“The T-Shirt Missionary,” Friend, Sept. 1976, 36
Jeff wanted to be a missionary just like his older brother who was on a mission in Colombia. But how can I be a missionary when I’m afraid to talk to people? Jeff wondered.
Just last week the Primary president asked all the children to be missionaries and bring somebody new to Primary.
“We have a wonderful Primary,” she told the children, “but think how much better it would be if we had more children to share our Primary with.” Then she asked the boys and girls to raise their hands if they thought they could bring a friend the next week. Jeff raised his hand. Now he wondered why he had done it. How was he ever going to get the courage to talk to anyone at school about the Church?
Jeff and Jimmy were the only two LDS boys in the fifth grade. They were also the only Blazer boys in the Primary. They had a good teacher and Jeff knew that one of the reasons why he had raised his hand to be a missionary was to please her. He knew that if other boys came, they would like Sister Fillmore and the good lessons she gave.
Jeff remembered two full-time missionaries in their sacrament meeting one time telling them about the good feeling they had when they shared the gospel with others. Jeff wanted that good feeling too. But how was he ever going to have it when he was so timid?
Jeff walked into the kitchen and slumped down in a chair by the table where his mother was decorating some dish towels with her textile paints. Jeff asked, “Won’t that paint wash out of the cloth, Mom?”
“No, Jeff, the paints are made to stay right in the fabric.”
“Hey, that’s neat. Can you paint anything on the towels you want to?” asked Jeff.
“Sure, son. You sound excited about something,” replied Mother.
Jeff was excited. He had an idea. “Mom, can I paint something on my yellow T-shirt?” he asked.
Mother laughed. “I don’t know what you have in mind, but go ahead.”
Jeff was back in a few minutes, grinning and waving his shirt. He laid it on the table and smoothed out all the wrinkles. Then, with Mother’s black painting pen, he drew on the front of the shirt a great big face with two round eyes and a large smile. Underneath the face he wrote, HAPPINESS IS GOING TO PRIMARY.
When the paint was dry, Jeff turned the shirt over and on the back he printed in large letters, WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT PRIMARY - WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE? He could hardly wait to wear his shirt to school.
The next day when he walked into the coat hall there were several boys there already. As Jeff took off his jacket and hung it on the hook, one of the boys was quick to notice the bright yellow T-shirt with the big face painted on the front and the letters on the back. “What does your shirt say, Jeff? Let me read it.” said Andy.
Jeff stood still, his heart pounding. All of a sudden he thought, What if they make fun of me?
Andy read the words on the shirt out loud. “Primary?” he questioned. “What’s Primary?”
Here was Jeff’s big chance. He prayed inside that he would say the right thing. “Well, in Primary we learn to—” Jeff’s voice tightened up on him and the words got stuck in his mouth.
All of a sudden, Greg, one of the other boys, interrupted. “Hey, Jeff, isn’t Primary where you learn about Scouting and other neat things you were telling me about the other day?”
“Scouting?” questioned Andy. “My dad was an Eagle Scout and he wants me to be one too. Can I go to Primary with you Jeff? Can just anyone go?”
Before Jeff could answer, Greg said, “Me too! I never have anything to do after school. My parents both work and nobody’s ever home.”
Jeff could hardly believe what he was hearing. His voice came back and he felt relaxed and happy. “Sure,” said Jeff, “anybody can come—the more the better. It’s on Tuesday and we learn lots of neat things besides Scouting. You’ll really like our teacher. She’s just great.”
The bell rang and the boys filed into the classroom. Jeff’s seat was by his Primary friend Jimmy. As Jeff sat down, Jimmy looked at Jeff’s shirt and said, “Do you think that’s going to work?”
Jeff’s smile got bigger and bigger as he whispered, “It already has!”
At recess Jeff told Jimmy about Andy and Greg. He could hardly believe what had happened. Jimmy became excited about painting a missionary T-shirt too.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “If we can get the whole Primary wearing these shirts to school, a lot of kids will soon be interested. Our Primary will grow bigger and bigger.”
Even shy boys can be missionaries. It just takes some doing, Jeff concluded.
Already Jeff was beginning to have that good feeling that the missionaries had talked about. Wouldn’t they be surprised when they heard about the first T-shirt missionary!