“Friend to Friend,” Liahona, Feb. 2002, 6–7
I have visited Primaries in the Pacific Islands and in other parts of the world as well. The same gospel concepts are taught in Primaries 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 15 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 had 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 we could recite them all. She also instilled in me a love for Scouting. On my 12th birthday, I spent the afternoon passing off the Tenderfoot requirements so 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.
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 I could not live off Mother’s or Dad’s testimony forever. I took the advice my Primary teachers had given me and read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, and found out for myself it is true.
When I was 20, 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 young men who changed their way of life in the army and who chose not to 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 I had been prepared to face those challenges and had remained faithful to the truths 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 19 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 29 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 if I 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 the Temples and Special Projects Division 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 had been with was a prophet of God. I have watched through the years how many times he has given inspired leadership. No one but the prophet could have laid the groundwork and prepared for the building of new temples all over the world. There are things he did long ago that were inspired preparation.
President Hinckley said 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 as often as possible. Going to the temple helps us to live our lives well and to understand who we are—children of our Heavenly Father.