My trip to New York #EFY2014Palmyra

Whoa! Hi guys!

Today while coaching tumbling to my class of 2-4 year olds I asked the class to pretend to be an animal, and then I proceed to ask each child which animal they wanted to be. When I reached one of my small blond students I said, enthusiastically, “WHAT ANIMAL DO YOU WANT TO BE?” And she replied with: “A CUPCAKE!”

Any argument that your job is better than mine is invalid.

So, how are you my people? I hope you’re doing swell. I sure am, which might explain my lack of posts, but I promise I have good reason!

I spent last week in the beautiful Palmyra, New York.

I mean, is this not the most gorgeous place you have ever seen?!? I fell in love instantly.

So like you may know if you read any of my recent posts, I was there attending a special edition session of EFY. For those of you who don’t know, EFY stands for Especially For Youth, and it is a week of non-stop spiritual stuff, line dances, and pure awesomeness. This may or may have not been my 5th time going to EFY. I love it a lot.

Like I said, this was a special edition of EFY which means that instead of a normal session like the ones in Provo, we were able to travel to the various church history sights in and around Palmyra, which as you might know, was where The Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (AKA “LDS,” or “Mormons”) began.

Growing up in the church we hear about these places all the time, but being able to go there and experience these places for myself was awe-inspiring, and I loved every second of it.

So, I’ll spare you the details about what time I brushed my teeth, and what I ate for each meal (although, I must say that if you are ever in charge of providing food for anything, you should avoid meatloaf…) But I do want to share with you the more exciting parts, the amazing places I went, and things that were note-worthy of my journal. I apologize for the length of this post. It was an entire week of almost non-stop amazing experiences, and I filled 101 pages of my journal during this week alone. I did the very best I could at condensing it, but it is all so good! If you want a quicker read, I suggest you at least read all the italicized parts. Those are the very best!

Saturday July 26th- Raegan and I flew out from Salt Lake City to Rochester, NY all by ourselves. It was at this moment when we became pro-airport people. It’s a thing.

Sunday July 27th- Raeg and I went to Church in the morning at the chapel right behind the hotel. It was great how welcoming the ward was and just how many people went out of there way to say hi to us. We met several other people who were there for EFY and between all the visitors we at least tripled the size of their Young Womens group. It was awesome.

After church we took a walk to see the temple and the Sacred Grove, and then hung out with other people as they arrived for EFY.

Monday July 28th- The official start of EFY! This day consisted of the ever exciting orientational stuff. Getting to know your counselors and everyone in the group, hearing from our session directors, a fire drill, and some some great spiritual discussion right outside the Sacred Grove with our company.

Tuesday July 29th- After a breakfast of blueberry muffins and peaches, My company headed to Fayette to visit the Whitmer Farm. If I could pick a favorite place we went, this would be it. We were there in the morning and this is what I wrote in my journal as we sat outside taking in the beauty of the farm.

“We are currently at the Whitmer Farm which is one of the most beautiful pieces of land I have ever seen. This was where the church was re-organized and there is no doubt in my mind that this farm wasn’t hand selected. While sitting here I can feel the love of my Savior so strongly. I am at peace from the silent atmosphere and the gorgeous chirping birds. I can’t help but think that it would have looked exactly like this back on April Sixth of 1830 when the church was restored. This is sacred ground we stand on. Just like those who were here in 1830, I express my desire and determination to act in accordance to the commandments of God. I am determined to find more heavens on earth like this beautiful farm, and in places where there are no heavens, I am determined to create them. This is what Heaven feels like.”

After our time on the farm we went to visit the Hill Cumorah which is the place where Joseph Smith was guided to to find the Gold plates, which he translated and are now what we call The Book of Mormon. Here is my journal entry about this place.

“This is a surreal experience for me. I’m sitting atop the Hill onlooking a gorgeous view that stretches for miles. This was the very place on earth where Moroni sealed his testimony by burring the plates. He gave up his live so that I might be able to know the truth. It is also the very hill where Joseph was when he received the plates. He also gave up his life so that I might know the truth. I am forever grateful for these men, along with my Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave up their lives for me, so that I might know the truth.”

After the Hill Cumorah we went to Musical Program Practice, Dinner and then one of the most rockin dances I have ever been to.

Wednesday July 30th- After breakfast we headed to the Sacred Grove and Smith Farm House. While sitting in the Sacred Grove I pondered this statement;

“God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith in this Grove.”

I then wrote the following;

“I need to think about this statement a little more. Either it’s true, or it isn’t….While sitting in the grove I ponder these words. I sometimes feel that I need to see for myself that it is true, but I don’t need to because I can see the evidence. I’ve never seen my own face. I’ve seen the reflection, and I’ve touched it, and I know that others have seen it, but I’ve never seen it myself, likewise is my testimony of the Gospel. I haven’t seen angels or heard voices, but I have seen the reflection of the truth in the way the sun comes up in the morning, I’ve been touched by the Holy Ghost, and I know that others have seen physical evidence. So no, I’ve never seen God, or heard a voice, but still, I know that this church is true, and that Joseph Smith really did see God the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ here. Because, like Emma Smith said, there are some things more certain than sight.”

After the Sacred Grove we visited Alvin Smith’s Grave, and then we toured the Grandian Building, which was the shop in which the Book of Mormon was first published.

After that we headed to the Palmyra Temple. Here is my journal entry.

“We are at the Palmyra temple and we just did baptisms and are in the waiting room waiting for the boys. This is a special experience because it is the only temple that had it authorized by the prophet to have a clear glass window. The window looking out shows a view of the Sacred Grove. It is significant because the Sacred Grove was the place where it all began, and the temple is why we are all here. From this window everything looks lush and healthy and it looks like how I imagine Heaven, beautiful and full of life. After we did baptisms we went outside to take pictures and as it started to rain we were blessed with the gorgeous view of a stormy sky, with a lit-up gold Moroni in the foreground. It was magnificent beyond description and I feel like with each of these magnificent experiences I reach closer to heaven and the thunder we can hear from inside the temple just confirms it.”

After the temple we had dinner, made up a cheer, had games night and Cheer-Off, followed by Pizza Night, and Reflect and Review in bathroom at the Hill Cumorah due to the pouring rain. One of the most memorable R&Rs by far!

Thursday July 31st- We started off with breakfast and then time in the Sacred grove as a company. After that we had an activity with just the girls that was splendid. After Lunch we had the EFY Game Show and a Musical Program Dress Rehearsal. And After Dinner I performed in Musical Program, which I had a speaking part in by the way, and that was followed by a Fireside, and Testimony meeting. During testimony meeting I wrote these words:

“I’ve never heard silence quite this loud. This is hollowed ground. This will always be a special place to me personally. We are here because we have Lives to Brighten, Hearts to Touch, And Souls to save, That we may all sit down together in Heaven. I’m walking on Sunshine”

After testimony meeting we had R&R on temple grounds and it was wonderful.

Friday August 1st- We started off the day at the Sacred Grove and then went to breakfast. We had a morningside, and company pictures, we then went to a Panel Discussion that was very good. After Lunch we went to the Variety show, and after free time and dinner we went to a second awesome dance. After the slide show and Taking it home we had R&R at the church.

Saturday August 2nd- We woke up and packed our bags. Said goodbye and headed to the airport. We flew back to Salt Lake with several of the other youth in our group, as well as most of the counselors including both of ours. In fact, we even sat in front of  my counselor Kourtney! It was fun and after we got back to SLC we said our real goodbyes and headed to Texas Road House for Dinner with my family and Raegan’s family where I proceeded to almost fall asleep due to the wonderful exhausting week I had just been through.

So, in all I’d have to say that it was a successful trip. I got to know some incredible people including my wonderful counselors Kourtney and Brady! They were so much fun to be around and I couldn’t think of two better people I’d rather have spent this week with. I’m so grateful I had this opportunity to go and that I made the effort to pay for most of it myself because it made it that much more special. Thank you to everyone who made this week so great! I will forever cherish it!

feel my sunlight

p.s. I promise a picture post soon!!! 🙂

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