“Love Is Blind,” Friend, Aug. 1992, 2
“Shhh!” The girls in the corner giggled, and Wade and I rolled our eyes. All five of us in the Valiant B class were hidden behind the steel folding chairs. The lights were off and the door was shut as we waited to present our traditional welcome for our new Primary teacher.
After what seemed like forever, the door opened and the new teacher came in. But it wasn’t the teacher that made all five of our jaws drop—it was the big yellow dog at her feet. Whoever heard of a dog at church?
Someone hurriedly turned on the lights, but the teacher didn’t seem to notice. She walked directly to her seat near the chalkboard and sat down with a cheerful smile on her face. It was then that I realized she was blind.
Of course, we’d all heard that a new woman was moving into the ward—not much goes unnoticed in a town the size of ours—but no one had mentioned anything about her being blind.
“Good morning! I’m Sister Linden, your new teacher. This is Molly, my guide dog.” The yellow dog was already asleep on the floor by her feet. Molly opened her eyes when she heard her name but closed them again after a moment. “Now, let’s see,” Sister Linden went on, “is everybody here today?”
One of the girls murmured, “Yes.”
“OK. Would you all do me a favor and sit in the same order each week so that I’ll know where you are?”
I nodded, then turned red as I realized that she could not see me nod.
“How about if Wade sits in the first chair on your left, then Mark, Laura, Jessica, and Katie, in that order?”
We all came out from behind the chairs and sat where she’d asked us to.
Then Sister Linden told us about herself. She and Molly had moved into the old Winter home. She had a job as a court reporter that she and Molly walked to every day. She told us that Molly was a yellow “Lab”—that’s short for Labrador retriever—and had been trained at a special school in California. Sister Linden said that without Molly, she wouldn’t be able to do most of the things that she used to do before she lost her sight. Besides that, she said, Molly was good company.
When the bell rang for us to go to Sharing Time, none of us jumped up to leave. We all helped fold and stack the chairs. For the first time in years, our class had actually been reverent.
Sister Linden’s lessons were really interesting every Sunday, and we learned a lot. She couldn’t read the lessons straight from the book, so she told them in her own words. She often brought a tape recorder, and we listened to stories.
Molly almost always slept through the lessons. Sometimes she even snored a little! But she was always on her best behavior during class.
That summer, Sister Linden invited us all over to her house on a Saturday afternoon. Her small home was very neat so that she could always find the things that she needed.
She showed us her Book of Mormon in Braille. She read it by feeling the bumps with her fingers. She let us try it, but it just felt funny to me.
Her cans of food had magnetic Braille labels on them so that she knew what was in them. When she used up the food in the cans, she put the labels on the refrigerator door to remind her of what she needed to buy. She also had Braille labels sewn into the lining of her clothes so that she could tell what colors they were. She even had a watch with Braille numbers!
She showed us how she could tell coins apart by their size and feel. She folded her paper money in different ways so that she could tell how much each bill was worth.
Molly slept on the floor near Sister Linden’s bed. Molly wasn’t allowed on any furniture, but she had a toy ball and a bone that she carried in to show us.
Later we all took a walk in the park. Sister Linden and Molly walked so fast that it was sometimes hard to keep up with them.
When I think of my favorite Primary teacher ever, I don’t think of her as disabled. Sister Linden took what she had and made the best of it, and she taught us more about the gospel than any sighted teacher I ever had.