EFY 2016: Looking Back


“So what are you going to be teaching them this time?”

Every year I get that question, and every year the answer is different.

“Not sure yet!” I smile and shrug. “Gonna have to pray and figure that out.”

That’s part of the magic that is the EFY experience, as a teacher.

We’re not given direction as to what to teach or how to approach a particular subject. We just try to get in tune with the kids’ needs and give them a message that we hope will resonate in their souls.

And it always feels like a huge leap of faith. What if my lessons are totally off? What if it doesn’t click with any of the kids? What if I’m just growing more out of touch? What if, what if, what if…

But whenever that anxiety hits (and since I start thinking about next year’s EFY presentations once this year’s are complete, that anxiety has a loooong twelve months to marinate…ugh) I find comfort in the same place every year. I know that I can tune in to the Source of Light and get direction every single time.

‘Cuz they’re not my kids I’m teaching…they’re His. He knows them better than I ever will. So if I spend time listening to the quiet whispers of His Spirit, I’ll start feeling tugs and pulls towards a certain direction and topic, or away from others.

This year was no different.

Lesson on How To Feel and Recognize the Spirit? Check!

New lesson on How To Find Answers to Gospel Questions? Check!

Should we once again give the Temple Prep for Teens presentation? Absolutely double check! (Man, I have SOOOOOO much fun teaching that one.)

New lesson on Temple Prep for Teens, pt. 2? HECK YES. In fact, the symbolism discussed here, especially about robes and atonement and eternity, all is based on the foundation from the lesson in Pt. 1. This is the root of what I’d been trying to get to all along.

New lesson on what it means to be a Child of a King? Aye, sir, and a check-a-roni!

So this year we wound up with 2 repeated presentations and 3 brand-new ones, slides and all.

And just like every year before this, I show up at EFY with butterflies in my stomach, nervous about the kids and counselors I’ll meet, wondering if I’d done it all right.

I offered up so many silent prayers, asking God to lead me to the kids that needed to hear this, the ones that were prepared for this week.

And we found them.

Just as it happens every year, we found them.

Sometimes they come up to me afterwards with smiles and glistening eyes. Sometimes it’s just a high-five / fist-bump / group selfie when we’re done. Sometimes I never get to talk to them, but I see it in their faces. That look of “holy cow, what was that?” when they feel that message burning deep in their hearts, its quiet glow teaching them things I could never say.

Just remember, I tell them at the beginning of every class. The REAL teacher here isn’t me, and the most important things you need to learn won’t come from MY lips. I’m just a messenger — listen to HIM to get the Message.

And they got. Oh boy, did they get it.

“I feel like Satan has been trying to keep me from gaining a testimony of the temple for years. I just didn’t get it, and I didn’t feel like I could ever understand it. But you came and spoke symbolically to us, and that’s exactly what I needed to hear…because that’s how I understand,” one girl said.

“Oh man, last night I was reading the Book of Revelation and I just couldn’t figure out the part about the seals! I asked my Grandpa and he had no clue. But today we came to the Temple Prep class and now we can speak the language!” another excited teen told me.

“How did you like it?” I asked a YW, sitting in the back after class. “Let’s just say it was so overwhelming I wanted to throw up” she replied. Well THAT’s a new one! I thought.

One excited YM came up to me and shook my hand, saying “This was so great. I’m actually endowed! I just got my mission call and they’ve let me go through the temple and be an ordinance worker. But I didn’t understand all the symbols…now I can’t wait to go back to work!” Right on, brother.

And my final, favorite comment from this year, after revealing and reminding them what divine, royal heritage means and includes.

“Brother Bernards….you made me feel important.” 😌

That’s why I love doing this.
That’s why every year I sit down, ponder for a while, and spend months trying to refine the message. Because somewhere out there, there is that one single kid who needs to hear light, truth, and love, and maybe, just maybe, I can help them on the way to hear it.

Perhaps that’s #whatmattersmost.

Thanks, all our EFY friends. Can’t wait to see you again next year.

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