Friday, November 22, 2013

Institute Reflections

As a freshman at UW I started my Institute adventures by taking a single class. I took Book of Mormon with Brother Knowles. I enjoyed it but didn't throw myself into Institute involvement. By my senior year, four years later I had come a long way. The institute and therefore the gospel was completely incorporated into my daily life and I am grateful for that. 

The Seattle Institute became the place where people knew they could find me. There were a group of us "Institute Dwellers" who spent time there daily. It wasn't always for classes, and in fact, I spent more time there not for a class than I did for a class. Aside from classes, I would go there to eat lunch between my school classes, meet up with the missionaries for member lessons, study in the library, or meet up with friends. The spirit of the Institute became more than just the spirit of the gospel, though being the house of the Lord obviously does contribute to that. 

But the Institute is so much more than that. In classes we learn about the Savior and our Heavenly Father. We learn gospel truths and we learn how to incorporate them into our lives. We apply principles by studying the scriptures and the words of prophets. We learn how to become better Saints by learning the parables that Jesus Christ taught. We study General Conference talks to better fortify ourselves in these Latter Days. The teachers teach by the Spirit which is consistently felt. They and the other wonderful Institute staff teach with love and the examples that they serve as are inspiring. Institute classes help us bring the gospel into our lives. Get to know your Savior by attending class. 

I consistently visited the Institute library to study for my school classes. It is a quiet (usually- sometimes we get off task and chatty) place of learning that combined with the Spirit makes an irreplaceable place to learn and grow. Some of my best papers were written in those cushy blue chairs and some of my most quality test preparation happened there. Utilize the resources that the Institute offers and increase your secular education. 

So many of my experiences at the Institute were service oriented. Whether it was serving ward members at FHEs or helping out with Friday Friendship Feast (FFF) the Institute is a great space to serve. Most notably was Friday morning committee meetings. Seven thirty is early (especially in college) and often much needed sleep is sacrificed. However, the blessings that come from attending Friday morning committee meetings are wonderful. Seriously, you get to help make decisions regarding the institute like activities, you get to eat a delicious homemade hot breakfast, and you get to spend time with wonderful people. Attend Friday morning committee meetings and be blessed for your service.

This brings me to another reason that the Institute was such a big part of my daily life and another reason that I miss it. The people at the Institute are quality people that you will not meet anywhere else. My best friends and my favorite teachers have come into my life because I attended and participated at the Institute. Where else are you going to find your contemporaries getting up early to serve the Lord and His people? Where else are you going to find teachers that love and know you like those of the Seattle Institute do? Make life long friends by getting involved. 

You cannot replace the experiences you will have that are similar to the ones I had at the Institute. Without the Institute I am sure that my testimony would have still grown, I would have still done well in my UW classes, and I would have had great friends and great people in my life. But the experiences would not have been nearly as sweet or productive. The Lord knows us and He knows what we need. I know that He has given us every tool that we need to be happy in this life and to learn and grow so that we can return to Him. I know that the Institute, both classes and otherwise are tools for us to gain that eternal joy. They are imperative to our well being and we should incorporate them so that they become so intertwined with who we are that we cannot separate them. So this is my shameless plug for the Seattle Institute of Religion. Please, find a class and get involved. I promise that you will be edified and your life will be fuller.  

-Tayler Thompson

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Blessings of Institute

This quarter at UW has whizzed by. Time has raced onward, professors keep giving large loads of homework and institute keeps hosting fun socials and activities to attend. Initially when I moved up here I thought that 10 weeks would be an eternity, however I soon found that it to be the contrary. I wished time could slow just a little.

I found that I was so busy that I could easily stay up into the early hours of the morning studying, get three hours of sleep and repeat the cycle the next day. In fact this is what I did for the first couple of weeks. I'm learning a new spoken language and a new programming language and adapting to both has required significant investments of my time. Initially I thought, who has time for institute? Who has enough time to maintain their grades, attend institute and then attend all the activities that they host? Did I at least have time to attend the institute class each week, or was that too great a time commitment?

Mentally I told myself institute seemed like a huge commitment. My grades- I thought- would define my life and success in college, effect what jobs I could get later in my professional career and what schools I could apply to for grad school.

However, spiritually I knew this wasn't the least bit accurate. I knew that I would need the strength that Institute would provide from the spiritual calamities that I encounter every day- foul language, beliefs that are in direct contradiction to mine and people challenging to do things that I knew to be wrong. Although it didn't really make sense to me mentally or mathematically, I told myself that Institute was worth the time commitment and I told myself that I would attend class every week without fail. I even told myself that I would attend the committee meeting held every Friday morning to serve the Lord and the Institute.

As I tried this out the first couple of weeks something astonishing happened. Although I was spending less time on my studies, and was giving up a morning once a week, I found that my grades actually improved and that I was succeeding in all of my classes. I was going to institute, the meetings on Friday and all the socials and doing less work and study, but my performance had increased.

I know that this is because the Saviour is seeking to bless me for giving Him my time. Matthew 11:28- 30 states: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."

Through application I have come to know that this scripture is true. Mentally we may feel like we don't have enough hours in the day to do all that needs to be done. We may feel like we have so much that we can't fit institute in. But I know that if we put the Lord as our first priority everything else will fall into play. I know He loves us and seeks to bless us for following Him and that by attending Institute we can build our relationship with Him. If you want your burden to be light, come to institute!