Sunday, January 2, 2011

Day 50 - {Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam Teacher}

"Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause that we should hope for our deliverance in him."

~Alma 58:11

There is a story in the Book of Mormon about a group of young warriors led by a man named Helaman. They are a small band, and are known for their exceeding faith and the resulting miraculous delivery from death they experience even as they fight many battles. But there is a time when they begin to fear. They are sent with inadequate forces and little food, having been asked to retake and defend a large area of the land. They proceed to hear nothing from the government and nearly starve to death. Finally some provisions and a few more troops arrive, yet still not nearly enough for the daunting task they have been given--"to contend with an enemy which was innumberable."



Today began an interesting new assignment at church for me. I have been a Primary teacher since last spring for the 7- and 8-year-olds. Now I have been asked to teach the 3-year-olds. . . the Sunbeams.

When I first found out this was the intention of the Primary presidency, to reassign me to this age group starting in January, I thought they were pretty much crazy. I already considered my current situation an overwhelming struggle requiring faith. With DC as elders quorum president and needing to work 2-3 Sundays a month, and Roseberry still in my arms, I could not fathom what it would be like to try to take on a room full of 3-year-olds and keep everyone alive let alone growing in faith and testimony!

Then there's my other current calling as ward music chair and playing the organ two Sundays a month. So at first I thought surely a release from one position would be the answer, and I talked to the bishopric about things, asking them to pray about it. A release for me was not the answer they got. So then I talked to the Primary president. I sent her a long email with a list of my concerns: baby in arms, unavailable husband, plus Hummer really, really was looking forward to being in my class.

For several days I waited for a response. I showed up early to play for a child's baptism, and there was the Primary president. She said she had gotten my email, and they would go ahead and let me keep the older class. I was relieved, but immediately started feeling a twinge of something. That all-too-familiar feeling of the Spirit knocking on my spirit, as if to say, Are you ready to listen to me, or not? I answered, "No, I'm not changing my mind."

But then that sweet little girl came out in pure white anticipation of her special moment. And I started playing those beautifully powerful songs, and my spirit started to soften. The Holy Ghost began to teach me gently and clearly:

"That class would be Benjamin's class if he were here."

"Yes, that's right." { feelings of longing and love }

"Would you still be asking for a change of assignment if he were here?"

{ pause }

{-sigh- as the realization dawns on me}

"No. I would do whatever it took to find a way -- I would be so happy to teach my own child in Primary."

That was it. I could see that this should be no different. These little children, one of whom I have watched with particular interest because he was born four weeks before Benjamin, are precious children to their parents, not to mention their Heavenly Father.

I then felt confirming peace from the Spirit that yes, this was what I was meant to do, and also that it would be a joy to me.

After the baptism I ran to talk to the Primary president, and tell her of my change of heart. . . . .

The peaceful feelings did not stay. The very next Sunday I sat in tears in Primary. It was too much for one person. All I wanted to do was hold Roseberry on my lap and listen and be strengthened. I didn't want to come home from church every week stressed out and cranky and dreading the next Sunday. I could not believe my own idiocy in taking back my choice.

Then I would remember that I DID get that clear answer, and that I KNEW I was supposed to be doing this. But I couldn't shake the dread I felt. How on earth could I possibly do what I had been asked? I couldn't understand WHY they didn't call someone else. There are many in the ward without callings! WHY did they think this was a good thing for me?



Helaman writes to the leader of the armies, saying "And now the cause of these our embarrassments, or the cause why they did not send more strength unto us, we knew not; therefore we were grieved and also filled with fear, lest by any means the judgments of God should come upon our land, to our overthrow and utter destruction."

He doesn't wring his hands and sit there pleading why, why, why, like I was doing. He and his stripling warriors pour out their hearts in prayer, asking for strength and deliverance, so that they could accomplish what was needed. And they are visited with the assurance of the Lord, and filled with courage and determination to DO IT.

They use brilliant stratagem, and manage to achieve the impossible--taking back the city of Manti without any shedding of blood, and even driving their enemy out of that quarter of the land altogether.

Helaman writes that they still don't know why the government that is supposed to be supporting them still appears to be ignoring them, and that his forces are small for retaining the large area, "But, behold, it mattereth not—we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies."



I am inspired by this. I want to be like Helaman. I don't know why there are pefectly healthy-looking people without callings, sitting in the foyers talking while I traipse by overflowing with children and craft supplies and scriptures and diaper bag. But WHY is not the point. What matters is HOW. And WHAT.

So now I am trying to look forward to seeing the brilliant stratagem that the Lord will help me devise in order to accomplish this. And also the joy I will hopefully feel as I am stretched spiritually yet again.

I worked all week getting my lesson ready, trying to memorize it, buying sparkly stuff for the kids to stick on to crowns, reading ideas on the Internet on how other people have survived this calling. Last night I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stop thinking of how much I wished Benjamin would be there today. What he would look like at this age. How excited he would be to go to Primary with his Mommy. How I would probably be so busy with other kids he would be naughty to get my attention. Or I would just look over and smile at him. . . .I cried in the dark, and hoped that maybe he would be there anyway.


100 days of gratitude tag

So how did it go today?

Oh, you probably don't want to know. It was far from inspiring. Only three of the seven little ones were there.  DC was able to take Roseberry. And I had TWO adult helpers. Yes, that is a ratio of 1:1. I realize that should be enough for anything. But, boy howdy, did those little boys want their mamas.

As I hefted one of the wailing youngsters, I suddenly felt his weight as if the weight of my own little boy, and was filled with gratitude for this calling.

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for patiently teaching me, and for using my love for Benjamin to bless me now!


David and Kaitlyn said...[Reply to comment]

I'm glad you found it comforting! After our first pregnancy, I was called to the Sunbeams and I dreaded it too. We had been trying for 6 months after the several more we had to wait because of the medications I was given. I wanted a baby of my very own and still wasn't sure that could ever happen, I did NOT want to teach OTHER peoples kids every week! But I too found great comfort in the sweetness of those three year olds' spirits. I learned a lot of patience too ;-) Loved this post! And as you know my prayers were answered!

Marji & Jim said...[Reply to comment]

thank you for sharing your feelings about your calling. I am so glad that you are teaching Kaylee & Matthew. I know they will learn so much from you and your sweet spirit. I've been worried for you as well(with having Rose and 2 of my kids)...hopefully Matthew will be better next time. he talked about all the fun things you did in class. I know you will do a wonderful job. let me know if there is any way i can help you!

OR Duck Fans said...[Reply to comment]

You will make a great sunbeam teacher. I taught the sunbeams for about 2 1/2 years. I was so lucky to have a great helper for most of the time. I would have been in trouble without her. I use to plan LOTS of different kind of activities for each Sunday. Some of their favorites were lining up the chairs and acting like we were in a train or bus and then talking about what we saw outside the window (lions, the ocean etc.). Also sometimes I would bring everyone their own blanket and we would sit on the floor and read a story or they would "rest". We also did a lot of dancing, red light/green light, London Bridges, bubbles and stuff like that. Scott and I are now teaching the CTR 6 and we taught some of my sunbeams last year. They were still a very active/lively class, but it was fun teaching them again. When I was teaching the sunbeams someone told me that they loved teaching the sunbeams because it determined how they would like primary. After she told me that I didn't stress so much about making them sit through the whole lesson that I had spent hours preparing. Instead if it wasn't going well, I would try to pick one thing I really wanted them to get from the lesson and then just try to keep on brining it up in playtime or snack. You'll do great!

Annalisa said...[Reply to comment]

i feel the same in arms, hubby unavailable, and wanting to still be useful. enjoy the sunbeams, get down on the floor and play with them and show them lots of love. you'll have so much fun. hugs!

Andrea said...[Reply to comment]

I know you will do wonderful in this calling. I am so thankful for you and that Isaac gets to have you as a teacher. I am thankful that you have been able to teach 2 of my children. How lucky are we?

Andre said...[Reply to comment]

Holy cow!!!! Are you sure you didn't write this post for me?? All I can say is, Amen, Sister!!! I too taught the 8 year olds last year and though it was a struggle with 12 active kids and mostly boys and 4 of them from inactive families returning to activity I wanted to stay there and told the president that. I also would be teaching my Savannah's class this year. But the primary president, who won't stop praying about me, felt that I needed to be in nursery.

I was in nursery 10 years ago and didn't want to go back. But I told them I would because Colby is nursery age and I want him to have a good teacher that will care about him, so I guess I could try to be the kind of teacher that parents want for their kids.

Last week went okay. I'm not by myself but one year olds don't exactly stay in place and they don't pay attention and don't really listen so it was a challenge. I actually told the pres that I could be released anytime. But as I read your post I thought about how I am Colby's teacher and how I can watch over him during this part of his life. I really want to make nursery a positive place for the kids. I want them to want to come. That will take time as I figure things out but your post made me realize that it is a privilege to teach these young spirits.

Thanks for the great reminder. Now let's remember the Sundays that things went well and forget the rest!