Most Influential Teachers: A Life Woven with Threads of Testimony
Contributed By Sister Vicki G. Jackman, a member of the Young Women general board
- Teachers who influence us the most are those who love us and teach us to follow Christ.
“I remember and am filled with gratitude for many influential teachers who have contributed to the tapestry of my life.” —Vicki G. Jackman
The Oxford Dictionary defines weaving as “the craft or action of forming fabric by interlacing threads.” I like to think of my life much like a fine piece of fabric, consisting of people and experiences as the different types of threads added throughout a lifetime. Each person I associate with and learn from can add luster and strength to the cloth I am weaving.
In retrospect of my six decades of mortality, I remember and am filled with gratitude for many influential teachers who have contributed to the tapestry of my life. I can’t say one outshines another, because they have all contributed in very tender and significant ways.
My parents have been a consistent thread of strength and guidance. I have fond memories of sitting on the living room floor listening to my mother tell a flannel board story of Lehi and Sariah and their four sons. I felt then that what she was telling me was true, and from a young age I have loved and treasured the Book of Mormon. I felt secure and loved in my home and could easily visualize what my Heavenly Father was like, because I knew He had to be like my earthly father.
I had many Primary teachers and leaders who taught me gospel truths. I knew they cared about me and loved me, so I was secure in what they were teaching me. I grew up when Primary was held during the week. I can still envision sitting in the Brigham City 10th Ward chapel, with the afternoon sun streaming in the windows, singing the song “I Wonder When He Comes Again.” I gained a testimony then that one day Jesus will come again, and I want to be ready.
My youth years were laced with teachers and leaders who took an interest in me. They made me feel important and special. Brother and Sister Stowe were new to our ward, and in my 12- to 13-year-old mind, they were perfect. They were a young couple who loved each other and loved the gospel. I can’t remember details of their Sunday School lessons, but they always came prepared. I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like them when I grew up.
I loved camping, and I had a fabulous camp director, Sister Donna Hansen. I was convinced that she knew everything about nature. She took us on hikes and identified all the plants, flowers, and trees. We learned how to lash poles together and create our own Clorox bottle showers. We learned to build fires and baked cakes in a reflector oven, which actually turned out. She instilled within me such a love for the outdoors. I could tell she was passionate about the world around her, and that threaded in me a sense of passion for God’s creations.
I had two bishops during my teenage years—Bishop Orvil K. Anderson and Bishop Ray Don Reese. These men were some of the kindest men I knew. I felt their love and interest for me, and I could feel the power of the priesthood as they served. They taught me to trust my leaders. I gained a testimony of priesthood power and how it is operative in my life every day.
My life has been woven with threads of testimony by these ordinary, committed Latter-day Saints who taught me that God lives and cares about me. Because they loved and cared about me, I felt the love and care of a Heavenly Father and His perfect Son. These dear teachers are extraordinary!