Girls Camp was amazing this year!!! Our stake theme was “Becoming One” and each ward was to choose a ‘becoming’ theme. We chose “Becoming His” and our symbol was a garden. One leader made darling journals for each girl with quotes, pictures, scriptures, and thoughts for each day of camp as each day had it’s own flower, garden, and purpose. The daily tivodevo (devotional- stop what you are doing- like tivo) followed the daily theme. For example, Tuesday’s flower was a daisy and the theme was purity. There was a matching flower arrangement for each day and flower everything for the week- aprons, tablecloths, hairpins, pens, bags, treats, cooking/ cleaning teams names, cabin names, decorations, and pockets for tree mail. Our faith walk turned out especially good and the girls all referred to it in their testimonies at the end of the week. With all the fun we had, I hope the Spirit they felt during the faith walk is something they always remember.
Here is the original outline for the faith walk- some of it I took from the book “Finding God in the Garden” by Brent and Wendy Top. Sarah modified her part to include how much she loves to sing to her garden and how once she saw her young daughter outside singing her heart out to the garden. One young woman who claims to be atheist was really touched at this part as her grandpa had loved to sing to his garden as well and she really felt that she could feel him there at that time- it was the 2 year anniversary of his death. The girls took their individual walks to the picture of Christ very seriously and reverently- which was only about 10 yards away and our camp scripture was there (Moroni 7:19) with a flashlight on it and of course flowers around. The names are for each leader doing a part. Jackie and Cindy were each leading a group and the other leaders were each at a station just off a dirt road. The setting was beautiful and we used flashlights to mark the path as well as each person had a flashlight- it wasn’t quite dark but we used the flashlights as signals so that we didn’t have to speak unnecessarily.
Faith Walk – Becoming His
Being in the garden teaches us many lessons that we can relate to the gospel and how pruning, weeding, and care helps us to bloom and grow spiritually. Every day we are cultivating the garden of our souls. This evening you will hear messages learned from the garden from some of your leaders. Please follow me- your guide- and be absolutely quiet as you walk from each garden plot.
When the snow melts each spring, I get out in my garden to do some spring cleaning- get out the decomposing leaves, broken branches, and dead plants. The old and ugly parts must be removed before seeds and plants can be planted. I love to see how much better my garden looks even after just my first spring cleaning of the year. Similarly, our lives can start to collect habits, actions, or thoughts that detract from our beauty and hinder our growth. We can experience spiritual spring cleaning every Sunday as we have an opportunity to carefully examine ourselves, and through the power of the Atonement, clean out the corruption and decay in our lives- whether big and unsightly or small and hidden from view. This kind of spiritual spring cleaning should not happen just in the spring, but it must be perpetual. Repenting and improving each day through the grace and mercy of Christ makes us more pure and spiritually beautiful to the Master Gardener and more capable of bearing the kinds of blooms and fruits that glorify Him. Our lives are like a garden to be presented to the King of Kings as a gift of love and ultimate tribute. The Book of Mormon teaches us to “Offer your whole souls as an offering unto him”. To have our garden prepared to be an offering to our Savior, it requires spring cleaning, summer cleaning, fall cleaning, winter cleaning- in short, continual cleaning. Then we can feel confident that our offering is acceptable. The garden of our souls, humbly presented to the Master Gardener is then prepared for the seeds of faith He desires to sow within us.
Sing- ‘I feel my Savior’s love’
I feel my Savior’s love, in all the world around me
His Spirit warms my soul, through everything I see
He knows I will follow him, give all my life to him.
I feel my Savior’s love, the love He freely gives me
Sunlight is always required for photosynthesis, which is a process that cannot be duplicated by man. This life giving process changes energy from the sun into energy for the plant to grow, produce oxygen, and even bear fruit. The same sunlight shines on rocks with no change or production at all. Like photosynthesis, there is a process in which we are sustained, strengthened, and transformed. The Atonement allows us to experience spiritual photosynthesis- a very real transformation in which the natural man becomes a “new creature in Christ” (2Corinth 5:17). Eyes that have been opened by the Light of the World see the world around them in a new light. Just as plant life cannot be sustained without light and water, our lives cannot be sustained, in the truest sense of the word, without Him. We can no more become what we are intended to become without His grace than grape branches can produce fruit without the vine and sunlight. Truly, He is the Light of Life. Our job is to allow that miracle process to happen- over and over again. As we receive the light of the Son, we can literally change and grow and convert that energy into energy to bless others. As we continue this process, we taste the fruits of the gospel and we are transformed slowly but surely into new creatures in Christ with even greater faith and strength.
I love to spend just a little extra time with my plants to talk to them and really notice the beautiful and uniqueness of each variety of plants. We all know that plants need the light and the warmth of the sun to grow. People are like plants in this way. We all do better in the warmth of an environment filled with love and affection, kindness and consideration, appreciation and respect. The ultimate source of warmth is the Savior himself. The scriptures describe Him as “the light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things”. The more we feel that warmth in our personal lives, the more we will grow spiritually, the deeper the roots of our conversion will be, and the more productive our service to God and our fellowmen will be. As much as I love creating a beautiful garden, I know that the greatest and most long-lasting creations happen daily, hourly, and even moment by moment. With every righteous choice we make, we sow seeds of eternal life. You’ve heard this said another way- Everyday choices that have eternal consequences. When we think uplifting thoughts, our spirits blossom. When we choose to exercise faith, repent, and keep a commandment, we are cultivating something that did not exist before. If we seek to plant and nourish Christ in our hearts, His Spirit will radiate from us. We cultivate light or darkness, loveliness or ugliness within ourselves by the thoughts we develop and the influences we choose. Sow a thought, reap an action; Sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap an eternal destiny. Our everyday choices are a continual process of creating the world we and others inhabit.
Sing- ‘Teach me to walk in the light of His love’- first verse
Teach me to walk in the light of his love, Teach me to pray to my Father above;Teach me to know of the things that are right; Teach me, teach me to walk in the light.
You’ve heard the phrase “ Bloom where you are planted”. Master gardeners know just how and where to plant each tree, flower, and shrub and how to help each grow. How we need to trust our Heavenly Father, who know us so perfectly, that He plants us in places and circumstances that can bring about our greatest growth and result in our greatest good. We can’t control where we are planted, how we are planted, or what the garden down the street looks like, but we can continue to bloom in our own flower bed of life without “murmur, complaint, or unreasonable demands” as President Kimball taught. We can bloom by repenting, loving, serving, and seeking to bring blooms into the lives of others whose allotment in life may be less than our own. Roses, Daffodils, Tulips, Lilacs, and Orchids are each so different, yet still so beautiful. I love that our scripture teaches this message as well. “Wherefore, I beseech of you, sisters, that ye should search that ye may know good from evil and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.” Moroni 7:19 We must search out the good in our situations and then choose the good without condemning it. Then we can be called the children of Christ!
Weeds! Since the days of Adam and Eve weeds have been around to ‘afflict and torment man’! People as well as gardens become better with more effective weed control. Our lives, like our flower beds and vegetable gardens, need to be consistently weeded of those things that not only are unsightly but can also choke out the good by robbing the needed nutrients. Two important principles of weed control are eradication and prevention. Eradication, or getting rid of, weeds is easiest when the weeds are small. Just like sins, as weeds grow, they become harder to pull out. Sometimes a weed looks much like a pretty flower at first. If not nipped in the bud and eradicated while small through repentance and increased obedience to the principles of the gospel, they will become larger and larger. Procrastinating repentance allows the roots to grow deeper and deeper. Fortunately, the Lord has given us the sacrament to help us eliminate the spiritual weeds in our lives while they are yet small. Equally important to weed eradication is weed prevention. President Boyd K. Packer taught “Do not try merely to discard a bad habit or a bad thought, Replace it. When you try to eliminate a bad habit, replace the spot where it used to be with something good. Then if the bad habit tries to return, it will have to fight for attention. I repeat, it is very, very difficult to replace a bad habit just by trying to discard it. Replace it” Keeping our souls healthy and vigorous through daily scripture study and prayer, by consistently keeping the commandments and serving God and our fellowmen prevents a multitude of sins. Repentance is the best spiritual weed whacker and good spiritual health is the best weed preventer.
Sing – ‘If the Savior Stood Beside Me” first verse
If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example? Would I live more righteously
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.
Jackie/Cindy- (at spot not too far from picture of Christ)
As Alma taught, we plant the seed of faith after hearing the word of God and choosing to act upon it. We cultivate it with prayer, scripture study, service, attendance at our church meetings, and keeping the commandments. We weed it by repentance. We protect it by seeking the guidance of the Spirit. As we do so, our faith grows and our bosom swells, as Alma describes it. Our personal spirituality and capacity increase. President Harold B. Lee once said that a testimony is “as fragile as an orchid”. It must be guarded and watched over. We need to diligently look at how we are either nourishing or destroying our faith every day.
Remind the girls to take the time to record their feelings in their journals. Send them one by one to see the picture of Christ while the rest of the group sings hymns and Primary songs about our Savior together. Then reverently return to our camp. The girls had put their journals in their camp chairs around the fire and wrote before forgetting their feelings and before we did anything else.