I’m x-posting this from my professional blog because it was such a meaningful entry that I felt it should also be on my personal blog. I hope you enjoy:
Now that I’ve got photo releases on all these kids, I wanted to share with you what happened this summer.
My church has an annual conference in the summer for teenagers ages 14-18. It’s a great experience and it’s for all the youth in an area. We have something like 11 congregations in my town, so that’s a lot of kids! This year the theme was "Let it Shine – ’09" and was about talents done by way of putting on a play.
I grew up on the stage. I studied classical ballet from the time I was 5 until I was 18. I also studied other forms of dance and performed in plays. Of course, I never seem to get tapped for that any more when the rare opportunities come up. I guess people have forgotten now. My husband gets a call inviting him to particpate in an acapella group to entertain the youth and so I sent in with him the offer of whatever help I could give.
Turns out, I got to help out. I spent the entire conference with the youth taking photos to document the event. What a treat for me to watch as the teens learned how to put together a play, let their talents shine forth, have a lot of fun, and worship God all at the same time. It was my pleasure and my honour to take part in this event, which I did for free. No amount of money could ever equal the joy from the experience and the look on the faces of those teens when they saw the slideshow I put together.
Here’s where the miracle came in for me. What a time to build my own testimony in a way I never expected. I just wanted to be of good use. In a chance conversation with the Stake President (for the non-LDS out there a stake is a group of congregations in an area…), I was asked how I handled heights.
Here’s the thing. In theory I love heights. I’d love to climb Everest, Nothing is cooler than to look out over a cityscape from a tall building, I think going to the top of the Empire States Building or the Eiffel Tower would be absolutely awesome. My favourite mode of travel is the airplane and I love seeing all the squares of land. In theory. The problem is I have a hideous case of vertigo. I can’t even get remotely close to the railing in a mall. I have issues going down the stairs of my house. The world spins and my stomach starts flipping and flopping. It is very disorienting. It’s pretty bad when you can’t even change a lightbulb because standing on the chair makes you feel like you might keel over at any minute. (No you crackheads, I’m not standing on rolly chairs! Sheesh! I’m not the brightest gal around but I know that much!)
I explained this problem to the Stake President. He had an idea to get the group shot I was hoping to take by putting me in this lift. The stage is in the gym of the church which has those super vaulted ceilings since it is also a basketball court. They have a lift to go all the way up so they can change lightbulbs and things. Obviously, when you are talking something like a group of 150 people, aerial is best if you want to get all the faces.
Well, I told him I’d try it but no promises. If I got up in that lift and the world started spinning, forget it. But, I’d try. It wouldn’t hurt me. After all I trusted they wouldn’t put me in actual harm’s way, regardless of what my vertigo might do to me.
Saturday came and they brought in this one woman bucket lift. I got a crash course in how to use it. The dress rehearsal began, and even though the group photo was coming at the end, I wanted to try it out before we got there so we could have time for alternate plans.
Imagine my surprise when there was no vertigo! Nothing. In fact it was so great, I spent the entire two hours of dress rehearsal in that lift taking photographs. I threw out the ones from before because these were far superior! Standing in a bucket was hard on my knees and back, trashed from the aforementioned dancing and whatnot, but even that was far less painful than one could ever hope and pray for.
And the group shot? Well you tell me how it turned out:
Amazing. That is probably my favourite photo I have ever taken. And that comment about "pray for"? Well I know that is what it was. I know that the Stake President really wanted that photo and I have no doubt some prayers were said for me. I felt them. I’ve never experienced the sort of calm like I felt then. I can tell you a few weeks later in the balcony of another church shooting a wedding? Definitely could have used that peace because my not so good friend Vertigo was back in full force. Darn.
It was good while it lasted.
I am so grateful that I could shoot this event, but I’m most grateful for this group photo. It is nice to have that sort of experience to make you learn that trusting in God can be a good thing. That doing a simple act of service can take you above and beyond what you are normally capable of. That the power of prayer works.
Thank you, youth of my Stake. You are a great bunch of teens and I enjoyed hanging out with you for three days. Remember this weekend and all you learned. And remember that the Lord really does answer prayers and help you in ways that you can never even be able to guess about.
–Have Camera, Will Travel