One of my students was at the playground in his bare feet when I went to take him to seminary. I convinced him to put on his shoes and socks, but he didn’t want to come with me. Instead he started climbing up the slide. So I said, “Go ahead and slide down one time. Then you need to come with me to seminary. Ok, that’s enough, let’s go. No, don’t do it again.” Then I called out, “Lord wants you to go to seminary!” Finally, once he was in the classroom, he settled down and behaved.
Another student likes to repeat the words after me when we read the Book of Mormon together. I have to read slowly and say just a few words at a time, but he will repeat them after me. He has a good spirit.
Many of my students can’t understand everything that is taught in seminary, but they understand some things. And most importantly, they can feel the Spirit. That’s the most important thing.
In seminary one of my students had chocolate milk for lunch and it gave him a sugar-high during class. I had to take him out to the foyer to settle him down. I thought the fresh air outside would help, but he didn’t want to go. He said, “I’ll be good.” So I took him back in the classroom and he was good.
I’m learning how to handle hitting. First I say, “No, don’t hit,” and then I redirect him to something he likes to do, such as playing with blocks. Most of these disabled kids don’t respond to the word, “No” by itself. They have to be redirected to an acceptable activity. Gram said this also works with little kids. Maybe this mission is preparing me to be a parent someday.
After work, my grandparents and I went to the Draper Temple to do sealings for some friends from Poland. The Polish names were impossible to pronounce and the sealer butchered every name. But that’s ok because the Lord knows these people. I’m sure I mispronounce lots of names when I work in the baptistry. Foreign names are hard.
It was my turn this week to give the spiritual thought and scripture in our seminary devotional. My topic was the Holy Ghost. I told a story from Conner’s mission, and used the scripture: 1 Nephi 13:37. I bore my testimony that we need to act upon impressions that come to us from the Holy Ghost.
The best part of the week was when my Uncle Caleb (bishop in his Idaho ward) and his wife Susie brought 40 youth to the Salt Lake Temple to do baptisms. They all brought family names. I met them at the temple and helped with baptisms and confirmations. It was a great experience to be in that beautiful temple. It was Elder Hales’ funeral that morning, and the temple was closed until 2pm, so we were able to attend the funeral. It was a great experience to be in the Tabernacle. President Uchtdorf conducted the meeting, and we heard talks by Elder Ballard, President Nelson, and President Eyring. In his talk, President Nelson said, “I know Elder Hales’ heart—LITERALLY!” That’s because President Nelson performed heart surgery on Elder Hales.
One of my favorite students can pray. He is more high-functioning than the others. His voice is sweet and innocent like a child. Even though he’s hard to understand, I can understand what he’s saying.
We watched General Conference this weekend and it was excellent. Gram had this idea that we should each listen and choose a meaningful truth from one of the General Authorities, and she would display it in a glass case for us to remember. My favorite talk was Elder Oaks about the Proclamation on the Family.
After conference, my friend, Loren McClure came to visit me from Provo where he is going to school at BYU. He recently returned from his mission in Puerto Rico. Good thing he isn’t there now with all the hurricane devastation. We played foosball and guess who won?
I gave my seminary student a book of sign language and taught her to make some letters. She liked it and kept turning pages and practicing new letters. I found out that she can type. I need to get permission from Brother Weaver, but if he says yes, I’ll let her use my phone to write a message. I wouldn’t trust most of my students with my phone because they might throw it or destroy it. But this particular student is calm and can be trusted.
Papi and I have been working to rip up carpet, tack strips, and baseboards getting ready for the new wood to go down in a week. I’m glad to help because it’s a lot of work for my 72 year old grandfather to do alone.
Every day is an adventure at the seminary! Who would have thought a missionary would have to go dumpster diving! One day a sister accidentally threw out the trash can along with the trash and I had to go dumpster diving in my white shirt and tie!
Today when one of the students started misbehaving in class, Brother Webb stopped to take care of it, and asked me to continue teaching. So I taught the doctrine and scripture part of the lesson. I had to use my hands with signs and talked slowly so they could understand. We use lots of interactives with the students—things they can put up on the board with Velcro. It helps them learn.
One of my favorite students—I can’t use his name because of confidentiality—had a tooth ache today. When I went to pick him up in class, his teacher said he probably wouldn’t want to go to seminary because of it. He was lying down. But I went over and nudged his leg and said, “Hey_____, do you want to go to seminary with me today?” He sat up and immediately started putting on his shoes and socks. Then he waved his hands in the air and said, “Ready!” This boy really likes me. Sometimes he kisses my hand or leans over and pats my shoulder. I am sorry that he has to struggle with severe disabilities, but he has a very sweet spirit. In the month I’ve been working at the seminary, the kids are starting to show their preference for me. I have to be firm with them sometimes, but I’m always kind.
Working with severely disabled students is really hard. They can’t help it, and I love them, but they’re really hard to manage. I have to learn different techniques to use with each one. I can’t mention names and specifics because of confidentiality. Some are obedient and easy. Some are stubborn. Some are hitters or runners. One day, as I was walking one of my favorite students from the school to seminary, he got frightened by the noisy lawn edger going along the grass right next to him, and he held his ears and fell down and was kicking and screaming. This student doesn’t like loud noises. I can’t believe the lawn guy was allowed to edge during school hours. Seems crazy to me.