faith was far above what any 1st Counselor in the Stake Presidency could have possibly faced...or something like that. 

Anyway, that was the perfect lead-in to him extending the calling that I never thought I would get in a million years - First Counselor in the Youth Presidency for LTC. I held the girls that were in the YP last year in such high could I EVER measure up to those girls? (You can read in my post De La Souls about last year's LTC experience here. ) Well, I timidly accepted the call because I didn't know what else to say, was set apart right on the spot, and stumbled out to my car in a delirium similar to when you wake up in a tent and for 1.4 seconds you swear on your life you have no idea how you got there. I sat in my car, unnerved and completely unable to make any sort of movement for what seemed like hours, but was probably more like 15 minutes. I just sat there thinking that there was no way I could ever be adequate for this calling. I just knew that they had somehow made a mistake and that Bro Champlin would walk out any second and tell me they accidentally called the wrong girl and I could go on living my simple life. Alas, despite my patient waiting, no one ever called to tell me they accidentally extended the wrong calling. So I went home, still stunned and a little numb.

I couldn't think of anything besides wanting to know who the Youth President was and who else was in the presidency. Bro Champlin said he couldn't remember, but knew the YP was from the Central stake. Now, you are all going to think i'm lying, but I had the biggest feeling in my gut that it was Kandyce. I don't know why. I was never particularly close with Kandyce before. I had a lot of respect for her and thought she was cool from what little I knew her. But really, I just had this feeling that it was her. And then I thought to myself, "Oh crap. I've got a lot of ground to cover before I can possibly catch up with Kandyce." I realize now that that's just never gonna happen. But at the time it seemed logical to pull out my scriptures and start immediately trying to make up the huge spiritual deficiency that I felt. And then, just as the Lord never fails to perform or allow, a small miracle occurred. The very same chapter that I had been reading at LTC the year before when I decided that it was time to take church seriously and that this stuff mattered, Alma 26, is the exact chapter that I opened up to and found what would become my personal theme for the next few months.

Most of Alma 26 discusses missionary work and what great joy comes from it and how important it is and how nothing is impossible if you are doing the Lord's work. And my favorite part comes when Ammon is talking about how happy he is that he and his brethren were able to bring so many of the Lamanites into the fold of God. And then Aaron tells him to cool it and reminds him that it's not a good thing to be prideful and to boast of oneself. And in verses 11 and 12, Ammon says exactly, and I mean EXACTLY what I needed to hear right at that moment. 

v11) But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
v12)Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

I wasn't feeling like I had much strength or wisdom to offer. I certainly knew that I was nothing and I was weak as to my own strength. But as soon as I read those verses, I knew that it was okay because this calling wasn't about me being qualified. It was to help perform mighty miracles for which the girls I would be serving the next 7 or so months would praise His name forever. Besides, life is not a resume. And if it was, the Lord would qualify me for the work.

Kandyce Ausen, Leticia Pradera, and Shannon Burgess (the other members of the youth presidency) became some of my best friends. We cried together, laughed together, grew together, ate together, parking lot dance partied together, prayed together, planned together, and best of all, felt the spirit together. I'll tell you what, if you want to grow to love someone you've never known, serve with them. It doesn't matter who or what, just serve. And your capacity to love will grow, I guarantee it. I will respect these 3 girls for the rest of my life and into eternity. It wasn't always easy, but it was DEFINITELY always worth it. 

Sister Horsley has single handedly become my role model. If the 90 or so girls knew even a glimpse of how much time, sacrifice, and effort Amy put into this camp just for them, they would never feel unloved ever again. And I don't just love Amy to death because of how well she magnified her calling and made our jobs so much easier, but I love how Amy lives her life. The way her kids respect and love her. The way her husband treats her. You know she's been living the right way for a long time and it shows. I feel so blessed just to have gotten to interact with Amy, much less serve with her and meet in her home for months on end. I pray that someday, if I obey all the commandments and never hit my little brothers and always do the right thing,  i'll grow up to be half the woman Sister Horsley is.

I think one of my favorite things about LTC is that there are no barriers. All the girl's are up at camp for the same reasons. There's no "Okay, cheerleaders over here, nerds go over there, drama people sit at that table, blah blah blah blah blah." I've never felt more truly like Sisters In Zion than every moment spent at Camp Lomia. I can honestly say that through serving all those girls, through praying and learning together, through striving for righteousness together, the Lord allowed me to feel a portion of His love for each and every single one of the girls at LTC.

And if that weren't good enough, my value group was out of this freaking world. SO AMAZING! The Divine Nature/Individual Worth group this year helped make my experience better than I ever hoped for. So many laughs, tears, hugs, spiritual thoughts, and more laughs shared during that week :)
I want to thank our YAGL, Kendra, for being a freaking all-star. You made everyone feel so welcome and you brought us up to your level instead of preaching down to us. You'll probably never know just how much your trust and love has impacted me. I think you are amazing and I fully expect to be one of the 13 bridesmaides at your wedding. Paige can probably sew us up some Confederate flag dresses if you'd like.
I also would be amiss if I failed to thank our Value Group Presidency. I just don't think I can say enough about you 3. Tosh, Paige, and Tammy - Thank you for understanding that you had an important role to play. You each took your calling personally and seriously and made it clear that you cared for each of our girls and that you knew that your lessons could change lives, and prepared them in such a manner that they did.
Tosh - Though you may just be the funniest person I know, you are also one of the most powerful women that I know. You have so much power behind you when you speak, the spirit is just thick whenever you open your mouth to give us some gospel related insight. I knew that you were meant to be the DivNat/IndWorth president from the very first group night devotional. You are amazing :)
Tammy - You always were so willing to contribute. It was easy to see that you had put a lot of time and effort into your lesson and i'm grateful that you took your calling seriously and uplifted it. I'm glad that you accepted me and how i've grown even though we were in the same group last year too.
Paige - Where can I even start? We hit it off SO well from the very first. I don't know when or how, it just sorta happened. And i'm so grateful that we did. Even in the what, 3 weeks?, that we've been friends, you already have a special place in my heart and you display exactly what a true friend should be like. You were one of the few people who saw me cry up at camp, consider yourself lucky ;) But in all seriousness, your testimony is so strong, so pure. Every time you would bear witness, I could just feel the room get thicker and thicker as the spirit grew. It's not hard to believe the words you say because you live them, straight up. I'm blessed to call you my eternal friend :)

I wish I could just carry a video camera around with me the whole time at LTC so I could look back and remember all of the amazing things that were said, not only great quotes for the brethren, but the amazing, inspired, powerful words of the girls that were there. Girls said things to me after Testimony meeting and after Tree of Life that I didn't think I would ever hear in my lifetime, spoken personally to me with a big hug and a few tears shed. I do remember a few things though, but don't think that i'm trying to come up with exact quotes, because I can't. I'll just highlight a few of the most memorable things for me. And I hope sincerely that these girls are okay with me sharing some of what they shared because I found so much strength in their stories.

One night in group night devotionals, Ruth told us that she was determined to get married in the temple because she didn't ever want her kids to have to search for her. I have so much faith in you Ruth, and I can just feel your determined nature when you share what you've learned and what you know you will and will not become. I admire your strength and I know that your kids are gonna be the lucky ones because truly, they will never have to wonder where their mother stands.

In her Knowledge lesson, Jocelyn shared some of her conversion story with us. At just the tender age of 10, she had enough courage, faith, and trust in the Lord to respond to her mother's protest of her baptism with, "I'm sorry Mom, but i'm ready." Even typing and looking at those words just makes me want to be more like you Joce. I've known you for what seems like forever, but it's taken me this long to get to know the spiritual side of you. I'm SO glad that you got to come to LTC even though you live out of boundaries because I know even if no one else listened (which I know is false), you touched my life and my testimony with your conviction, and that's enough to make a difference. And your testimony about wanting so badly to be sealed to your family gave me a big reality check and made me realize just how much I take for granted. You truly never cease to amaze me my friend.

Maybe it's a good thing that Lindsey Peterson doesn't go around just chatting about the gospel all the time or else my eyes would never get dry. I don't know why you seem to have so much power over when I feel the spirit Linds, but honestly it goes unmatched. I filled pages of notes at the Stake President's lessons, heck, i've been to LTC twice, i've heard President Monson speak in person, but at least to me and my perception, no one has ever had the spirit behind them so strongly and so purely as when you speak about the gospel and bear your testimony. I can't ever say enough about how much your Faith lesson meant to me and just how much I loved all your incredible quotes. I hope someday i'll be able to speak with the kind of force that you speak with. I love you to freaking pieces dawg :)

Lilia, Katie, Laycee, Kaylee, Kesaia, Le, and everyone who joined in our little musical number at the end of the week - can I just say wow?
Lilia GIRLLLLLLLL! I think it's safe to say you shocked us all the first day when you just whipped out your ukulele and started jamming. You brought the spirit so strongly with your music, and i'm extremely grateful for that. You also brought us all together and made everyone feel so loved every time they saw you.

So if you are wondering about the title of this post - here's a long story short. Lilia is a jam master on the ukulele, and we all kinda threw together this mash up of slightly rearranged versions of some popular songs. Lean on Me turned into Lean on Him. Wavin' Flag turned into, My Testimony. Lilia taught us some sick Samoan song, the English version of course, and then to cap it all off we sang I Need Thee Every Hour, Lilia sang it in Samoan, I sang it in Spanish, and then we had everyone in the room stand up and sing the 2nd verse. It was an awesome experience, and most of it was captured on video if you want to follow the link :)

Because LTC is such an amazing place with so much sacredness, I don't feel comfortable just typing up every spiritual experience for the Internet to look at with a critical eye and misjudging heart. Sort of a "pearl before swines" kind of idea. 

But, I can tell you this

The gospel is true. I felt it with everything I have in me for a week straight, and so did the other near 100 people in attendance. I know that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ died for me, but more importantly that He now lives. I know that through Him, I can gain my fondest dream of living with my Heavenly Father once more. I know that I want nothing so desperately and so determinedly than to be married for time and all eternity in the temple to a man who loves me almost as much as he loves the Lord. And I know that these truths are eternal. I will not decide that these things are unimportant next week. I will not decide to turn my back on the way I felt at LTC. I will not settle. And when I feel weak, when I know that I can't do it alone, I won't. Instead, I will Lean on Him when i'm not strong. He'll be my friend, He'll help me carry on. And I write this post not to boast or to make those who did not attend LTC feel bad, but I write this post to boast of my God because my heart is brim with joy, and I know that it won't be long til i'm gonna need my Savior to lean on.

"Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death."

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