Today's lesson went well despite a minor snafu -- I nearly slept in!
I woke up rested, which as all you Seminary teachers know is an unusual and unfamiliar state in your life during winter. It took a few moments to register that I was probably feeling good because somehow I had slept in. It took another few minutes for Jared to find a clock and check the time -- 5:36. First Kid arrives about 5:50. So, I put my clothes on, grabbed my lesson stuff, and pretended I was alert. First Kid was late this morning, but I had plenty of time to write my opening phrase on the board: "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior." by Elder Packer. That really ought to be SI's mission statement since they use it so much. The song I chose sucked: "Prayer is the Soul's Sincere Desire". We ended up playing the music and reading the lyrics aloud.
The students were really silly today, but I was able to bring them back down by degrees. There's a pep rally today and every kid has to explain their nutty clothes or lack thereof and the Olympics have started, and so I spent a minute on international relations. Those idiot reporters tweeting about the terrible conditions in Sochi hotels are making us all look like morons. They've obviously not been out of the US if they think they've entered the seventh ring of hell when they are asked to put toilet tissue in the waste basket instead of in the sewer system and when a hotel room has only a single bed and chair that most resembles dorm room furniture. Come on. Not every nation in the world has American plumbing. And cheap/tourist hotels in most of Europe are like county jail accomodations here. Tells you what the homes are like, peeps, so leave the judgment home and enjoy yourself, recognizing that we are so spoiled and rich in this country that it's mind-blowing.
Nah, didn't rant all that, so don't worry. But I do feel the tiniest bit guilty about not watching the opening ceremonies. Russia has a lot on the line and an army of liberal haters (the press, sadly) has descended on them looking to pick a fight. I'm not sure I want to watch.
For the lesson proper I used a couple of questions from the manual to guide discussion and interjected an idea from the Seminary Teachers' Facebook group to have the kids assess their personal prayers. I think it went well. The highlight for me was when one of my home school students, who happened to be wearing a Thor hoodie complete with horns, did a dramatic reading of the Zoramite prayer for us while standing on a chair. It was pretty great, and the class erupted in applause when she was finished. I love it when the kids applaud each other. That was our second incident of spontaneous applause -- the first being when a group of male students went upstairs to wake my tardy son and he finally staggered down the stairs. Somehow, when Salt Lake envisions how Seminary works in the rest of the world, I think this isn't it. And yet, it works.
For the last few minutes I used the idea I mentioned before about the kids comparing their prayers to a Zoramite prayer. I wasn't really prepared to have a full on comparison like the handout, so I had the kids jot down what they could remember of their morning prayer on a sheet of paper in their notebooks, noting I wasn't going to look at it. Every kid wrote something, which surprised me. Come to find out, most wrote down that they hadn't prayed but wanted to look good :). After a few moments of scribbling, I told them I wasn't trying to make them feel bad and confessed that I hadn't prayed due to waking up so late. We can all improve. Then I had them respond to these questions from a file shared in the group by Abish Deter:
* Is there a “repetitive phrase” that you can remove and replace with more significant words?
* Did you pray AT Him or WITH Him?
* Did you give him praise and express gratitude for the tender mercies in your life?
* Did you ask him for a list of items? Or did you ask for help and strength to do HIS will?
* Were you falling asleep? Or did you allocate sufficient time to actually speak with Him?
* Did your body language show respect?
* Did you listen and wait for instruction/a response from Him?
* Did you share your questions and concerns with Him?
* Did you pray for the needs of others?
I shared a couple of things I could do better, and I could tell the kids ended up thoughtfully considering their own prayers. I was kicking myself for not remembering the penny in the shoe thing to help you remember to pray meaningfully later, but this worked out fine. Ended with a encouragement to improve our prayers.
At the end of class one student asked me if we were going to take a few days at the end of class to go back over stuff like we did in Old Testament. I had not planned to, but if asked by a student, yes, I will rearrange my entire schedule for you, even though it took me about 40 hours to make. I'm not sure what he's looking to cover, but I think I can squish some up. It wouldn't hurt my feelings to skip through some of Ether.