How has the week gone? I do hope and pray that this summer starts of well for you all.
A fair number of people who we talk to, who we invite to hear our message and ponder on it, are at the very least interested in why we came here. Why we left our families, our sheltered lives over in the United States, our friends, our studies, our aspirations? To a pretty unreligious country (even the religious people here aren't always religious) where we are given a pretty cold reception? As I write it in that form it hardly makes sense. And then I think of what this message is. Then I reflect for a moment on what grand measures of purpose, direction, peace, happiness, and (insert positively adjective with a positive connotation here) my beliefs have brought me. And I say that using the most generic terms, but with all sincerity of my heart as well. I am here to share something that has changed my life. To help others in the most lasting and important way I know how. To invite people to find the answers to questions of the soul: Why they are here? Where they are going? How to get there? To bring the most important thing to the most important people— these random strangers on the streets here in France. This is some life changing stuff here.
I am not sure why, but I would like to take this moment to write an ode to a very large influence in my life that I have never properly thanked: Mad props to my 6th Grade Teacher Mrs. Brabson. I finished my 5th grade education not enjoying the year very much. I switched schools that summer from Davis Elementary to Pioneer Park Elementary, trading whoever this guy named Davis was for coonskin caps and cholera. So I enter this new year pretending I'm comfortable and confidant and that I will be fine leaving all my friends behind. The teacher is the worst nightmare of any 6th grader: any older lady that is not the student in question's grandmother. A shorter, nice older lady that would change my life. Mrs Barbara Brabson (She has that super hero alter ego alliteration going on) is a fantastic teacher. One of the best I have ever known. Even though she is retired, I am pretty confident she is still a great teacher. She was a warm, good, happy person. She loved her students. She taught them at their level and held their hands just as much as she needed to, and never more. She laughed with us. She helped us when we were genuinely frustrated and stuck. She asked the best questions. She encouraged us, and me specifically, to be ourselves. She played an integral role in igniting a lifelong flame of learning, progression, and happiness. She was patient, long-suffering (she somehow survived a class of over confident 6th graders in the 'advanced program), loving. It was that class that produced a fictional holiday lauding kumquats, the practice of hiding fake cameras around the room, the love of learning I have now. There was a bit of a trouble student named T in that class. The autumn came and the time to change seating groups arrived. Mrs. Brabson had all of the students write down the people they wanted to sit by and those who they didn't want to sit by/would get in trouble sitting with. Not a single student said they wanted to sit by T. In fact, he was on everyone's 'don't sit with' lists. I can still remember the refrained and righteous fury Mrs. Brabson brought crashing upon that class of stuck up children. She didn't yell. She didn't get in our faces. She told us she was disappointed. In the most loving manner she showed us how grave and wrong our treatment of T was. And that is one lesson burned into my soul. And I thank my God for the wonderful, fun, and cherished year I had as a student of Mrs. Brabson.
She reminds me of another teacher I know. She reminds me of Jesus Christ. Who some of you may know. Even though he is kind of "retired" (like no longer on the earth at the moment) he is still the greatest teacher. He is a warm, good, happy person. He loved his students. He taught them at their level and held their hands just as much as he needed to, and never more. He laughed with his students. He helped those when they were genuinely frustrated and stuck. He asked the best questions. He encouraged people, and me specifically, to be ourselves. He played an integral role in igniting a lifelong flame of learning, progression, and happiness. He was patient, long-suffering (he somehow survived a world of over confident, and very over-grown 6th graders), loving. There was a bit of a trouble student named Alex in that class. And he helped him too. I bear testimony of these two people, My dear teacher Mrs. Brabson and my Savior, Jesus Christ. In his sacred name,
With a great deal of love,
Elder Alex Hacker
Brighten your day.