“Friend to Friend,” Friend, May 2000, 6
I have visited Primaries in the Pacific Islands and in other parts of the world as well. The same gospel concepts are taught in Primary everywhere. I marvel that wherever I go in the world, there are kind, loving teachers and leaders in Primary. Of course, music is a wonderful part of Primary. It teaches truths that are easily remembered. My wife and I have heard “I Am a Child of God” sung in about fifteen different languages. We have the same spiritual feeling and joy whenever we hear children sing it, no matter what language they speak. Primary is a wonderful organization.
When I was young, I would have to hurry home from school on Tuesday afternoons in order to get to Primary on time. It was held during the week then. I remember one particular teacher, Sister Rawlings. She helped our class learn the last five articles of faith so that we could recite them all. She also instilled in me a love for Scouting. On my twelfth birthday, I spent the afternoon passing off the Tenderfoot requirements so that I could be a Scout. Sister Rawlings had prepared me well, and I passed. She gave me a Boy Scout pocketknife that I treasured for years.
I think Primary also played a big part in helping me develop a testimony of the gospel. Many of my teachers encouraged me and helped me understand what I needed to do to gain a testimony. It was a gradual process. I finally realized that I could not live off Mother’s or Dad’s testimony forever. I took the advice that my Primary teachers had given me and read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, and found out for myself that it is true.
When I was twenty, I went into the army. In basic training, I was exposed to many things I had been warned against. I was very grateful for the teachings I had received at home and in Primary. They were a lifesaver for me. I saw some of the young men who changed their way of life in the army and chose to not follow God’s teachings. After basic training, one of these young men talked to me privately. He was sobbing because he had picked up a lot of bad habits, and now he had to go home and he didn’t want to face his parents. I was grateful that I had been prepared to face those challenges and had remained faithful to the truths that I had been taught.
When I was nine years old, my father, Charles Monson, was called as a bishop. He served as bishop until I was nineteen years old. I had many marvelous experiences watching him serve and seeing him do so much and still be a wonderful father.
When I was twenty-nine years old, I was called to serve as a bishop. It seemed like a hard thing to do, but I remembered my father’s example. I also remembered my Primary teachers telling me how Nephi had received the difficult assignment to go back to Jerusalem and get the brass plates from Laban. He didn’t make excuses. Instead he relied on the Lord and said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne. 3:7). I knew that if I also relied on the Lord, as Nephi had, I could accept the calling I had just received.
Before being called as a General Authority, I was director of Temples and Special Projects in the Physical Facilities Department of the Church. For many years, I met monthly with President Gordon B. Hinckley to receive his instructions. Even when he was serving as a counselor in the First Presidency, he was responsible for temples. I want you to know that he really is a prophet. If Moses or Brigham Young had been in those meetings instead of President Hinckley, I couldn’t have been any more convinced that the man I’d been with was a prophet of God. I have watched through the years how many times he has given inspired leadership. There is no one but the prophet who could have laid the groundwork and prepared for the building of new temples all over the world. There are things that he did long ago that were inspired preparation.
President Hinckley said that the temple is a place where people learn a way of life. It teaches us the values and characteristics we should have. It ought to be the goal of every child not only to be married there, but to then attend there often. Going to the temple helps us live our lives well and to understand who we are—children of our Heavenly Father.