A little less than 3 years ago, a member of our Bishopric came and told me that Sister (Jessica) was going to be the new Primary President and she would like me to be a counselor. Jessica and I had a number of mutual friends but had only had limited interactions. The week before, I’d told Doug that she seemed pretty cool and I’d like to get to know her better. *Poof! Wish granted!* Having joined the church when I was in my 20’s, I had never even attended Primary but knowing that Jessica was going to be the president helped me to feel at ease and that she’d be patient with me as I learned the ropes.
Heading to church the next Sunday, I wondered who the other counselor would be. Sister (Jessa) was called. All I knew of Jessa was that she was new to the ward, her husband seems like a great dad to their cute little girl and, when we sat in front of them one Sunday, I noticed she had a pretty singing voice.
How Primary Changed Me
Little did I know the multiple ways that this calling would change me.
First, when I started in Primary, John was in Nursery and now he is a strapping CTR5. I always felt spoiled as a mom getting to watch my own kid’s testimony grow and grow during Primary lessons. Spencer was in nursery the majority of the time and just came up to Sunbeams in January but I did get a few extra peeks in on him in nursery.
Second, I learned to trust the Holy Ghost when it comes to teaching children. The week I was called, I’d used the term counter-intuitive with my 2 and a half year old. (I was explaining how to pull nails out using a hammer.) I never did much babysitting and knew that talking with and teaching kids wasn’t my strong suit. (See paragraph 2.) Thank heavens, (literally), that I could be guided to know how best to present the information from the Sharing Time lessons. There were multiple times that I had a very random idea pop into my head as I prepared lessons. Three, in particular, stand out in my mind as being strongly directed by another force with greater understanding of how to teach children.
- The lesson was about what it meant to have a testimony of the Savior. As I prepared, I felt prompted to leave a significant amount of time at the end of the lesson for the children to bear their testimonies. I was hesitant about giving that much autonomy to the kids. It could go well or it could crash and burn. As it turned out, it was one of my favorite lessons and I still remember how I felt as I listened to the sweet testimonies of the young kids. And, it inspired us to add an assignment for a child to share their testimony as part of the closing exercises. It has been fun to watch them grow in their testimonies and better learn how to articulate their thoughts.
- For the second, I don’t remember exactly what the lesson was about but I ended up incorporating Mosiah 18 and in particular verses 8 – 10. We would frequently use this passage to commit people to baptism while on my mission. I had the impression that I should do a role play in senior primary with one of them acting as my mission companion and two others acting as investigators. I rebelled against the idea because I didn’t think they would be ready for it. Again, I was surprised by the faith and their ability. We read 3 verses at a time. The trick is to have it so that one of the investigators read verses 7 – 9. The verses conclude with the words, And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— We would then ask the investigator if they wanted those things. They would usually say they did and then we would invite them to read verse 10 which says, Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you? These young kids grasp gospel concepts so well and will be amazing missionaries. I was grateful for this opportunity to see them in action in a missionary sense and also to show them some of the skills that come in handy as a missionary.
- The last one was actually my very last Sharing Time lesson. The lesson was on the atonement, which is always tricky to try to explain to children. I searched for ways to do it and found a few cute little games. However, I kept coming back to a talk by Elder Holland which was directed towards an audience of religious educators. It was a very heavy talk but had some great insights into the atonement. I also felt directed to include some of the messages from Preach My Gospel as well as some personal stories. It seemed the lesson was going to consist of a lot of talking on my part and not much interaction with the kids. I worried about this and my ability to hold their attention without using numerous games and object lessons. But, I felt strongly that I needed to give the lesson as directed. Since I knew I wasn’t going to be doing the teaching, I decided to follow Elder Bednar’s lead and start the lesson by talking about how I prayed the Holy Ghost would be with us and teach us, (and I asked the kids to say a prayer for the same thing). I’m not sure about anyone else, but I learned a lot about the atonement in preparation and during the lesson. (I hope to do a specific blog entry about it so I have it saved for my boys.)
Third, I was able to see the law of consecration first-hand. The amount of time, effort, resources and love used to teach our children was unbelievable. We had some of the best teachers and they were so dedicated to their callings as leadership or teachers or scouts or music (or a combination of all of those). A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in the back of the room with our soon-to-be-departing bishop and he said something along the lines of, “Can you believe that all these people do all of this for free?” It truly is amazing the service that is provided in our church.
Fourth, I made friendships that changed my life. Of the countless teachers, the 4 secretaries, the 2 counselors, the multiple choristers and pianists, there were very few that I knew well before our association in Primary and I am not sure I would’ve gotten to know them otherwise. I have gained a network of people that have helped shape me in many facets of life. From trivial things like makeup and hair advice to deep doctrinal conversations, I have found multiple resources that provide answers. Not to mention the fact, that Jessica’s oldest daughter has become the boys’ absolute favorite babysitter and I have no idea how we would get through these crazy months of Doug’s rotations and me working without her help.
This was definitely one of those times that by simply accepting a calling, I opened the door to countless other blessings. I truly believe that callings are as much for us as they are for those we will serve. It is like allowing the Lord to place you in certain circumstances that will help form you into who he would have you become.