For the second time I got to ride horses with Brother Norton. Abby Christensen also came. This time I was properly dressed, because I borrowed Papi’s cowboy boots. They were tight, but it didn’t bother me much since I was in the saddle. The weather was perfect and the fall leaves were beautiful. It was so much fun! Brother Norton told me that next time we’ll ride in the snow. That will be a new experience for me.
On P-day I learned a great new trick. When I pull my shirts right out of the dryer the minute they’re done—and then hang them up, it saves hours of ironing! This week I didn’t have to iron a single shirt!
My calling in the ward is Priesthood Music Coordinator. When the bishop called me to this I was really surprised. I was hoping to be called as deacons’ quorum advisor. But whatever the Lord calls me to do, I will do it to the best of my ability. So for this music calling, it’s my job to select the opening hymn for Priesthood meeting in the cultural hall, and connect my phone to the sound system. Before I got this calling, the brothers were trying to sing without music and it sounded terrible. It’s much better now, and everybody’s sings. At first I copied off the words and handed them out, but decided to save paper. So now, everyone reads the words from their phones.
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.
One of my students is blind. Even though it’s not always successful, there are ways to help him participate in class. Sometimes he cooperates, but sometimes he gets up and starts walking around the room. Of course I have to help him back to his desk which he doesn’t usually want to do. Every day is different. I’m learning skills to manage my students in a positive way.
One of my students can’t talk, but she knows the signs for God and Jesus. She makes the sign for Jesus and then points to His picture on the wall. She smiles her biggest smile when she does this. I believe that when people have disabilities, they are given a strong spiritual connection to the Lord.
Another student has a screen attached to her wheelchair, and when she focuses her eyes for more than 3 seconds on a certain square, it will come up with “I want…” Then she focuses on another square to show what she wants. Today, her message was, “I want to talk about cars.” So before class started we talked a little while about cars.
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.
I really love my mission. I’ve been pretty busy this week. I started Monday working at the Dan Peterson Seminary. These kids have severe disabilities, so I help them get from the school to the seminary building, and sit with them during class. And assist with whatever they need. I’m getting used to some annoying behaviors that they can’t help. Sometimes I sign when they can’t speak. Then I take them back to school and pick up another student. That’s what I do at the seminary. Haha—that’s a picture of me in a wheelchair with a restraint, which protects students from falling during transport.
We cleaned the church Friday. My job was to use the biggest vacuum called “The Beast” to clean the halls. Guess who I got to meet? Lloyd Newell was on our cleaning team. He’s actually famous. He gives an inspirational message on the program called “Music and the Spoken Word” every Sunday at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. He’s done this for 27 years. His voice is familiar because he also introduces General Conference on TV.