I'm not sure I'll be able to accurately describe my experience in Utah. It has been over 13 years that I've been there. Salt lake City has changed. Others cities have changed. But if something remains the same, it's the spirit I feel when I see the mountains and breathe the Utah fresh air. It's like breathing pure joy. I love Salt Lake City. And something else has remained the same: the love of very dear, special friends. Some things never change. I'm eternally gratefully for that.
When I was about to land in S.L.C., it was the end of the day. The sun was setting, but I could still see the land under me. I saw the desert giving place to the majestic mountains, then the Great Salt lake, more Mountains, and all of the sudden, just like that, the valley. I saw thousands of homes, buildings, lights... and I couldn't help but thinking about Brigham Young and his vision, when the pioneers arrived in Salt Lake. He said "This is the place". But the place was desert and dry soil and not exactly the garden of Eden...
If only he could see it now. I got goosebumps when I landed. Nothing compares to the feeling of just being there. I knew I was in for a great 6 days. I just didn't know how great they would turn out to be.
The Evans picked me up at the airport, and seeing them was the beginning of my emotional experience. I spend Tuesday night with them, the whole family was home and it was a treat to be near them all.
On Wednesday we toured the Conference Center, felt the reverence that is inside it, walked through that great space and felt like we were on sacred ground. We strolled through Temple square, and had lunch in a restaurant on the 8th floor of the Joseph Smith Building. I was eating my chicken salad sandwich and through the window, I could see the magnificent Salt lake Temple. I remember them asking me what I'd like to do next... Nothing, really. I would have stayed there forever. Where else can you sit down, have lunch, and have a view like that? I would've been perfectly content to stay there and feel the sweet spirit of the temple. It was that good.
Meeting my online friends has been the highlight of the year. I'm not sure how to explain it... I met people that I already knew. Does that make any sense? We hugged, laughed a LOT, cried during testimony meeting, and truly bonded. I can never forget that experience.
Meeting my friend Misty was something else... She has been my friend for years! She's been my confident, my strength when I needed it the most, my shoulder, my dearest friend. When I saw her coming I was already there, we were having opening ceremonies. My heart leaped when I saw her. I ran to her and hugged her for a long while... It didn't feel like I was meeting her for the first time. It felt like I was reconnecting with a childhood friend that I hadn't seen in a while. I was not surprised by the way she talked, laughed, cried. As she would later describe it, it was like meeting a long lost sister. This is truly what I feel for her. During the weekend it was just so nice to give her a hug when I felt like it... it was soooooo nice to hold her baby, make him laugh, and even take a nap with him on the couch... it was fantastic. I miss her so very much already...
There were other people that touched my heart deeply too. There was 35 of us! All in the same house, with air mattresses and blankets everywhere. We had activities, worked on a fantastic humanitarian project, even visited the ladies prison in Draper. That was phenomenal. It was their Relief Society activity evening, and just to know the people behind the uniforms was unique. It was a very spiritual experience. I'll be forever grateful for the people that allowed that to happen, and for my dear friend that invited me to go too. It will be hard to forget that evening there, the ride there and back home, the time we spent together in the car talking and getting to know each other better, and crying. There was a lot of that, I have to confess. But they were happy tears.
There was one night that five of us stayed up until almost six in the morning. Just talking and being silly in the dark. And laughing. A lot!
When it was time to leave, my heart was so full, but also so sad for leaving my friends. I did make room in my heart to bring them with me though. They are still here.
It was in this state of happiness/joy/sadness that I met the Evans again to go to the conference center and watch "Music and the Spoken Word", with the Mormon tabernacle choir. Oh.My.Goodness. It was amazing! To hear them sing in that huge room, and to hear the organ echoing loud in my soul... I have no words. It was a dream come true. I was so touched... I think that since hearing them sing until I had to leave the next morning, I was an emotional wreck. In a good sense. But every little thing would make me think of Jesus and cry in gratitude. The mountains. The sunset. The Salt Lake valley. Everything had a special touch to it.
Did I say how much I love Utah yet? We breathe better there. I can't explain it, I can only attribute this feeling to The Spirit that's felt there. Maybe because of the pioneers that made it all happen. Maybe because of the stone cutters that worked at the salt Lake Temple years ago. Maybe because we can't drive half an hour without seeing a beautiful, peaceful temple. Or two, or three, or four, depending each direction we're driving. Or maybe because, indeed, "This is the place".
Misty is a professional photographer. She shot a few pictures of me, this is one of them. It was really cool to have her walk in front of me and shoot while I posed. I felt like I was walking on a red carpet. Come to think of it, I really was. Real friends mean the world to me, and this lady is simply the best of friends.
Can't wait for the next Girl's Weekend Out!