Friday, August 01, 2008

I <3 EFY

I have been away for most of July doing something great. I took two weeks to be a counselor at Especially For Youth in San Antonio. Each week at EFY, I was responsible for 12 boys, ages 16 - 18. I have never had an experience like that in my life. EFY is incredibly fun, but also intensely spiritual.

My goal each week was to get my boys excited to serve a mission. I had several boys who were already excited, and a few who became excited by the end of their week at EFY. A couple of stories:

They ask new EFY counselors to show up for training the weekend before the kids arrive. On Sunday night, we had a fireside with the session director - the main teacher and instructor of the week. For the opening hymn before the first session, we sang I am a Child of God. I have never been struck by that simple song in that way. The Spirit was powerful as it washed over me and really taught me that I am a Child of God.

I have been taught the Gospel my whole life, but lately I have noticed my most powerful spiritual experiences are tied to the most simple and basic principles of the Gospel - things I have been taught since Primary. I attribute the special power of the Spirit at that Sunday night fireside to two things: the quality of the people I was working with - the group who takes time out of their lives to work with those kids are consecrating their time to the work of the Lord, and that the work of that next week would have a transforming power for some of those kids we served.

The next story also involves that same song. For the second San Antonio session, they brought a couple of hundred of Hispanic kids from Houston. EFY had not previously been heavily promoted to the two Spanish stakes, so most of these kids had never been to EFY before. There was a special Spirit the whole week and on Thursday, they have a musical program in preparation for the testimony meetings later that night.

One of the young sisters from those Spanish stakes sang a verse of I am a Child of God as a solo in Spanish. When the week started, the white kids and the Hispanic kids didn't really know how to interact. Their taste in music at the dances was different. The Spanish kids were all bilingual, and there were barriers between the groups of kids.

That familiar song, sung in Spanish, combined with other things that week to unify the groups despite different cultural backgrounds. It taught us all in a special way that we are all children of God.

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