In seminary today I hooked up the Apple-TV box so it would mirror the i-pad to the big TV. I ran into a little problem and the audio only came through the TV and not the sound system. So Brother Weaver is going to pick up a cable and then I’ll hook it up to the sound system for better quality and volume. There will be a teacher i-pad in each room and also a student i-pad which I’ll assist the student to use. This will be a big improvement for teaching these students.
Since the temple is closed for cleaning, Papi, Gram and I hiked up Horsetail Falls. It was a perfect day for a hike—sunny but cold. It was a beautiful hike and we could hear the creek rushing down next to us, but we couldn’t see it because of the trees.
One day after picking up my student, I was asked to take an extra wheelchair into a classroom. I let my student push it which he thought was fun. When we got back to the seminary, he sat down in the doorway and had a tantrum, kicking and screaming. I had no idea why. I tried everything to get him to stop but he wouldn’t. Brother Weaver came out of his office and asked what was going on and I explained. It took both of us to finally quiet him down. I never did understand the cause of his meltdown. I love this student. He’s usually well-behaved, but I guess we all have our “off” days. He was probably frustrated that we couldn’t understand what he wanted. I try every day to show my students that I love them. That’s the most important part of my job.
One of the highlights of my mission is that I’m learning to look beyond my students’ disabilities and see who they really are, as children of God. Some of them can’t speak or walk. Some talk too much or to the wall, others fall asleep in class and can’t respond to the lesson. But they are pure spirits. When I first started my mission, Brother Weaver told me that most of these students can understand more than it shows. I think even when they don’t look like they are getting anything out of the lesson, they really do understand some things. But even when they can’t understand anything, they can feel the Spirit. That’s why seminary is important for these youth who have severe disabilities.
At seminary today there were two students assigned to me because we were short-handed. Usually I only have one. When I went to pick up the first student, which was at the farthest end of the school, he was still eating lunch—and he eats super slow. He was sitting at his desk, and it was hard to get him to cooperate so we could help move him to the wheelchair. Finally, when I got him strapped in, I set off pretty fast to get him to seminary. I parked him in the classroom, and asked the teacher if it was ok for me to leave him for a few minutes unattended while I picked up my other student. She was ok with that. Then I raced to the other end of the school to get my second student. He could only walk slowly, but we finally made it to the classroom just as the teacher started the lesson.
Sometimes this student asks, “I see a firetruck? I see an ambulance?” He really wants to see one, but usually there’s nothing to see. One time, as soon as I got him settled in class and was on my way back to the seminary, an ambulance raced down the street with flashing lights and siren in a code blue situation. I felt so bad that my student just barely missed it.
I would like to bear my testimony that I know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I’m grateful to be a missionary and serve the youth at the Dan Peterson Seminary, the Bishops’ Storehouse, and at the Mt Timpanogos Temple. I’m grateful to be able to teach the Plan of Salvation lesson to families in our ward. I’ve been thinking about my Patriarchal Blessing and some of the promises about my mission that are already being fulfilled even though I’ve only been out for a little over three months.
Our wood floors are finally finished, and we were able to move the furniture back into place. Papi and I did the heavy lifting, while Gram worked on the pad that goes under the rug. When we were finished, I grilled steak for dinner. Gram likes the way I cook it, so it’s always my job to grill whenever we have carne asada.
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!