This lesson didn’t turn out how I expected, but it was a nice lesson. This is one of those rare cases where I probably got more out of the lesson than anyone, but I think we all learned something.
To open the lesson, I reminded them of the overview we had last week about the Saints gathering to Ohio, and shared a story from the manual about Lucy Smith leading a group of Saints to Ohio, asking the students to listen for how the Lord showed he was aware of the Saints as they traveled:
Lucy Mack Smith led a group of 80 Church members from Fayette, New York, to Ohio. As they traveled by boat on the Cayuga and Seneca Canal to Buffalo, New York, Lucy reminded the Saints that they were traveling by commandment of the Lord, like Lehi of old when he left Jerusalem. She counseled the Saints that if they would be faithful, they “had the same reasons to expect the blessings of God” (see History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, ed. Preston Nibley , 195–96; Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 91).
When they arrived in Buffalo, they found that the harbor was jammed with ice, preventing boats from coming and going. “After several anxious days in Buffalo, a number of the children had become sick, and many of the group were hungry and discouraged. They took deck passage on a boat, put their things on board, and obtained temporary shelter for the women and children until early the next morning. When they were back on board, Lucy persuaded the still murmuring group to ask the Lord to break the twenty-foot clogs of ice that jammed the harbor” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 92).
Lucy exhorted her group to have faith in God and promised that if they would unite in prayer and ask God to break the ice that jammed the harbor, it would be done. Lucy described what happened next: “At that instant a noise was heard, like bursting thunder. The captain cried, ‘Every man to his post.’ The ice parted, leaving barely a passage for the boat, and so narrow that as the boat passed through the buckets of the waterwheel were torn off with a crash. … We had barely passed through the avenue when the ice closed together again” (see History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 197–205). (Quoted in D&C Seminary Teacher Manual, D&C 41)
My students really enjoyed this story, and we had more discussion on this than I expected. We only had 5 present — one showed up later — but it was still a nice group. Paige, Betty, Lillian, Connie, and later Marie.
I had created a handout to go with the lesson, and I used it to guide my discussion from this point forward. After my opener “Let’s talk about SEX!” <– this is one of the fun bits of teaching adults. Sex isn’t “so awkward, Sister Smith”. :) We read the scriptures on Lust and the quote on the handout, and it started a great discussion. That one topic went over 40 minutes. I tried three times to move on, but the ladies kept bringing it back. I shared some of my experiences with a porn addicted son and hinted about issues with other family members. I learned some things, and I hope some of the other women were reminded to consider the position of others when they share scary stories. I am acutely, painfully aware of the research about pornography addiction. And as the mother of a son who has struggled with addiction for years, I have to believe that the Atonement will work for him — that he can be healed totally and can live a good clean life. And I really do believe that. I finally had to cut the discussion off, but it was very good. After the lesson was over, I stayed over an hour talking with some of the ladies about this and other topics. Connie said something that has really stuck with me, and I’m thinking about writing an article to submit to the Ensign on the topic: she said you MUST remember who you’re fighting: Satan. If you can focus on the source of this evil instead of putting the evil solely on the spouse (or child), your perspective will change. I can’t tell you how much I love that. Spouses are a team fighting Satan. Parents and Children are teams fighting Satan. This does not negate agency, but it changes where the energy goes.
Anyway, also covered healing the sick in some depth. The manual does not treat this very deeply, but for my audience of mostly 60+ year olds, it’s important. After reading the scripture aloud, I told the class they probably had some questions, but “don’t ask them yet!” I used this video by Dallin H Oaks and asked students to take notes during the talk to share. Worked great.
After class one of the little ladies came up to me and said she was sitting there thinking how lucky she was to be a part of this “elite” group that gets to study the gospel every week. I’m glad she likes it. :) I get tired of doing it sometimes, but it helps to get the positive feedback.