Eleven stakes. 2500 kids. Missionaries. Testimonies. Music. Workshops. Amazing!
I had the opportunity to drive a handful of kids from our stake down to the Garland Convention Center and stay to chaperone a few of the activities on Friday.
I assembled sack lunches. I herded kids from one venue to the other. I sat in on a few classes. And I got to eat lunch with TCD and her friends (that was more thrilling for me than for them, I'm sure.)
All the classes and meals were in the high school, and all the practices were in the Events Center across the parking lot, so periodically we would herd the large group of youth between buildings.
Each stake had a designated colored t shirt. We were lime green.
TCD and a few of her friends
And that cute boy is my future son-in-law! (more on that later...)
There is incredible talent in this area. There are kids who are accomplished musicians, gymnasts, singers, and dancers who were able to show off their skills. But the thing that was the most inspiring was watching the collective effort of leaders and youth working toward a common goal.
Tonight, TCD attended a Youth Jubilee Fireside to bring the three days to a conclusion. Even though she did not bear her testimony, she LOVED hearing the other kids talk about the things that touched them the most. One boy said that he had been struggling with wanting to leave. He felt like he didn't belong in the group, like no one would notice if he left. But during one of the lunch breaks that everyone took together in the high school gym, a couple of the full time missionaries stood in the center of the gym and started singing some hymns. Gradually a few other kids joined them. And eventually the whole group was singing. And then they asked all the kids to sing the EFY Medley As Sisters in Zion/Armies of Helaman. By the time they finished that song, everyone (including TCD) was in tears and the boy had changed his mind about leaving. He said participating in that song and feeling the Spirit made all those feelings of insecurity leave him. TCD said that the impromptu singing was one of the best parts of the whole weekend for her, too.
I'm sure there were lots of other amazing things that I missed and that I haven't yet heard about, but four straight days of running like crazy makes a 14 year old grumpy and not so chatty. I'm hoping to get more details in the next few days. I know she loved it, though. And I think she understood that it was less about the perfect musical performances and more about the strength of a collective group of people. The power and energy in that group radiated through the whole building. I'm so grateful that TCD not only felt it, but was able to be one of the pieces of it. I'm grateful that she had the chance to be part of something this big and that it was meaningful and uplifting for her. We continue to be amazed at how abundantly blessed we are to live in this area.