It’s 5:00 a.m. and that annoying sound from the phone disturbs our sleep. The ringtone choices included Dream Theme, Mildly Alarming, Paradise Island, Silky Way, and Love Flute. Early in the morning they all sound awful.
We are not alone in our misery. In the Waynesboro Stake there are nearly 100 seminary students and their teachers suffering through the same experience. They are headed to one of the 11 locations where early morning seminary is held. From the Franklin West Virginia Ward on the north, to the Rivanna Ward at Lake Monticello, every area in the stake is covered for seminary. Some of the meetings are held in churches, some in homes.
Our goal is to visit each teacher at each location once a semester. Some of the classes have more than one teacher so we double up on those classes. Some of the locations are so far from our apartment an overnight motel stay is necessary.
Somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. the suffering ends. Sought after blessing come during the classes. This year discussions originating in the Book of Mormon wake up all who attend, well, almost all.
The teachers are called by the stake. Without exception our seminary teachers are good teachers. It takes talent to keep the young people involved and mentally active at an early hour. The teachers encourage the students to apply gospel principles, often with the use of seminary journals used to write personal thoughts, improvement possibilities and goals. At the end of the classes Sister Ware often comments, “these dedicated seminary teachers are almost assuredly guaranteed entrance into the Celestial Kingdom.”
The students are amazing as well. In a home in Ruckersville, VA we heard a young man give the morning devotional. He sat at the piano and played a single note. He explained that it sounded good. He compared it to some truth found in all religions. He then played a chord, followed by a scale, comparing them to the increased truth students received by attending seminary. Finally, he explained that all truth is available through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and symbolized by beautiful piano music played with both hands, all notes, and the full keyboard. We thought it was inspired thinking for a 17-year-old, especially at 6:30 in the morning.
One seminary class was told we were coming. The students knew we were a different kind of missionary, different from those 18 and 19-year-old missionaries serving in their ward. Words in the opening prayer gave thanks for the “Elder Missionaries”. In comments made during the lesson and again in the closing prayer we were no longer senior missionaries, but elder missionaries. Being elder missionaries isn’t so bad. It would be nice if we had the cloak, ring and elder wand.
“O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.” (Psalm 71:17)