Saturday, August 30, 2014

Snapshots: End of Summer

Looking toward the river, I begin to scramble down the slope. My worn shoes slide for a split second on some loose dirt, then I regain traction on rockier ground. I scramble down the rocks at a slightly reckless speed, almost falling several times before the ground levels out. Then, tentatively, carefully, not wanting to fall in and spend the rest of the day with wet shoes, I venture out onto the rocks in the middle of the river. Hopping from one rock to the next I arrive at the middle of the river. I crouch down and dip my hand in, feeling the cold water, snowmelt from Mount Hood, flow between my fingers. I stay there a moment, living, feeling, experiencing; I stand. Lifting my head, I can see a sliver of the waterfall around a bend in the river. I glance back down at the river flowing by my feet one more time, then resume hopping, clambering, climbing, and sliding on toward the waterfall.

"Gather round, children," I yell in my best British accent. A dozen freshmen come forward and form a semicircle around me as I proceed to introduce them to my beloved campus. I point to the buildings, giving them their names and their (sometimes seemingly unrelated) acronyms; I explain what each building is used for, then tack on my personal touch, the secrets that it took me months to learn that have enriched my time here at BYU, the things I hope that each of them get to experience during their first year--I tell them about the musicals and the dances, I advise them to search out their classes early in the building that is built like a maze, I crack a joke and, more because I'm speaking in a British accent than because it is actually funny, everyone laughs. Then I turn to a girl in my group that is actually from England and hesitantly ask, "how's my accent?" 
"It's really good," she says, giving me a bright smile with a hint of pity behind it, "but you should stop it."
More laughter. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Mickey Mouse

I started writing this blog post with the words “one of my favorite parts,” then realized that I use that phrase way too often. Redo:

One thing I loved about being an EFY counselor was playing games for “Family Home Evening” on Monday nights. We would play ridiculous games with names like “Gotcha!” and “Killer Frog,” then ask the simple question, “How does this relate to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” Every single week I was astounded by the deep connections that 14-18 year old kids could draw from playing silly games. Even more than any of the individual lessons that I learned from the games we played, I learned that “all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of [Christ]” and His Gospel.

It comes as no surprise then that on my trip to Disney this last week I learned things about the Gospel from Mickey Mouse.

I’m going to preface this by saying that, as a kid, I really didn’t get Mickey Mouse. I’ve always loved Disney, but I’ve looked on Mickey Mouse as more of a predecessor to later, greater icons than as anything special by himself. But now I feel I understand Mickey, and here’s why.

Wednesday night I watched a water show called “World of Color.” It was a really spectacular combination of fountains, lights, mist screens, projectors, bubbles, and jets of fire. The story, or focus, of the show seemed to me to be about love—love for life, for family and friends, and for that special someone. It was a truly joyous experience, and it made me think about how wonderful my life is when I’m focused on loving others.

Right after “World of Color” we raced off to watch a show called “Fantasmic,” starring Mickey Mouse. The plot of the show goes something like this: Mickey dreams amazing things, Peter Pan fights Captain Hook on a life-sized pirate ship, Princes and Princesses dance and sing, evil villains plot to take over Mickey’s dream and turn it dark, Mickey has a great one-liner (“you may think you’re powerful, but hey, this is my dream!”) and blasts away all the baddies with his awesomeness. Fireworks ensue. Here’s what I got from this show—good beats evil, and does it really awesomely. The world may try to paint its way of life as being glamorous, powerful, and even inevitable, but God’s way, the good way, Mickey’s way, is truly and actually awesome. It’s fun, it looks cool, it involves dancing and singing and swinging from pirate ships, it’s awesome.

I thought I was done with shows after Fantasmic on Wednesday night, but luckily one of my buddies talked me into going to see one more, “Mickey and the Magic Map.” It was a Broadway musical quality show, with about 30 minutes of singing, dancing and cool costumes—basically it was right up my alley, the stuff that I live and breathe for. The story of this particular show was all about following your dreams, never giving up, and being yourself. While watching it I got excited for the future and all the amazing things that it will bring, and even more committed to working hard to accomplish the goals that I have set for myself.

After seeing all of these shows about Mickey Mouse, I revisited my apathetic opinion of him. I decided that Mickey isn’t just a precursor to greater icons, but rather, he is the symbol of them all. Mickey represents goodness, purity, chasing your dreams, and always striving to be better.

Those aren’t the only things I learned this week (and did I mention the amazing people I met and how much fun I had?) but I think that’s probably good for one blog post. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

What to write?

I am sitting on a pillow in a hallway outside my boy's rooms, waiting for the all-clear to be given so that I can go to bed, closing my eyes on my last day as an EFY counselor. Working as an EFY counselor this summer has been a dream come true, a learning experience, a challenge, and a joy all rolled in one.

There are so many thoughts bouncing around in my head that I'd love to get down, and I think I'll try to write at least one more blog post about my efy experiences later on after I've slept a little. However, the primary thought on my mind, the thought that has been with me from my very first week as a counselor until now, is how grateful I am to my Heavenly Father.

I am grateful that He has, through a process of time, trials, blessings, and a mission, made me into someone that has something to give at a place like EFY. He took little old me, a rather weak and simple person, and gave me a testimony of His Gospel, gave me habits and knowledge and a voice to sing with and words to teach with. And somehow, miraculously, incredibly, I've become an EFY counselor, someone that He would trust to take His precious young sons and daughters and leave them a little better than they were when they got here.

I can't wait to see what He'll do with me next. His vision for me is, and I'm sure always will be, so much more awesome than anything I could come up with myself, and I'm really excited to find out what it will be.