Tuesday, July 14, 2009

the most amazing race...

Photobucket


Girls' camp this year was amazing. I had no idea, prior to going, what an impact it would have on my life. The theme was The Amazing Race - Destination: Eternal Life. I loved it because this mortal experience really is so much like an amazing race. Not necessarily a race for speed...a race to see who can be the first to reach the destination. It's really much more personal than that. The race we have all embarked upon is a race in which we are only competing against ourselves. How we get there is what's important, who we help along the way, what we do to develop a relationship with our Savior, the lessons we learn, who we become...
When the stake camp director introduced this theme in one of our early camp meetings, she shared a scripture in Hebrews (12:1-2) let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. This life certainly requires a lot of patience on our part. Patience to endure many of it's mundane and tedious tasks. Patience to bear our trials and hardships with grace. Patience to keep smiling when it only feels natural to cry. Life isn't always this exciting, fast-paced, action-packed, thrilling adventure; but it is a journey (sometimes slow, sometimes hard, sometimes painful) back to our Heavenly Father. I have always loved President Hinckley's quote about life being compared to an old time rail journey with it's "... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride." It's so very true...this isn't always the most exciting race, but how important is President Hinckley's counsel to have a thankful heart; and likewise, how important is it to, like the scripture says, run with patience and look to Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith. What I love the most about this race we call life, is the promise (if we continue forward, and endure it well) of Eternal Life. I was so grateful for the opportunity girls' camp allowed me to learn more about these important truths. I feel like my eyes were opened. I feel like my relationship with my Savior was strengthened. I feel like my love for mankind (the young women, in particular) increased. I could feel my gratitude intensify as I was surrounded by some of God's most beautiful creations.
An experience which left a profound and lasting impact on my life was a fireside that was held at a church building just a mile or so outside of camp. Each of the young women, and most of their leaders boarded an airplane. Not long after take off, a crash was simulated, and the passengers were informed that they did not survive. They were then escorted out of the plane, and led to a room which represented the Telestial Kingdom. Dispersed along the path were angels in white robes(I got to be one of these angels), all of whom stood as sentinels, and directed the passengers where they were to go. After briefly learning about the kingdom which they had all entered, the passengers were informed that a mistake had been made, and they were then taken into a room made to replicate the Terrestrial Kingdom. Again, they were educated on the kingdom, and given a greater understanding as to who will reside in this particular kingdom after death. Acting as one of the Angels, I then headed to the chapel, which represented the Celestial Kingdom -or the highest degree of Glory, to wait for the girls. Inside the chapel were several people dressed in white, among whom were many of the bishop's in the stake, our stake president, and a beautiful family...mom dad and children, sitting together on the stand (later this family sang Families Can Be Together Forever...the Spirit was so strong). The room was bright, and beautiful, and clean, and white. A spirit of peace and love resided there. Our stake president then stood up to the pulpit, and called each of the girls' names (which could be heard over the speaker in the relief society room - Terrestrial Kingdom). Again, acting as an Angel - or sentinel, at the entrance to the Celestial Kingdom, I was able to witness the emotion in each girls face...in her eyes. Many walked into the chapel with tears rolling down their cheeks, some entered with an increased spirit of reverence and love for their Savior. I watched as many of them ran to, and embraced, their leaders (who were also dressed as angels). And I cried as I watched them exude great gushing sobs. There's no doubt in my mind, everyone was touched...all of us were changed in some way. My mind wandered a bit. I became caught up in the thoughts of being reunited with my own dear loved ones. I thought about the glorious reunion that will take place. I pictured myself falling into my mother's arms. I imagined being able to look into the eyes of my son. I became carried away in the emotion and excitement of it all, and all I could do was sob...and sob...and sob. And then I looked at all the beautiful girls and leaders, and felt so blessed to be in their midst. We had a ward testimony meeting following the fireside in which I was so overcome with the Spirit. I have never felt so much love for these girls. I have never wanted more for them to be happy and to make correct choices. I have almost never wished so badly for a moment to last forever. It was so perfect that I don't ever, ever want to forget it.
I was so grateful to have had such a life changing experience. I feel so blessed to be able to work with the young women. It is THE BEST calling in the church, I'm convinced. It truly is amazing what a week at girls' camp can do for the soul. I'm not big on camping, being cold at night, knowing that while I sleep, any number of bugs might be crawling all over me (woke up one morning with a spider bite in my ear). I don't do well with only two showers in a week, or hearing the cry of strange animals at night, or having to be away from my babies (and husband)for five days and four nights. But some pretty magical things happen at girls' camp. Bonds of love are tightened, testimonies are strengthened, lifetime friendships are formed, service is rendered, laughter is heard...

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

To sum it up, Girls' Camp this year was the best, most AMAZING race (experience, week) imaginable...I'm already looking forward to next year!

9 comments:

Lacking Productivity said...

It is always fun to see pictures of girls outdoors, without makeup, and hair in a pony tail...they really look beautiful.

I just got called to YW on Sunday. I am so nervous, but excited to share some of the experience you describe.


(And I may just want to pick your brain for ideas for my 2 Mia Maids)

Kelly and Jill Burk said...

What a fun girls camp! I miss being apart of YW's.

Nicole, your blog writings and photos are just beautiful. You have a beautiful sweet family. Congratulations to your sealing with Asher! What a sweet little spirit. I loved how the photos captured the love and happiness you all share.

diana said...

what a great camp write-up. i am so glad you went ahead and posted about it anyways. it was so sweet to go back and remember those few days with you. i agree... it was such a wonderful and life changing experience, i absolutely loved it.

Brooke said...

We did the airplane thing when I was in YW so many years ago, and to this day I remember the feeling I had and the impact it had on me also! Sounds like a wonderful camp experience! I miss YW!

Lindsey said...

I don't know if you'll remember me or not but I was in SAA with you and Jon in 2003. Thank you for sharing that experience. It meant the world to me and helped strengthen me. Thank you!! HOpe you and your family are doing well.
Love
Lindsey (Jacobs) Forrest

buddens said...

We did that same airplane thing when I was growing up! It is truly AMAZING and I still remember that feeling, first of thinking I didn't do well enough to make it to the Celestial Kingdom, then the feeling of knowing that I DID do enough, and that peace and brightness that was overwhelming in the chapel draped in white. I know what you mean when you say amazing ... it's so true! I'm glad you got to experience it!

natalie eve said...

nicole - you are a spiritual giant. thanks for your post... helped me refocus.

Celeste said...

How fun. I wish I could have gone! Love the pictures.

shannon said...

This is everything I wanted to say and more in my posting of the same event. But.. I took a serious short cut and just posted the obvious girls camp stuff. I took away so much more than I ever expected and had such a wonderful experience.
Would you mind sending me several of the photos you have posted. I'd like to have the picture of you and me, the one you took of my girls and me and also the one of Ammah reaching into the tree of life. Would you mind.. My email is mesajones@yahoo.com... Thanks a bazillion.