|Isn't that pretty.|
We were told that the river was more shallow than in years past and so the current wasn't swift. At first that seemed like a good thing to me. Lazy river! But I soon realized that very shallow water means getting stuck on and between rocks every 10 feet. Nothing lazy about having to paddle for your dignity.
|This group looks just like ours but our tubes were blue and our girls more modest.|
Mary and her friend Taylor wanted to stay at the back of the pack to prolong their experience. What they didn't count on was helping Sister Hashmi and I, who were also at the back because . . . hm . . . we were enjoying the scenery? Let's go with that. I thought they would pass us up but they were super helpful and sweet to us. Mary had a huge stick she used like an oar to help navigate; she was in the front and instructed the rest of us to hold on to the tubes' ropes and form a chain during difficult passages. She was truly invaluable in keeping us together and our spirits high.
At one point she said, "You know . . . taking care of you guys is hard work." Ha! Really, I know the feeling.
Finally we made it to the finish line, after 3 hours. We were the last ones. Those skinny little girls (and Sis. McEwen) beat us by 20 minutes. My sunscreen fell out of the tube at the beginning and so my legs were really burned by the end. I was careful of my face and shoulders but I didn't do enough on my lower half and I'm still paying for it.
I was kind of glad to hear that the older girls took even longer than we did getting down the river.
Later that night we gathered for testimony meeting. As a leader I always appreciated the girls' sharing of beliefs and feelings. But as a mother I gained an added sense of gratitude; those sweet young ladies who shared their struggles, triumphs, and desires to choose the right were just what my own daughter needed to hear. She's only 12 and has so many decisions, obstacles, and distractions coming down the road to growing up. I was so grateful for shining examples to show her that true happiness comes from obedience and sacrifice. One of my favorite testimonies made me laugh though:
"I know that my older brother will always be there for me! Not that my mom won't, but she has anger-management issues."
Since I know this girl's mom well it really struck my funny bone.
My heart grew in love for those girls that night, for all that they are and all that they want to become. I am so glad my own daughter can associate with such lovely and virtuous young women.
Later than night Sis. Smith gathered the YCLs for a special meeting where she presented each one with a word she felt described them. It was a beautiful and emotional end to the evening and I think we all went to bed feeling good about the world.