Jenny's blog

Starting a New Year

Well, I never did finish up writing up my lesson notes from last year, and already it’s time for a new class.  This year, the RS president and class decided to do Book of Mormon.  A previous teacher spent three years doing the Bible with the group, and so the class has never had the chance to do Book of Mormon.  This puts us off the regular Institute/Seminary schedule, but it’s fine for this group.

For the introductory class, I created a very abbreviated lesson outline.  My goals were

  • Students to become excited about gospel study
  • Students share/remember what is exciting about BoM
  • Review testimony of three witnesses, strong external witness of reality of book and events
  • Talk about Tender mercies 1 Nephi 1:20.  Goal for class to be watching for those as we read and in our own lives

and I think we accomplished them successfully cialis 5mg.  This was by far the biggest class we’ve ever had — roughly 20 people showed up, to my astonishment (and delight).  I have a goal that everyone comment during each lesson, and every one made at least one remark during our hour and a half lesson except my super shy student, who was nodding her head and interacting non-verbally.  Win.

I had been thinking about this lesson for some time, and since many of the class members have been in the church a while, I decided to skip out on anything related to the “keystone of our religion”.  They’ve heard it.  Many times.  So instead, I introduced the class by saying that I didn’t want to insult them by teaching them lots of stuff they already knew, so after the song I was going to ask them to tell me what they already knew about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. After Book of Mormon Stories and an opening prayer, I brought out some of my old Seminary Book of Mormon props.  I showed the gold plates replica and talked about the dimensions and look of the plates to get the ball rolling, and students began to chime in with things they knew.  I showed my sword and my pretend Urim and Thummim and a hat with a rock in it which ended up with one student mentioning that her husband’s ancestor wrote a journal article that said everyone would be given a seer stone, but she didn’t know if it was true or not. This happens to be a topic I’m interested in, and so I told her she was right and that the same thing was taught in D&C 130.  She was shocked, and the other students were excited to go find out more, so we took a slight detour to talk about seerstones and temple imagery. It gave me a chance to suggest to students they should attend the temple (though unfortunately the DC temple is currently closed until October for renovations).

The hat with a rock in it was kind of a dare.  We had friends over last night and one of them sarcastically suggested that I pull out a hat with a stone in it to talk about the translation of the Book of Mormon.  I thought about it for some time, and even though I’m not one who really likes to bring up controversial things, I don’t shy away from them either.  And since the church recently released photos of the brown seerstone, I figured it was timely and if any students had not heard the information before, it was a good idea to hit it in a safe, classroom environment.  At least one student had not heard it before, but it was helpful that many had.

We did get a couple of pretty good laughs in during class, which is something I think is also very important in developing a classroom culture where students are excited and willing to comment or ask questions. One in particular was when I brought out my Sword of Laban replica, which is a sword one of the kids got at the circus that has spinning lights that I painted black and gray, and I said with a straight face, “The represents the Sword of Laban.  It looked exactly like this.”

I’m pretty well-versed in church history, so I did this hour without a lot of notes.  After talking about the Anthon manuscript and passing around a print out of that image, I switched gears to tender mercies, a la 1 Nephi 1:20.  We spent 30 minutes talking about the benefits of finding tender mercies and how our relationship with the Savior and our feelings about ourselves are strengthened as we look for the ways He is acting in our daily lives. I explained to the class that finding tender mercies was going to be our overall theme for the year, and that I had created a poster so that we could see visually how frequently the Lord is acting in our lives.   Each week I’ll bring a stack of Post Its so students can write or draw a tender mercy they received or one they read about in the scriptures during the preceding week and we’ll add it to the group. I’m hopeful this will help students who struggle with self-esteem build up some as they come to understand their relationship with their Father, and that others will become more aware of how the Lord is acting in their lives.

I confess that I struggle a little bit with this, because watching for the Lord’s actions in my life is something I should personally do better, but I know that as I prepare lessons, I do not study to present a lesson in the same way that a study when I read for myself. I’m hopeful, but not certain, that I’ll be able to find mercies myself.  I don’t think it matters in terms of the class, but it’d be nice to be on the “receiving encouragement” end of this particular exercise.

Anyway, several students were obviously very excited about the material presented, and a homeschooling mom who brought her three children told me that her son said he’d have to be sure to bring his scriptures next week so he could participate.  Win.

Anyway, I’m excited to teach a new year — more than I thought I’d be.  Hopefully we can stay excited about studying the scriptures together.

D&C 124-127: Establishment of Nauvoo

I can’t find my notes for this lesson.  This was a good lesson — as good as or better than last week — and so I don’t know why I can’t find my notes.

I’m wondering if I just taught this straight out of the manual.  It’s all marked up in my online version…..

I pitched this on our Facebook group as “Come find out why there’s an almost 2 year gap between D&C 123 and 124”.  I did a little bit of history at the beginning of this lesson, too.  We talked about the kind treatment of the citizens of Quincy, the Day of God’s Power where Joseph healed many who were ill from malaria in the swampy area, and I explained that the Saints were super super busy starting a town, and while Joseph was still receiving revelations, they were just too busy to worry with keeping good records.  This may not be the exact words I used.  I was working a la Joseph Smith papers videos.

I mentioned that during this time the Twelve were send on the mission to Great Britain.  It was an incredible harvest of members.  For this part of the history, I used a Reader’s Theater I got from the manual and had four students “act” it out.  This is a fun little program because it ends with a joke.  Follow this link to get the Wilford Woodruff reader’s theather as a single page printable PDF with name tags.

To transition to the lesson proper, I used the envelope idea from the manual:

Before class, write the following principle on a piece of paper: If we hearken to the counsel of the prophets, it will be well with us. Place the paper in an envelope, and on the outside of the envelope write How we can be blessed now and always.

Begin the lesson by showing students the envelope. Tell them that it contains instructions for how they can be happy now, avoid unnecessary challenges in their lives, and receive other blessings. Explain that the instructions apply to each of them, despite their unique circumstances. Invite students to ponder the following questions:

  • How important might it be for you to obtain the instructions in the envelope?
  • If you could have the instructions, how closely would you follow them once you had them?

[We read the scriptures from the manual aloud — I have illiterate students, so we can’t do some of the silent manual activities.]

Read verses 89-90, 94-96, 111-114, and 115- 118.

  • What similarity did you notice in the instruction given to these men?

I printed the quote in enormous letters so that my nearly blind student could read it. She is always so appreciative of the opportunity to participate.

According to my highlighted stuff, I talked a good bit about the importance of the temple and temple ordinances using the manual.   I do remember we had a particularly good discussion about temple work at the end of the lesson because of our upcoming stake temple day.


"Haun's Mill" by C.C.A. Christensen

D&C 121-123: The Missouri Mormon War and Extermination Order

This was a fun lesson to research.  I am really enjoying the Joseph Smith Papers videos and finding they are very helpful in setting the stage for my class.  Since they are older and I have more time per lesson, we are able to get into some really interesting history details. I was interested to know that sections 121-3 are all from a 29 page letter Joseph Smith wrote while in Liberty Jail. You learn something new every day (or at least you do on a good day).

For this class, I wrote over three pages of notes from the videos to help me stay on track and to help students follow what was happening during this Liberty Jail period. I don’t usually include notes like these, but I think I will today.  While I was talking I used the map at right to show locations we were discussing.

Mormon Missouri War 1838

Mormon Missouri War 1838 – Click to go to the source of this image.

Rhetoric is heating up. Mormons are sick and tired of being bullied by the Missourians. They begin public trash talking. Extra church groups (the Danites) form. The salt sermon. Dissenters leave and talk trash to Missourians and surrounding areas.Watch movie online Logan (2017)

The “Mormon war” begins on August 6, 1838 when a group of Mormons tries to vote in Gallatin, Missouri. About 200 people together to keep warm it’s from voting. A fight broke out. Mormons, about 30 of them, drove off their opponents.
Stories of casualties were exaggerated – no one was killed or hurt much, but Missourians swore to kill Mormons. After this a group of about 100 or so armed Mormons, including Joseph Smith, went to visit some local leading citizens to get them to sign papers that they would not join with vigilante mops. It didn’t go over well. It was seen as a threat.
 In another area of Missouri — the small town of Dewitt — another vote was held also on August 6. The citizens of that area one of the Mormons out. The past. I look a militia was formed to expel the Mormons who refused to leave homes they had legally purchased (again, I might add). The city was the siege by Melissa. Joseph Smith came to see the situation and recommended surrender. The citizens did and moved to Adam ondi Ahman in October.
About this time a group of Mormons decided to retaliate. They went to Davis County and begin burning and plundering homes and businesses, expelling Missourians, who went to neighboring counties and reported the abuses. Women and children – Mormon and Missourian – died because of exposure or premature childbirth as a result of the expulsion and stress. Missourians formed more vigilante bands and began retaliating more. Expelled Mormons went to Adam ondi Ahman which became like a refugee camp.
Rumors reached Far West that a group of saints of been taken prisoner, and a group was organized to rescue them. At the ensuing skirmish, the Battle of Crooked River, Mormons won, but they took heavy casualties because of their exposed attack. David Patton, president of the quorum of the 12, died from injuries received here.
Now, at this battle, it got real. The army the saints fought was the state militia – this meant war, treason, rebellion.
Rumors flu exaggerating the casualties suffered by the state militia. Local leaders, the moderate, urged more troops be sent to prevent further violence. In response, Missouri Governor Boggs issued the famed “extermination order” demanding all Mormons be driven from the state on October 27.
Images of a modern-day and antique corn knife.

Images of modern-day and antique corn knives

On October 29 was the Haun’s Mill massacre. Haun’s Mill was a little settlement that had no involvement whatever in the fighting.  Missourians who had been driven from their homes attacked this little settlement in retaliation. The Mormons at Haun’s Mill tried to parlay for peace, but when Mormon Thomas McBride turned over his weapons to the Missourians to surrender, his own gun was turned on him and his body mangled with a corn knife while he was yet alive. The men tried to protect the city and took refuge in a blacksmith shop with wide gaps in the walls. The Missouri and surrounded it and killed all of the men and boys inside. 110-year-old boy was hiding, and was killed on the pretense that he grow up to be a Mormon and it was better to kill him now.

The Hauns Mill massacre, by the way, was not related to the extermination order, but it shows that things were getting very dangerous in Missouri.
Joseph Smith surrenders to General Atchison, October 1838.

Joseph Smith surrenders to General Atchison, October 1838.

The gathered state militia surrounded Far West and Adam Ondi Ahman. Joseph Smith and leaders, seeking peace, decided to surrender. They went over to the Missouri side to work out terms and were promptly arrested. At 8 AM the next morning, the imprisoned Joseph Smith went to Far West to surrender. The Saints were required to give up their arms and sell property to pay for the war. Cities were plundered as troops forcibly search people and property for weapons.

That might, Joseph Smith and others were tried by military court and found guilty of treason. They were sentenced to be executed the next morning. The man directed to perform the execution, Alexander Doniphan, refused. He said that the men were citizens, not military, and they could not be tried by military court. He threatened to bring up the men on charges if they kill Joseph Smith and the other Mormon leaders. Doniphan’s argument worked, and the men were held over for a civil trial. They were given a short period of time to go and get their personal effects. Doctrine and Covenants 122:6 recalls the scene.
Since treason is unbondable, the men had to wait in jail for trial. They were moved to Jackson County, treated well, and then to a little log jail where they were subjected to horrible descriptions of the acts Missourians had done to Mormon women and children. It’s here that Joseph Smith, in chains, repute the guards in the name of God silencing them. (Before Joseph Smith was imprisoned in Liberty Jail, he and several other Church leaders, including Parley P. Pratt, were unjustly imprisoned in Richmond, Missouri. While in the jail at Richmond, they heard the prison guards describe, in filthy language, horrid deeds of robbery, rape, and murder that had been committed against Latter-day Saints. Parley P. Pratt recounted that after listening to this for some time, Joseph responded: “On a sudden [Joseph] arose to his feet, and spoke in a voice of thunder, or as the roaring lion, uttering, as near as I can recollect, the following words: ‘SILENCE, ye fiends of the infernal pit. In the name of Jesus Christ I rebuke you, and command you to be still; I will not live another minute and bear such language. Cease such talk, or you or I die THIS INSTANT!’ The guards “begged his pardon, and remained quiet till a change of guards.” Parley later recalled of this experience: “I have seen the ministers of justice … in the Courts of England; I have witnessed a Congress in solemn session to give laws to nations; … but dignity and majesty have I seen but once, as it stood in chains, at midnight, in a dungeon in an obscure village of Missouri” (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. [1938], 211; see also page 210), as quoted in Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013.)
During this time, the Saints moved from Missouri to Quincy, Illinois, where they were treated kindly.  The move was made during the winter of 1838-1839 with few supplies and was very difficult.
The imprisoned men were soon transferred to Liberty Jail where they stayed from early December to April 16, 1839. These are the circumstances under which Joseph and Company are suffering with the letter from which doctrine of covenants 121 to 123 are taken.
So, now that I’ve dictated them, these notes aren’t really all that great.  I’d have to really work to make them into a good written story for here, but it was an interesting lecture.  I rarely lecture, so having this much information to present was new for me.  I think it went pretty well, or at least my students pretended to be interested :)
It was interesting to note the despair in the D&C 121-123 which dated March 20, 1839, and note that Joseph is set free/escaped/bribed guards during a prison transfer on April 16, 1839, just 28 days later.  Why do you think the Lord didn’t tell Joseph the date he would be set free?

D&C 121

Read vv 1-6 aloud.  Watch for questions and please the Prophet had for the Lord — which can you relate to?

vv 7-10.  Look for principles that can help us endure trial

I passed these questions out on slips of paper to two students before class began to help get better answers:

  1. Who do you know who has endured a trial well?
  2. What’s the difference between enduring a trial and enduring it well?

D&C 123

I skipped the things I had planned here in the interest of time, because I thought the following information on priesthood was more important.

D&C 121:34–46

I used the lamp object lesson from the manual because I thought it was so good.  Before class you make labels that read “priesthood holder”, “principles of righteousness”, “priesthood authority”, and “powers of heaven” with which to label the lamp.  Begin this portion of the lesson by explaining that students should think of the lamp as a priesthood holder and label the lamp.  Be sure the lamp is turned OFF before class begins.

Priesthood Lamp Object Lesson

Priesthood Lamp Object Lesson – Click this image to see the source of the object lesson.

  • Read v 34 and this quote:“We are called when hands are laid upon our heads and we are given the priesthood, but we are not chosen until we have demonstrated to God our righteousness, our faithfulness, and our commitment” (James E Faust, “Called and Chosen,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 55).
  • Read vv 35-6 – Look for something every priesthood holder must learn.  What is it?
  • v 36 – electricity represents which phrase in our demonstration?
  • Plug in the lamp.
    • Why isn’t it on?
    • Which of the phrases from our list might the switch be compared to?
  • Turn on the lamp.
    • How is living righteously like turning on a lamp?
    • Who is benefited by light?
    • What is the source of power?
    • What happens to the connection a priesthood holder to the powers of heaven who does not live righteously?
    • What happens if an ordinance is performed by a priesthood holder who is not living righteously?

This was a really great object lesson.  A few of my students had experiences where an unworthy priesthood holder had performed an ordinance, and they shared their experiences and the things they learned.

This was a really great lesson.


Legitimate leaves! Day 15

It’s been a few days since I’ve looked at my tomato seedlings, and I’m excited to see that so many of them are looking so good! Several of the seedlings that I thought weren’t going to come up have come up. Right now only the two Italian Roma pucks remain barren. I think they probably won’t sprout — the seeds are 3 years old and weren’t fermented or anything to start out.

I’ve had the hubs watering them the past day or so. It’s a pleasant surprise to see how much they’ve grown in the past days.

I do think that starting the seedlings on the grow light earlier is made a difference on the legginess of the seedlings. This year the seedlings seem to be a lot less leggy than last. Many of the first seedlings to sprout have true leaves on them. You can easily recognize the Stupice tomatoes by their potato-shaped leaves.

Today three seedlings were still stuck in the seed coat. Last year I pinched them off and damaged some of the leaves on my seedlings. This year I decided to go ahead and remove the seedcoat again, but I was much more careful and was able to remove the seed coats without damaging the baby leaves (cotyledons). I gently pinched the seed coat and tugged gently to remove it. I found last year that without pinching the seed coat first I damaged the leaves and stunted the seedlings.

This year I started my tomatoes about 2 1/2 weeks later than I did last year. My tomatoes were ready for transplanting too early last year, and I put them in the ground too early. We ended up with two freak hailstorms that really hurt my poor tomatoes. I was able to get them back to life, but there was an incident with some herbicide that killed everything despite my valiant efforts. This year will be better — I can feel it!

I moved eight of the peat pots into the old greenhouse tray so that all the seedlings could get equal light and so they could get good circulation.  Last year the seedlings in the center of the trays got a fungus from being too close together.

I moved eight of the peat pots into the old greenhouse tray so that all the seedlings could get equal light and so they could get good circulation. Last year the seedlings in the center of the trays got a fungus from being too close together.


Tomato seedlings – Day 6

Hooray! Most of my tomatoes have sprouted! The Italian Roma has not sprouted any, but all the others have at least one sprout. Once Stupice and one Mortgage Lifter haven’t sprouted yet. But other than that I’m really happy with the success on these tomato seedlings.

Last year I put the tomato seedlings under the grow light after the seedlings had sprouted and were showing leaves like these in the picture. Later I read that you should start the tomatoes under the grill light immediately when they first come out of the soil. So this year I put the tomatoes under the grow light as soon as I saw the first band of little white tomato stalk coming up out of the ground. I’m hopeful that I’ll get better, less spindly seedlings using this method.

Day Six Tomato Seedlings

Day Six Tomato Seedlings


Tomatoes planted

After last year’s disaster, I decided to try again growing my own tomatoes from seed.  This year I’ve planted six varieties:

My little stakes are drinking straws with a sticker on the end.  Last year’s method of labeling the position in the “greenhouse” didn’t work too well when it came time to plant.  My daddy had a time with his tomatoes because he used wooden stakes that soaked up the water and ruined his labels.  I’m hoping the plastic works.

The Italian tomatoes can’t be linked to because they are from tomato seeds I got from some tomatoes at the grocery store in Italy when I was there a couple of years ago, so I have no idea what variety they actually are.  The grape tomato has done pretty well in years past.

This, btw, is the Jiffy Tomato Greenhouse.  I couldn’t find the right peat pucks to refill the greenhouse I saved from last year, so I just bought a new one instead.


D&C 113-120

So this was the easiest lesson I’ve prepared all year.  I used to have easy ones like this all the time when I was teaching Seminary, but this is the first time that it’s come so easily for one of these multi-chapter weekly lessons.

I have been recording the Joseph Smith Papers documentary videos off of BYUTV for a while now, and several of them have given me good information and insights. Joseph Smith and the Law Part Two works PERFECTLY for this lesson.

The video starts out with a good explanation that briefly explains the apostasy in Kirtland and what caused the move to Missouri. The last half of the video talks about many of the revelations received at Far West. The video is only 30 minutes long, and it is really great. If you are behind due to weather, this video could literally make up a week in just one class period, and it would do so very effectively.

In my class, I paused the video every few minutes for discussion and to share some additional insights and quotes. My class is an hour and a half, so I could do a good bit of discussion. One of the last things discussed is tithing, which makes a great mini lesson at the end if you have 5-10 minutes left of class.  Some of the quotes I had set up were on fast offerings and Adam-ondi-Ahman.

It was not some sort of spectacular lesson, but it was good.  Students stayed after for about half an hour visiting and sharing testimony — primarily about raising children.  These are fun ladies.

My nonmember has missed the last two weeks, so I think we’ve lost her, but I did have a random guy come up and ask me for a copy of the Book of Mormon.  It’s been interesting for sure to hold class outside the church.

D Todd Christofferson

Jenny Smith is a fool, Elder Christofferson.

I am ashamed to admit this, but when Elder Christofferson was called to be an apostle, I was unimpressed.  “Why did they call that guy?” (1) I wondered.  He seemed less polished and charismatic than what I was expecting given the latest crop of super human apostles we seem to be getting lately.

I was a fool.

Today on Facebook I read a friend’s post about how Elder Christofferson had said in a press conference that Church members can support gay marriage publicly and remain in good standing.  If you are not a Mormon reading this, that’s probably no big deal to you since your church probably doesn’t affect your public statement, but in a church where we appear before two tiers of church leadership to affirm that we do not affiliate with organizations that teach things contrary to the teachings of the church in order to worship in the temple, this is huge.

In essence, Elder Christofferson said that gay marriage is a political, not a spiritual, issue.  While the Mormon church will continue to not recognize or perform gay marriages, members may openly support it without fearing loss of temple privileges.  I have long supported civil unions, myself.  I support government in supporting unions that support people in leaving dangerous lifestyles for the stability of a home and family based partnership. For me, it’s the m-word I struggle with.  But I’m grateful that this issue has finally been clarified.

Anyway, in the aforementioned FB post, my friend mentioned Elder Christofferson’s openly gay brother, Tom Christofferson.  I followed some links and found the following talk by Tom titled ALL Are Alike Unto God given at the Arizona LDS LGBT/SSA Conference on April 26, 2014.

http://www.nearingkolob preis

It occurred to me about 5 sentences in that this experience — of loving someone unconditionally — is at least part of the reason Elder Christofferson was called at this time to be an apostle.  Certainly without his influence and experience, the hard-line of the past may not have softened so that leaders could show members to extend their arms in love to our gay brothers and sisters.

Anyway, I was a fool, and I’m sorry for it, Elder Christofferson.  Hopefully I can become better for it, too.

Our God is Great and leads this church and hand picks his leaders.


(1) – I realized the staggering arrogance of this only in retrospect.  I, myself, wondered why they called that girl — me — when I was called to be a Relief Society president.  It’s likely a humble Elder Christofferson wondered why they called him, himself.

How to thread beads on wax cotton cord – Jenny’s Way

I’ve occasionally received an email from someone wondering how to put my Fiber Optic Beads on our 16″ adjustable jewelry cord. I don’t know how a professional would do it, but here’s how I do it.  Fire is involved and you have to move fast, but you end up with a stiffened sharp tip that makes jewelry assembly a SNAP!

Step 1: Get Your Stuff Ready

For my method of threading beads on wax cotton cord, you’ll need:

  • a candle
  • the waxed cotton cord
  • a piece of scrap paper
  • nerves of steel

For this project I use a candle in a small tin that I bought at WalMart for around $2.00.  At first I tried to use a Yankee Candle, but the flame is too far down in the jar and I kept burning my knuckles.  A tea light would probably work just as well.

Hold the waxed cord in your dominant hand and the scratch paper in your other hand. Screw your courage to the sticking place and…..


Poised for action!

Step 1: Light the Cord on Fire

Yeah.  Light the cord on fire.  Seriously.


Don’t do this inside the church! Use the parking lot or do this activity at home. Have a fire extinguisher around if you’re working around young ‘uns. They may not be as courageous around fire as you are.  Because I know you’re not afraid of being burned.  Just like I am….. :-S

Step 3 – Extinguish the Fire with the Scrap Paper and Roll

Smother the fire by placing the burning tip in between a folded piece of scrap paper.

I roll the cord between my fingers and the paper slightly to give it a pointy tip.

Let it cool for 5-10 seconds before moving to step four.


Take a deep breath and…..


Put out the fire by smothering the fire in the folded piece of scratch paper, using the scratch paper to “protect” your fingers. It will be hot, but you are strong.


See that amazing pointy tip?  The tip of the point will break off as you work, but the cord will keep it’s tip for as long as you need it to. 

 Step 4: Thread the Beads on to the Cord



Did I mention that fantastic tip?


Thread the bead onto the cord. Easy peasy.

Why it works so crazy well…

Cotton thread usually frays when it is threaded.  Since this cord is 1.5mm and jewelry findings often have a 2mm hole, there’s not enough space to tape the tip. But….

Our 16″ cotton cord is dipped in wax for durability.  When you light the cord on fire, you melt the wax. When you extinguish the fire and roll the cord between your fingers, you create a fine tip that gets coated in that now soft wax.  In just a few seconds, the wax hardens back up and you have a new, pointy tip that makes jewelry creation easy!

More craft-making supplies

D&C 88-108, 137

Whoa.  It’s been a while. :)

We ended up having class canceled a couple of times due to poor weather this month (unplanned), we missed one day because school was out (planned), and I’m pretty sure that I’ve only taught three times since my last post.

D&C 106-108, 137

I’m not sure why D&C 137 was tossed in with this material, though I will say it did end up fitting perfectly with my class’s discussion.  We had a very wide ranging discussion on the Priesthood in conjunction with D&C 107.  I made a handout with the offices and duties of each of the Priesthoods in one column.  In the second column, I listed the two priesthoods.  I had planned for us to complete the activity separately, but during class it seemed like a better idea to do it as a group since my not-investigating visitor was there.  The discussion was pretty great, covering everything from details about the Levitical priesthood to the temple.  I think our visitor was surprised to hear us speaking so frankly about the temple.  Nothing inappropriate was said, but she learned a lot of information that I’m sure she had never heard before.  And to watch her as she heard how fantastic it is to commune with God from so many women was interesting, to say the least.

That discussion went on until after 11:30, and so I spent about 10 minutes wrapping up and then dropped the rest of the material I had prepared on unanimity of decisions by the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 in favor of a short discussion on D&C 137.  I wanted to hit infant baptism and my favorite topic within Mormonism: God is no respecter of persons.  I realize that doctrine is not unique to Mormonism, but we are the only faith that really means it.  We are the only faith that knows/shows how God’s plan saves everyone and gives them the glory they earn, regardless of their opportunity for baptism or to hear the Word during this life.  We are the only faith that considers missionary work a matter of duty as opposed to optional, and we go even farther, trying to provide saving ordinances for those who’ve passed without the opportunity to hear the gospel during their earth life.

We read the first nine verses of D&C 137, I pointed out that the vision was of the future  from our perspective (JS’s mother and father were not dead yet).  Short discussion, but it was okay.  I didn’t really have time to turn it to awesome.

Anyway, then we read verse 10, and I moved us over to Moroni 8 where we read from Moroni’s epistle to Mormon about infant baptism.  Perfect.

The investigator was taking notes like crazy.  I wonder what she does when she gets home….  Anyway, she’s got a few ideas that are not quite correct, but for the most part she’s golden, as most who engage in a careful study of scripture are.  I’m not sure that she is going to get wet, but she is a seeker, and at least she’s still coming.  I appreciate open-minded people.

I was pleased this lesson ended up going so well.  I was having a hard time preparing for it.  I had volunteered to help the lady I visit teach with judging this forensics (oratory) competition that was supposed to be 4 hours but ended up being 8 1/2…. and I was exhausted.  I did have a lesson outline, but most of what we discussed couldn’t have been outlined ahead of time anyway.  The Lord works it out.

D&C 101-105

My lesson objectives here were that students would learn more about how disciplinary councils work and why they are held, they’d learn about Zions Camp and be inspired toward greater obedience, and that they’d learn about the parable of the nobleman and vineyard.

photo(5)We started out with D&C 101 and the parable of the nobleman and vineyard.  While a student read the passage aloud, I “acted” out the story using blocks, clipart, and a Little People person.  Then we talked about what each of the symbols represent.  I didn’t like the explanation in the manual.  Weird.  This parable seems so obvious to me…  Joseph Smith, watchman, can’t come to the city (see early sections where JS is prohibited from going to MO) because the squabbling people won’t build what they’ve been instructed to do and second guess their instructiosn.  12 olive trees = Tribes of Israel, for whom Zion is built.

Anyway, this section was a good tie in for D&C 103, where we talked in some detail about Zion’s Camp. We read vv 1-4 aloud and I asked students to watch for reasons the Lord allowed the Saints to be persecuted.  This was review for the students who were present last week, but since so many were absent (had 10-11 at this class), it was good to set the stage again. What does “hearken all together” mean in v 4?

Next we read v6, where the Lord tells us what he wants to happen.   Next vv 15-16, 21-22, where he tells us how it will go down.

Then I showed the Zion’s Camp video:

I was a little worried about this video because it’s a little hokey, but it worked out fine.  I asked students to watch for parallels with Moses and the Children of Israel.  We talk about the children of Israel as if they were just a bunch of whiners, but doubtless they made some of the same complaints as the Zion’s Camp marchers did, and they make sense.

I invited the class to imagine that they’d been asked to sign over all their property, 401k, retirement income, deed, car titles, investments… everything.  What problems would you have had?  We had a decent discussion here, along with D&C 105:3–6 where we talked about how Zion is a place where the Celestial Law must be lived.  The people in MO weren’t ready, and Zion’s Camp showed that the ‘rescuers’ from OH weren’t either.  It says something about us (IMO) that we still don’t have Zion — we aren’t ready to live that law either.  Made the point that the law of tithing is a preparatory law for the law of consecration, parallel with Law of Moses as preparatory for the Higher Law Jesus taught. Decent learning here, I think.

I can’t remember what it was now…. oh wait, a student shared with us her experience being a new member called to serve as YW president.  When she discovered that several of her YW were sexually active, she made arrangements to take them to the health center for birth control.  When she mentioned it offhand to the bishop, he FREAKED, lol.  Anyway, somehow that started us into church disciplinary councils, and made a funny transition to D&C 102.

I told the class about my child who was aware of someone going through a disciplinary proceeding.  She asked me why the person was seeing the Bishop so much.   I asked her what were some reasons you might need to talk to the Bishop.  “Murder?”   I didn’t want her thinking this person was a murderer, so I listed some of the reasons you might need to talk to the Bishop.  I explained that though I knew what was going on it wasn’t my place to share that information, but she could certainly ask to the individual.  We talked for a few minutes about the reasons that someone might see the Bishop.  When I was teaching Seminary, I told my students that when their sins relate to a temple recommend question, that’s the time to see the Bishop.  That may not cover *every* instance, but it definitely covers most.

I read several quotes from the manual, and several students had experiences they could share <– again, nice to teach adults. They were clear on the two kinds of councils and who would be sent to each (Bishopric or Stake Presidency). Nonmember visitor had some questions about not taking the sacrament. We wrapped up with a discussion of why disciplinary councils are a blessing, not a punishment.

Class today went long, but everyone loved it.  I finally had to cut them off at 12:30.

D&C 98-101

I wrote this lesson on a slip of scratch paper. :)  I can’t remember why now…

Anyway, only four people showed up for this class.  Several are ill because of the snow, and I think the threat of more weather kept many home.  The ice storm came that night as I recall.

I started out having students read aloud the following quotes.  We spent a pretty fair amount of time talking about the circumstances surrounding the expulsion from Jackson County.  Good discussion.  So few students were present that we combined several of the quotes into one longish reading.

Quote 1

“The original inhabitants of the area became increasingly suspicious as the number of Church members in Jackson County grew rapidly. Many people feared they would soon be outnumbered by the new religiously motivated pilgrims from the East. The ‘old settlers’ were from a different background than the incoming Latter-day Saints, and it was natural that cultural, political, religious, and economic differences arose.

“Jackson County’s residents were a rough-and-ready group who had come from the mountainous regions of several southern states to the western edge of the United States to find freedom from societal restraints. Most of them were uneducated and lacked the cultural refinement that was more common in New England and the East. Many of them indulged in profanity, Sabbath-breaking, horse-racing, cock-fighting, idleness, drunkenness, gambling, and violence. …

“The old settlers viewed the growing body of Saints as a political threat, even though members of the Church did not run for office or vote as a bloc during their short stay in Jackson County. By July 1833 the Mormon population in the county was almost twelve hundred, with more arriving each month. Some members boasted that thousands more were coming to live in the county. … Local citizens were naturally apprehensive of a religious zeal that predicted that all ‘Gentiles’ (non-Mormons) would be cut off when the millennial kingdom was established in Jackson County.

“Protestant ministers also resented the Mormon intrusion into the county. Latter-day Saints were labeled fanatics and knaves and were denounced as gullible and ignorant because they believed in and frequently experienced miracles, prophecy, healings, revelations, and speaking in tongues. Jealousy and fear of losing some from their flocks added to the antagonism of the ministers. …

“In addition, Mormon merchants and tradesmen successfully took over a portion of the lucrative Santa Fe Trail trade previously dominated by the Missourians. Some of the old settlers feared that the Church members were determined to take over their lands and businesses. Moreover, the Saints ‘did not purchase goods from the local merchants, as they had no money, but traded among themselves at the Church storehouse. … Some of the old settlers were selling their property to the Mormons and moving away. This meant fewer and fewer customers in the stores, and future financial ruin’ for the remaining old settlers [T. Edgar Lyon, “Independence, Missouri, and the Mormons, 1827–1833,” BYU Studies, autumn 1972, 17–18].

Quote 2

“To complicate matters, in the spring of 1833 the Missouri flooded, destroyed the landing at Independence, and shifted the channel of the river away from the community. A new town, Westport, with a better landing, was established farther upstream, and the business in Independence declined. Entrepreneurs in Independence blamed the Mormons for this situation. Foreseeing what the future might bring, some of the old settlers offered to sell out to the Saints. Members of the Church wanted to buy the farms and possessions, but did not have enough capital to do so. This exasperated the Missourians, and soon they were spreading tales of how poverty-stricken the Mormons were.

“The Missouri frontiersmen feared and hated the Indians. Their antipathy increased in the 1830s as the government began to resettle eastern tribes on lands just west of Independence. After the 1832 Black Hawk War, citizens of western Missouri petitioned Congress to establish a line of military posts for their protection. The first Mormon missionaries came into this tense atmosphere declaring the prophetic destiny of the native Americans. The old settlers were afraid the Saints would use the Indians to help them conquer the area for their New Jerusalem. Matters were further complicated by Protestant ministers who were jealous of Latter-day Saint proselyting efforts among the Indians.

“The conflict between the Saints and the old settlers came to a head over the slavery issue. Missouri had come into the Union as a slave state under the famous Compromise of 1820. Slaveholding was limited, however. The old settlers prized their right to hold slaves and despised abolitionism. Some of the Saints brought abolitionist sentiments from the North and East, and the possibility of a black rebellion was a fear throughout the South at this time. In 1831 Nat Turner’s slave uprising in Virginia had resulted in the death of over seventy whites and one hundred slaves. An irrational fear of revolts swept over the slave states. Therefore, Missourians were highly aroused early in 1832 by rumors that the Saints were trying to persuade slaves to disobey their masters or run away.

“To squelch the rumors, the July 1833 Evening and Morning Star ran an article cautioning the missionaries about proselyting among slaves and among former slaves, known as ‘free people of color.’ Unfortunately the local Missourians misinterpreted this advice to mean that Brother Phelps was inviting free blacks to join the Mormons in Jackson County. The article caused such a furor that Phelps issued an ‘Extra’ explaining that the Church had no intention of inviting free blacks to Missouri, but his denials were to no avail” (Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 130–32).

Quote 3

On Saturday, July 20, 1833, between 400 and 500 angry Missouri citizens met at the courthouse in Independence, Missouri. They chose a committee to draft a document outlining their demands of the Mormons. They demanded that no more Latter-day Saints be allowed to move to Jackson County and said that those already living there must pledge to leave as soon as possible. In addition, they demanded that the Church newspaper stop publication. When these demands were presented to the Church leaders in Missouri, the Church leaders were startled and asked for three months to consider the proposition and to consult with Church leaders in Ohio. The group of Missouri citizens presenting the demands denied the Church leaders’ request. The Saints then asked for 10 days, but they were allowed only 15 minutes to respond. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 132–33.)

Quote 4

Due to mob violence in Jackson County, Missouri, in July 1833, Church leaders in Missouri agreed to leave the county. However, in August 1833, a council of general Church leaders in Kirtland met to discuss the difficulties in Missouri. They sent instruction that the Saints in Missouri should not sell their land or move from the county unless they had already signed agreements to do so. Church leaders petitioned the government and used available legal channels to maintain their lands in Missouri and seek justice for those responsible for the violence. After hearing of these actions, and believing that the Saints were not planning to leave as expected, non–Latter-day Saint settlers attacked the Saints again. On the night of October 31, 1833, a mob of about 50 horsemen raided the Whitmer Settlement, west of Independence. They unroofed 13 houses and whipped several men, almost killing them. These attacks continued for the next two nights in Independence and other places where the Saints lived. Men were beaten, and women and children were terrorized.

Quote 5

Before the Saints were driven from Jackson County, Missouri, they had received several warnings that they would suffer afflictions if they did not repent. For example, in January 1833, Joseph Smith chastised William W. Phelps and Sidney Gilbert for “the spirit which [was] breathed” in letters they had written, stating that such a spirit was “wasting the strength of Zion” and would “ripen Zion for the threatened Judgments of God.” Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith, writing to Bishop Edward Partridge, his counselors, and a conference of high priests, sent a letter of warning to Church leaders in Missouri. They referred to a letter from Sidney Gilbert that contained “low, dark, & blind insinuations.” They also condemned another letter that had implied that the Prophet was “seeking after Monarchal power and authority.” Because of these transgressions and others, Orson Hyde and Hyrum Smith warned that the Saints in Missouri would face “a scourge & a judgment” (see Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, volume 2 of the Documents series of The Joseph Smith Papers [2013], 367, 373–74).

I gave each student a copy of the following definitions and quote from Elder Christofferson:

Definitions for D&C 101:1–5:

Chasten means to discipline or correct.
Try means to test.
Sanctify means to make someone or something pure or holy.

Purpose of “divine chastening”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “divine chastening has at least three purposes:
(1) to persuade us to repent,
(2) to refine and sanctify us, and
(3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path” (“As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 98).

One of the good things that came out of this discussion was the realization that the determinant for whether a trail brings us closer to God or drives us away from Him is our own agency.  I used several questions from the manual to lead the discussion, though many were answered during discussion and I didn’t have to actually ask them.  <– one of the joys of teaching adults.

  • What questions do you think the Saints in Missouri may have had at this time?
  • Have you ever wondered why the Lord allows His Saints to experience affliction?
  • How can chastening help us become sanctified?

We covered D&C 101:10–12 and 38.  I had planned to play the audio scriptures for this passage because I have one illiterate student and another who is nearly blind, but both of them were absent, so we read this text and discussed what we found comforting from these verses.

I didn’t feel like this was a fantastic lesson, but it was good.  I do wish more could have been there because we spent so much time on chastening and suffering.  I think it may have been helpful for some of the students.

Jenny's blog

D&C 77-87

We had a school holiday and so it has been two weeks since our last lesson.  This was a super interesting experience.  Another random person showed up for class.  As class started going on, it came out that she had studied with the Mormons before briefly, and her husband was a “priest in the Mormon church” who left in order to marry a Catholic woman.  He’s had a hard time with his decision to leave the church.

Anyway, this woman seemed to be genuinely interested if not fully open, and she has a very solid understanding of the scriptures.  Not shy, she dominated our conversation.  It was interesting to see how the interaction went down.

I was SUPER anxious as I started teaching because of the newcomer.  Most of my lesson material was coming from D&C 82 and D&C 84 (oath and covenant of the Priesthood).  It was crazy how well-prepared she was to hear this material.  She says she’ll be back next week because obviously the Lord is directing her to study with us.  I agree with her.  I hope she isn’t too hardheaded to learn what she can from us, and I hope I can have the spirit with me to be able to cover topics in the right way. I think there was a lot I could have done better.  I am a terrible missionary.

Anyway, I used the material from the manual for the first few verses of D&C 82.  I rarely teach very long straight from the manual, but this really stuck out for me when I read it, and I taught it nearly word-for-word.  It went well, especially for our visitor.

For D&C 84 I really struggled.  Could that section be any more random?  I ended up using an interview with Elder Perry on the Priesthood to provide a structure to present the material.  I paused after the questions and we had short discussions.  Worked fine.

Visitor does not believe she needs to be baptized, so I talked with her about John 3 (which fortuitously we had just talked about during Sunday School last Sunday, so I was poised).  I gently challenged her to think about being baptized (this is 15000000% out of character for me, but the spirit was very strong and had been prompting me for some time), which she rejected flat out.  I didn’t push, but it’s pretty clear this is the reason she’s been sent to us: she has some things to learn about authority and ordinances.

Anyway, it was a crazy experience.  Good, but stressful.

I went to voice lessons again last week.  I’m trying to learn to sing better and more loudly since I’m also the ward music leader.  I don’t enjoy the calling at all, but I’m doing my best.

Student with the question wondering what the  mammon of unrighteous is didn’t show, but for your information, here is what that phrase means. The text below is taken straight from two parts of the old Seminary student manual:

D&C 82:22. Why Is the Church Commanded to Make Friends with the “Mammon of Unrighteousness”?

“The commandment of the Lord that the saints should make themselves ‘friends with the mammon of unrighteousness,’ seems to be a hard saying when not properly understood. It is not intended that in making friends of the ‘mammon of unrighteousness’ that the brethren were to partake with them in their sins; to receive them to their bosoms, intermarry with them and … come down to their level. They were to so live that peace with their enemies might be assured. They were to treat them kindly, be friendly with them as far as correct and virtuous principles would permit, but never to swear with them or drink and carouse with them. If they could allay prejudice and show a willingness to trade with and show a kindly spirit, it might help to turn them away from their bitterness. Judgment was to be left with the Lord.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:323.)

The phrase “mammon of unrighteousness” is taken from the parable of the unjust steward (see Luke 16:11).

The scriptures teach that the station and rewards we inherit in the life after this are determined by how firmly we commit ourself to the gospel, seek the power of the Atonement to overcome our sins, and take responsibility for our stewardship over temporal blessings.

In what has for some people been a troubling parable, the Savior commented on the prudence of a steward who prepared for his future by cheating his master (see Luke 16:1–8). The Savior said, “The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. … If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:8, 11). Elder James E. Talmage explained:

“Our Lord’s purpose was to show the contrast between the care, thoughtfulness, and devotion of men engaged in the money-making affairs of earth, and the half hearted ways of many who are professedly striving after spiritual riches. Worldly-minded men do not neglect provision for their future years, and often are sinfully eager to amass plenty; while the ‘children of light,’ or those who believe spiritual wealth to be above all earthly possessions, are less energetic, prudent, or wise. By ‘mammon of unrighteousness’ we may understand material wealth or worldly things. While far inferior to the treasures of heaven, money or that which it represents may be the means of accomplishing good, and of furthering the purposes of God. Our Lord’s admonition was to utilize ‘mammon’ in good works, while it lasted, for some day it shall fail, and only the results achieved through its use shall endure. If the wicked steward, when cast out from his master’s house because of unworthiness, might hope to be received into the homes of those whom he had favored, how much more confidently may they who are genuinely devoted to the right hope to be received into the everlasting mansions of God! Such seems to be part of the lesson.

“It was not the steward’s dishonesty that was extolled; his prudence and foresight were commended. … The lesson may be summed up in this wise: Make such use of your wealth as shall insure you friends hereafter. Be diligent; for the day in which you can use your earthly riches will soon pass. Take a lesson from even the dishonest and the evil; if they are so prudent as to provide for the only future they think of, how much more should you, who believe in an eternal future, provide therefor! If you have not learned wisdom and prudence in the use of ‘unrighteous mammon,’ how can you be trusted with the more enduring riches? If you have not learned how to use properly the wealth of another, which has been committed to you as steward, how can you expect to be successful in the handling of great wealth should such be given you as your own? Emulate the unjust steward and the lovers of mammon, not in their dishonesty, cupidity, and miserly hoarding of the wealth that is at best but transitory, but in their zeal, forethought, and provision for the future.” (Jesus the Christ, pp. 463–64.)

Jenny's blog

D&C 76 – Weeks 1 and 2

I was really nervous about teaching D&C 76.  There is so much information, and since I only teach weekly, I was pretty confident we would not get to all the material without rushing.  Additionally, because I teach adults it’s extremely difficult for me to judge how much people already know about the harder/deeper doctrines of the gospel, like the degrees of glory.

I had the feeling that I should really push the idea of scripture study aids with this section of scripture.  I think it’s very important for gospel teachers to teach gospel students how to use the scripture study aids to enhance their personal study and to learn how to find answers to their own questions.  It’s something I worked hard to encourage in my seminary class, and I felt like this was my first real chance to do it in the gospel study class.  For pretty much the first time ever, the manual seemed to align with this line of thinking, too, and so I was able to use a couple of quotes from the manual to kick off our discussion.

After this discussion, we began practicing some of the things we talked about.  I made students follow the footnotes as a chain and practice using the Topical Guide and Bible Dictionary.  It was instructive to see how some of the women who had the gospel library app didn’t even know they could turn on footnotes, much less click right over to the TG.  I showed them on my tablet and in my paper scriptures how much easier it is to read the TG in e-scripture format than in paper scriptures.  I still prefer my paper scriptures for much study, but the e-scriptures have many benefits.  For me, choosing between paper and electronic scriptures is like knowing whether I need to grab the power drill or manual screwdriver.  You need the right tool for the job. I’ve actually taken to reading my paper scriptures with my electronic scriptures beside me so I can use the search tools on my electronic scriptures.

(Did you know that the Android version has more search options than the Apple iOS version?  It’s why I have an Android tablet.)

Another technique we discussed is to keep your study tools nearby.  We talked about how it helps to keep books like Mormon Doctrine or Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith at your study area so you are more likely to use them during study. Letting your device read scriptures aloud is a method that students were particularly excited to talk about.  Journaling and writing impressions was another.  I even taught them my latest e-scripture trick, which is instead of trying to type on my phone or tablet, I use the little microphone button on my keyboard to dictate or read text.  It’s not perfect and I end up editing some words (thank you Mississippi accent), but it’s a lot faster than typing.

We spent a good bit of time learning how to use the tools and even spent some time training.  I had students go through a couple of verses of  D&C 76 and practice using the footnotes and studying deeply.  Naturally we didn’t get far, so I asked students to re-read D&C 76 again, but this time, choose one or two of the scripture study methods we had talked about during class and see what happened.

The next class started with informal teaching about LDS scripture citation index as a student had a question about a particular phrase “mammon of unrighteousness” that I wasn’t prepared to answer. I told the class I’d be back with an answer (assuming I could find it) next week.  The class was really interested in the index.  I hope some of them use it.

We opened with a discussion about the things  we had learned from using a scripture study method we talked about the previous week.  Went well. I used some quotes from scripture study power quotes to answer some questions students were having.  One student was frustrated that she was getting bogged down in her study, and this quote helped:

It is better to have a set amount of time to give scriptural study each day than to have a set amount of chapters to read. Sometimes we find that the study of a single verse will occupy the whole time (President Howard W. Hunter, Ensign, Nov. 1979, 64).

Anyway, the discussion was wide-ranging and a little bit less controlled than even I prefer, but it was a good set of lessons.  I think it’s always best for students to share their experiences with the scriptures whenever we can.  There were a few times that students tried to get off into the weeds, but I think we handled it pretty well.  Overall, the lessons were successful, if not expertly administered by me.