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?
It has suddenly turned super cold. Today we had sleet! Sort of like snow but it didn’t stick on the ground. There’s snow on the mountains though.
Another busy week at the seminary. I’m usually assigned to the most difficult students because I can handle them. But one student is really difficult to manage his behavior. I talked to his teacher when I went to pick him up at the school, and asked for tips. She told me something that worked for her. So, I got authorization to try it, which I will do tomorrow. Hope it works. I found out some unfortunate things about this student’s life that made me feel bad for him. I really do love him. I love his spirit. I try to remember that he can’t help the way he acts.
The baptistry was busy on Saturday. The temple was closed half day because of Women’s Conference, so it was packed with people. The workers on our shift had planned a picnic afterward at the bowery, but it was cancelled because of pouring rain. Everyone was given a food assignment. My assignment was potato chips. But I didn’t think it was appropriate to carry a Walmart bag of chips past the recommend desk. So I stuffed them into a camera bag—and no one noticed and I walked right through to the baptistry. I was disappointed we didn’t have our picnic though.
I had an interview with my stake president/mission president Sunday night. We went over the principles in the missionary handbook and I reported how things were going. President Henderson is pleased with my work.
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.