OH! Where oh WHERE should I begin??!! So many wonderful things occurred whilst I was away from you, my dearest friends.
I feel new.
I'll begin with a conversation I intruded upon. Eves dropping has it's benefits...
"I still haven't had my first kiss," said a lovely, athletic (but not too athletic) 17 year old girl.
"Don't worry about it. It's so not worth it," said another beautiful 17 year old.
I was perplexed. Teenage girls generally don't hold conversations to this effect.
"Not worth it?" I asked. "How so?"
"She shouldn't waste her first kiss on just ANYBODY. I kissed some guy once and I wasted my kiss. I don't even LIKE that guy anymore."
I was dumbfounded. The gorgeous almost-18-year-old had "kissed some guy ONCE."
I thought of my own first kiss... I was fourteen. A mere child playing with sparks of Love. One never knows when a spark might result in a raging wild fire. Dangerous, now I am wise enough to see.
(In the above pic I am on the far right with a gray bandanna fastened securely to my noggin. It is my own daughter hamming it up front and center...I have no idea where she learned such garish behavior... ;) .
I spent the week with young women of magnificent caliber. I was meant to teach and lead in some way. I can assure you, I was the individual led and taught.
The girls I fed and served all week are precisely the type of woman one wishes to become one day. They are intelligent, well-read, witty, athletic, leaders among their peers, well-liked by children and adults both. They are spiritual giants in multi-colored Vans and lime green nail polish.
Below is my luxuriant kitchen... Soooo much better than a smoky camp fire, in my estimation! I was happy here.
I have discovered I find great satisfaction in feeding the hungry. Cooking tasty foods and satiating empty bellies is my way of saying, "I Love Ya, Ya big Ol' Goof!" I felt like a hero three times a day.
They called me Sister Pistol, those girls did.
Mormons call one another Sister or Brother [Insert Last Name Here]. I've never been comfortable being called Sister Pistol until this week. I had no choice. They said it so often I heard Sister Pistol in my sleep.
"Sister Pistol, what are we having for lunch?"
"Sister Pistol, what's on the menu for dinner?"
"I think Sister Pistol would like to drink the yucky purified lake water..."
(Do you SEE the yellow liquid I hold in a jug? That is the liquid I consumed. I HAD to do it... Peer pressure, you know... I couldn't let them think I was a PRISS, now could I?)
They continued the Sister Pistols.
"It's Sister Pistol's turn!"
Sister Pistol scraped the flesh off her knees engaging in this particular Trust Building Activity. Trust Building, indeed! Can you imagine the damage incurred to my person had my faithful young friends lost grip of the poles? I discovered I am far braver than I had previously imagined.
"Sister Pistol, would you run around in circles while holding this rope so we can swing high in the air at your expense?"
Why certainly. I'd be happy to. Please be sure to kick my backside in the process...
If you insist, Sister Pistol. We only wish to please.
Well, then by all means. Give my bum a good hard boot as I fly through the air against my will, as the sum of your weight is much heavier than the sum of mine...
One of the littlest girls scraped the flesh off of her left shin from knee to ankle while enjoying this death swing. Another young lass was kicked so hard she went flying into a nearby boulder and bruised the entire left side of her torso. We were lucky to get out alive.
The highlight of the week was an eleven mile walk/hike. We joined forces with two other groups of young women and leaders. 60 girls in all participated.
I took an Exederin and led my girls in song and dance for much of the walk. Many of the girls sustained various injuries ranging from blisters, bruises, headaches, cuts and scrapes to a busted-up nose.
My own daughter, Serena, walked directly into a tree branch while trying to avoid stepping on a cow pie. I had stepped on one and gave it no second thought. She watched her feet and BLAM. A tree to the face. It jumped at her from out of nowhere! Blood gushed from her nose like... like blood gushing from a busted up nose...
Serena cried and cried. I welled with pride when I discovered the reason for her tears was... (I'll let her tell you in her own words...)
"I want to keep walking!! I don't care if my nose is bleeding! I WANT TO KEEP WALKING WAHHH HAAAA!"
We all walked the eleven miles. Along the way we laughed and told stories. We sang and sweated like smelly little pigs. We complained and sighed and smiled. Some cried.
At long last we saw our destination in the distance. A beacon in the night.
A Holy edifice dedicated as The House of The Lord.
I was asked to speak a few words to the girls.
I told them that I was impressed with their success at reaching the temple despite their various injuries. I pointed out specifically the girls who had walked after being knocked down and bruised. I reminded them my own daughter had run into a tree. :)
You all endured faithful until you reached your goal. You endured to the end. I am so proud of all of you.
As you go through life there will be many times you will be knocked down. You will certainly walk into trees. These things will hurt. But you have proven today you have what it takes to continue faithful.
You have what it takes to Endure To the End. To always follow your heart and do what is right.
When you do what is right you WILL be happy.
When you do what is wrong you WILL be sad.
It's that simple.
We never know what trials we will have to face in life. Often painful situations are thrown our way that we never could have foreseen in our wildest dreams.
We are here on this earth to prove ourselves worthy to return to our Heavenly Home. Our bodies house spirits of divine worth. We will be tested and tried throughout our lives.
Our trials make us strong if we endure them well.
Continue faithful and Endure To The End.