1. This idea is straight from the lesson. Give each of the students a paper and a pen. Read Quote #1: Spiritual self-reliance is essential to our eternal well-being. When we are spiritually self-reliant, our testimonies do not depend on the testimonies of others. We seek our own spiritual experiences through praying daily, studying the scriptures, and exercising faith in Jesus Christ. We turn to our Heavenly Father for His help to resolve our own difficult problems. We are also able to strengthen others in their times of spiritual need. (From the online youth manual)
2. After someone reads the quote, have the students write on their paper what they think spiritual self-reliance is. Have a few share what they wrote.
What is a Testimony?
To kind of introduce testimonies, I did a sensory activity that I did once for Family Home Evening a few years ago. It was a hit. And I knew my teenagers would like it. I had two of them sit at the front of the room, facing the other students, and blindfolded both of them. Here's what you do at this point:
Stand behind the first student and ring a bell. Ask him what he heard. Then ask him to touch a piece of soap. Ask what it is. Have him smell a baggie with a piece of cooked bacon in it. Ask him what it is. Give him a piece of cheese to eat. Ask him what it is.
Stand behind the second child. Open a piece of candy behind her. Ask her what that sound was. Ask her to touch a stuffed toy. Ask her what that was. Ask her to smell a baggie with a sectioned orange in it. Ask her to identify it. Have her taste a granola bar. Ask that it was.
Ask the first student, "How did you know I was holding cooked bacon to your nose? Did you need to see it to know what it was?" Ask the second student, "How did you know you were tasting a granola bar? Did you need to see it to know what it was?"
We don't need to see that something is an orange if we smell it. We don't need to see that something is cheese if we taste it.
Can you see Heavenly Father? (No.) But do you know that he is real? (Yes.) How do you know he's real? (By the feelings that we have.) Can you see Jesus Christ? (No.) But do you know that he's real? (Yes.) How do you know he is real? (By the feelings we have.)
The feeling in your heart that Heavenly Father lives and that Jesus is the Christ is called a testimony.
You Can't Rely on Others' Testimonies
1. Interview Activity
I gave each student a little half-page worksheet. Again, this is straight from the online manual. I put the students in groups of two. On the worksheet was a scripture to read. I had three different scriptures, so some kids had the same scripture as others. I made sure that each group had two students with two different scriptures. Here are the three scriptures:
D&C 56: 26-28
Here was what the worksheet said (I'm so sorry; I don't have any copies left of this to scan, so I'm just describing this for you): "Directions: Read this scripture - ________________. Then, ask your partner the following questions about their scripture. Write their answers below each question. Then allow your partner to ask questions about your scripture."
Here are the questions they asked each other:
What did the scripture you read say?
What did you learn about spiritual self-reliance from these verses?
What are you inspired to do because of what you read?
Then I had a few of them share their own or their partners' answers.
2. Parable of the Ten Virgins Activity
I wanted to review the Parable of the Ten Virgins. I split them up into four groups, and I gave each group a few verses of the parable to read to themselves, and then illustrate. Then, I had each group show the others their part of the parable and relate it to them. Here's how I divided it up:
Group 1: Matthew 25:1-5
Group 2: Matthew 25:6-7
Group 3: Matthew 25:8-9
Group 4: Matthew 25:10-12
The kids got a big kick out of this activity. They're funny.
My mom has a lamp similar to the kinds that were used in Israel that I showed to the kids:
I now want to use one of many possible interpretations of the parable of the ten virgins to highlight the relationship between testimony and conversion...Please think of the lamps used by the virgins as the lamps of testimony. The foolish virgins took their lamps of testimony but took no oil with them. Consider the oil to be the oil of conversion...
Were the five wise virgins selfish and unwilling to share, or were they indicating correctly that the oil of conversion cannot be borrowed? Can the spiritual strength that results from consistent obedience to the commandments be given to another person? Can the knowledge obtained through diligent study and pondering of the scriptures be conveyed to one who is in need? Can the peace the gospel brings to a faithful Latter-day Saint be transferred to an individual experiencing adversity or great challenge? The clear answer to each of these questions is no.
How Can You Gain a Testimony?
1. It's hard work.
I had a student read this story I got out of an old Family Home Evening Manual:
Nine-year-old Christopher went shopping with his mother. At the pet store, he saw a puppy that he wanted. He asked his mother to buy it for him. She told him if he really wanted it, he would have to earn his own money to buy it. His mother told Christopher that a puppy required lots of care and attention and Christopher would have to be responsible for doing this.
Christopher wanted the puppy very much, so for the next several weeks he did every job he could find for his parents and neighbors to earn the money. He was very excited when he finally had enough money to buy the puppy.
He enjoyed the puppy and took good care of it. He learned that it took lots of work to keep it healthy and happy.
A testimony is much more important than a pet or any worldly possession. It is something that no one can injure or take without your consent. It is something that will influence your life forever. It is a testimony.
2. Drops of Oil Activity
I had hidden four drops of oil made of construction paper under four of the chairs. I had the students look under their chairs and take the papers out. Here are what my drops of oil looked like:
First: Desire to believe. The Book of Mormon encourages us: “If [you] will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, … even if [you] can no more than desire to believe” (Alma 32:27)...God promises us divine help even if we have only a desire to believe, but it has to be a true and not a pretended desire.
The second student taped the drop that says "search the scriptures" onto the cruse, then I had her read this quote from Elder Uchtdorf's talk:
Second: Search the scriptures. Have questions; study them out; search in the scriptures for answers. Again, the Book of Mormon has good advice for us: “If [you] give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart” through diligent study of the word of God, the good seed “will begin to swell within your breasts” if you will not resist with unbelief. This good seed will “enlarge [your] soul” and “enlighten [your] understanding” (Alma 32:28).
The third student taped the drop that says "keep the commandments" onto the cruse, and then I had him read this quote from Elder Uchtdorf's talk:
Third: Do the will of God; keep the commandments. It is not enough to enter into a scholarly debate if we want to know for ourselves that the kingdom of God has been restored upon the earth. Casual study is also not enough. We have to get in on the action ourselves, and that means learning and then doing God’s will.
We need to come to Christ and follow His teachings. The Savior taught: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16–17; emphasis added). And He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
At this point, we also looked up and read D&C 130:18-19. It went really well with the third step.
Then have the fourth student tape the drop that says "ponder, fast, and pray" onto the cruse and then read this final quote from Elder Uchtdorf's talk:
Fourth: Ponder, fast, and pray. To receive knowledge from the Holy Ghost, we must ask Heavenly Father for it. We must trust that God loves us and that He will help us to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost...
The prophet Alma said:
“I testify unto you that I do know that these things … are true. And how do [you] suppose that I know of their surety?
“… Behold, I have fasted and prayed … that I might know these things of myself. And … the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation” (Alma 5:45–46).
My dear brothers and sisters, Alma received his witness by fasting and prayer more than 2,000 years ago, and we may have the same sacred experience today.
*Note - our class time ended at this point. But I had worked really hard on some other parts to this lesson, so I'm planning on doing them next week.
There are Many Parts to a Testimony
I got this idea from the Friend magazine. I'm going to borrow some of my son's legos and explain that a testimony is gained little by little, just as a building is built brick by brick. We can compare gaining a testimony to constructing a building. For example, one brick could stand for having a testimony of the importance of attending church; another brick, a testimony about The Book of Mormon; and yet another brick, a testimony of prayer.
2. Stone Activity
Gaining a testimony is an ongoing process
1. We read this excerpt from Elder Hales' address in April 2012 General Conference (again, one student reads each paragraph to break it up a bit):
The Savior told His disciples about a son who left his wealthy father, went to a far country, and wasted his inheritance. When a famine arose, the young man took the lowly job of feeding swine. He was so hungry that he wanted to eat the husks meant for the animals.
Away from home, far from the place he wanted to be, and in his destitute condition, something of eternal significance happened in the life of this young man. In the Savior’s words, “he came to himself.”1 He remembered who he was, realized what he had been missing, and began to desire the blessings freely available in his father’s house.
Throughout our lives, whether in times of darkness, challenge, sorrow, or sin, we may feel the Holy Ghost reminding us that we are truly sons and daughters of a caring Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we may hunger for the sacred blessings that only He can provide. At these times we should strive to come to ourselves and come back into the light of our Savior’s love...
As our spiritual desires increase, we become spiritually self-reliant.
2. Spiritual Desires Worksheet
I'm going to hand these out and have the kids write on them. If they feel like sharing, I'd like to hear some of their spiritual desires. But if they don't, it's allll good. But I do want them to share what they wrote in answer to the second question:
To review, I want to play this game I found in a book I have called Gospel Games. Here is my jpg of the gameboard:
And here is my jpg of the rules:
And here is my jpg of the "move" wordstrips:
And that, as they say, is that.