Saturday, February 27, 2016

PIAT - Visualize Study Skill

Don and I are half-way done with our second semester of the Pathway program! We are excited about finishing Pathway this year and moving on to BYU-Idaho online classes. Right now though, we are all the way into the book of 3 Nephi in our Book of Mormon religion class. This week we have studied chapters 12-17. One of our assignments this week is called “Putting it All Together”. We have to choose a topic we have studied in the lesson for the week, reflect on what we have learned, and then create something that “puts what you are learning all together”.
Each week one of the students in our class presents a study skill. These skills are meant to help us “achieve the goal of greater understanding” when we read the scriptures. There are nine study skills that we can pick from when it is our turn to present. They are, 1)Substitution, 2)Setting, 3)Principles and Doctrine, 4) List, 5)Clustering, 6)Flag Phrases, 7)Symbolism, 8)Visualize, and 9)Cause and Effect. The study skill that was presented this week was, “Visualize”.
Visualizing while reading isn’t a new concept for me. As an avid reader from the time I was very young, visualizing is somewhat second nature for me as I read. However, visualizing the scriptures is a little more difficult because of the strange language and the symbolism that is often used. But, in our resources for this study skill, we are told that the purpose of using the Visualize skill is that it “can bring new insights and greater understanding to scriptural passages”. Well I can certainly use new insights and greater understanding when I read the scriptures!
So how does "Visualize" work? Our student lead gave us three steps to follow to better understand how to “Visualize”.
First, determine the setting. This means that we have to figure out the time and place of what we are reading. These are important when trying to understand what is happening in the scriptures. If we know that what we are reading took place in Jerusalem 600 years before Christ was born, we can use what we may already know about that time and place to better imagine what might be going on. Then if we can imagine the people who are there and what is happening, we can get better picture in our heads of the scene that we are reading about.
Second, look for the details. This step requires us to pay attention to small things in the scriptures that will provide details about the time, place, and/or people were are reading about. Determine what details are important and will add to our understanding of what we are reading can be difficult. But, as the resource for this skill says, these details can “bring the scriptures to life”.
Third, ask questions to help fill in your mental picture. This step can require more work from us as we try to figure out what the scriptures may not actually be spelling out word for word. This step is, not surprisingly, the hardest for me to do. I tend to gloss over the things I don’t understand and I don’t spend time worrying about it. But, when I do take the time to ask questions about the setting, the people, or the story, it helps immensely when trying to visualize what I’m reading.
Our student lead referred to a talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from April Conference 2013 called, “Lord, I Believe” in which, Elder Holland uses the study skill “Visualize” so well. He tells a story from Mark 9. He lays out the setting, fills in the details, and then asks and answers questions about the story. He does this so well that while reading about it, you can see the scenes play out in your mind.
I don’t know that I’ll ever be as good at this study skill as Elder Holland, but I’m so happy to have the tools to be able to try. I hope you will want to try to “Visualize” as you read your scriptures too!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Putting it All Together - The Zoramites!

Don and I have started our second semester with the Pathway program. This semester we are studying the second half of the Book of Mormon: Alma 30 – Moroni 10. We also have a relatively easy math class. As part of our religion class, we are required submit an assignment every week called “Putting it All Together”. We have to choose a topic we have studied in the lesson for the week, reflect on what we have learned, and then create something that “puts what you are learning all together”. This week, and probably in many weeks ahead, I will be posting on my blog about something I have learned.
As part of our class on Thursday nights we work as a group on an activity that is directed by one of the other students. This week my group studied Alma 31:15-35 and “Praying with Sincerity and Faith”. This is the topic that I want to try to put my thoughts about and my learning all together in this post.
Chapter 31 in the book of Alma is about Alma’s mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites. Alma, along with his brothers and sons, went to preach to the Zoramites because the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites. They had the gospel but then they made a lot of mistakes and became apostates. They didn’t keep the commandments, they didn’t pray daily, they denied Christ and worshiped once a week with set prayers.
In fact, in verses 15 to18, we can read a Zoramite prayer which they would cry out loudly while standing on top of a tower, called a Rameumpton, in the middle of their church with their hands stretched toward heaven. This prayer is filled with the words “us”, “we”, and “our”, showing the selfish nature of the Zoramites. They also deny Christ in verse 16 by saying that God had made it known to them that there won’t be a Christ. Alma and his brothers and sons had never seen this kind of worship before and they “were astonished beyond all measure”. Alma was saddened by the Zoramites and their pride and materialism so before he began to teach them, he prayed.
Alma’s prayer shows a strong belief in Christ. In every verse he cries out to the Lord. He knew that teaching the Zoramites would be a challenge and in his prayer he asks for help. He tells the Lord that his “heart is exceedingly sorrowful” and that their wickedness “doth pain my soul”. He doesn’t want the Zoramites to suffer in their wickedness anymore. He then asks for strength, patience, wisdom, and comfort as he tries to bring the Zoramites back to the Lord.
As I read Alma’s prayer in verses 26 to 35, I feel his love for the Zoramites and his faith in the Lord. He is sad at what the Zorzmites  have become and he wants them to have the blessings of being righteous again. His need for specific qualities that will help him are asked with the faith that he will be given them. His prayer is powerful and sincere.
I know that my own prayers need to be more like Alma’s. When I pray, I need to remember to be sincere and truthful about my needs. I also need to have faith in my Heavenly Father’s abilities and timing. This is a struggle but the comparison of the Zoramite prayer and the prayer of Alma shows how important it is.