I substitute-taught a primary lesson this last Sunday on Moroni and his writings to the 11-12 year-olds. When I was first asked to do it, I said yes mostly for selfish reasons because I’ve found that somehow the Lord gives me opportunities to substitute-teach when the lesson is something He particularly wants to teach me. I didn’t know what the lesson was about when I agreed to do it, but when I looked at it, I knew that once again it was for me.
2 And now it came to pass that after the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah, behold, the Nephites who had escaped into the country southward were hunted by the Lamanites, until they were all destroyed.
3 And my father also was killed by them, and I even remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfil the commandment of my father. And whether they will slay me, I know not.
4 Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not.
5 Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I may live I know not. (Mormon 8:2-5)
Show the picture Mormon Bids Farewell to a Once Great Nation and ask the children who the men in the picture are.
· Explain that Mormon gave part of the sacred records to his son, Moroni, to protect them from the Lamanites and to have Moroni complete the account. Have the children read Moroni’s words in Mormon 8:2–5.
· Help the children determine approximately how long Moroni was alone by finding the year of the final Nephite battle on the bottom of the page in Mormon 6. Then have the children subtract that date from the year listed on the bottom of the last page of Moroni 10. (421 - 385 = 36 years.)
· Ask the children how long they have ever been alone. Help them imagine what it would be like to be alone for thirty-six years.
· Explain that Moroni lived through many difficulties to complete the gold plates so they could come to future generations as the Book of Mormon and help us become like Jesus Christ.
· You might also use enrichment activity 1 as an attention activity.
Enrichment activity: For this activity you will need a piece of tin and a nail. (A large lid from a can might work for the piece of tin. Cover all sharp edges with tape.) Have the children take turns using the nail to scratch a letter or two of the following words: Now I, Moroni … on the piece of metal or tin. Express your appreciation for the Book of Mormon record keepers, who engraved the words of God on metal plates.
A few reasons why I felt this lesson was for me was because 1) I’ve been going through one of those periodical struggles wherein I feel my writing is not worthwhile or important 2) I’ve been feeling like I’m very much isolated and alone a lot and don’t have much opportunity to be an influence for good, and 3) I’ve been feeling like writing is getting harder for me.
Reading over Moroni’s experience has given me some much-needed perspective about what I face. I am nowhere near the same class as the prophet Moroni, either in spirituality, or in difficult life experience, and the comparison is instructive to me.
1) Moroni was alone for 36 years. Any civilization he ran across was likely to be dangerous to him. Me, I’m only alone during the day as I write. (The longest I was ever alone was about a week when my husband was overseas for work, and even though I was going through a sad time in my life, I had other people I could talk to.) My neighbors are not likely to kill me if they find out I believe in Christ.
2) Moroni was an apostle with no one to minister to, since all the Nephites were destroyed and everyone left was determined to destroy believers in Christ. (Talk about feeling unimportant and unable to be an influence for good!) Me, I’m a run-of-the-mill Latter-day Saint who gets to live in a place and time with a relatively high number of faithful Saints of the restored church, and I have people I can serve in my callings.
3) Moroni had to painstakingly scratch his message on metal and carry that load around with him everywhere. Me, I get to type my little thoughts and scripture insights out on a nice laptop in the comfort of my central-heated home with running water and a pantry of food. When I’m ready, I can instantly post my writing to the internet where anyone in the world can read it.
I have so much to be thankful for! (I guess that makes this a belated Thanksgiving post.)
And still the few challenges I face are just enough for me to feel great respect and compassion for Moroni.
What prophets and people in the scriptures have you identified with in difficult times?
Have you ever taught lessons seemed to speak directly to your difficulties?