Suck it up princess, walk it off!

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So today is Throwback Thursday.  I don’t usually post something for this, but I was thinking of a story that I don’t think I’ve recorded before, and I figured it was worth doing.   If you want more of a reason for this post, sorry, you’re not getting one.

In May of 2006 I was on the tech crew for a group at BYU called the Young Ambassadors.  This was my 3rd year in the group and we traveled all around the country and the world with a Broadway review show.  In previous years I had toured with the group in Brazil, Argentina, Hong Kong and South Korea.  I’d also gone on 6 shorter stateside tours to every state west of the Rockies.  This year our longer tour was to the southern states.  Someone in the leadership of our group had taken the time to contact the parents of each of the people in our group to ask them to write a letter to their student to be given to us on a day when we might need a little extra encouragement.

When my parents received this assignment they thought it was a little bit funny.  After spending full months abroad where I had hardly any contact with them at all, a tour which remained entirely on US soil, where I’d have my cell phone to call or text them whenever I wanted didn’t really seem all that daunting.  So they decided instead of writing me a serious letter telling me how much they loved me and were proud of me, they were a little bit snarky with it.  I can’t remember everything that they wrote on the note that they included in my envelope, but I remember that the entire message from my dad was “Suck it up princess, walk it off!”  They also included a printout of my dad’s favorite “News from Lake Woebegone”.  I remember showing this to some of the performers in the group and they were horrified!  What kind of parents would write such a thing?  Didn’t they know that this was for a day when I was having a hard time and could use some love from my parents?

I on the other hand thought it was brilliant!  I don’t think I’d been having a particularly hard day when they gave me that letter, but I definitely wasn’t afterwards.  It was something that I knew had come specifically from my family.  We can be a little bit snarky sometimes, but I know that my parents love me.  So receiving that letter was just a proof that it came from my parents and not someone else’s.  It made me happier than if they’d sent a lengthy letter telling me how much they loved me and how proud they were of me.  In fact what that letter said to me was, “hey, we love you and are proud of you and think you’re great.  But you already know that, and you know we’re here for you for whatever you need.  In the meantime, enjoy the inner workings of Garrison Keilor’s mind and some silliness from home.”  I don’t think there’s anything better they could have sent me 🙂

BYU YA Hosting Tips!

A bunch of the YA Tech Crew in Portland, OR(?) – February 2007

So I wanted to post today on a more nostalgic topic and throw in a lot of random pictures associated with that topic. For those of you who may not know, when I was in college I spent all four years on the tech crew for the BYU Young Ambassadors. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I truly feel like I grew so much as a person and had amazing opportunities to share the gospel with others.

The BYU Young Ambassadors is a singing and dancing group that tours nationally and internationally with the goal of spreading joy and the gospel of Jesus Christ. While the show itself is not at all preachy (mostly Broadway show tunes) I have seen how it has lifted people’s lives and been an influence for good around the world.

Lexie, Amy and me in Hong Kong on tour – May 2007

Right now the Young Ambassadors are having a hard time getting the funding that they need to continue their program. BYU charges a minimal fee for venues to have the YAs come and perform which doesn’t really cover the costs of rehearsal facilities, costumes, props, technical equipment, music licenses, travel or directors to lead the group. They rely heavily on donations from outside sources. So I would like to put out a plea on behalf of the Young Ambassadors for donations. Any amount that you can give will be appreciated. Plus, until March 15th the CEO of Omniture, Josh James (a former YA himself) is matching all donations 3-to-1! So even if you can only donate $10 it’s like giving $40 to the Young Ambassadors!

So, if you’ve ever seen a YA show, or had a friend in the YAs, or (especially) if you were ever a YA yourself please consider going to http://give.byu.edu/ya and help perpetuate the wonderful legacy that is the Young Ambassadors.  I’ve already donated some of my own money and I think it’s a great cause for others to get behind as well.

YA Tech Crew 2005-2006 in Nauvoo, IL – May 2006

Now, since I didn’t want this post to simply be begging for donations I thought I would finally write a post about some of my experiences in YAs that I’ve been meaning to write about for awhile. Particularly – host homes. Whenever the YAs are on the road they are hosted by families in the area that they are performing. After staying in dozens of host homes in my four years of YAs I had lots of wonderful experiences. I thought it might be good to post some tips for anyone who is hosting YAs (or any other BYU group for that matter).

* Note: These are only suggestions. Please don’t feel like you can’t host BYU students if you can’t do any of these. We were always just grateful to have somewhere to rest our tired bodies at the end of the day and it is SUCH a blessing to have anywhere to go. *

Me in front of the restaurant where I almost ate a cricket to be polite – Hong Kong 2005

  • Please actually have somewhere for us to sleep. We’re not real picky, air mattresses are great, or even sleeping bags on the floor. But please don’t just point to a rug and plan on us sleeping on the floor all night with no blanket or pillow. (Yes, this sounds strange but it happened to me)
  • Try to repeat your name for your guests. In my four years of Young Ambassadors I stayed in well over 50 host homes (it might even be closer to 100 but I’ve totally lost track). For someone like me who has a really hard time remembering names it was really tough to keep track of the name of my hosts. Which always made me feel horrible because I was so grateful for their hospitality! So call your spouse and kids by their names when you’re talking to them to give your guests a chance to hear the names again. Also, major bonus points if you have your family name on display somewhere in your house. I was always grateful for that in the mornings when I was trying to write a thank you note and trying to figure out the right spelling for our host family’s name (is it Anderson or Andersen? Are there two t’s in Bennet(t) or just one? Maiersperger?!? Uhm, maybe we’ll just not put a name at the beginning and just dive into the note…)
  • If you can – offer to let us do our laundry. When you’re on an extended tour and working hard all day long in a dirty theater or out dancing your heart out on hot stages your clothes get pretty stinky. Combine that with the fact that we have limited clothing options each day and will likely have to re-wear those clothes in a day or so and pretty quickly we’re sharing more than just joy with those we meet. If you have a washer and dryer and don’t mind us throwing in a small load of laundry you could be one of the favorite stops on the tour. There were few things better than having clean clothes on tour.
  • We talk about ourselves a lot, tell us about yourself! I loved visiting with host families. I learned so much about different people and lifestyles that just fascinated me. Don’t think your family or location is that interesting? One of the most interesting places I visited was Albuquerque, New Mexico – no joke. Don’t underestimate what your family has to offer.
  • Les us join you for family scriptures and prayers. This may sound silly, but this was one of my favorite things. While I was up at school I couldn’t read scriptures at night with my family because they were in California. I LOVED reading scriptures with other families and getting to participate with them in their little family rituals. It really made me feel at home.
  • Show us how your shower works. I don’t care how self-explanatory you think your shower is – it’s not. I spent more time in host homes trying to figure out which way the shower turned on, or how to make the water hot than I care to think about. So as silly as this may sound, take a minute to show your guests which way to turn the knobs to get the hot water to go on, or warn them that the water takes a minute to warm up, or that it runs out suddenly.  They’ll be very grateful for your quick tutorial 🙂
  • Let us know what time we need to leave in the morning. Our groups run on really tight schedules and we don’t really know how far you live from the stake center or what traffic is like in your town. Let us know when we should be downstairs for breakfast and what time we need to be out the door to get there on time. Don’t be afraid to give us a solid time even if you have a pretty flexible morning routine. If breakfast is the last thing before we leave add about 5 minutes to however long you think breakfast will take so there’s enough time to load up the car.
  • If you would like to have tech crew or band – ask! As a technician it was hard sometimes to get to a host home that was disappointed not to have performers. I totally understand wanting to have the fun people that you watched on stage in your home. Plus technicians generally are the last ones to get to come home, and have to leave earlier in the morning. I know we’re not exactly a convenient lot to host. But, we do some interesting things and generally have interesting stories to share about what goes on behind the scenes. So, if you are some of the awesome people who would like to host technicians, let the person coordinating host homes know!  You’ll learn some fun things about what goes on behind the scenes and your guests will be really grateful to know that you’re not disappointed to not have their performing counterparts.
  • Food advice. We work hard all day so we often come home hungry. But we’re also generally fed REALLY well while we’re on tour, so we might be stuffed. Don’t be offended if we aren’t hungry enough to eat the snack you might have prepared when we get back from the show, but know that we will probably be very grateful if it’s there. In the morning, don’t feel like you have to have an elaborate breakfast planned out, we’re happy with cereal or toast (although a little bit of protein can be helpful to keep us going all day). If you’re packing us lunches they don’t have to be fancy either, just do whatever’s easy! Also, if you are planning that we’ll put together our own lunches with whatever you’ve laid out just plan that time into whenever you want us to be down for breakfast so that we don’t end up being late.
  • Ask your guests to offer one of the prayers. I was always so touched when our hosts would pray for us in their nightly or morning prayers. I know it may sound trite but I really could feel their prayers helping us get through those long tours. However, I also appreciated a chance to offer a prayer and ask for blessings for the people who had opened their homes to us. There’s not always much that we could give in return for the hospitality granted to us, but I liked to be able to do what we could.

Most importantly, just know how grateful we are for your hospitality. We wouldn’t be able to have the opportunities we do without your kindness so THANK YOU!

* Any other past/present YAs have other hints that you’d like me to add to this list? Post them in the comments below! *

Here is rug!

Well, this is my eleventh YA tour and I think I finally have the story that tops all of my other host family stories. See, every day on tour we stay in the homes of members. People who we don’t even know take us into their home for a night. It’s kind of a strange system, you meet these complete strangers and go and spend the night in their home. It almost always produces interesting stories. One of my favorite parts of the day is when we get into the tech van in the morning to compare stories. We all like seeing who has the best story, either that they stayed with some kind of multi-millionaire with an intense mansion, or that they had some kind of horror story where they stayed in the ultimate ghetto of ghettos. Most host families are somewhere in between and it’s really nice to be able to stay in normal homes most of the time. It’s just really fun to exchange stories.

So… my story begins with the lady that was to be my host mom. After the show was finished and struck I went out into the audience and Shayla introduced me to Cindy. She was a really cute Korean lady. She took us out of the high school that we’d been performing in and realized she wasn’t entirely sure where she had parked her car. It was unseasonably cold for where we were in Oregon and so she was like, “let’s run!” So she starts running in her skirt and nice clothes. Shayla and I didn’t have much of a choice so we start running too. Keep in mind, we’d just finished a full show and strike, so we were considerably tired as it was, plus we had all of our luggage. We ran all the way up this hill to the street where she thought her car was. When we got there we couldn’t find a parking lot so we ran to the next street corner and couldn’t find a parking lot there either. So, we then ran all the way back to the high school where we found George, our presenter. He offered to drive us around until we could find her car. We hopped in his car and drove around for a little while checking the different parking lots at the high school. Finally we found her car and she took us to McDonalds.

After McDonald’s she started driving us back to her house. On the way there she started talking about her house. She was kind of hard to understand because of her accent but we tried to answer the questions as best we could. She said she’d been told that we needed to stay in two separate rooms, and something about one of the rooms having a rug and the other one not having a rug. We told her we were fine to stay in the same room, which seemed to help.

When we got to her house she started showing us around. She told us to leave our stuff in her front room and she showed us her living room, the bathroom, kitchen and led us back to the front room. In the whole tour she didn’t actually show us a bedroom. Then she left us in the front room and kind of indicated the rug as the place to sleep, and went into her room. Shayla and I looked at each other with semi-incredulous looks. She hadn’t left us with pillows or a blanket or anything… just… the rug. She didn’t even suggest the couch as an alternative to the floor. So, we changed into pajamas, pulled a couple of small pillows off the couch and went to sleep. A while later I woke up with really cold feet. I was already wearing pajama pants a t-shirt, my YA warm up jacket and my Superman sweatshirt that I wear when we’re setting up. So I pulled my warm up pants out of my suitcase and wrapped them around my feet. I laid there for about 15 minutes before deciding it wasn’t such a great idea. So I put the pants on over top of my other pair of pants and wore the legs over my feet. That was enough better that I could go back to sleep. At 3am I woke up to Shayla shaking me. “Brittny, let’s take over the couch.” So, we curled up on either end of the couch and went back to sleep.

The next morning at 6:15 our host mom came in and demanded that we get up and get ready for the day. So, even though we couldn’t have had more than 5 hours of sleep, we got up and got ready for the day. She insisted at that we leave by 7:15, even though we didn’t need to get to the stake center until 8:00 (and that’s 8:00 YA Standard Time, which really means that we weren’t going to leave until at least 8:15) On the way over she insisted that I write down her address so that we could both write to her. She almost missed the stake center because she didn’t know where it was. I was only able to find it because I saw the big Deseret Industries bin outside, so I knew it had to be an LDS church. I pointed it out and we turned around and went back. We were there a full 20 minutes early, before the van, or the bus and at the same time as our presenter. After Cindy left we started telling the story. Don’t worry, we absolutely were able to trump any one else’s story , I think for the entire tour. The night Shayla and I spent on a rug.

I think the funniest part was just that she really was the sweetest lady. She just seemed really flaky. Oh, and we did see her bed, this huge fluffy thing with tons of pillows and a really squishy looking comforter. If we could have blamed it on her being Korean and having different customs then it might have been an entirely different story. I can totally do culture differences, but it was like she just hadn’t even considered that we might want a bed or at least a blanket. Oh, to top it all off, when I opened the lunch she had packed me for the next day there wasn’t anything like a sandwich in it. Fun times.

A few steps into the darkness… the light came on

That last entry needs the resolution. I’m going to break away from the story for a second because I need to fill in the background. There were several reasons that I made me really want to come back to BYU this year – not just YAs. I really liked my roommates and I was excited to be back with them, however, in the first week it really seemed like Natalie & Julie were quickly becoming best good friends (which I knew they would) and I didn’t feel as necessary to our apartment as I had last year.

I absolutely loved the ward I had been in and I was soo excited to be back. I’ve written about it before, but I really do think that the BYU 138th ward IS Zion. However, a couple weeks before school started my bishop called to tell me that they had changed the ward boundaries and my apartment was in a new ward. He called me towards the end of choir practice, so I talked to him just before we went through the song for the last time. It always takes some time for things to hit me (moving from NY didn’t hit me until 6 months later- literally. I remember moving and thinking everything was fine… then one night while I was putting away the piano music it suddenly hit me that I wasn’t in NY anymore and I started bawling in the middle of our living room) so while I was talking to Bishop Klein I thought it was going to be fine and that I was sure the Lord knew what he was doing. As soon as I got back into choir practice and started to sing again it hit me. I was devastated. I was barely able to keep myself together through the rest of the song and the closing prayer. I told Taylor but she was hardly sympathetic. I made it to my car, put my sunglasses on and sobbed the whole way home (driving and crying… probably not the safest combination…). It wasn’t that I didn’t believe that the Lord knew what He was doing, I still believed it, and I still do believe it, I was just REALLY sad that I wouldn’t be part of that ward anymore. I don’t adjust well to change and this was a VERY unwelcome change in my life.

On top of that, things had gotten super weird over the summer between me and this guy that I liked. He is one of my best friends and I really felt like I couldn’t really talk to him the same anymore. Another reason I felt like I should be up here was to take care of Taylor. It’s her first year at college, and that can be rough on anyone. My freshman year was one of the worst years of my life partly because I had felt so very alone. In addition to that Taylor is still battling with Intracranial Hypertension, so she gets very sick at times. I really wanted to be up here to take care of her when she was having breakdowns and just be up here to support her in general. I’ve really missed being around my family while up at school and I was so stoked to have her up here with me. But there again, she’s a lot more outgoing than I am so she easily makes friends and after the first couple days of overcoming jet-lag she seemed like she was all set to go.

Which brings us finally to the big one. When I originally had prayed about what I should be doing this year I really felt like I was supposed to be coming back and doing Young Ambassadors again. I suppose I never asked that in particular but that was the real reason that I felt like I was supposed to be here. Everything else was more of a comfort zone thing, or gravy. Good things, good reasons to come back, but none of which were truly compelling enough to delay going on a mission. You have to understand, Young Ambassadors is more than just a singing and dancing group. It’s not just another touring theater group. It is a group with a tremendous spirit and an amazing mission to fulfill. I have made the mistake in the past of making it sound like it is the equivalent to a full time mission. It’s not. I know it’s not, but there is a lot more to it than people realize. It’s really hard for me to explain it to anyone who’s never been a part of it. The Young Ambassadors can touch people in ways that no one else can. I really feel like the people in the group are meant to be there, if not foreordained. I know that sounds over the top, but the longer I’ve been a part of the group the more I’ve felt it. They are some of the most spiritual, most amazing people I have ever known and I don’t know what I could have done to deserve to be a part of them. I have learned so much about myself, about people and about the Lord by being with them.

Anyways, YA’s was the real reason that I felt like I should stay. So, when John told me that he didn’t want me for stage manager this year, it was pretty hard. I posted about that before so I won’t repeat it, except to say this. I can honestly say that I wasn’t bitter. I know that anyone else who had applied most likely had more theater experience in general than I did. My experience has been almost 100% Young Ambassadors and very little anywhere else. Plus, I sincerely believe that the Lord is watching out for that group and if John didn’t want me back then maybe I was supposed to be getting some message out of that from the Lord. That group will end up with whoever it’s supposed to have, and the work will go on. I’ve heard it said before that whether or not we choose to support the gospel it will go forward and eventually prevail. It says in the Bible that when all is said and done Christ will conquer Satan and righteousness will win out. We know who the winning side will be, and our choice is to be on that side, but our being on that side will not determine the outcome as a whole, only for ourselves. That’s how I feel about the Young Ambassadors. With or without me, that group is going to go on to do amazing things. The Lord is in control and He will raise up whomever He needs to see that the work gets done. If it’s me then, fantastic! If it’s not, the work is going to go on and whoever is there instead is the person who is supposed to be there. Anyways, I didn’t mean to go on forever about my testimony of Young Ambassadors, I just wanted to add it as another thing that didn’t work out. I was very confused that everything felt like I ought to be a part of it, everyone thought that I ought to have that job, and then it didn’t work out.

So, in my last entry I wrote about how upset I was about not getting the stage manager position. That was Saturday night. Sunday I fasted all day about what I should do. Still, I didn’t really get a specific answer, but since I keep being told to counsel with my parents, they were pushing me towards a mission, and nothing else was coming together, I finally decided that I was going to go talk to my bishop and turn in my mission papers for the end of this semester. So, on Monday, I decided to just do it. I even told my sister about my decision just before I went home from classes that day. She’s been somewhat mad at me all summer because I was putting off a mission and she would give anything to be leaving on a mission right now. I don’t know that I can say that I felt “good” about the decision… I didn’t feel like it was wrong, but it was more of a determination than a fuzzy warm “this is the right decision” kind of feeling. I was going to do whatever the Lord wanted me to do, and if it was going on a mission, then that’s what I was going to do. I hadn’t received a distinct confirmation that I needed to serve a mission, but it seemed like the only logical thing at that point. I don’t know if that makes a lot of sense but I don’t know how else to describe it.

I returned from classes that day and plugged my computer into the internet. I was watching it connect to Google Talk and it started showing me the snippets from my new e-mails. I had 5, which seemed unusual but I just watched as it scrolled through them. One in particular caught my eye:

I was stunned. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped beating right then and there and I just stared at my computer for a second. I felt sure that I was sleeping or seeing things or possibly that all of the tension and confusion and semi-depression was catching up with me and I was starting to go insane- beginning with hallucinations. Finally I shook myself and opened up my actual inbox. Sure enough, there was the email from John.

I re-read it several times before doing the only thing I could think of to do. I called my mom. She was at a dentist appointment with the boys, but I tried to tell her as quickly and calmly as possible (which was very difficult… I was very near squealing) about the email. She was very excited for me, but couldn’t really talk, since they aren’t allowed cell phones in the dentist’s office, so she promised to call me back. I was still bouncing with excitement and a fair amount of nervous energy, so I called Taylor. Her response wasn’t exactly ideal. She told me that “you suck as a human being.” I thought that was a little spiteful, but I didn’t really expect anything more from her. Finally I called my dad to tell him. He was very excited for me, and discussed it with me for a fair amount of time. I told him about the decision I had made just before receiving that email to go on a mission (I hadn’t even had time to tell my parents yet). His response was to the effect of “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” What he said is actually best summed up in a quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Twelve Apostles in an article entitled “The Candle of the Lord” in the January 1983 Ensign. Elder Packer said,

“Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two.”

I had been half expecting my parents to tell me to turn it down and just go on a mission anyways. So, to hear their counsel finally coincide with everything I felt was a REALLY good feeling. When I got off the phone with my dad I decided that I needed to stop and really ask the Lord if this was right. Yes, it was great and it was a miracle, but it also could be just another part of the test. That would be mean, but it wasn’t impossible. So, I knelt down and prayed. I stopped and thanked my Heavenly Father for this opportunity. I told Him how excited I was and how much I wanted this job and promised to do the very best job I could do. Then I told Him that if He didn’t want me to take this job, I wouldn’t. I told Him that I had faith in Him that He would lead me to the things that would be best for me, and to the places where He needed me most. I did, however, tell Him that if He didn’t want me to take this job, I would probably need a fairly clear confirmation. My suggestion was flaming swords 😉 (I’m sure I probably sound a little bit flippant and irreverent when I’m talking about how I speak with the Lord. I’m sure I’m a little more casual with how I speak with Him, but it’s because I feel more like He is real when I can be real with Him. I think He understands us better than we know, and that He is more like us (well in reality we are more like Him, but if A=B then B=A right?) then we realize. I don’t intend those comments in a sacreligious way, I just feel closest to the Lord when I can talk to Him more like Brittny and less like the Bible.) Anyways, I didn’t really mean that I needed a flaming sword to stop me, but I wanted to make it clear that I intended to take this position unless I received revelation saying I ought to do otherwise. Whether that revelation came in the form of a flaming sword, a feeling, a thought or a comment from my parents was less relevant. I closed my prayer and stopped to listen for a moment. Slowly, all of the burdens of confusion, and hurt and depression lifted away. I felt more at peace than I had in a long time.

So, yeah, I called John that night and Matt trained me to be Stage Manager the next day. I’m so excited to be a part of this again. This year’s group seems so amazing. I love our new crew already. It’s definitely going to be a lot of hard work and time, but I’m thrilled. I just hope that I can do it as well as it ought to be done. The only real “stage managing” experience I had was in our high school’s dance department. I’m not worried about the office stuff, or getting everything ready for the tours. I know I can handle that just fine. I’m sure that the set ups will go smoothly enough, I feel like I know what’s supposed to happen there. Strike shouldn’t be too big of a problem either. I think I can handle the people problems and work through any issues that may arise there. Really the thing that I am the most worried about is actually calling the show. That probably sounds stupid to most people since literally all I have to do is read along with the script and tell people when to turn on spotlights or fog machines, or retrieve props from the stage, and push the play button so that the music starts for each number. I guess it just scares me a little because there is a lot of responsibility resting on my shoulders to make sure that things happen when they’re supposed to and in the right way. We have two fresh spot ops that will need to be trained and I’m supposed to be able to tell them when they’re doing things wrong. I was one of the worst spot ops ever. At least that’s how I felt. I missed cues all the time and I was always too bright, or too dim, too high or too low, hitting the valance, coming on in the wrong spot, I just constantly felt like I didn’t get it right. I’m sure that I was too self-critical, but I just hope that I can see when there are problems and be able to identify them. I know that Keith is the lighting guy and he’ll definitely see when things are wrong and he can just as easily tell the spots what they ought to do. I just want to be able to do it myself and do it right. I hope people will tell me when I’m messing up, and that I’ll be able to take it well and improve. I don’t want people saying, “Well, Brittny doesn’t quite know what she’s supposed to be doing so I’ll just take over this part.” It’s going to be a learning curve, I’m willing to learn and I hope that people around me are willing to let me learn and do it. That probably sounds prideful, but it’s not so much that I want to do it because I want the power or anything like that. I just want the show to run the way it’s supposed to go, and do things the right way, the professional way, and not some alternate-way-we-made-up-for-us. However, whatever concerns I may have, I really am just excited to be back and I can’t wait for the adventures ahead.

I know this entry is sort of stream of conscious and getting to be fairly long, sorry. But, I need to write this all out. It helps me really think through things, and remember things that I have learned so that later in life I can look back and see where I came from and what I’ve done with the lessons I’ve learned. In my defense, you don’t have to read the entry. 😛

I guess I should probably tell you the resolutions to all of my other reasons for being up here as well. After YAs fell into place everything else sorta came together as well. As I’ve been in my apartment I’ve really noticed that I am really wanted here. Julie wasn’t replacing me with Natalie at all, the three of us have become very good friends, but we are the three of us, and not a combination of any of the two of us. We have very different personalities in some ways and very similar personalities in others. We’re all pretty low-key so it makes for a nice laid back apartment, but each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. I’m good friends with each Natalie and Julie and they are good friends with each other. I think it was just that they were sorta meeting for the first time and still in the fun part of really getting to know each other whereas I already knew both of them (Natalie is from my home stake & Julie was my roommate last year). I guess I probably felt a little left out of all that… but not really for any good reason. Things seem to be cool with that guy friend and we’re still friends without any apparent weirdness anymore (I found out just the other day that he’d been dating someone when I talked with him over the summer… but he never told me that. I think that was probably the source for a lot of the weirdness). Taylor has definitely proven to need me more than it seemed at first. She’s had a couple of minor meltdowns and I’ve seen her pretty much every single day since we got up here. Whether it’s been for lunch or when she’s needed to escape her dorm room she’s been around a lot more than I expected. I think it’s definitely good that she’s got me up here to watch out for her. I’m sure she COULD do it on her own if she had to, but I think it’s good that I’m here for her. Technically, I did make it through my freshman year on my own… but it sucked. Hopefully Taylor’s experience will be a lot better than mine was. I’m still trying to reconcile myself to our new ward. I am more convinced than ever that my old ward was Zion. However, I know that any situation is what you make of it so I am doing my best to be positive and be a part of the ward. I think it will get better as I really get to know more people in the ward, it’s just going to take a little bit of time.

So, yeah. Life is good. I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be and that everything is going to work out just great. School is going well. My classes are going to keep me good and busy and learning lots. YAs rocks. I love my roommates. My family is awesome. The gospel is true. Temples are beautiful. To quote Polly in “Crazy for You”, “Who could ask for anything more?”

Why it’s all collapsing…

So, I guess my post from the other night likely seemed rather dramatic without any apparent explanation. So, I will now try to explain as best I can what all is going on in my life.

I guess first off I should say that I just got back from Australia where I had an amazing time with my family on the Great Barrier Reef, playing cards and visiting with family. It was a fantastic trip but I am glad to be home again. However, the trip to Australia meant that I returned to Utah the night before classes start, after spending nearly 24 hours traveling. I was SO not ready for classes to start. The day classes started I spent most of the day at Wal-Mart and my storage unit moving my stuff in and buying stuff for Taylor to start off her school year. It was absolutely insane.

But, none of that was what triggered my despairing post. The day I left for Australia I called John Shurtleff- the technical director for the Young Ambassadors. Earlier this summer I had sent him an email inquiring after the Stage Manager position for this coming year. It is something that I have wanted desperately since I was a freshman in Young Ambassadors. After three years in the group our previous stage manager had finally graduated and the position was open. However, two months of the summer went by without any sort of response from John. At this point I wasn’t exactly sure what to do so I sent him another email which essentially repeated my first email and asked if he had even received my first email. He responded and asked me to call him. I did so immediately, but when I got a hold of him he said he was busy and asked if he could call me later. I gave him my phone number and waited. For weeks and weeks I waited. Finally, the day I was leaving for Australia I called him again. We had an amiable conversation, however, he declined my request for the stage manager position. He said he is looking for someone who can be around for at least two years. I didn’t really have time to fully process that at the time as I was leaving the country within the hour so I sorta filed it away. Through the entire trip I didn’t really pull it out to deal with it. What could I do? John is the technical director and if he doesn’t want me as stage manager, what am I going to do? Tell him, no he really does want me as stage manager? So, since I couldn’t do anything I just left it be.

Unfortunately, the day that classes started coincided with the first day of YA rehearsal. I decided not to go to the rehearsal since I had decided previously that I would not return to the Young Ambassadors without that position. I knew that if I went I would remember all the reasons I love the group so much and I would hardly be able to tell them no. Plus, since most of the group knew that I wanted that position, and that I wouldn’t be returning since I hadn’t gotten it, I didn’t want to show up and spark gossip and rumor. So, I stayed away. Within an hour of rehearsal being over I had discussed my decision with 4 out of the 9 technicians from last year. That’s a lot more than it sounds. Out of the other 5, one was myself, 2 are on missions, 1 is graduated and probably doesn’t even know that I’m not in the group, and the last one wasn’t ever really my friend and isn’t in the group this year either. Plus, two of the people who I received phone calls from aren’t in the group this year. That night (when I posted) I was feeling very confused and hurt. I have worked harder than anything for that group for the last three years. I have literally poured blood, sweat and tears into being there 110% all the time. I don’t want to sound prideful, but there is no one among any of the other applicants who knows the show and group as well as I do- simply because none of them have ever been in the group before. I’ve been one of the first ones there and last ones to leave for rehearsals, set ups, strikes, load-ins, load-outs, firesides etc since I joined the group. I have tried to learn every aspect of the show and I could probably set up and run any part of the show myself now (granted, lighting and sound would be HIGHLY sketchy, but if the audience wasn’t too observant I do know how to set up the equipment and run it to some extent). If I really thought that the issue was longevity I guess it wouldn’t hurt as much, but I’m fairly sure there’s something more that John’s not telling me. But I won’t lie, I’m really hurt. There are few things that I have ever really wanted and worked for in this life. Very few things. There is certainly nothing that I have worked this hard or this long for or wanted this much. I love the Young Ambassadors more than I can truly express. I love the work that they do. I love that I can be a part of an organization that is a force for so much good. An organization that is trying to spread the gospel. Yeah, it’s a pretty unconventional way to do it, but it’s true none the less. It is absolutely killing me inside to be up in Provo and not be a part of it. Last night I spent nearly 2 hours praying about being in the group this year. I cried more violently than I have in almost two years. It feels like a hand reaching in and trying to snatch my heart right out of my chest. And it’s not just not getting the position. In and of itself, that’s not a big deal. Yeah, I wanted it, but that’s not what hurts the most. What hurts is not knowing why and not knowing what I’m really supposed to be doing. I posted several months ago about making the decision of whether or not to go on a mission this year. I turn 21 in a month and a half and I will FINALLY be eligible to serve a full time mission. I have been battling with the decision of whether or not and when to go since the middle of last year. As I fought through it last year I got the distinct impression that I needed to stick around for this year of school. At the time the impression seemed like I needed to stay for another full year for Young Ambassadors in particular. However, now… I’m not so sure. The support of my friends and family seems to be for me to go on a mission right now, ASAP. But I really don’t feel like that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I hate being back here, with everything my heart is saying and what everyone around me is saying diametrically opposed. Why? Aren’t I allowed to be right, for once, about my own life? Is that too much to ask? Everyone says they trust me that I will make the right decision, but if I make the decision that they don’t like… suddenly that trust seems to dissipate. Part of me wants to go on a mission just to appease everyone and get them off my case. But that’s not a reason to serve a mission, or a good reason to do just about anything really. As I’ve prayed and studied out the situation I keep feeling like I’m supposed to be a part of YAs this year. It’s my last year at BYU and the group is returning to China. It ought to be a killer year. But part of every bit of counsel I’ve received has been that I need to counsel with my parents… who quite obviously want me to serve a mission. My mom has said that she supports me in putting it off until the end of the year, but… it sounds so empty when she says it. More like she’s saying, “sure, I won’t stop you from making the wrong choice, even though I’m very dissapointed that you’re doing it.” How can I reconcile that?

I need to stop this entry. I was hoping that writing it would help me to solidify my thoughts and feelings and help me make a more concrete decision, but it’s just making me upset and leading me to tears again. I know it’s all going to work out. The Lord is in control and I know that if I stay close to Him I will not be lead astray. I know this is all sounding very lost and confused, but I really do have faith in that. This whole experience hasn’t shaken my testimony one bit. If anything it has strengthened it because I know more than ever that I need the Lord’s guidance. Heck, if I didn’t have a testimony this whole decision would be made very simple. Would I be doing YAs or going on a mission? Neither one! I love YAs for the work that we do in spreading the gospel. But it is HARD work. I wouldn’t dream of doing it if it weren’t for my testimony. I love sharing my testimony in really the best way that I know how. Words have never been a forte of mine, I am much better at quietly serving other people and working hard to make sure that everything works out. I love that I can share the gospel through just loving other people and being a good member of the church. Showing what I believe through what I do more than by what I say. It will all work out. I think that’s one of the most reassuring things that I know through the gospel. No matter how impossible, or difficult things may seem, the Lord is in control and everything will work out. Generally, it works out better than I could even imagine, I just need to be patient, and continue to press forward, working out my own salvation before the Lord and have faith.