Oh I was so angry with my ward today! They were so irreverent during Sacrament meeting! I mean for cryin out loud; no one has an excuse for being irreverent. We are all adults; there are no children, and we even had a high councilman speaking. But people were talking and nudging each other and giggling. I was just disgusted, and my nerves were really on end, too. I had 10 minutes to calm down after sacrament meeting and try to get myself into the right frame of mind to teach my class. It was hard, but I did it.
Teaching has become a lot easier for me now. I get compliments on my lessons every week, too. This still boggles my mind, but I appreciate knowing that my teaching has been effective. My bishop came up after class and said I had a great way of drawing out everyone and encouraging them to participate; but when they remained silent, I didn't let it phase me. Well I will admit that their silence sometimes DOES phase me and gets me a little uncomfortable, but usually someone will eventually speak up after I ask a question. I make sure to encourage comments, sharing experiences, and when someone gives a wrong answer, rather than telling them they are wrong, I find a way to take what they said and "build upon it" towards the correct answer. I think that helps people feel more at ease when talking in class.
Today's lesson was about Ammon, the sons of Mosiah, and how Ammon taught King Lamoni, and his brethren ended up teaching King Lamoni's father. I love this sotry abotu how Ammon protected the flocks of the king. Ok, cutting off arms is kind of gruesome, but the point that I believe Mormon wanted us to take away is how effectively Ammon served as a missionary. He didn't march straight into the Lamanite kingdom and pull out his flip chart and start with the first dicussion. Instead he asked King Lamoni if he could serve him. And serve him he did! He also made the other servants feel comfortable around him; he did not have a "holier than thou" attitude, and saw them as his equals. It wasn't a "what I have is better than what you have and therefore I'm better" attitude, but rather "I want you to have the same gift that brings me such joy" attitude! When his fellow servants were in despair, fearing their lives after the enemies of the king scattered the flocks, as they have done on regular occasion, causing King Lamoni to get angry and slay his own servants, Ammon's heart swelled with joy, because he knew this was an opportunity to show love and service to them. He not only helped them re-gather the flocks, but because he had been promised by God that he would not be slain while doing missionary work, he knew that he could withstand the enemies of the king and prevent them from scattering the flocks again. He, one man, ended up killing many of them, and cut off the arms of each one who raised a sword against him. His power caused fear in the enemies and they fled, and his brethren were awed by his power. They took the arms to King Lamoni as a testimony of what had happened, and King Lamoni saw how Ammon truly served him. Even while they were telling him about this, Ammon was feeding the king's horses and still serving him! His great love for the King and his desire to serve touched King Lamoni deeply, and therefore the King wanted to know with what power Ammon was able to accomplish these things. This led him into a discussion of God, and the plan of Redemption. King Lamoni believed every word he said, because not only did he have witnesses to testify of Ammon's power, but also because he saw what love and devotion Ammon had for him.
What a marvelous way to teach the gospel! To truly go out there and serve our fellow men; not with the attitude that we are going to "baptize", but that we are going to testify! Not with the belief that we have a corner on the gospel, but rather that the gospel is something for everyone! Those missionaries who are truly converted realize this, and want to share their great joy with others -- they aren't out to convert, but to testify and to be examples. Serving and showing love is the best way to reach individuals, and to truly teach them of the mercy and the greatness of our God. They will want to know more, naturally, because they see something "different" in these young men and women, and all of us who testify of the truthfulness of the gospel through service and example.
I just love the Book of Mormon. It's even popped up in my dreams lately. I love how easy it is to read. I love how interesting the stories are, and knowing they are also true. I love seeing how what happened since 500 B.C. on this continent can still teach us today -- how we can learn from the Lamanite and Nephite nations of old. It is simply amazing.