Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Would You Like a Book of Mormon? By: Dave Trottier

Because I am a writer and writing coach, I get many requests from prisoners for a free book or to read their work.  This has gone on for years.  On one occasion, I felt a distinct impression to offer a prisoner named Rodman a Book of Mormon, so I wrote: “It’s even better than my own book!”  This was months ago, and this now-former gang member from South Central L.A. was converted.  Rodman said it was like a bright light shined on his path so he could finally move forward with confidence. 
In his most recent letter to me, he wrote the following: “My cell mate and my next door neighbor were both glad to get a Book of Mormon of their own.  You sent me three, and I’m able to be a ‘missionary’ basically.  I am confident that the Book of Mormon will change their lives for the better as it has mine.’ 
So now Rodman is preaching the word. I know many people in our ward had wondered what had happened to Rodman.  Later in his letter, he wrote, “Please ask the congregation to pray for my family." - Dave Trottier

Monday, July 28, 2014

                 When Christ was in the Garden of Gethsemane He looked to the Father for strength and energy so He could overcome with Love one of the most important events in the Plan of Salvation. The way He spoke to the Father was in the action of prayer. He, like us at times of our lives, needed strength beyond His own. Prayer is the way we communicate to our Loving Heavenly Father. Prayer for me gives me the ability to reach for Him and plead to Him, through my faith, for the ability to overcome what ever this life may bring. We face weakness, temptation, struggles, and life can become very busy. When this is the case we lose sight of how to get through it and how we can become better because of it.

                 While on a LDS Mission, missionaries pray and pray and pray some more. One day I asked myself, "Why do I wake up and roll off the bed and pray then poor a bowl of cereal to find myself praying again? Then an hour later pray before my studies, then pray as a companionship, and open and close our studies with a prayer?" I then thought of the quality of life a missionary and the faithfulness to go forward throughout the day feeling satisfaction no matter what happens and I knew it was because of prayer.

                When we revert back to the basic principles of starting our day off with prayer we are blessed. Prayer should be the beginning and end of everything we do. Day and night we should pray and thank our Father for our life which includes our blessings, and our trials because without gratitude in our prayers we never see the lesson we are to learn. I know prayer is a true principle. I know it's what is to be done to speak to our Father. Kneeling prayers show reverence and praise. I know Heavenly Father is mindful of us but wants to know we are mindful of Him. I love The Gospel and the truthfulness of it. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ I bear my testimony of prayer. Amen.

 -Dylan Bushaw

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Great Gift of Seminary

Seminary – the gospel study class for Latter-Day Saint youth has been a great blessing in my life and in the life of my family. As I observe other members of the Church, I see the benefits of such a program to help build testimony and strength at a critical time in life. Seminary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not what other Christian churches generally refer to as a Seminary. Theirs is a theological institution preparing individuals for ordination as clergy. Ours is a theological class that educates and prepares young people for their futures and for their personal ministries.

Seminary in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a program for youth from 9th through 12 grades (or ages 15 through 18), where they meet with a group of other youth and study the scriptures.  A four year program generally held before school, it is also a released time program for schools where there is more of a concentration of Latter-Day Saints. According to lds.org, the objective of Seminary is to help youth understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven. At our current Utah high school, students attend Seminary as one of their elective classes. They walk to the Seminary building which is on school property and are instructed for one and half hours every other day.

My own husband and I became friends as we attended Seminary together 40 years ago in Salt Lake City. My husband served on the Seminary Council, while I was the Yearbook Editor. With such a large Seminary graduating class (probably 500 students) we even had a Seminary yearbook! Each class started with a five minute devotional given by one of the students. Then the teacher would lead us through the scriptures in whatever book we were studying that year: Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon or Doctrine and Covenants. Principles were discussed and testimonies were strengthened as we studied the gospel together.

Attending Seminary as a youth was a big deal for me. I still remember my Seminary teachers and some of my classmates. I’ve never forgotten some of the experiences we shared in our classes. For me, participating in Seminary was as exciting as participating in high school activities. At that time we had Missionary Week, Friendship Week, Spirituality Week, Service Week and other special events. We even had “S” Day, where all of the Seminary students in the whole valley got together at the Tabernacle for a Saturday morning devotional and a Saturday evening concert at the University of Utah.

Several years ago I had the great opportunity of being a Seminary teacher in my home. Because we lived where there were few Latter-Day Saints, the students came to my home at 5:45 AM every school morning. With those 18 kids attending five different high schools, we had to start extra early so they could make it to school on time. Some of my older children attended Early Morning Seminary. It was particularly challenging for them because they are not what you would consider “morning people.” In fact my oldest son was recognized for having the most tardies. While some kids lived 20 minutes away and arrived on time, he was late almost every morning coming from the other side of the house!
Others of my children benefitted from living in Utah and having Released Time Seminary. One daughter met her current husband in a Seminary class. All of my kids loved Seminary. One son would often share lessons from the scriptures that he heard from his teachers. It gave us a reason to discuss gospel principles with our children.

It was a great opportunity to serve as a Seminary teacher.  I had to work hard to prepare for each class. I studied the scriptures and the Church Education materials diligently. We read and discussed scriptures and we had a memorable time together as we tried to apply the scriptures to our lives. I loved and admired those teen-agers.  One young woman didn’t miss a single day in all of her four years.

After a few years when another sister was asked to teach the class, it was a bittersweet release. I was as worn out as were my carpet and upholstery. Though we ended up buying new carpet and new couches for our living room, I have never forgotten those youth who wore out those couches, yet graced my home with their presence and testimony. Through Facebook and other means I have been able to see that they are living good and productive lives and raising their own families well. It is gratifying to see that they have applied some of the lessons they learned. Our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson continues to encourage the youth by saying, ”Young people, I ask you to participate in Seminary. Study your scriptures daily. Listen to your teachers carefully. Apply what you learn prayerfully.“
Another great blessing is that through the Church Education System, seminaries and institutes are available throughout the world. And if you can't attend in person, you can study online. Check out lds.org for more information.

By: Susan Curtis

I’d love to know more about your own Seminary experiences – past or present. Please share them on the BLOG!

How has attendance at Seminary been a benefit to you?

What is a principle you have learned in Seminary that you have applied to your life?

Who has been your favorite Seminary teacher and why?