“Teacher, Can You Help?” Friend, May 2004, 36
“I don’t want to give the prayer.” Austin stubbornly folded his arms across his chest and pushed both of his feet against the floor, as if he wanted them to grow roots and hold him there.
“It’s your turn,” Stacey told him.
“Everyone else has already done it,” Steven added.
Austin shook his head and looked down. No one could make him give the prayer, even if it was his turn.
“I’ll help you,” his Primary teacher, Sister Lee, offered. Austin looked up hopefully and almost smiled, but Steven’s next comment made him drop his gaze again.
“We’re too old to get help from the teacher.”
The other children nodded. But Sister Lee raised her hand to quiet them.
“Now, wait just a minute,” she said. “We’re never too old to ask for help.”
“Even to give the prayer?” Stacey asked.
Austin looked at her. Was it really that bad to ask for help with the prayer? He wondered what Sister Lee would say.
“We’re never too old to ask for help with anything,” Sister Lee replied. “How many of you need help taking the sacrament?”
Steven covered a snicker with his hand. Austin grinned at their teacher’s question.
“None of us do,” Stacey said.
“Let me tell you a story,” Sister Lee said with a twinkle in her eye. “When I was about your age, we used to have junior Sunday School on Sunday mornings, then we went home for lunch and returned to church later in the evening for sacrament meeting.”
“How weird!” Steven exclaimed, making a funny face.
“It does seem odd now, but then it was just the way we did things. During junior Sunday School, we took the sacrament. We sat in our classes instead of with our families.
“One day, I was sitting on the end of our row. When the deacon passed the sacrament to me, I looked up and realized how terribly big he was. I had never taken the sacrament tray from the deacon before. Usually I sat in the middle of my class, and one of the other children would pass it to me. I started to cry. I was very shy and afraid to take the sacrament from the deacon. Some of the children in the other classes noticed me crying and turned around to find out what was wrong. That just made everything worse. I was so embarrassed that I hid my face behind my teacher’s arm.”
“You were embarrassed to take the sacrament?” Austin asked.
“I was afraid of the big deacon,” Sister Lee explained. “My teacher thought I must not like the deacon, so she asked another one to come over and give me the sacrament. When I peeked out from behind her arm and saw another deacon, I cried harder.”
“Did you ever take the sacrament?” Steven asked.
“My teacher took it for me and held it in her hand until no one was watching. Then she quietly handed it to me. Each Sunday after that, she would always ask if I wanted her help.”
“You could have just asked her in the first place,” Stacey said.
“That’s right. Many times all we need to do is say, ‘Teacher, can you help me?’ And he or she will be right there to help you.”
“But we’re still too old to have help with prayers,” Steven insisted.
“Not really,” Sister Lee told him. “You would have thought I was old enough to take the sacrament without help, but you never know. That’s why we can never judge. Someone might seem able, but we don’t know what he or she is thinking.”
“Teachers like to help us,” Stacey observed.
“Even when we’re older,” Sister Lee agreed. “I’ve had teachers who worried about me, fussed over me, and prayed for me all my life. Even now, I have visiting teachers who do that. That’s just part of being a teacher; we’re here to help and we want to.”
Austin smiled at Sister Lee. “I want to say the prayer,” he told her. “I just can’t think of what to say. Teacher, can you help me?”
Sister Lee smiled and said, “Of course, Austin. I’d love to help.”