Friday, February 16, 2007

Seminary: A Memorable Day

Early morning seminary teachers have certain responsibilities. One of these is to study the scriptures and prepare engaging lessons every single school day. Another is to drag themselves out of bed at 4:50 AM so they can get to church and set up before the students arrive at 5:50. And yet another would be to bring their keys to the church and unlock the doors so the students can all assemble inside.

I just started teaching early morning seminary in our ward this fall. So far I've done pretty well in carrying out these responsibilities, I think--well, except for a few days ago when somehow my alarm was set for 7:30 instead of 4:50. Mercifully, my eyes snapped open at 5:18 and I managed to be out the door about 15 minutes later. So that worked out okay. But today...well, today was a memorable day.

It all started this morning when I forgot my church keys. And, of course, I didn't figure out that I had done this until I arrived at church. (In case you're wondering, I did actually used to have all my keys on one chain. But because heavy keychains are not good for car ignitions, I divided mine up. Smart move.)

It is not a happy thing to be standing outside your car in the church parking lot in the middle of the night in subzero temperatures feeling really stupid that you left your church keys at home. You might spend several minutes searching every possible bag you brought, every coat pocket, and crevice in your car, just in case you really weren't that stupid--maybe you really did bring your keys and you only stuck them someplace stupid. Besides, you have nothing else to do while you stand in the parking lot in subzero weather. You can't get into the church.

I considered driving home and getting my keys, but the students would arrive before I could come back. Since I didn't have a good way of leaving a note for them, they'd wonder whether I was even coming, or if they were supposed to stay, or leave, or what. So this wasn't a good option (even though I suspected that several of them would just take the opportunity to leave). So I just waited for the students to arrive; a couple of them had valiant parents who drove them to seminary every morning and would hopefully arrive complete with church keys.

Sure enough, the students arrived, and we were in. But that was only the first hurdle. We were in the church, all right, but the only people who had keys to the seminary closet were me and the home study teacher. And the home study teacher wasn't there. To top it all off, in a stroke of brilliance, yesterday I had left the supplies for today's lesson in the closet and locked the door. So....

Well, to make a long story short, it's amazing how you can spend hours studying and preparing perfect lessons, but that doesn't impact your students the way a day like today did. I couldn't get into the seminary closet, but I could get into the library. So I pulled out the TV and VCR and--at the suggestion of the students--we watched "Johnny Lingo." It's so old and cheesy and delightfully quotable. ("Mahana! You ugly!") Despite this, it still has a great message regarding the worth of souls and how treating people kindly helps them reach their potentials.

I am not sure the students cared much about the message, even though after the video they were going around talking about how many cows they were worth. But ten years from now, like it or not, what seminary lessons are they going to remember? Are they going to remember our endless discussions on the law of consecration or the importance of building up Zion? They may vaguely remember some of the concepts, but I doubt they'll remember the specific lessons. (For that matter, even I don't remember too many specific lessons we've had.)

What they'll remember is the day that Sister Parker forgot her church keys so she let them watch "Johnny Lingo" instead of having the lesson she'd prepared because it was locked in the closet. I'll remember how they paid remarkably close attention--probably watching for cheesy lines to laugh at, but they paid attention just the same. I hope they'll remember something of the message of the film. But they're most likely to remember the disorganization of the day, and the fun and (dare I say it) bonding that ensued as we made the best of things. That can't be all bad.


HOWARD'S said...

Isn't teaching seminary great fun! I bet you and Alen could exchange some stories. Sounds like you made your day work out even though it didn't go as planned. Have fun!

Katie Parker said...

Yeah, early morning seminary is full of good stories! Strange thing about waking up that early in the morning every day...

Tristi Pinkston said...

I was always so ticked off at Mahana's father. Honestly -- how dare he treat her like that?

And Johnny was a cutie. :)

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