Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Silent Lesson

Not all of the students, but a good majority of the seminary students love silent lessons; and even consider them their favorite lessons. In a silent lesson the whole scripture block is taught on the power point. They are prompted to read verses, look for things, underline things and even answer questions (which they write their answers to in the their journals). I try to have pictures and do video clips and even music slide shows--which is usually the highlight of the lesson for most of the students.
Today was 2 Nephi 4; the psalm of Nephi. The lesson focused on how Nephi, despite sorrow and frustration, trusted in the Lord (v.17-19). He mentions sin and temptations that do easily beset him--"beset" meaning to trouble, to harrass, or to attack from all sides (I know it's cool, isn't it?! The language in this chapter is so powerful, if it's been awhile you should re-read it. It dominates pretty much)--but then says, "nevertheless I know in whom I have trusted". He lost his father in this chapter and his brothers are again angry with him and want to kill him... :( That's what we call "No bueno!" We watched a video slide show to "I Am"--a powerful song with really cool pictures (this one is what they love most, click here for that...it's Youtube)--which shows how the Savior is there for us through all walks of life; Nephi writes "I will trust in thee forever." We also watched a mormon messages video from Elder Holland's "None Were With Him" ( click here to see that, then scroll down a little bit to the link titled "Jesus Christ"...it's the first video "An Aposte's Easter Thoughts on Jesus Christ or something like that ) to help the students see how the Savior's atonement allows Him to be there for us...Because He walked the lonely path so utterly alone, we do not have to do so. Then at the end the students were invited to come up and share their testimonies...In Seventh Hour the first girl up had to make sure with me that it was okay for her talk (since they'd been silent up until that point).
So the lesson was great!! It was powerful and tears were definitely shed. The testimonies at the end were incredible. But what amazed me the most was God's timing. He really is so good at lining things up and arranging things for multiple people. I hope I never am not amazed by it.
First example: To start the class I wanted to help students feel what Nephi was feeling and had them write in their journal about losing someone close to them and what that felt like. A student wrote me a note that reads:

Brother Carter,
Thank you for the wonderful lesson today. I really needed it. Two months ago today I lost my friend Rory and I really didn't know how to feel about it. And this lesson Really helped me. Thank you.

2 months to the day! I had no clue. However, while planning it this student was on my mind. The Lord knew. What's even more crazy was I wasn't sure if I was ready to do the Silent Lesson today and thought about delaying it till later and maybe just doing something else, but I couldn't escape it. I just knew I needed to do it.
Second Example: A young man, who struggles to stay in class and often doesn't participate very much, came into the lesson pretty late. He had also been on my mind because he had a hard time with his grandfather passing last year and had mentioned that some friends he had in Phoenix had passed away. I was really hoping it would be good for him. Because he was late he missed most of the intro where we looked at Lehi's death. However, after class he said, "Thank you, I really needed that." Which may not sound like much of a big deal, but if you knew this young man you'd know that was huge. :)
Third Example: A young woman mentioned that she really needed the lesson and she cried like the whole time. I asked her, later, what part helped and she said it was actually something unrelated to the lesson. When the Spirit is there He can give a personalized lesson.
Fourth Example: One of the main reasons that I wanted to delay doing the lesson was because I wanted to use "I Love the Lord" by the University Singers of BYU (from their Songs of the Soul cd) but could not find it. We even went to the BYU Bookstore on Friday and could not find it. So I planned the lesson without it. Then, I thought to email an amazing seminary teacher who teaches at Orem High. She emailed me the song, from a Conference Priesthood Session, and a slide show with pictures and the lyrics to go with it. I was excited about it, but since I already had the lesson I thought I'd just use it later as a review. 5th period came along. This class has 7 students who leave early to take classes at the college in Richfield. I really wanted to get to "I Am" before they left--there were a couple who I knew really liked it. So, I had to kind of hurry through the beginning and ended up having like 6-7 extra minutes. So, I pulled up the song (it was labeled Nephi's Psalm) and then we watched the slideshow. This was the only class that I got to show it in. As soon as I put the slide up for them to come and share their testimonies our 6'8" basketball center shot up and went to the front. Usually I could predict who would get up to share. I did not predict this one. He is a great kid. So wonderful and loveable, but not always vocal about his testimony. He said that he had a testimony of Christ. He then said, that last slide show had a picture that was shown at his cousin's funeral (his cousin died in a car wreck in the weeks between getting his mission call and entering the MTC). He said they showed the picture because people say the person in the picture looks just like his cousin. It confirmed to him that his cousin is still alive and he testified that he is "with Christ and is serving his mission there."
I know the Lord loves us. I love the Lord. In Him my soul delights...

Friday, April 3, 2009

More Conference Prep!

Conference is tomorrow!!! And that's so exciting. We looked at the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (later the Apostle Paul) and found a great question that if we will all ask will allow us to have a better conference experience.

Saul was a pretty bad dude. He was at and consented to the martyrdom of Stephen, was "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord," and was seeking to incarcerate any who believed in Christ. On his way to Damascus (where he was going to find more believers to bind up and take back to Jerusalem) he saw a light from heaven, which knocked him down to the ground. Then the words, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"

"Who art thou, Lord?"

"I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest." Time out. Imagine you're Saul, what are you thinking right now. Acts 9:6 tells us that he was astonished and trembling and asked the all important question: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"

Saul had now realized who Jesus was and was willing to do whatever he asked. A sign of conversion. This is the question that each of us can ask as we listen to His servants at this conference.

I encouraged the students to take notes and showed them an example of how to do it. Here it is:

I found if I reserved a spot to write down thoughts and impressions that I received a lot more inspiration on how to improve and it really keeps me engaged making conference a lot more than just a Sunday where we don't have to go to Church. Happy Conference to everyone!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Cell phones revisited...and Conference prep!!

Crazy observation in class today. So...we were studying Acts 3, where an amazing healing happened. Peter and John were going to the temple and outside sat a "certain man" that was "lame from his mother's womb." He was brought to the temple everyday to "ask alms" of the temple goers. Peter and John saw him and knew what he was doing there and Peter said, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk."
The principle that we learned was "There are things that are more important than money." To introduce it I brought fake checks; written for a million dollars. I showed them to the class and said that they could have this check if they would promise to never use a cell phone again. There were people in all five of my classes that would not give up their cell phones for a million dollars. I couldn't believe it. Many would say, "Well, what if there was an emergency?" Um...what did we do 10 years ago; just lay down and die because we didn't have a cell phone? I don't think so. Crazy how dependent our society has become on cell phones.

After that question I asked if they'd give up their ability to walk or to see for a million dollars. Pretty much all of them said "No" to that. Then, I asked them what the point was...they nailed the principle and I asked the student who said it if they believed it, and then I had them rip up the check.

Part 2--So, here's an amazing story of Peter healing a man that had never walked before. But if we look at it a little deeper and look on the spiritual side we can see a cool principle to get us ready for Conference. Peter was the prophet. Think of him as our prophets and apostles today. What is it that spiritually impairs us and causes us to be "lame"? It's sin. So, any one of us is represented by the certain man. V. 4 tells us that Peter was "fastening his eyes upon" the man. We know that our leaders definitely are focusing on us, especially preparing for this weekend. He then told the man to "Look on us." V. 5-And he gave heed unto them.

So our part, give heed to the prophets.

Then, what happens? V. 7-And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

Principle: If I give heed to the prophets then they will lift me up and strengthen me.

I'm excited to be lifted up and strengthened this weekend.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I love . . .

I love this . . .

I love that the conscience is referred to as "the still, small voice" that helps us avoid "temptation" to be able to stay on the "straight and narrow path."

I love that Viana calls it "Pokey-nochio."

I love seminary.

I love hearing the turning of the pages of the scriptures during a "silent lesson."

I love our prophet.

I love our new temple.

I love our new family :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008


"True discipleship is for volunteers only." It's been too long since I had an Elder Maxwell quote. I love this one! To be a true disciple of Christ one must desire it within. And at times somethings need to be left behind.

I love the island of Ovalau in Fiji. I spent 4 months here as a missionary. It was awesome! And I've been lucky enough to get out to it in both of my return trips. The island has a beautiful coastline, with a mountainous interior (not a "rocky mountain" standard, but for Fiji). There is only one town on the island, Levuka. The first capital of Fiji (it has since moved to Suva). The little town of Levuka has a lot of heritage and a lot of pride. Anywhere you are on the island, however, there's only one road that will take you to town. Any other road will end up in some other village. There's just the one road, which circles the island, that goes to Levuka. What's the message?? John 14:6= Christ is the only road back to our Father, so we better follow Him.

In Matthew chapter 4 we learn of the calling of 4 apostles; Peter, Andrew, James and John. The Savior testified of who He was and called them to "Follow Him". This call is for all who wish to hear it. We need to follow Him. I had students search verses 18-22 to see how these disciples responded to the call. They were quick to notice the words "straightway" and "immediately" in verses 20 and 22. They also brought up that they left what they were doing to follow Him. I had them circle the word "left" in those to verses. True discipleship takes sacrifice and the Lord won't force us to give up things. That has to come from within. Remember, "For volunteers only." Wow! What it must have taken to leave behind their jobs, their source of income and food, their families. It's amazing to see such faith when we really look at what they did.

I asked a class, "When have you made sacrifices and left things behind, so that you could better follow the Savior?" A dark haired senior, the class president of that class, shared about deleting certain songs, even songs she liked, but knew were inappropriate. Then, a small, very quiet, blond haired girl raised her hand and said, "My friends. I left my friends in Richfield and came here hoping to find better friends."

Students then were each given a piece of paper and wrote down one thing that needed to be left behind so they could follow the Savior. My amazing and domestic wife totally made me a miniature fishing net for students to come and leave behind their worldly nets that might get them tangled up.

I know that His path is hard, but it's worth following. Let's volunteer to be better disciples by picking something from our lives that can be left behind.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Loosening the tongues...

In Third Nephi 26 we learn an important principle of teaching; I'll call it the principle of loosening the tongues. Christ had been teaching the people and breaking bread with them, and then we get verse 14: And it came to pass that he did teach and minister unto the children of the multitude of whom hath been spoken, and he did loose their tongues, and they did speak unto their fathers great and marvelous things, even greater than he had revealed unto the people; and he loosed their tongues that they could utter.
On this page (457 in the Book of Mormon) I have written from sometime in my seminary teaching training "I will seek to be like the Savior by loosening the tongues of the students/people I teach."

In class a few days ago I was briefly introducing some of the scripture mastery references for the New Testament and trying to help the students get an understanding of what those passages mean. We were discussing Matthew 25:40 and how when we've done service for someone, it's as if we'd done it for the Savior. Then, we turned to the flipside and started talking about what if we do something bad to someone... It's hard to think that our unkind words, or unkind actions that we commit against others are really being committed against the Savior. I tried to explain how everyone is a child of God and if we hurt someone we're hurting God, because that's his child. A young lady with dark brown, super curly hair looked up and said, "Yeah, because Christ suffered for all of our pains and sorrows and afflictions, so when we cause pain to others we really are doing it to Christ."

I was blown away. What she had revealed was much greater than what I had revealed or could have revealed. I had never seen that scripture so literally before.

I am so grateful for what I learned that day and for the Spirit enlightening the mind of a student and loosening her tongue to speak of such wonderful things.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


So, one week of school is down and I'm still alive. I love being a seminary teacher. I teach six classes a day: "0" hour, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th. I have more than 130 students and easily had everyone's name by the second day (many returning students). First week shocks=My feet and legs are not in teaching shape. By Thursday and Friday I was taking many an opportunity to sit and get off my feet for a little bit. My voice, was also not in teaching shape. Our last day of the first week was opening football game and my voice was completely gone after that. However, as far as teaching goes the Lord has blessed me. I'm excited to learn and grow as a teacher as I know I have SO much to learn. The students are great! They are eager for the gospel. One student commented on a "survey" thingy that I handed out that she really wants her testimony to grow this year. I know that this is very typical for the youth of the Church and hope we'll remember that in our interactions with them. It was a great first week.