“That ‘Unmanageable’ Class!” Liahona, Dec. 1996, 17
What! Me teach that class of unmanageable teenagers? Trouble comes in bunches, I thought as I walked out of the bishop’s office.
My husband was serving a tour of duty in the military, and I had come home to be with my grandmother, who had terminal cancer. Two active preschoolers, a new baby, a ravenous old furnace that required hand-shoveled coal in subzero weather, Grandma’s failing health, and now the thought of one more responsibility were more than I could bear.
I cried all the way home. I had heard all about that Sunday School class of 16-year-olds. But the bishop told me that the bishopric had fasted and prayed about what to do and “the Lord had sent me.”
At first I was bitter. But eventually, as I prayed, I began to remember the things the Savior had done for me. I realized that the least I could do for him was teach that class. Though the idea still seemed overwhelming, my attitude changed, and I went to work. Before long, I was anxiously trying to reach the teenagers in my Sunday School class. As the months passed, I came to know and love each of them.
Still, with all the other pressures I had, Christmas that year found me in anything but a joyous mood. That Christmas Eve, I sat alone near the Christmas tree in my living room trying in vain to put together a train set for my little boy. I could see the heavy snow falling outside, and suddenly a terrible aching filled my heart. I felt alone. I thought I had been doing better, but tonight, with my husband halfway around the world, my burdens overwhelmed me. Seeing Grandma slipping away, caring for the little ones, putting up with the weather, feeding the furnace, struggling with the train—it all seemed more than I could bear. I bowed my head and tearfully cast my burdens on the Lord.
As I knelt there, I heard a knock at my door. It was late, and I wondered who on earth it could be. I opened the door to find three of my Sunday School boys standing there, covered with snow. They had been sledding and had seen my light and decided to stop in to wish me a Merry Christmas. I invited them in and filled them up with hot chocolate and pie.
Soon they had the train set together, and we finished wrapping the Christmas presents. Everything looked beautiful. Each boy hugged me, thanked me for being such a good teacher and friend, and wished me Merry Christmas before they left. I stood watching them go under the streetlights. Suddenly my burdens felt lighter, and that night I knelt to thank Heavenly Father for sending them to me.
A few weeks later Grandma worsened and had to be hospitalized. It was necessary for me to stay nights with her there, and I cherished these last hours alone with my grandma. The girls from my Sunday School class took turns staying with my children while I was at the hospital. Another girl came after school every day to cook dinner for my family so I could get some rest. The boys built a coal shed and rigged a chute so I didn’t have to carry coal anymore. They tended the old furnace and did all the heavy work. I was surrounded with love and caring from each one of those young people. I couldn’t have made it without them.
Grandma died in May, and my husband eventually returned home. It has been years since that winter when my class of “unmanageable teenagers” helped me, but I will never forget the lesson I learned. I know far better now that we can do anything the Lord asks us to do and that the blessings we receive from our service far outweigh our efforts.