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 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.
After work I whacked some weeds at the missionaries’ house. The house belongs to a woman who is 108 years old, and can you believe she is still living? But she moved away to live with her grandson, so the missionaries live there now. As I was finishing the weed-whacking, the missionaries arrived and thanked me for the hard work, and said, “Is there anything we can do to help you, Elder?” I told them, “As a matter of fact, yes—we could use your help moving furniture next week.” Missionaries should serve each other when they can.
Today one of my seminary students had something in his eye and it was bothering him, so I said, “Let’s go in the break room and wipe it with a wet paper towel. It will make it feel better. “As I was leading him into the break room, the director ran after me saying, “Elder—wait!” He told me that students weren’t allowed in the break room because of the food in there. Some students have food allergies or uncontrolled cravings. So, I learned a new rule today.
I taught the Plan of Salvation lesson to John Lilly today. He is a great man. He gave me a framed picture of the motorcycle he used when he was on the highway patrol in California—CHIPS.
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.
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.
It’s been a busy week. After serving at the bishops’ storehouse on Monday, I helped Papi mow the lawn, and then we went to dinner with the Chens, our neighbors from Taiwan. We ate traditional Chinese food. My favorite was sesame chicken.
Tuesday after work I finished weeding our neighbor’s big flower beds. I didn’t finish until dark—actually, I was still working when it was pitch dark. But it’s done!
Wednesday was my last day at the bishops’ storehouse until summer. I will miss helping the patrons fill their orders. But Elder Young and I will be working in the temple baptistery together.
Papi and I attended a training meeting at the Dan Peterson Seminary. I will start working there on Monday.
My first day working in the temple baptistery was Saturday from 8 to 1. It was a good day.
I have a new church calling. I will choose and print the hymns that the priesthood brothers sing during opening exercises for priesthood. Brother Gee said we probably won’t be singing, “As Sisters in Zion.” Haha!