“All Over the World,” Ensign, Apr. 1978, 28–29
“Primary is all over the world. Although spoken in many tongues, the message remains the same: to teach the children to pray and walk uprightly before the Lord,” said President Spencer W. Kimball.
And the lives of approximately 500,000 children—member and nonmember alike—reflect that gospel influence. Nonmembers have joined the Church, inactive members have been reactivated, and the children themselves have had their testimonies strengthened as they have shared gospel standards.
For example, a Seattle, Washington, kindergarten teacher asked a Primary boy’s parents why he always referred to her as “Sister.” After the LDS parents had explained, they admonished their son to call his teacher “Mrs.” A few days later when they checked to see if he was doing as he had been told, he said, “We call our teacher ‘Sister.’” The “we” was the entire kindergarten class that he had converted to using the familiar LDS term—and they understood why it was used.
Across the nation, in Florida, five-year-old Jeffrey was invited to supper at a nonmember friend’s house. It was his first time “on his own” away from his family. When the meal was served they included iced tea. After a few moments Jeffrey politely said, “May I have something else to drink, please? Tea is not good for me, and I do not drink it.”
Impressed with his conviction, his hostess served him milk, and later telephoned his mother to relate the experience. A brief explanation of the Word of Wisdom led to other questions, and the nonmember family viewed the film Man’s Search for Happiness and accepted a copy of the family home evening manual. Jeffrey had sown the gospel seed.
A tiny three-year-old’s father was not a member of the Church, and her mother had been inactive since high school. Week after week Melanie’s Primary leaders picked her up at the nursery so she could attend that one meeting of the Church.
Two years passed. Melanie was very faithful and listened carefully to the lessons. She learned all the songs and took their cheerful melodies back into her home. An uncle who had been inactive was impressed; his nonmember wife took the missionary lessons and was converted. Now, because of a little girl’s natural love for the gospel, her aunt and uncle are active and preparing to go to the temple. Her mother is also returning to activity.
Sister Norma Tuckfield of the Holbrook Arizona Stake tells of the day she was asked to be a Primary teacher. “I was an inactive member, and I had no teaching experience. But because I love children I said yes.
“On my first day, I felt quite shaky and I had cold, cold hands. But the president brought a little boy to me and explained that he had been found under a tree across the street, praying for the courage to come to his first Primary. As he put his cold hand into my cold hand, we comforted each other, and I felt an inner resolve to teach the children all that they must do ‘to live with Him some day.’ I have been a Primary teacher now for twenty years.”
From the Berlin Germany Stake comes the story of Anke, a friendly and neat little girl, who, with her brothers and sisters, was unhappy because of constant fighting and parental disharmony in the home. “When a little friend brought her to Primary, I felt that Anke only wanted to be with people who were good to each other and who were also able to give her love. After a year and a half she is one of the most alert students in her class, and though they had refused many times, her parents finally gave permission for her baptism. Now the missionaries will teach her parents also.”
And in the same stake, ten-year-old Uwe, who laughs and jokes like a typical boy now, has had much to overcome. He was born with a serious deformity and the other children often laughed at him. When he was five, and his father died, Uwe became completely disoriented, and he developed behavioral problems.
Then the missionaries came, and through patient teachers in Primary he learned that he could be reunited with his father one day in an eternal loving family. Uwe’s tension disappeared; he progressed daily; and now he and his mother are both active in the branch. Uwe has survived a serious operation through which his deformity has almost disappeared. They feel greatly blessed.
From the Osaka Japan Stake, Sister Kyoko Toyama, formerly the stake Primary president, tells how, as a school girl, she began attending Primary to help her classmate who felt inadequate in a teaching assignment. “Soon a teaching responsibility in Primary was given to me, though I was just an investigator. I quit club activity at school and began going to a library to prepare lessons for each Saturday. There was no one to instruct us about Primary organizations, so when I learned from a missionary that he used to have activities in Primary, we began to teach the children dances and started art classes.
“After joining the Church I served as a branch Primary president and later as Osaka District Primary president, and we began to receive wonderful instructions from the general board. I began to feel that I would not regret putting all of myself into this Primary program. I am still single, but I have more children than any other sister in the stake, because I work as though all the Primary children were my own.”