The first, there were SO many people that I was able to help for a few minutes and then I had nothing else to do. I felt rather useless just standing there. But the places that were still doing something were so crowded that I knew I'd just be standing in the way there. So I didn't get to help out as much there. But the Pollyanna views on it are
*how fantastic to have so many people willing to serve!
*I loved being able to watch these people serve, especially all the kids there. One boy was amazing at his sandwich wrapping skills.
The other "downside" was that I didn't get to help in the second part. If I'd made the car trip up, I would have had 15 minutes to help there (again, among a huge crowd) and then would have had to leave for choir practice. But the Pollyanna views on this are
*I was able to join my carpool for choir instead of going alone. I love these ladies of the carpool and our rides to and from choir are one of the things that makes these Sunday night choir rehearsals so great
*I was able to stay behind at the first building and help to clean it up. Since only 3 of us stayed, I felt needed and useful and was able to meet people in a less socially-intimidating situation (because that huge crowd and the first-time experience sent me into all kinds of social anxieties!).
Still, I was really glad I got to be a part of it. And for me, the best part of the whole experience, especially the "downsides" are that they reminded me of one of the greatest lessons on service that I ever had.
My first Youth Conference when our family moved back to DE was habitat for humanity. We were going to be split into our groups, and each group was going to build homes, handicap ramps, and other down-and-dirty kinda work. The real "Yeah--I totally served!" kind of work. (I don't know how else to describe it, but you get it, right?) On the first day, my group went to a local Church member's house, and helped clear away some brush, then wash down the house. That was it. We found out later that we were preparing the house to have a ramp built.
The next day, we expected that our group would go back to the house to build the ramp. But our group got split up, and I was one of 2 or 3 teens left behind at the Church. And they had nothing for us to do. Finally they had us move a pile of branches from one side of the parking lot to the other where the dumpster was. And then they asked me to help wash 400 potatoes they were going to use in our dinner for that night. When we were told of a local Church member who needed her mobile home cleaned, I jumped at the chance to go. The place was so small, we were done in 10 minutes.
I spent the rest of Youth Conference hearing about all of the other teens' experiences in building homes. There was so much laughter and excitement. I could see them glowing from their experience. And me? I'd washed a house and some potatoes. I felt so insignificant. Like I hadn't been able to truly contribute. It was a very rough Saturday evening as I returned with my ward group, and had to sit through another dinner of hearing all about their experiences.
The next morning. Sunday. I always loved my Sunday mornings. Such great times of spiritual contemplation. And that room (all my own--and with the best window EVER!) in Delaware had some of the best spiritual experiences of my teen life because I really learned to ponder and listen to the Holy Ghost. That morning was one of those experiences. I was sorrowing over my inability to "truly serve" when I looked up on my wall. One of the ~15 Mormonads on my wall jumped out at me: