Primary Talk
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“Primary Talk,” Ensign, Mar. 1990, 72–73

Primary Talk

“I’m not giving a Primary talk this Sunday!” six-year-old Donny said sternly.

He was so troubled.

“I’m not giving a talk!”

I found myself sympathizing with him. I would have had trouble giving a talk at age sixteen, let alone age six.

Finally, he settled down.

“Donny,” I began compassionately, “if you really don’t want to give a talk this Sunday, you don’t have to.”

He was all ears. “I don’t?”

“Of course not. Giving talks can be pretty scary.” He relaxed visibly. “You can think about it,” I continued. “But tonight in family home evening we’re still going to learn about giving talks.”

“Okay,” the children said in resigned unison.

“Donny, since your Primary teacher asked you to talk this Sunday, let’s just pretend that you’re going to do it. If you were going to give a talk, would you like to talk about Joseph Smith?”

“No, Daddy! I always have to talk about Joseph Smith!”

“Well, would you like to talk about forgiving others?”


I could tell that my new topic didn’t bring any great joy either. But I felt inspired as I began to speak.

“Look here, Donny,” I said, drawing a crude stick-figure baby on our greaseboard. The children watched intently as I drew a cross and then a thorny crown.

“Why are you making pictures, Daddy?”

“I’m not just drawing pictures, Donny. I’m preparing a talk about forgiveness.”

Soon the entire family joined in, describing scenes from the Savior’s life. These included not only the scene on the cross but also when, as an infant, Jesus’ parents fled to Egypt to protect his life. For each scene we thought of a simple stick figure. Soon the crayons and paper came out, and the children drew each figure on a separate sheet of paper.

“Now watch me, Donny,” I said, standing in front of the family with the papers. “When Jesus was a little baby, Mary and Joseph had to take him to Egypt because a bad king wanted to kill him. At the end of his life, Roman soldiers hung him on a cross and put big nails in his hands and feet. During his life bad men hit Jesus, spit in his face, made him wear a thorny crown, and forced him to carry his own cross. They called his mommy bad names and made her cry.”

With each description I made certain Donny saw me looking at the accompanying stick figure.

“But Jesus always turned the other cheek,” I continued. “When he hung on the cross at the end of his life, he looked down at the soldiers and said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’”

“Hey, I can do that!” Donny interrupted.

So we set up a TV tray on a chair to function as a podium. The microphone and stand from our music room made the environment even more realistic.

“Here’s your talk, Donny,” I said, handing him the drawings. He walked up to the “podium” and began: “My talk’s about forgiveness.”

“That was super, Donny,” we encouraged when he finished. “Do you think you could help Sister Snow on Sunday by giving this talk?”

“I’ll think about it,” he said, giving me a wary stare.

By the end of the week, the entire family knew the talk by heart, since the news, dinner, or homework might at any moment be interrupted for talk practice. By Saturday morning Donny agreed to give his talk in Primary.

Saturday afternoon I called Donny into my study where, together, we drew fresh stick figures on notebook paper. Then I punched holes in the stack of pictures and put them inside a binder.

“This is just like your talks, huh Dad?”

“You bet,” I said. “You are really accepting responsibility. You’re growing up!”

Sunday morning Donny approached the stand confidently. He laid his open notebook across the podium, then reached out and adjusted the microphone. He took a breath and tugged at his tie. Then he began: “My talk is about forgiveness.”—Donald C. Hoefelmann, St. Louis, Missouri