Just One Child

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“Just One Child,” Tambuli, Feb. 1990, 47

Just One Child

The ward Primary presidency were deep in thought as they contemplated the organization’s needs for the coming year. “What shall we do about Jenny?” one of them asked. “She is the only eleven-year-old in the whole ward. Don’t you think we should just combine the classes? You know how difficult it is to get teachers, especially to teach just one child.”

The Primary president nodded. “Yes, that’s true,” she said. “But I just don’t feel right about that solution. The Anderson family is having some problems with Jenny’s older sister right now, and I don’t think that Jenny is getting all the attention she needs. I think we should be particularly prayerful about this decision.”

At that time, Primary was held on a week-day afternoon, and it was difficult to find people who could teach Primary during the week. And to find someone who would be willing to teach only one child seemed an impossible task.

The next day, the Primary president studied the ward membership list. It seemed that all those who might be suitable already had more than one calling. So she took the problem to Heavenly Father—and prayed again about finding a teacher for Jenny.

The next time she looked at the ward list, she felt drawn to Sister Conner’s name—an unlikely choice, she thought, because Sister Conner said she was not a good teacher. In fact, Sister Conner had said many times, “I’m just not a teacher. I makes me nervous to stand in front of people.” Sister Conner had said it so often that everyone in the ward believed her. But there was no mistaking the Spirit’s promptings, so the Primary president took her request to the bishopric.

Sister Conner was surprised to receive the call. “Are you sure?” she asked the bishop. “You know I can’t teach.”

“Yes, I’m sure,” came the answer. “The Lord needs you in this calling, Sister Conner. We suggest that you pray about what you can do to help Jenny.”

Sister Conner was so nervous about her new calling that she was actually relieved that there was only one child in her class. Jenny was delighted when she found out that she was really going to have a teacher all to herself. Her parents were relieved and impressed that Sister Conner had accepted such an unusual calling.

The Primary year began. Every Primary day Sister Conner and Jenny could be found in the same small classroom. Sister Conner gave the lessons, and they planned projects and had fun together.

One winter day, Jenny came home from school looking as if she was getting sick from a cold. When her mother said that she had better stay home from Primary, Jenny burst into tears. “Mom, you don’t understand. I have to go. Sister Conner needs me. If I don’t go, she won’t have anyone to teach, and that would make her feel very sad!”

As the year progressed, friendship and love grew between Sister Conner and Jenny. Sister Conner taught Jenny to sew, and Jenny taught Sister Conner how much it meant to her to have a teacher of “her very own.” Jenny learned many new skills that year, and Sister Conner learned that she could indeed teach—and that she loved teaching!

As the time for Primary graduation grew closer, Sister Conner and Jenny decided that they wanted Jenny’s graduation to be a special time. Jenny’s mother bought fabric for a new dress, and Jenny and Sister Conner sewed it together.

At last, graduation day arrived. The program was a beautiful, spiritual ending to a unique year, and Jenny looked lovely in the dress she and Sister Conner had worked on together.

Jennifer is a grown woman now—beautiful and self-confident. After nine years of marriage, she has been blessed with only one child. But she learned long ago the value of “just one child”—from Sister Conner.

Meanwhile, Sister Conner has become a great Primary teacher. She still prefers teaching small classes, and when questioned about the year she taught Jenny, she says, “I didn’t do much. It wasn’t a sacrifice for me at all; it was really fun. I just loved Jenny. I enjoyed that year more than almost anything I have ever done. Even after all these years, I still miss her.”

Photography by Craig Dimond