Bri Colorful

Posts Tagged ‘BYU

Among the most precious gifts I received this Christmas, is a binder full to burst of memoirs, testimonies, old photographs, life histories, etc. of ancestors from both sides of my family tree (up to my great, great, great grandparents). The gift was inspired and drawn from work my aunt Mardi did on my maternal line this past year; my angel mother added to and organized further research for each of her grown up children.

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Tonight, for Family Home Evening, we decided to read about my paternal great, great, great grandfather, Alfred Henry Atkinson, born in 1849. His parents were converts from England; his father the branch president at Middlesex. We learned that they sailed to America in 1855.

My husband recalled to me that he had helped design a website at BYU called Mormon Migration about converts who voyaged to America. You can look up voyages by ancestor name, location, ship name, or dates. We quickly found our ancestors names listed among those who sailed on the Chimborazo from Liverpool to Philadelphia in 1855. I browsed through the different voyage accounts and read a few of them, including the account kept by the ship historian, Elder William G. Mills. I was touched by his account of the rapture the saints felt at leaving their homeland for a life full of promise, hearts so full they were singing. I was especially impressed by the hymn he wrote during the voyage.

When on our Mother Earth we trod
And oft admired her gorgeous robe;
When wandering thru life’s varied scene
At will upon the solid globe;
The goodness of our God we knew
And felt the power of His command;
We praised and loved His holy name
And owned this providential hand.

Thus now when on the watery sphere
When every wave is crowned with foam;
The Chimborazo’s “wooden walls”
Our temporary floating home;
With horizon of sky and sea
That circumscribes us like a ring.
We see the kindness of our God,
We feel the power of ocean’s king.

Then let our numerous voices blend
In songs of deepest gratitude
To him, whose hand controls the sea,
And guides us over the briny flood,
He claims our praise, so let us be
Humbly obedient to his word,
Be faithful now and evermore
To gain all blessings from our Lord.

May we still feel his favouring hand
While traveling over the trackless deep;
The winds in storms and gushing sound
or calmly over nature sleep
God bless our worthy president
The council, president & Saints,
The noble captain, mates and crew
And may we have no just complaints [p.11]

Oh! May we live as Saints should live
our walk & conversation good;
As living testimonies to
The gospel covenant received
Be cheerful Saints all will be well
Angels watch over our gallant ship;
And for the power that brings us thru
Let it be heard from every lip.

As I read on about Alfred and his wife, Mathilda’s lives, I marveled at how they took hardship in stride. They seem to have had no expectations that their lives would be free from trial, that their needs would be met. They took in so many people (at different times both of their mothers – They built an add-on to their home for Mathilda’s mother-in-law and her four young children when Alfred’s father died of cancer and in Mathilda’s own words: “There was never a cross word spoken between them” – not in all 19 of the years she lived with them before she passed away.) They probably thought their lives unremarkable, but I stand in awe of their patient acceptance of life as it came to them. There was little to romanticize about their lives but the way Mathilda writes and historian W.G. Mills writes…. it is just so obvious that they were grateful for every moment of joy and peace; they knew how to drink it in. They knew that life was beautiful. I am proud to know them, prouder still to be descended from them, and I yearn to know them better.

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I just finished looking at posted grades for Spring semester, and I am sorry to say that despite my best efforts to skip classes and assignments and put forth as little effort as possible, I was still not able to lower myself to a C-average. My husband claims that I just didn’t try hard enough or give myself enough breaks. Honestly though, I really do feel like I put forth my worst effort while still having a reasonable feeling of responsibility to each class. I didn’t even do the reading or assignments for two whole weeks in each of my classes, and the semester was only eight weeks long! Still, I am sincerely sad to say that I didn’t manage to get below a 3.5. I don’t know how people do it. I honestly don’t say it to brag. I’m very disappointed in myself. I thought I would do much worse what with pregnancy fatigue and baby preparation. Maybe I need to let loose a little, but I think I know the true source of my failure:

I blame good teachers.

If they would just care a tad less about their students and not push us so hard and mold us for the future. I just can’t understand it.  We go in expecting to be bored to tears, write a few essays, and leave with nothing but a letter grade to show, and instead they inspire, uplift, and motivate us to reach beyond the four walls of the classroom and apply our education in innovative ways. I suppose it is my fault for going to BYU. My professors here have been unacceptably exceptional. I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Photo by Oberazzi

For example, I just received an email from a professor who I have taken a number of courses with here praising my work during the semester that ended a week and a half ago and encouraging me in my future. I include a paragraph from the end of the email here:

As you enter the greatest phase of your life, parenting, you go well prepared with a fine education and great habits to sustain you and ultimately to give shape to the minds and souls of your children. I hope to keep up with you as you continue to consume, create, and connect. Thanks for re-upping for another term with me. I only wish I had more students with your ability and maturity. Take care and good luck! – Dr. Burton

Now, I ask you, how are students to go on being apathetic drones, mindless of the future and unenthusiastic about their education, with such personal, attentive, and caring teachers? The thing is, I am absolutely positive that every single student in this professor’s class received the same personal attention and praise throughout the semester and in a concluding evaluation email. It’s not special treatment. Teachers like this just care!

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Then there’s that fifth grade teacher that forever rid me of my ability to half-complete an assignment. Here I was, a happy little fourth grader, content with my C-average, and she spent the entire year building up my confidence in my abilities and forcing me to re-do assignments until she was sure I had done my very best. I remember one instance in particular where I was to stay after school for an hour making sure my math homework problems were readable, that the numbers lined up, and that each problem had the correct solution. Where did such enthusiasm for helping people help themselves come from? If I could remember her name, I’d write her a letter of complaint or nominate her for a Best Teacher in the Nation award or something.

So, the truth is I just cannot take the fall for such good grades. It’s not my fault, really. I did put forth a concerted effort to do poorly, but I was too easily inspired by the enthusiasm and care of good professors. Perhaps I was weak to give in to their encouragement and passion for learning. Maybe I should opt for distance learning …

[note: if you cannot read the sarcasm with which this post is dripping, please do not comment and berate me for my ingratitude. I am sincerely grateful for good teachers which is, in fact, the point of my little exercise. Sheesh]

…..

Oh no, my professors have done such an excellent job that I am now wondering if I should be double checking this post for grammatical errors. Nope … I’ve got baby clothes to fold. See! I can rebel!


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