I put it on my calendar and suggested that maybe they could find some parents of the youth to fill in the gaps. I didn't hear anything until a week or so before. At that point they had found some other people to help out but they still needed me. I was really reluctant. I told poor, sweet, Maria that I wanted to serve on my terms. (Gosh, when am I going to learn?) I was worried about my kids, I was worried about how I was going to do some other things that needed to gone and I was worried that I wouldn't do a good enough job.
After some back and forth with me being stubborn, I was asked to pick Thursday or Friday to take pictures. I chose Thursday. On Wednesday night I needed to go to American Fork. Even though I wasn't on duty yet I felt like maybe I should drop by the amphitheater (It's where opening ceremonies were taking place) to see how things were going. I am so glad I did. I was greeted very warmly by some of the leaders.
I was given a shirt a schedule of the events. I missed a lot of the opening ceremony (It is being run like EFY which I think is a great idea) that evening but I was able to watch part of the concert that was being put on by Jon Schmidt!
He called M out of the crowd and they jammed together. All improvised (according to his mom) and it was AWESOME!!!!!
I stayed as long as I could but I had to go before it was over. It was getting too dark to do any good without my tri-pod. I was pretty excited about the next day, even if it meant getting up earlier than I am used to.
Thursday was started with the different companies (groups of youth) having breakfast in members homes. There is no way I could get to all the different houses so I started at the morning side. It was put on by the session director Scott Robley.
Scott speaks at EFY's. He is a CES teacher and is pretty amazing. He is in our ward so I know him well. Any time you get to listen to Scott it is a real treat. He spoke for the first hour. I got some shots of him, the choir and tried to capture the essence of youth conference. (That was my official assignment.)
**Since these are minors I was photographing I am going to try and only post pictures that don't show faces.**
While I was waiting for classes to begin I got to help (Honestly I barely did anything but it still felt good) get one of the service projects ready. The kids would be knitting hats and putting together kits for Somalian refugees.
Supplies were collected.
After the morning side they got to choose between three classes.
This is President Paul. He is the chief of police and in the Stake Presidency. Here he is telling a story about a time when he caught a skunk. Hilarious.
Another speaker was Chad Kirby. He is a bishop and has been with the EFY program for the past nine years. I could barely leave his class, it was so good! I would love to have listened to him the whole hour.
The last speaker was Olympic athlete Noelle Pikus Pace. She races skeleton and was 1/10 of a second away from winning bronze in the Vancouver Olympics. Here she is showing a girl how to use her sled.
So many of the kids wanted autographs and pictures after her class. She was very charismatic and beautiful. Her little girl was there and she was adorable too.
The whole morning I was in awe of the speakers and the amazing opportunity that our youth had to learn from them. I was so thankful to be part of it. You would not believe all the adults that we there giving of their time to pull this off. There were men and women that I am sure were using vacation days. There were so many adults working their bums off in the kitchen to feed these kids. I was blown away. I am sure none of them said, my service will be on my terms.
Look at all of this food that people made. That is bags of chicken back there.
This box was full of avocados for fresh guacamole. A sister had made a bucket of salsa from scratch!
I went home for lunch to make sure the kids were okay. When I got back I was loaded up with chips, salsa and fresh guacamole. Everyone treated me with so much love. I was in heaven.
After lunch it was time for the service projects. Look at all of these kids working to knit hats.
I never heard any of the boys complain. They just worked.
Even our stake president got in on the action!
I was so sad when my time was up but I knew I was needed at home. I had to go back home to be with my kids. I wish I could have been there for the whole day. Heck I wish I could have been there every day. My heart was so full. I was so excited about what I had seen and heard. I was so impressed with the service that was given by so many to make this opportunity available to our youth. I was blown away by the talent that was there.
I remember how I was when I was a teen. I hope these kids are more receptive than I was. I hope they know how lucky they are. I hope they open their hearts and take in everything. I hope they know how loved and valued they are.
I am proud to say that I was part of this wonderful Youth Conference. Thank you Maria for thinking of me!