2 Nephi 31-Jacob 4

This has been a fun few days for me in class.  I’m not sure if it’s because I’m back in the groove or because the stress level is back down or what, but things have been good.  The only issue has been that I’m barely keeping ahead of the lessons.  I did get two lessons planned yesterday, so I am now a single lesson ahead.  I’m hoping to get some more lessons planned today so that I can get back on track and stay ahead.  This last minute stuff has got to go.

2 Nephi 31

On the board I drew the gate with the path from the manual.  I followed the manual pretty closely on this lesson, but I did cut out several of the questions that I felt distracted from the flow of the lesson.  We did spend a good deal of time on the Holy Ghost and how he purifies us.  I also stopped the lesson at the question, “When have you felt the Holy Ghost acting in your life?” so that I could put all of the how-to-stay-on-the-path stuff together in the next lesson.

2 Nephi 32-33

My objective was for students to understand the doctrine of Christ (faith/repentance/baptism/holy ghost/endure to the end) and be able to visualize it.  They will be encouraged to soften their hears to let the holy ghost in.  They will be encouraged to pray and study and endure to the end.

On Friday, we talked about the doctrine of Christ.  Baptism was likened to a gate by which we enter on to the path of eternal life.

We read 2 Nephi 31:17-21 aloud to help set the stage for the point of my lesson: how to stay on the path once you get past the gate (how to keep heading toward eternal life after you’re baptized).  Discussed. I wrote on our path drawing from yesterday thing sthat keep us on the path, like pressing forward, feasting on the word, and praying.

Next we read 2 Nephi 32:1, 3, 4-5.  I made a handout so the kids could do the self assessment from the manual.  I realized when I woke up that I had forgotten to make this handout, so I made it at hyperlight speed before the kids arrived.  It is horribly ugly, but I’ve posted it here so that you can see it.  The manual had the kids copy this stuff out into their notebooks and do the self-assessment, but I wanted this to go faster AND I wanted them all to have the quotes, and so I used a handout.

I reminded students to listen to the Holy Ghost.  If he is telling them to make improvements on the items on that list, do so.

Now we read vv 8-9.  Here Nephi is sad that he has to talk to the people about so essential a habit. Had the kids underline “ye must pray”.  Also underlined “pray always and not faint”. 

All of us who have been baptized have entered in at the gate.  Are we doing all we can to stay on the path to eternal life?  Are we pressing forward? Feasting? Praying?

Nephi wraps up his record in 2 Nephi 32 with some poweful words.  There is a key passage in vv 1-2.  On the board I drew the picture from the manual of the word unto and the word into inside of a heart.  We read the quote from Bednar on the handout.

I told the kids that Nephi wraps up with some very powerful words in vv14-15.  Fierce.  It’s hard to believe that a guy that was just talking about his weakness in writing is now punching us all in the face with these words. 

I closed with v 10, which shows us that there is hope for us, and that we should do good by pressing forward, feasting, following the holy ghost, treating other kindly, serving, and enduring to the end.

Jacob 1-2:11

Wow.  This block is almost not worth studying.  Even the manual has almost nothing of substance.  I did a brief introduction to Jacob himself, but we’ve talked about him in some detail already.  The first 11 verses of chapter two are just an introduction, like Buckle up, Buttercup, to get ready for the greed/chastity smackdown coming.  I think we spent about 10 minutes on this and since we’ve been doing some heavy hitting lately, I decided to just kick back with some scripture mastery games. There’s just no meat here.

We did scripture mastery activities, including hunger games, scripture sorting, shock ball, and cat and mouse.  I did a poor job with the scripture sorting game instructions.  I had kids recut out the sort strips two days later before class.  I should have shown the kids what I wanted with a demonstration paper.  Everyone did this activity.  I split the class into two groups, and one did shock ball while the other did cat and mouse using magic squares rhymes.  We all played hunger games.  It didn’t go super smoothly, but it was fun enough even with our rocky version that we’ll do it again.  Here’s how I described our experience on the Facebook group:

We played this today, and it was super fun. We are also adding in thumb wrestling and other games so it’s not all rock, paper, scissors.

I’ll tell you how I did it, but maybe Susan Melville can chime in and tell you how it’s really supposed to be played.

I taped a very rough cornucopia shape on the floor. I told students that they would all run to the cornucopia and grab a word strip. Students who got a word strip with a cornucopia shape on it would have a partner. They will compete in an extra competition, making it more likely to “die”. So, students raced in order to get the good strips. This little mini competition is to eliminate extra students so I can get down to 16 for the first bracket.

Now I had students line up. This was ungodly chaotic, so don’t do it.

Instead, have everyone who DOES NOT have a cornucopia slip sit down. The others find their partner. If they do not have a partner, they automatically survived the fight at the cornucopia. Otherwise, the remaining pairs face off with rock paper scissors, and one member of each pair dies. The winner captures the word slip from the dead tribute.

Next, the group ordered themselves by wordslips in the correct order of the mastery passage. Now we repeat the scripture mastery. Tomorrow I will have the dead people recite the entire passage, and the living tributes will recite their portion of the passage using their captured word strips.

The remaining 16 people fight off, and eight are eliminated and their wordstrips are captured. Everyone recites the passage again, with the 8 winners saying their part, and the dead peeps saying it together. I told the class this was like the song at the end of the day in the games.

Continued until we had a winner.

There was a LOT of confusion in our group of 24 for the game, but now that I/we have the basic idea, I think it will go faster tomorrow.

Jacob 2:12-35

I was really excited for this lesson, even though it has a chastity section.

I had the kids open their scriptures and look over vv12-21.  I told them to imagine that this was the entire chapter, and to write a chapter header.  They had some great topics and this was a very good discussion.  We talked a bit about pride, and I included the quote on pride from Ezra Taft Benson that was cited in Teaching of the Book of Mormon Part One:

Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous. (Ezra Taft Benson, http://www.lds.org/ensign/1989/05/beware-of-pride)

At this point I was going to show the movie Empathy: the Key to Patient Care to help push the point home that we should remember v 17 and think of others as we do ourselves, but my craptop has been dying and Windows needs to be reinstalled. I can’t even play videos any more.  I even tried the following day to show it and couldn’t.  Jared stayed up until after 2am trying to fix it, but he finally just set up his computer.

Anyway, the video is amazing.  Check it out.

I should say here that I realize it’s a bit of a stretch to go from love of money to prideful mistreatment of others.  I don’t think this is the direction I would normally go in this lesson and it’s unlikely Jacob intended this turn, but for some reason it was right.  Even without the video, the quote from ETB was striking, and the kids were clearly moved by it.  Effective discussion.

Next I explained to the kids that we are switching gears.  Read v 22.  If you watch Duck Dynasty, Jacob is saying Si-like, “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”  Greed/pride is a serious sin, but you are guilty of something far worse.

At least one of my students has a parent who has commited adultery, and so I was a bit nervous with the tone the manual took here.  I needed to be very careful to not reopen or pour salt on any wounds with this material.  As it turned out, she was absent, but I still kept the tone of our lesson pretty light.

On the board I wrote “The plaguing sin of this generation is …”  ETB.  I told them ETB was prophet in the eighties.  One kid said, “Oh the eighties?  Then the greatest plague of that generation is bad hair!”  LOL.

I told the kids that I had done something I didn’t usually do, and looked up the definition of chastity.  Webster says it’s the state of not having sex.  Is that a good definition?  I argued it did not fit with how chastity is being used in v28 because I don’t think that the Lord only delights in women who have not had sex.  He delights in women and men who keep themselves pure — no sex before marriage, and sex only with your spouse within marriage. 

We talked about how people tried to use the scriptures to excuse sexual immorality at this time using David and Solomon.  How do people try to excuse sexual immorality today?

It was a fair discussion.  I could have been a little better prepared.  Chastity lessons are a lot like herding cats for some reason.  *sigh*

Anyway, I bore my testimony of chastity.  Growing up in Mississippi I got to see the spiritual and social consequences of unchastity firsthand every day.  Don’t go there.

I was ready to talk about polygamy, but it didn’t come up. 

Today my investigator prayed in class for the first time.  It was beautiful.

Jacob 3-4

This lesson didn’t have a whole lot in it either, and so I planned to have a 15 minute lesson and play Hunger Games again.  Wow.  Our discussion today was totally unexpected.  You never know what’s going to happen in Seminary.

I had a few verses marked in my scriptures and was prepared to spend a few minutes talking about the small plates of Nephi ala Jacob 3:13-4:4.  I had also marked vv5-8 so we could talk about what it means that the skin of the Lamanites would be whiter than the Nephites.  I think Jacob is speaking in hyperbole here, meaning that the Lamanites’ skin will be more pure at the judgment seat.  One of my students disagreed.  That’s fine.  However, the way she said it got some other students correcting her and sharing experiences about how people have challenged them because of some of the “teachings” of some church leaders about race.  This morphed into a fantastic discussion about how to handle difficult issues.  What do we really believe about race?  How must we respond when someone asks a question or tries to antagonize us?  This took about 20 minutes.  I was astonished.  What seemed to me a minor point took on a life of its own.  You just never know what’s going to happen in Seminary.

Anyway, after this, I did make my points about the small plates — that it seems  Nephi made a certain number of plates, there were a few blanks still left when he died, and that subsequent writers filled them up.  The lack of writing by the other people doesn’t mean nothing important happened or that they were too wicked to write, it just means the plates were filling up.

I didn’t even get to faith in v6.  We didn’t get to play Hunger Games, but the lesson met the needs of the students, and that’s fine by me.