Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Fond Memory of Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

I prefer to incorporate life into my seminary lessons, rather than ignoring what is going on in the world to teach general principles. For example, lessons may incorporate elections, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, or any other event.

This morning I decided to have a lesson dedicated to Joseph B. Wirthlin. When I was young, I couldn't keep track of Apostles. They all sounded the same to me, and I'm sure my seminary kids aren't much different than I was at their age. So this morning, I put Elder Wirthlin's picture up, told the kids he had passed away (only two of them already knew), and I had a small quiz about Elder Wirthlin's life. Our quizzes consist of me tossing candy to the kids who answer correctly.

I used to tune out Elder Wirthlin when he spoke. His speech patterns were monotone, and I didn't (and sometimes I still don't) have the maturity to get past the speech patterns. But I have tremendously enjoyed Elder Wirthlin's recent General Conference talks.

This morning after the quiz, we watched "The Greatest Commandment," his October 2007 talk, in which he discusses our need to have charity. The most poignant moment of the talk was when he started shaking severely, and Elder Nelson quietly stood up behind Elder Wirthlin and braced him. Elder Wirthlin's words were powerful. His determination to share his message even though he was clearly exhausted got the kids' attention. But they all remembered Elder Nelson's small, simple act of kindness of supporting his dear friend. That act taught Elder Wirthlin's principle more forcefully than words alone could possibly do. I teared up the first time I watched the talk, and I teared up a little this morning, reliving the moment and remembering Elder Wirthlin.

After a brief discussion about charity and apostles, I shared with the kids the knowledge I have that Elder Wirthlin was an Apostle of God.

I thank God for Elder Wirthlin. I'll miss him.