This year the Church created a new format for teaching the youth. Our theme for the month of February is on the Plan of Salvation. The website and brochure give guidelines and suggestions, but it is up to the instructor of seminary, Young Men’s, Young Women’s or Sunday School to allow him or herself to be guided by the Spirit to come up with meaningful lessons that will make an impact on the youth. It beats the same outline and manual that we shared with the adults last year (and I suppose every year prior)
Last week I introduced self worth and service as part of the plan and had a tremendous amount of examples – including relating the ideas that have been shared in the video “Man’s Search forHappiness” (Didn't the Church put out a more updated version?)
The lesson itself seemed to go okay but I also seemed to lose my train of thought rather early in the lesson. I ended quite early and asked for a closing prayer. But as it was so early, I asked the class to remain seated and allowed my overly quiet class to talk about whatever was on their minds.
I’ve been putting more thought and preparation into my lesson for next week – which thus far seems to be taking me in the direction of the three kingdoms – though I haven’t really felt inspiration so much as incomplete thoughts.
I’m not discouraged particularly, but I feel myself delving deeper into places where I don’t necessarily want to be – or would like to share with the class rather. For example, I have read some opinions given on object lessons discussed in this site as well as some others. Actually, I have been somewhat intrigued by some of my searches, but it’s not where I want to take the class.
I remember a fireside that had been hyped up with advertisement of going to Hawaii or some other destination. All the advertisements were geared to our moment of “travel” – only the fireside had been presented to the adults about a month or two before the youth were given the opportunity.
Mom had come home from the adult fireside. She had enjoyed the presentation and had enthusiastically shared with me that which had taken place. It sounded (to me) like a really good fireside. And I remember wishing I could have gone – not realizing that I would be at a future date.
When I had gone to the youth fireside one or two months later, I’d forgotten about the fireside mom had shared with me.
First the group was taken to the passageway that is nestled between the chapel and the cultural hall. The chairs had been set up similar to how they appear in a commercial airline. We had been given plane tickets in small official looking folders. As we boarded the plane, we were given leis as I recall. I don’t recall there having been a specific flight number. I just recall the destination. I thought it would result in a luau. But no . . .
The flight attendant demonstrated safety devises as the pilot made announcements over the intercom. The flight was underway. We listened to Hawaiian music. And then our plane crashed. It was then that I realized what was in store. I don’t know if it would have developed a different impression if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen. But I had already experienced this crashed flight and results through mom.
We were told that everybody aboard had died upon impact and that there were no survivors. Our guide showed us around taking us from one kingdom to the next explaining why we were there and who the candidates were (are) for each kingdom.
We were taken to two other rooms before entering the chapel to see all of our leaders dressed in white and were told that we had made it to the highest kingdom. I don’t remember how I felt right then. But I did walk away from the object lesson almost as impressed as my mom had been. I thought it well done. Well illustrated. There were many of us who did. It hadn’t occurred to me that there were some that had been freaked out by the object lesson or uncomfortable or turned off or other emotions that were quite opposite from the ones I had felt.
I was to attend at least two more similar firesides. Both in the mission field. The first was after I had been in the field for a month. I was part of a tripanionship (three sister missionaries serving a one unit) and we portrayed the flight attendance and arranged for participants to learn their parts.
Brother Croft did an outstanding job as the pilot. Our flight number: 307. There was no divider between the cultural hall and chapel. We used the stage as our airplane. We passed out hand-made tickets in homemade folders and passed out leis (I believe)
Bro. Croft recorded music and provided great sound effects for the crash. He had also given us eerie sounds to be played while the participants were led passed a dark room representing outer darkness – which not all firesides provided. We were told who would be sent to outer darkness and fortunately nobody in the group qualified.
A lot of non-Mormons had been invited to the fireside and attended. Upon seeing the bishop and his family on the stand in the chapel – which represented the highest kingdom – many laughed. Many said: “No way.” Too many saw a flawed family and wouldn’t accept the symbolism.
The last time I attended the fireside was later the following summer. I had served in the area for only a month and only knew a handful of members. I was with a companion who had a hard time getting along with any of her former companions. It was actually a tough area for me.
The ads that were created to hype up the fireside were not for a flight to Hawaii. We would be taking a train to the Orients. As soon as we were seated, I figured out that the train would crash. But before the train went underway, each table (yes, we were seated at tables that had been set in two rows) we were given board games to play. And I was actually so wrapped up in the game that I forgot about what was about to take place – until the lights went out and we were pronounced dead.
When we entered the chapel which was supposed to represent the highest kingdom, I started to cry. I didn’t know many that were on the stage. I was with a companion I wasn’t getting along with. None of my family was there. Just a bunch of strangers. It did not represent Celestial glory – or if it did, it was not where I wanted to be.
As I have gone through my research, I have also come across thissite. We made a mistake – we offended someone – apparently lots of someones. We created an irreverence when we were trying to illustrate something good and wholesome. That is what we were trying to do?
People make mistakes. Members make mistakes. Doctrines are misinterpreted. Things get misconceived. It’s not that we are trying to be deceptive or opinionated. That’s why it is so important to pray. We need to learn for ourselves if something is right or if it has been misrepresented – if it’s our own lack of understanding or if it is the instructors . . . God is never wrong. It is best to ask him than to take word for it. It is best that we communicate with God and learn for ourselves what he expects of us individually and receive our own personal revelations.
There had been one more fireside/activity that I remember from college – although not in detail – nor can I find an activity suggestion that is similar.
Back in 1981-1982, the ratio (at was then Ricks College) was approximately 3 ½ girls to every guy. The ward and family home evening activities provided more drastic – being about 5-6 girls to every guy. There were two Relief Societies, but only one priesthood. The statistics were pretty much the same throughout my life.
At this activity, each of us were given four yellow tickets (actually, I don’t remember the exact colors nor do I know if they’re symbolic in any way, but that’s not pertinent to how I personally felt by the end of the night)
We were given a choice of activities in which to choose from. We could purchase a healthy drink or a more worldly one (of course worldliness at Rick’s college couldn’t have been more powerful than extra sweetened lemonade or perhaps orange soda pop) I would guess to represent the word of wisdom.
There was a fortune teller or a scripture booth (I’m just guessing about the scripture booth; I forgot the fortune teller’s equivalent). There was also a room which represented a chapel for civil marriages or a room which represented temple marriage. I forget what two situations represented the last choice that we were given.
I hadn’t connected the dots back then, but I suppose the tickets that each of us were given represented time – and the markers would tell the “angels at the gate” just how we spent that time.
I couldn’t get a pretend recommend to marry in the pretend temple because of the ratio thing. I had made two wise choices, but realizing I would not be able to use a yellow ticket for temple marriage, I made a poor choice (knowing full well that it was the wrong choice) and went to the fortune teller – because what the hey. I wasn’t going to find a partner to get married either civilly or eternally.
Besides, Lucy was playing the fortune teller. She had dropped by our apartment earlier that week to see if any of us had a flashy skirt which she could use. Lucy was talented and funny. I knew she would make a great fortune teller.
Each time we made a choice, we were to turn in a yellow ticket and were given another color.
When the activities were completed, we passed through a door and would give our four tickets to one who “stood at the gate” and were ushered to our destination. I had one yellow ticket, one orange and two blue.
I ended up in the “Terrestrial” section along with more than half the ward. As I recall there were only two couples (only four people) that had made it to the Celestial glory (the highest kingdom within the LDS Church) and only a few loners had been led to the Telestial (the lowest kingdom) section. And I remember thinking to myself (even then) “This isn’t fair. It’s not my fault that I’m still single. It isn’t most of our faults. We just happen to outnumber the guys.”
I understood the activity and understood the concept that was being taught, but it felt like discrimination. I had tried to get into the temple, but was robbed of that privilege because I had no partner – no guy partner. And it had to be a guy. It didn’t seem to matter much if I loved him or not – just so long as I “had done the right thing”
I felt discriminated because I was single. I felt discriminated because it wasn’t my fault. I felt like I had been judged unfairly. I was not happy with the results. And as I looked around, those I felt closest to had all ended up in the same kingdom as I. And I thought, “If this experiment really is accurate of the results to come, I don’t even want the Celestial Kingdom. It looks lonely” (as there were a number of empty chairs)
It didn’t occur to me then that my baby brother would grow up and be asked to leave the Church – well, not him personally – but that his records would be removed. It didn’t occur to me that one day the Church would discriminate against him and his partner and deny them the blessings that actually so many of us are denied – because of civil marriage or feminism or acting upon same sex attraction or even black members for many years or for exploring beyond the walls. It doesn't appeal to me to live in a kingdom that discriminates.
I do have more thoughts on the subject of going beyond the walls, but will have to save it for another post as my thoughts are not really in a well written order. Perhaps this is not either. How great there is to have an editing tool.