Sunday, February 19, 2012

Faith and Other Young Women Values

I loved the Young Women program.  I loved the beautiful, amazing women who were called to be my leaders.  I wanted exactly what they had: strong testimonies and handsome, loving husbands and children.  Because they had just what I was hoping to get, I listened to what they taught and watched what they did.  I admired them and I believed them.

I loved attending Sunday meetings.  I sat on the third floor of our chapel* during opening exercises at the huge table, made of a number of tables pushed together, and looked across at the Laurels on the other side.  I dreamed of the day I would be in high school and would be smart and dating and, hopefully, one-tenth as beautiful as those girls.

I loved it when my teacher brought a basket full of freshly baked muffins or cookies to class.  I loved the object lessons.  I loved when they spoke about the things that mattered most to them and I felt the spirit and was changed.

I loved our diverse group of girls.  I enjoyed it very much when the girl who was a year younger than me and had family problems came to church.  She wore black and looked down and covered her face with her platinum blonde hair.  If you ever caught a glimpse of her eyes, she was rolling them.  I considered it my unofficial calling to get her to smile.  I fellowshipped her the only way I knew how.  I was glad she took kindly to verbal irony.

I loved Wednesday activities.  I relished the chance to hang out with my friends on a school night.  I liked doing service projects and playing games.  I loved the hope that I'd see whichever-boy-it-was-I-had-a-crush-on-at-the-time playing basketball.  I loved the joint activities, especially the broom hockey in the cultural hall, despite the fact that I came home with bruised and bleeding shins from all the brooms that missed the "puck" (folded pair of socks) and bashed my legs instead.  To this day that is the only "sport" I've ever felt a deep love for.

I have a daughter.  She's twelve.  Apart from our family, there are five church members in our branch.  None of them are young women.  In our entire district (4 branches scattered across southern Poland) there are a total of 3 or 4 other young women.

Ewelina does not have what I had.  Honestly, she doesn't have anything close to it.  I realize we are all given different experiences and we can each grow from the situation we find ourselves in.  It's still really hard.  As long as 7 years ago or so I told people who asked that we would probably move back to the states by the time Evie was 12 so she could have the same character and testimony building opportunities that I had by attending Young Women.

But we're still here.  She has contact with the other girls in our district.  She is grateful, but it's not the same.  She wishes she had what she saw this summer, when she was visiting her cousins in New Jersey.  She misses what I had.  I hugged her tonight as she cried about it, holding back my own tears.

And I need to find a way to be to her what my leaders were to me.  But how!?!   How on earth can I BE THAT?  I need to be teaching her the lessons from the manual, but I should also be teaching my other three kids the lessons they should be learning in Primary.  It is too much and I am weak and lazy.

Ev and I just sat down and talked about Personal Progress.  I think she is excited.  It is a fantastic program and will give her much of what I had and teach her the things she needs to know.

I am grateful for a Father who knows what we need and is ready to bless us with it.  If we ask in faith, he will give it to us.  I hope he will, even after having written a blog post about how the most I can expect to be given doesn't seem like enough.   But I know that He can give whatever is required for Evie to develop a strong and sustaining testimony of the gospel.  And, what it comes down to is that that is the thing I'm really after.
*our chapel was previously a country club.  If you've watched God's Army you've seen it, when the missionaries are eating lunch on the terrace and the "Lamanite" calls down and preaches repentance to the inhabitants of Hollywood.


Susan said...

That is the best sum-up of the YW program and how I felt going through it!

As for what I'd like to say about how to help Evie, well, I'm not going to say it. :)

MelancholySmile said...

Oh Lisa, I'm sorry. It's always scary when kids have to go through things in their lives that we are unfamiliar with or can't relate to. If it helps at all, my family moved from a huge, bustling ward to a tiny branch when I was 14. There were two other girls in YW and my brothers were the majority of the YM program. It was lonely and frustrating at times, but I do feel that it helped me gain a testimoney, be responsible and self motivated, and made moving to a large singles ward when I was 18 all the more rewarding. Evie is a bright, tender hearted girl with a loving, steady mother. She's going to come out of this juSt fine.

Janelle said...

Even with a huge YW program and many, many great spiritual experiences in seminary and at church, it wasn't I got to BYU that I had the wonderful experience of having friends who shared my same values.

I don't know if sending her to the states is possible for college, but it might give her a goal to work towards.

Do they have EFY in europe?

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

One of the coolest things about PP is how it develops spiritual self-reliance. I love how that can happen for a girl like you AND a girl like Ewelina.

Church is true. Amen. :)

Cherie said...

I saw your comment on Lesa's blog "Living For Simple".
I wanted to tell you that a boy in our ward was just called to serve in the Warsaw, Poland Mission. He leaves in June! Exciting

I am new to your blog but I am your newest follower :-D

Kazzy said...

Lisa, as stake YW president, I must say this post choked me up. I talked about it with my husband and it got me thinking. I wonder if there is a way to have some kind of Skype experience with another YW group. Nothing could take the place of face to face, but making some kind of international connection could be cool. I would love to help facilitate something.

You have a good attitude, and you are right that each different kind of experience can teach us something. Your daughter is blessed to have a strong mom.

Brittany said...

Those YW manuals are so woefully outdated, you'd be better off just focusing on PP and maybe using stuff from the New Era--if you can get it. I think any effort you make will help her build her testimony. Good luck and don't be too hard on yourself if you can't do it all. Nobody can.

Heather said...

Now I am crying. My YW experience was just like you described. You are right that with faith Heavenly Father will make it all OK even though she won't have the same experiences. I'd say that about the lessons, just teach everyone from the YW manual and the younger kids will learn just as much as they would have with their own lessons. That is my two cents. You are so awesome and strong, I really admire you and your courage.

L.T. Elliot said...

I needed to read this today. I'm in a Young Women calling and I've really struggled lately. I've told myself, "I'm not making any difference here." or "These girls don't hear anything I'm saying and it will never really matter." So, I needed to hear this. Thank you.

I'm glad for the Personal Progress but I'm sorry your daughter is feeling the loss of YWs. She's lucky to have a mom who cares so much.