Anyway, I do want to finish reporting about the YSA Conference, so that's what I'm going to do! Er, I mean, I'm going to go on with the report, with the intention of finishing it tomorrow (or Thursday at the very latest).
Workshop number three was about how keeping covenants makes you happy. A lot of people (or so we hear; we actually don't know that many people) think that all the rules we have in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints take all the fun out of life, leading to a dull, boring, sad existence. So this workshop was to illustrate that that's not really the case. I actually couldn't remember very much of it until I remembered the handout we got at it. It had a kind of poem-like thing with a pocket-sized "For the Strength of the Youth" manual paper-clipped to it. The poem was basically a declaration of determination to do what's right, and the "For the Strength of the Youth" manual is a little book the Church gives out to... anybody, really, but mostly to the teenagers, giving a basic description of the standards of the Church, like modesty, keeping the Sabbath, chastity, language, tithing, etc.
But the reason the handout reminded me what we talked about is that it helped me remember that the speaker at this workshop would have people read what he called poems, but were actually stories in regular prose. Or so they were as far as we could tell; we are not poets by any means.
Anyway, he had someone read a story that we hadn't heard before, about a father taking is son out to fly a kite for the first time. The son is really excited, and the kite is really cool, and they keep letting out more string so the kite can go higher and higher. Eventually, they get to the end of the string, but the boy isn't satisfied--he wants to see the kite go even more higher!(bad grammar mine) So he told his dad to cut the string and let the kite go! The father told him that cutting the string wouldn't make the kite go any higher, but the son wouldn't believe him, so he took out his knife and cut the string. The kite went out of control! Out of controoooollll! And eventually crashed. And thus was the end of the kite.
I think the analogy is pretty obvious--Heavenly Father is holding the kite (us), and the string is covenants.
The other thing I remember about this workshop was the story the speaker told about his motorcycle racing career. When he was young, he was the best motorcycle racer there ever was, and if he chose to pursue that, he would have a "mack daddy" life style, I think is how he described it. But then he started thinking maybe he should go on a mission. He prayed about it, and, realizing that he really should go on a mission, he told the Lord he would give up motorcycle racing completely if He promised to take care of him for the rest of his life. It all worked out very well until one day his kids asked for dirt bikes for Christmas, and he started getting into it again. Some guy involved with racing came and asked him if he wanted to race in... like a tournament or something, and of course he did. He was doing really well, and he was going to knock this one guy down and win the series! when he put his foot down and shattered his ankle. That was the reminder of the promise he'd made.
Now, I don't think that Heavenly Father wants us all to give up our dreams, but this guy had promised to give it up completely. Also, based on the "knocking guys down" part, it sounds like motorcycle racing is not a very nice sport. He could seriously hurt people! Anyway, he learned his lesson--the Lord will keep His promises to us as long as we keep our promises to Him.
The last workshop was on agency--the freedom to choose. One of the first things that the speaker pointed out is that we have the right to choose the right, but not the right to choose wrong. We have the freedom to choose wrong, but not the right to do so. He made the analogy that if you go to a travel agent and ask for a ticket to Los Angeles, they can give you a ticket to Sacramento (in the opposite direction), but they wouldn't be a very good agent.
He also remembered the seminary video on agency. See, the Church has classes for high school students (usually at six in the morning, unless you're in Utah, where close enough to everybody is LDS that they can have it during normal school hours) where we learn about the scriptures and stuff, and to help the teachers (and the students), they have some videos with object lessons and stuff. A lot of them are really cheesy, but the new ones they had when we were in high school seemed to realize that and at least use it to their advantage. Anyway, there's one where this guy is just fed up with life and all the restrictions his mom puts on him and stuff. Then his alter ego shows up and takes him on a maaaagical journey.
At one point in the journey, the alter ego grants the guy's wish of wanting to drive a Ferrari. He takes the guy to some place in the middle of nowhere, and there's a Ferrari, right there on the road! The guy says, "I can really drive this?" "Sure! It's yours!" So he gets in to drive off, and then there appears a sign with a speed limit, along with a highway patrol officer. "Aw man, I never get to do what I want to do!" "So you wish there were no rules?" "Yeah!" "Okay, then!" And the sign and officer disappear, and the guy is free to drive the Ferrari as fast as he wants. As he's driving along, a truck comes along from the opposite direction. As it gets closer, it pulls over into the guy's lane, putting them on a collision course! Aaaaahhhh! And I think he might get hit by the truck, or maybe the alter ego made it all disappear before he did, but anyway, the guy was complaining about the truck driver pulling into his lane, and the alter ego says, "What's the problem? He was just doing what he wanted to do. There aren't any rules to stop him, after all."
That lesson actually goes more with the covenants thing, but they really go hand in hand. It was also to help demonstrate that without law, you can't choose right or wrong, because there is no right or wrong.
The other thing we remember about that workshop is that the speaker had a bunch of imaginary scenarios with people wanting to choose the wrong. For example, Fred didn't want to start paying tithing until he was earning a little more money. But when you're not a very good agent, you don't get a raise. We can speak from experience that when you pay tithing, things tend to work out, and when they don't, you don't feel guilty taking from the bishop's storehouse, because you had been paying to keep it supplied before then.
With the Fred turning down a call to be on the Elders' Quorum presidency because he didn't think he had the time, the speaker told a story about when he was a junior in medical school. He was the Elders' Quorum president, but he had a really big test coming up, and if he didn't pass, it would have set him back a year and a half in his studies. But the day before, there were a lot of people needing priesthood blessings and various other forms of support and aide and comfort and stuff from the Elders' Quorum president. He decided that that was more important, and he got back very late at night, with just about no time to study. He said a prayer, saying, "Lord, I've been out all day doing thy work, and this test is very important. I'm going to do my best to study tonight, but please help me out." He woke up the next morning with his head on his books, not remembering when he fell asleep. ("Do I even need to tell you how it ended?" he asked. (We get a lot of these stories.)) And he got the best score of his entire medical school career, thus illustrating that God blesses us when we're good agents.
After the last workshop, we knew the dinner was going to be Mexican food, which neither of us likes very much (I do enjoy tacos, but they were serving burritos), so we decided to head to the church building to go to the restroom. On the way there, we ran into some friends who asked us if we were going to change, thus proving that it was okay to put on more casual clothes (we didn't think that would be allowed until after dinner).
On our way to pick up our bag from the bag check, we walked by one of the rooms where they were setting up some video game stuff and noticed four dance pads on its floor. And these were good, metal, arcade style pads. Thus we knew what we would be doing until our group's turn for quilt tying. But they weren't ready yet, so we changed and headed back to see if there was something we could eat. We ran into our stake president's wife, who told us there were brownies, so we went through the food tent and each picked up a meal, including a burrito, corn chips, and brownie from Rubio's Mexican Grill. And we have learned once again that we don't care for Rubio's corn chips. But we ate them anyway, because we looked inside the burritos and decided we wouldn't be able to force ourselves to eat them, and we knew we'd be needing energy now that DDR had come into play (ha ha). The brownies were yummy.
After that... well, it was mostly just DDR. And then us stopping because somebody else wanted a turn, or because we were gasping for air, or we heard there were snowcones. Then we'd wander around until we found the DDR room again. During one of our breaks, we went into one of the chat rooms, where someone was reading "would you rather?" questions from her phone. But there was no discussion--just answering and moving on--so we decided it was boring and... went back to DDR. We were among the best players there, too! We were a little surprised, because there were plenty of Asians there, and they can be scarily amazing at DDR (is that a racist statement?). There were two guys who were around our level, but both of them seemed to have played this mix before, while we most certainly had not (it was the Wii version, and we still don't have a Wii). Don't get any ideas about connecting with guys over DDR, though. We tend to hurt their manly pride, and they don't seem to like to talk to us. But there were a lot of other people who were very impressed, and some people recognized us later as the DDR girls.
When we finally pulled ourselves away once and for all, we found a sofa on the opposite corner of the church building. There were a bunch of people there, and I wanted to make sure we got to it before anyone sat down, so I scampered up--very cutely, I thought--and shouted, "Get!" (like in Japan, how they do that when they get a Pokemon or something). But nobody paid us any mind, so we were sad. But that's okay; we've had unobservant friends before and it turned out to be super lame. And then we rested until it was the old fogeys' turn to help tie quilts.
The beauty of quilt tying is that you have a lot of people working together on something that doesn't take too much exertion, so you get to talk while you do it. And talking is one of our favorite pastimes. We didn't really talk about anything in particular, but it was fun. One of the guys in our group got caught (by me) lying on the floor doing nothing! When I yelled at him, he pointed out that he'd tied five whole rows! Only they weren't "whole rows;" they were the parts of the row until he hit where somebody else was tying, and they got shorter as they went up. His other excuse was that he was "tired." Wuss. So he took some scissors and started cutting thread so we could tie knots. And don't get any ideas about love blossoming from a prickly start, because he's taken and our sister's brother-in-law.
After the quilt-tying it was time for the dance, which was in another building. Our friend, who I call our ride but actually her brother did most of the driving, was feeling really sick by that time, so we took her home, and then, since we didn't want her brother and the rest of the carpool to be even more late after driving us all the way home, we went to the dance. But Athena wasn't feeling very well, either, so we actually spent the whole dance sitting outside in the courtyard. But because we were away from the loud music, we got to talk a lot to people. Also, it was a beach theme, so the tables all had beach stuff on them. Our table had a bucket full of sand on it, which we thought was weird until one of the other guys in our quilt-tying group came over and we started digging through the sand. Inside it were a bunch of slips of paper with fortunes on them, like fortune cookies. Only they were all along the lines of, "The next boy or girl you talk to is your eternal companion." And then they gave lucky letters for some odd reason. Maybe because gambling is frowned upon in our church (because it makes people think they can get something for nothing).
Finally the dance ended, and we were able to go home and give Mimsy her medicine. The end of day one.
Today I'm thankful for only having two adventures a day now (where "adventure" is a euphemism for "giving Mimsy her medicine"), invitations to go eat pizza at Pizza Hut, Narumi-sensei being very well drawn in the anime, getting to wow people with our DDR skillz (though I suspect the difficulty levels are made less difficult for the Wii version), and the 99 Red Balloons song being on the Wii mix (we love it for its appearance in Scrubs).