LAYTON — Seminary teachers are making sure high school students going through their critical teen years know how to receive guidance during General Conference to help sustain them.
Several students on the seminary council at Layton Seminary recently got together and talked about how they have gained insight to General Conference through seminary.
There was a consensus among them that it is difficult to decipher the adult talks at times, so having their seminary teachers help translate for them is extremely helpful.
“Sometimes it’s hard to understand what they are saying, because adults speak in a different language and we don’t always understand,” said 17-year-old Amy Cottrell. “We have our own language, so in seminary, they break it down and relate the experiences to our lives that make us understand the principle more fully.”
Helping the students understand what the prophet and apostles are saying during General Conference is critical for the 13 seminary teachers at Layton.
“As seminary teachers, one of our commissions is to teach the words of the prophets, so it’s an important part of what we do,” said Brent Craven, who has been teaching at Layton Seminary for 28 years.
They aim to incorporate the talks from the living prophet and apostles into their lessons all year long, not just at Conference time.
“If there was one principle to come away with at the end of the year, it is that every student leaves with a love of the prophets, and to know with their heart and soul that a prophet lives and walks the earth today,” Craven said.
Knowing that the prophet and apostles can speak to them personally is something the students said they have also learned in seminary.
“They stress that the Lord is speaking, so when I am listening, I think, ‘OK, God is talking to me right now,’ so it makes it more intense,” Cottrell said.
The students are encouraged to head into Conference weekend prepared with several personal questions they would like to have answered.
“I always have questions going into Conference, and I know they will be answered during Conference,” said 17-year-old Sidney Baker.
Erika Huber, 17, also takes notes during Conference, another task the students are assigned through seminary. Taking notes helps Erika focus but has also made her aware of something else.
“I have learned that (during Conference) it’s like the prophet is talking to you personally,” she said.
One seminary teacher has even promised that if they are prepared with questions, they will receive answers.
Shane Frazier first began issuing the challenge and the ensuing promise when he started teaching seminary six years ago. At that time, he said, he secretly crossed his fingers hoping it would help the students get an answer, but he doesn’t have to cross his fingers anymore.
“Now I’m so confident that answers will come, from the feedback I’ve gotten from students over the years, that if they do it, write things down, and be prayerful, it will happen,” Frazier said.
One memorable experience for the students occurred a couple of years ago when they were asked to anonymously write down one of their current trials. The teacher then shuffled the papers and handed them back out, so each student had someone else’s trial. They were to go to Conference prayerfully listening for answers to that particular trial, then return after Conference to share what they had learned.
At first, it was hard for them to believe that certain members of their class were experiencing such difficult trials — one student’s dad had just left the home and another student didn’t feel pretty.
The experience allowed the students to become even more focused during Conference because they knew someone else was counting on them. On the flip side, they knew someone was going to receive an answer for them, too.
“It made it even more personal to see what someone else got out of Conference for you, and we all picked up on something different,” Cottrell said.
She said what resulted from the experience was a moment etched in the minds of the seminary students involved.
“A lot of kids who didn’t normally participate in seminary got up in tears and said they gained a testimony from the experience when they realized God is looking after them and relating things to them through a living prophet.”