Who has changed?
Me. (Mostly…….I still do not like babies.)
“I like what Primary has done to you,” Tanah told me as I set five-year-old Braxton down, after having grabbed him close, hugged him tight, and swung him round several times.
What has Primary done to me?
Those darn, darling children have captured my heart. Caught. Captivated. Charmed. Me. They have excavated a huge cavity inside me and filled it to overflowing with love. I find myself helpless in the wake of their intense authenticity, ardent enthusiasm, innocent eagerness, and candid comments. Flooded by feelings, I am without means of escape. And, the true miracle of the situation is that I do not want to escape. I am a willing, even eager, hostage. Primary has truly changed me. I love these children, even the small ones!
I am going to share a few anecdotes. I am confident you will love them too.
While Sister Jessica Hyde was teaching the children a song, four year old Drake whispered to me, “Can I tell her she is beautiful?”. Raise your hand, I instructed him. He raised his hand, was called on, and delivered his message. After telling Sister Hyde she was beautiful, he turned to me and said triumphantly, “Raising your hand works!”
When asked what he loves about his dad, Bryce (8 years old) said “That he is handsome.”
“What rhymes with shoe?” Sister Hyde asked the Senior Primary children. “Pooh,” said Miles Hislop. (Who is his mother and why doesn’t she teach him to be appropriate?)
During a lesson on temples, we asked Gevin (4 years old) where he wanted to be married. “At the wedding,” was his reply.
During a lesson on repentance, Sister Reanos asked, “Are we perfect?” Parker replied “Yes.” And, actually, sweet three year old Parker, who speaks with difficulty but prays without hesitation, is about as perfect as one can get here. He tells us he wants to have seven children when he is a dad which probably will make him perfect. (Trials by fire are refining, right?)
Seven year old Kodee Jo said the reason we are baptized when we are eight is because that is when we learn to swim. Not quite doctrinally correct but certainly sincere.
Jackson pulled me close, placed one of his three year old hands on each of my cheeks, and said, his crystal clear blue eyes staring intently into mine, “We saw fireworks.” My heart melted.
While my heart was melting, Joey’s (age 5) was zooming. “Do you know what shape my heart is?” he asked. Without waiting for a response he said, “A car.”
Said Addy (3 years old), “I am a spotlight.” And it is true. Her candid comments often put her into the spotlight. “I am scared of that word,” she said when introduced to the word “pierce”. “I cannot shake the wiggles out of my arm because gravity is keeping them there” she explained when the children were instructed to sing an activity song so they would subsequently settle down.
While Junior Primary (ages 3-7) generally has lots of wiggles, sometimes it is hard to get Senior Primary (ages 8-11) to move. Sister Hyde asked them to stand up and sing. When she commented on how slow they were to rise Brianna said, “That is why we are called Senior Primary.”
Primary children are funny. They are also exemplary and inspiring.
In August the Primary created kid care kits as a service project for Ogden’s annual “Come Together Free”, a community event sponsored by the Congressional United Church of Christ Charities that distributes a meal, clothing, and care kits to 1000+ people. A committee of nine of our 10-11 year olds planned our contribution to the project.
Working with them was pure pleasure; they are still of the age where helping is fun and responsibility is an honor. They decided what to put in the kits—“Let’s give them stuffed animals to cuddle with”, “Can we make cards for them?”, “We have to include some candy” “Crayons and paper would be good”, “How about chapstick?”—and vied for opportunities to collect donations—“I could ask my neighbors”, “My dad could put a box at his work”, make posters—“I will make one for the foyer”, “I will make one for the back door” , and count contributions—“Can I stay after church today to count?” , “Me too?” and “Me too?”. Getting someone to do what needed to be done was no problem, it was deciding who to select for each task that was more problematic.
On the day of the event, those incredible kids, my little committee of nine, ran the show. It was they who helped the little ones fill the bags, create the cards, and seal up the finished product. Very impressive. The little ones were equally impressive. I had initial concerns about their willingness to fill a gallon zip lock bag with treats and toys and then give it away. My fears were totally groundless. The children, even two-year-old Owen, went down the line, carefully placing one of each item in their bags. When they reached the end, they put their treasure-filled sacks down and raced, RACED, back to the front of the line and did it all again. And again. And again. They filled 80 gallon sized bags and would have filled more had we more to fill.
Owen, who clearly was NOT developmentally capable of cognizing the social implications of altruism, clearly WAS capable of love. Pure and potent, this is the life-changing power of Primary. Primary children’s love splashes on all those who associate with them. They love. They love us, they love others, they love Christ…..and He loves them. Their love for Him and from Him drenches and floods even hardened hearts like mine.
“The first thing I am going to do with I see Christ,” said nine year old Tyson, “is kneel. And then I am going to hug him.” Oh darling Tyson! I hope that, when the time comes, I am worthy to follow your example.