Thursday, June 11, 2015

S.M.I.L.E. - aka Kirtland YSA Conference Weekend!

so a couple weeks back, i had the FABULOUS opportunity to participate in the young single adult conference to kirtland, ohio! i have a firm belief that the enjoyability of a trip has the largest part to do with kind of people you're with...

so i coerced liz, page, emily, + saryn from my singles ward to come along with me to ensure it'd be a good time (;

we drove around 'til everyone was picked up + our luggage safely in the backseat...then it was a trip to the gas station to fill up + get some necessary donuts and my favorite gas station snack - HOT DOGS. i don't know why. but don't knock it till you've tried it. (:

it was only like, a 2.5 hour trip, but we were gonna miss dinner so we grabbed some wendy's (hence the french fries/frosty making it's way into the all-too-necessary photo op you see here) and were finally almost there!

the conference was fabulous! once we got all set up in our hotel (which somehow i had requested a smoking room?! we had to fix that hahah #oops) and dropped off our luggage, we headed to the kirtland stake center to hear the end of the keynote speaker jenna kim jones (for all you members of the lds church, she's the narrator from the "meet the mormons" movie that came out last october) ((and that i also still really need to see)).

she was SO funny and inspirational and wonderful. my favorite comment she made during the q&a session after? a young girl in the audience shared that she was an actress and wanted to know jkj's best piece of advice for an lds actress in a largely non-lds world.

her answer?

"decide what your values are before you walk into an audition or casting call or anything else." she went on to talk about how this is because you WILL be pushed and it's just so much easier to know what your limits are before someone even has the chance to start pushing them. love it!

okay, after all that, we had the chance to play a bunchhhhhh of get-to-know-you games with the dozens of ysa (young single adults) that were there from like literally, ALL over the usa! i met people who had come from michigan, north carolina, utah, cool. i love meeting new people!

especially when one of the first ways i met new people was by playing a massive game of human hungry-hungry-hippos. HA. it's just about as fun as it sounds (as long as it sounds as awesomely fun to you as it did to me!). nothing like putting on a helmet + getting propelled out into the middle of a giant mass of balloons while stomach-down on a scooter and trying to collect as many balloons as humanly possible inside a laundry basket before being pulled back to your group's corner.

look below for a pretty accurate take on what human hungry hungry hippos was like (except for a little bit more fast-paced/intense hahahah):

okay. that was awesome! but the best was yet to come. (: after a night of lots of similar get-to-know-you games, we headed back to the hotel to rest up for the HUGE full saturday we had ahead of us! started off at one of my favorite places in ohio - - the kirtland temple!

note: in case any of you are wondering why this particular temple is so important to us members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's in large part because it's here that we believe something that was lost for a very long time (the priesthood keys, which you can read more about here or here, and are referenced to in the Bible in Matthew 16:19) was restored through the prophet, Joseph Smith. long story short, because this happened, we can be sealed together to be with our families forever, and not just till death do we part! it's only the most amazing and wonderful blessing, ever. (: if you want to know more - feel free to ask (you can e-mail me at! or check out the link here to understand a little better about what happened in the kirtland temple, or here to learn about our church's view on the importance of families. (:

we had a brief tour of the temple (it's not owned by the lds church, you can read more about that here), but the owners of the kirtland temple (the community of christ church) were very open and willing to let us do tours and use their facilities to learn more about this wonderful place. the spirit there was SO, so strong! (:

after being inside the temple for a bit, we broke off into groups for different classes + a tour of historic kirtland until lunchtime.

i loved this quote i was given when we were sitting on the lawn beside the temple having an early-morning (cold, but toooootally worth it!) discussion with the kirtland stake president. (:

one of my favorite finds of the weekend is below (#ilovemissionaries :)

i loved the classes + exploring the historical sites in kirtland, especially via the sister missionary who was our "tour guide" and the video we watched about the history of this little town while inside the kirtland visitor's center.

i love this excerpt from church history:

"In February 1831 the Prophet Joseph Smith entered Newel K. Whitney's store in Kirtland, Ohio, and exclaimed to the startled proprietor, "Thou art the man!" Newel protested that he did not know this stranger, then heard life-changing words: "I am Joseph the Prophet. You prayed me here; now what do you want of me?" (via.)

(: how cool would that be to have the prophet appear to you like that and ask how he could help?! so so cool. i love church history (:

i loved seeing some awesome historical artifacts the church has done a fabulous job preserving within some of the homes/stores:

and the mini-visitor's center they have at the end of the historic kirtland it. it really is amazing how this is the where the first temple was constructed in these latter days!! #thechurchistrue (:

and i couldn't help but take a photo of the beautiful little mini-version of the temple they had inside the mini-visitor's center.

(because i'm mini-sized so therefore i love all things mini :)

((even if my friends make fun of me for it :))

i love this quote. also probably because i'm small it's always been a personal favorite (: "...out of small things proceedeth that which is great." AMEN. (:

after lunchtime, we had a fun time walking through one of the parks an attempt to do "service" by cleaning up the park paths of litter...but literally there was ZERO litter to be found. hahaha. cleanest park award goes to this one! but we had a fun time talking and being in nature regardless. (:

post-service hike we headed back to the hotel and took some necessary naps (#oops) before getting all dolled up for dinner + easily the best dance of my ever life!

no other photos but this one because we were too busy dancing our lives away (; haha.

but the BEST part of the trip was yet to come! sunday morning = sacrament meeting INSIDE the historic kirtland temple! what a wonderfully fabulous incredible experience that was...after partaking of the sacrament, we heard from elder walter c. selden (former area authority) and then we ALL stood up and sang my favorite song, CALLED TO SERVE! (: (: (: the spirit was so strong, and then we had a testimony bet your bottom dollar i was the second one in line to run up to the microphone to express how much i love this gospel, how grateful i was for the opportunity to be there that day. man, I JUST LOVE THE GOSPEL. it makes me so happy! (: if you want to know more about why i'm so happy all the time, please, feel free to ask! don't be shy, haha! i love to talk about it (obviously :).

what was even cooler was that there was a line out the door of youth like me wanting to share their testimonies, too, about everything from missions to the book of mormon to temples and families and everything in between. testimony meetings are already my favorites as is....and this is by far one of the best i've ever been a part of. i love this gospel!!! (:

also, by FAR my favorite part of the event was probably when we ALL sang "The Spirit of God" to close the Sacrament Meeting...wowoow. that's the song that was originally sung at the kirtland temple dedication back in 1836! the spirit was truly SO strong! (:

here's the song (SO. GOOD. by the world-famous mormon tabernacle choir :) in case you wanna see it!

post-church we (obviously) had to take advantage of some bff photos with the beautiful sight in the background.

(the following photos are how most of the ones on my camera roll turned out, hahaha. we're not that good at seriously posed photos :)


page + i with our new bff, dr. jeff!

page + i got particularly close this weekend. goodness I LOVE THIS GIRL SO MUCH. like, there are no words to describe. (: it's thanks to the church's visiting teaching program that we met. and is SO so so inspired. just in case you were wondering. (:

more bffs we met while in kirtland!

(and more random photos taken because that's what we do when waiting in line to eat :)

sigh. what a fabulous weekend! post-lunch + video slideshow of the weekend, we changed into our comfy clothes + headed out on the road again for another 2.5 hour drive home. i love these ladies + i love kirtland + i love the spirit there! i love to see the temple and be inside it and this weekend was just fabulous. my testimony was strengthened and so were my friendships. there's not much more i could have asked for!

thanks for a fabulous trip, kirtland! until next time we meet. (:

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