Teaching Travis


O Lord, … I will trust in thee forever (2 Ne. 4:34).

Teaching Travis

“Life’s a disaster,” Travis mumbled, slouching into the bench at the back of the chapel. It was Sister Stott’s last Sunday in the ward, and he hadn’t felt this bad since he fell off his skateboard into a muddy ravine.

He scanned the chapel, looking for Sister Stott, his Valiant teacher. She had just finished teaching his Primary class and now was sitting in her favorite spot, the center of the second row. Her shiny brown hair hung over the back of the bench as she hugged her one-year-old daughter, Tiffany.

I don’t care if I ever go to Primary again, Travis decided, looking away.

Earlier that week the Valiant class had their farewell activity for Sister Stott. Travis knew that before the activity was over, his teacher would make sure she taught them something. She always did. The moment came as she set up a maze in the multipurpose room while they waited outside. Then, one at a time, she blindfolded them and guided them through the maze by telling them when to stop and turn.

It wasn’t always easy, but by listening carefully and obeying her directions, each class member was successful. Afterward, she talked to the class about how they need to have faith and trust in Heavenly Father and listen for His guidance—after their prayers, for instance—and follow His instructions in the scriptures and as given by their parents and Church leaders. She said that He would always do what was best for them. It was a lesson Travis would never forget.

Now she was leaving. Travis’s stomach knotted up as the bishop read her name to be released. Staring at the podium, he raised his hand in a vote of thanks.

As Bishop Olson read names to be sustained to new callings, Travis gripped the bench in front of him. Who will be my new teacher? He wondered. It could be Brother Coty, probably the strongest man in the ward. Or maybe Sister Campbell. Every year she won a blue ribbon for her homemade pie at the state fair.

Travis sighed. It didn’t matter who his new teacher was—class would never be the same.

Bishop Olson shuffled through his papers at the podium. “We have called Brother Rolf Meyer as Valiant teacher in the Primary.”

Travis stared at the bishop. Brother Meyer! Travis was sure Bishop Olson had made a mistake. Brother Meyer had to be a hundred years old, and he walked with a cane. Because of his German accent, he was also a little hard to understand. Even so, Travis raised his hand to sustain his new teacher.

After sacrament meeting, Travis stopped to look out the large glass door in the foyer.

“Hello, Travis.”

Travis jerked around.

Smiling, Sister Stott moved Tiffany from one hip to the other. “I just wanted to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed being your teacher.”

Travis dug his shoe into the carpet as he looked away.

“Travis,” she said softly, “you’re going to learn a lot from Brother Meyer. You know that, don’t you?”

Shrugging, Travis slowly lifted his eyes to meet Sister Stott’s.

She placed her hand on Travis’s slumped shoulder. “Can I teach you one more thing before I leave?”

“Sure,” Travis muttered, wishing she hadn’t reminded him of her move.

Sister Stott bent slightly to be at eye level with Travis. “There are lots of ways to teach. If you give Brother Meyer a chance, just like you gave me, you’ll learn more than you’ve ever imagined.” Smiling, she stood up.

“That’s it?”

“That’s it,” Sister Stott said, nodding. “Remember it.”

“I will.” He pushed open the heavy door and ran across the parking lot to his family’s station wagon.

As he scanned the parking lot, the only other person outside was Jennifer Mizway, practically on her knees, staring at the rear tire of her mother’s car. Travis knew she had just gotten her driver’s license. Normally, he’d ask if he could help, but this afternoon he wasn’t in the mood.

The rear door of the meetinghouse opened, and out stepped Brother Meyer. He slowly made his way across the parking lot and called something to Jennifer. Reaching her car, he set his cane against it, then bent down to examine the tire.

Travis watched as Brother Meyer and Jennifer struggled to pull a spare tire out of the trunk of the car. The tire slipped from their hands, bouncing twice before falling with a thud in front of them.

“Brother Meyer, Jennifer,” Travis hollered, going over to the car, “let me help.”

“You know how to change tire?” Brother Meyer’s German accent brought life to his words.

“No,” Travis replied as he came up to them, “but you can tell me what to do.”

Das ist gut (This is good)!” Brother Meyer nodded at Travis and signaled him to pull out the jack from the trunk.

Pumping the jack, Travis listened as Jennifer told them how grateful she was for their help. Her father had taken her mother home early with the flu, and they would worry that she’d had an accident if she was late getting home.

Travis stopped pumping to rub away the burning sensation in his upper arm.

“Here.” Brother Meyer handed his cane to Travis. “I show you a trick to help.” Bending on one knee, he pulled out the jack’s lever and inserted his cane into the opening where the lever had been. “My cane is longer. It will be easier to pump now.”

Travis began to pump again. A smile spread across his face as his arm moved faster with less effort. “It is easier!”

As Travis set the hubcap on the tire, he felt a thumping on his leg. Turning, he saw Brother Meyer smiling.

“Is good to help, ja (yes)?” Brother Meyer asked.

Travis smiled. “Yeah, it is. Well, I’d better get going.”

He and his father arrived at the station wagon at the same time.

“Is everything all right?” Father asked.

“Yep.”

“Your mother and I were worried. We know how you feel about Sister Stott. She was a special teacher, wasn’t she?”

“Yeah, she was.” Travis waved to Brother Meyer as he got into the car.

Rolling down his window, Travis thought about Jennifer dejectedly examining the tire. He thought about Brother Meyer tapping him with his cane, saying “Is good to help, ja?

Valiant class was going to be different, Travis decided, but he had a feeling that one thing wouldn’t change—he was going to learn a lot this year.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mark Robison