Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who drained the oil from my vessel?

Last week I attend some wonderful classes at BYU’s Education Week with my mom. We had never been before and it was fun to go together. We both had crazy schedules since my kids started school that week and my sister-in-law Debbie was put on bed rest and needed help with her 2 year old, my nephew Avi. But we did get to attend quite a few classes. I was uplifted and inspired and wished it wouldn’t end. I learned a lot and felt the Spirit often. Some of my favorite classes were by Merrilee Boyack, Kathy Headlee and Mark Beecher, but there were so many good ones.

Friday evening I took Alexander and Elisa to the Especially for Youth Sure and Steady concert. The EFY program at BYU has now made it an annual event to have a concert with the singers who perform for EFY. A couple of weeks before, we passed by Utah Valley University and saw a sign announcing the concert with John Bytheway. For those of you who don’t know who he is, he is a funny motivational speaker who often speaks to youth. We have a few of his talks or books on CD and DVD and have checked out others from the library. Alex really enjoys them and wants to collect them all. When he saw that John Bytheway would be at the concert, he begged me to go so I bought the tickets. Sabrina didn’t want to go so she spent the time with her Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Sheri and Avi.

Although John Bytheway used the same material I’ve heard in his talks, Alex still laughed hard and enjoyed his jokes. John was the MC and talked in between groups of songs. Alex especially enjoyed when John Bytheway was playing his own rocked-out version of a primary song on his guitar with impromptu back-up from the great band that was on stage for the singers.

I had never heard the singers who were there sing before, although I had seen Jessie Clark Funk CDs at the store before. I didn't know how great she was. The singers were so talented and it is awesome that they choose to use their talents to help others think of Jesus. Daniel Beck’s voice is so amazing. He has an album scheduled to come out in October and I’ll be looking for it. They had EFY CDs there so I bought one. I love it and have listened to it several times already. I was a bit disappointed though because one of the young singers, Jocelyn, was really good, but isn’t on the CD. Hillary Weeks, who has been singing for quite some time, sings the ones on the CD that Jocelyn did in concert. She sounds great too. I can’t find any information on Jocelyn (that’s her whole stage name). I highly recommend this CD. So many great songs!

I came away from Education Week and the concert feeling so uplifted and I was thinking that I hadn’t felt the oil in my vessel so full for a while and it felt great. I was motivated to be a much better Sunday School teacher to the 12- and 13-year olds who I teach. I had been working on my stripling warrior lesson for several weeks and was excited to give it. THEN I went to class. We had a girl come visit us who had stopped going to our Spanish-speaking ward who wouldn’t stop talking to the girls and also two boys, who are cousins, came to investigate the church. It was obvious that they were dragged there by their mothers and didn’t want to be there. During the lesson they made several rude comments about the scriptures and how boring they are. I knew that all of this was new to them and they were probably very uncomfortable there so I tried to be patient, but it seemed to escalate so I asked the “gentlemen” to stop talking so others could listen. I did the same to the girls who were talking, but it didn’t really help. At the end of the lesson I felt drained. I said, “Well, I hope we can all feel the Spirit next week.” One girl said, “I felt the Spirit.” I’m not sure how she could, but I appreciated her effort.

I left to Relief Society feeling so down. Why had I bothered to put so much time into the lesson? I know they don’t participate or appreciate my efforts. I felt the oil draining from my lamp. All the excitement and desires I had to do better in my calling left me. Well, it didn’t take long for the Lord to call me to repentance. As I sat there, almost ready to cry, the teacher started the lesson, teaching about Elder Wirthlin’s General Conference Address Concern for the One. I was following along with the lesson, but felt immediately chastised and strengthened at the same time by the part of the talk subtitled Some are lost because they are weary.

“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. With all the pressures and demands on our time and the stress we face each day, it’s little wonder we get tired. Many feel discouraged because they have not measured up to their potential. Others simply feel too weak to contribute. And so, as the flock moves on, gradually, almost imperceptibly, some fall behind.
Everyone has felt tired and weary at one time or another. I seem to feel more so now than I did when I was younger. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, even Jesus Christ knew what it meant to be tired. I do not wish to underestimate the weight that members of the Church bear upon their shoulders, nor do I minimize the emotional and spiritual trials they face. These can be heavy and often difficult to bear.
I do, however, have a testimony of the renewing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah proclaimed that the Lord “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.” When I feel tired, I remember the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“’Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. …
“… Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; … and let all the sons of God shout for joy!’”

I’m feeling much better now and will try to plug the drain of my lamp a bit tighter. I can work on my weaknesses to be better teacher with a more optimistic attitude. Well, hopefully I can still say that after next week’s lesson. I already have some activities planned to help with my lesson so I’ll just keep praying.

(Debbie had her second baby, Itai. Congratulations, Jared and Debbie! He's a cutie just like his brother!!!)

Link to hear Daniel Beck
Link to hear Jessie Clark Funk

These aren’t the songs on the CD I have, but are by the same people. You can also buy that EFY CD here if you are interested:

1 comment:

  1. Sorry they drained your oil. My class makes me feel the same way sometime. Education week seems a lot like EFY. If you can, you should definitely send each of your children there.


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