Tuesday, March 21, 2006

3 Nephi 20, 21 & 22 - Missionary Moments

We finished covering 3 Nephi 20-22 today. To get started, I showed the headlines from the newspaper this morning. "Military builds up its bases in Iraq", "Cyclone batters Australia", "Plains snowstorm kills four and closes roads", "Bird flu likely to reach U.S. this year, officials say" (St. Petersburg Times, March 21, 2006).

We talked about how we are living during the fulfillment of signs given eons ago by the Lord's prophets and today we were going to be talking about additional signs and meaningful moments recorded for our benefit in 3 Nephi.

The student teams then presented their research they'd done regarding the four topics suggested in the student manual on page 172, drawing upon 3 Nephi 20-22:
  • The Gathering of Israel
  • Blessings from the Lord
  • A Message for the Gentile Nations
  • Liken the Words of Isaiah
One of the highlights of our learning in 3 Nephi has been that the best thing we can do to strengthen ourselves to face the events of our day is to partake of the sacrament.

I read them President David O. McKay's words on page 121 in the institute manual and Elder George Albert Smith's words on page 123. President McKay states that among all ordinances we participate in as members of Christ's church, NONE is more sacred "than the administration of the sacrament" (Conference Report, Apr. 1946, p. 112).

As one of the students read President McKay's words, I followed along at the board, writing each point as she read it (I've found that when long quotes are read, it's helpful to delineate them visually as we go along - this helps focus attention on what's being read. Otherwise, the students seem to "zone off.").

Thus I wrote while the student read outloud the quote...
    The Sacred Sacrament offers:
  1. Instrospection
  2. Covenant (even greater than a promise)
  3. Communion with the Lord
I bore testimony as to the power of the Sacrament and its importance in our lives - especially in the days in which we live.

We looked at the pictures of street signs found on page 233 in the teacher's manual. We discussed what each street sign was used for and what would happen if they were INcorrectly placed.

Then the students opened to 3 Nephi 21:1-2, 7 and marked each word "sign". We talked about why the sign mentioned would be given (as taught by the Savior) and what events the sign pointed to - keeping in mind the Lord NEVER misplaces His signs.

Then the students read verses 2-7 in 3 Nephi 21 and underlined the phrases "these things" and "these works". When I asked what sign these verses spoke of, I drew blank looks. So I asked one student to raise his Book of Mormon high above his head. This was the sign spoken of. Connections were being made and I could see it in their faces.

We had touched yesterday on the gathering of Israel and we revisited it again today. The students did the following assignment from the teacher's manual: to "read the first phrase of the chapter heading for 3 Nephi 21 and the first ten words of 3 Nephi 22:1" (page 233).

During our discussion of these verses, we also talked about "when" the gathering will happen (found in the heading of 3 Nephi 21) and "how" the gathering will happen.

As one of the most important elements to help the gathering is that of missionary work, I asked the students to share their own "Missionary Moments". Whether it was turning the tide of a bad choice suggested by a group of friends or actually giving a Book of Mormon to someone, these are when we help the gathering of Israel most.

So I turned the final minutes over to the class for the students to take turns to share their own personal Missionary Moments they'd experienced up till now in their lives. Almost everyone in the class had one. It was neat hearing from these valiant youth who are actually quietly going about doing the Lord's work.

I think it was helpful for them to hear the stories from the others. Living in the mission field, with illicit activities happening all around them, whether at school, in the media or elsewhere, these kids really do need to have their hearts and their minds focused on what really matters. And they are doing it!

A really neat moment happened in the final minutes of class today. After the students shared their Missionary Moments, I shared one I'd had while in Poland with a chamber choir during my college days. During the choir's stay in Poland, we met international basketball stars staying at our same hotel. I had a conversation with one for several hours, during the which he had many, many questions about the church.

He claimed he was an atheist. As he described the horrific conditions politically in his country Romania, the spirit settled upon us and I knew one day missionaries would be allowed into his country. I knew a missionary would be led to knock on this man's door and that this young basketball player some day would have the freedom to accept the gospel, along with his sweet wife and extended family. Joy was waiting in the future for this man!

At the moment I shared this today in class, one girl spoke up and said how her best friend had just received his mission call to Romania. The spirit was very strong and I had to wonder inside if this was the missionary foretold twenty years ago that would bring the gospel to that wonderful Romanian.

Regardless, I know that the Spirit comes when we live clean lives. That no matter what distractors of the church say, the principles we teach these seminary kids are powerful ones. The spirit that comes is powerful, oh so clean, and the peace is real. I know the students felt this today and knew that they were integral in the gathering of Israel in our day. What an exciting moment.

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