Every year since I was thirteen I have been going to my churches camp called EFY. It stands for Especially For the Youth. It’s for Mormon teens and everyone who attends agrees that it’s the most awesomely amazing thing ever given to teens. During this week long camp there is one day set aside to be more reverent. On this day everyone is dressed up and we have testimony meetings. Testimony meeting is always everyone’s favorite night but it’s hard to explain to outsiders why. We have Pizza night, two dances, an ice cream mountain, a talent show but testimony meetings are always the best.
The day starts with breakfast, separate classes for the girls and boys, then we all meet up. We are usually split into groups of about 20 teens and a few counselors. The opening prayer is assigned to one of the kids sitting in the front row. Then the testimony’s begin a few brave kids will go first and slowly the fear of public speaking goes away. It doesn’t take long for the whole room to begin crying. There is always one story during the meeting that feels like its being told to me to strengthen my testimony.
This time the story was from a teen girl my age. I sat there watching the girl stand up and take her turn I thought about how she felt in a room full of strangers baring her testimony. Here in this room full of strangers all you can feel is the love and compassion that we feel towards her. You feel the kind encouragement to tell her story and the compassion to be completely understanding.
In that room, in that camp, in this church we are so much more than strangers. We are an army not unlike the army of Helaman. Not unlike what I learned about in Sunday school. A story about faithful members of the church prompted to throw away their weapons and teach their children about complete faith in God. When a rival army came to destroy them it was only through their faith that the sons stood up and won the battle. Just like that army, we march with our faith as a shield.
We are the army of Helaman marching to tell each other what we believe to be true. In that room there is no blame, guilt or judgment there is only love. That feeling that is in that room comes and goes. Sadly, I don’t always choose to go back to it but I know where I can find it. It’s not just in that room or in that week it’s in the church. It’s with the people who share my values and beliefs who know how hard it is to stick with them. It’s with the people who know what it means to feel the spirit and knows its power to change your life.
I believe that I truly am in an army.