I had always just assumed that when you got into ninth grade, you went to seminary. So I was surprised when I received a call from the bishopric asking me if I wanted to enroll.
I thought, “Sure. Why not?”
The next thing I knew, it was the first day of ninth grade, and I was on my way to released-time seminary. I was pretty scared and not very excited. “Yeah,” I thought, “another church meeting to go to every day. What could my teacher possibly have to teach us every single day? And I was supposed to do this for four years? What if I didn’t know anyone in my class? What if I didn’t like my teacher? What if I just didn’t want to go?”
But I forced myself out the door of my high school and took that long trek to the seminary building. When I got there, I looked for my name to see which class I was in. I then waited for someone I knew so I wouldn’t have to be alone. Little did I know that in seminary you are never alone. I finally gave up waiting and went to class. As I walked into the classroom, I was greeted by a warm smile and a friendly handshake. That’s when things started to get better.
I took a seat, and as I looked around at all of the beautiful pictures on the walls, my friends started to come in. Friends! Now I could have fun.
Class finally started, and we all told a little about ourselves. Then the teacher, Brother Toma, introduced himself and told us about seminary—how important it was to come every day and how there would be gospel study, fun activities, and sometimes even treats!
I couldn’t believe how fast that class went by. It was so much fun; I didn’t want to leave. When the bell rang, I had to drag myself back to the school.
When I returned to school, I could instantly tell a difference. My school had never seemed so worldly before. I was amazed at how strong the Spirit had been in that seminary building, even on an orientation day.
Besides the daily gospel lessons, there were dances, parties, assemblies, testimony meetings, opening and closing socials, and early-morning devotionals. Those devotionals surprised me the most. I never thought it would be worth it to get up at 6:00 A.M. for a church meeting, but I was wrong.
One of my favorite things about seminary, though, was that I was able to learn outside of class. Each year, I was challenged to read my scriptures every day. That not only taught me discipline and self-motivation, but I always learned a lot more about the gospel. My testimony was strengthened so much every time I read.
What I learned in seminary was totally up to me. If I wanted to go and sleep, I could. If I wanted to learn and feel the Spirit, I could. The instructors had such different teaching styles that each teacher brought a new outlook and taught me something more. Seminary also taught me that there wasn’t just one way to learn about the gospel and the Church. I could have fun while learning. Wow! What a concept.
Learning not to judge was one of the most important lessons I learned in seminary. I saw people in every class who were there because they didn’t want to take a “real” class at school, and seminary was a great opportunity to catch up on some zzz’s. But then a guy would stand up and bear his testimony, and it would be the most beautiful thing. Never in a million years would I have expected some of these people to even know what the scriptures were, and they would stand up and tell you how true they are and how much they loved them and the Church. It was amazing.
Seminary has done so much for me. It has taught me so many things and given me such a strong testimony. I am so thankful I was able to attend seminary for four years.
I encourage everyone to enroll in seminary. Don’t be the one in the back of the classroom sleeping through the lessons. Participate in class, read your scriptures, and accept the challenges you are given. I promise you that attending seminary will strengthen you; you will grow spiritually more than you could ever imagine. Seminary is one of the most wonderful things for the youth. Take advantage of it.