Monday, November 10, 2008

My Primary Thought

Over two and a half years ago, I was called to serve in the Primary with my husband to teach the 10-11 year old boys class. It was with mixed emotion that I accepted the call.

I was excited to work with my husband, Brad. We had only had one other calling together (stake missionaries) and that was years earlier. The class we were called to teach was to be my son Bryan’s class. That would be fun for us. But Bryan cried when his other teacher was released. She was a wonderful teacher. We had some big shoes to fill. So, needless to say, Bryan wasn’t quite as thrilled as we had hoped, but he finally came around to the idea and reluctantly he admitted we were his second choice of teachers, if he had to choose. Those were the winning points. From there it kind of went down hill.

I shamefully admit, I didn’t want to be in the Primary. Been there, done that, sooo many times. Once you get put in the Primary in our ward, you’re in it for a LONG time. You start to wonder if you’ve been forgotten. On my last Sunday before we were to begin our new adventure, I sadly waved goodbye to all the ladies in the Relief Society. Our ward is ever changing and I feel like I don’t know half of the ladies as it is and there went my chance to learn the names and faces of the newcomers. I was being sent to Primary corner…or so I thought.

However, the reasons that reserved my excitement for my new calling changed almost immediately once we actually started teaching the boys. On that first Sunday, we laid down the class rules. I’m the disciplinarian as well as the award giver. I love treats but they have to be earned. I also love class parties and birthdays. It doesn’t take much to find ways to earn rewards. Brad is one darn good teacher and there is no one that I know of who relates to kids better than he does, even if I do say so myself. ;) He teaches with the lesson manual but do so with stories, experiences, and we have Super bowl lessons and tic-tac-toe challenges to see if the kids are absorbing the lessons he is giving them. From that first week to even now, that is how it’s always been in our class.

What I didn’t expect to find upon accepting the call is the kind of boys we would have the opportunity to teach. These boys knew things about the Gospel I never expected them to know. Suddenly I realized it was the boys in my class up there bearing their testimony on Fast Sunday’s. They get a little rambunctious, but they are never disrespectful. They will do anything you ask. I have honestly never had the privilege of teaching a better group of boys in my life. With great reluctance I accepted that call, little did I know I would I grow to love the boys as much as I have. What outstanding young men they are. Okay, so you get the idea, that these boys are great boys, But let me give you an inside view of them and what they have done for my family and I.

See, my son doesn’t go to school with the rest of these boys. Due to his need for a different learning scale, the school district buses him to another school. Yet on Sunday these boys all come together and though they have their different friends and different schedules in the week, they are all as one in that classroom.

There is one particular boy who has taken it upon himself to look out for Bryan. He has become Bryan’s best friend. This boy finds learning quite simple. He succeeds with math, reading, and comprehension. All of these are areas that Bryan struggles. So he comes to our house and he’ll play, or read to Bryan, and even helped us teach Bryan to ride his bike by offering him his last two dollars as a reward once he succeeded in going the length of three houses without crashing as an incentive. Bryan was terrified to ride a bike but wanted to be like the other kids that rode theirs.
(That whole experience started out with prayer. The boy offered to say it. There we were as a family on the front lawn- praying with the boys and the bike.)

Bryan was in the hospital last spring for twelve days. A dear friend agreed to substitute teach for us that week. She arranged for our class to drive clear up to Primary Children’s Hospital to have Primary with Bryan on Sunday morning. They wanted the boys to have a chance to better understand what Bryan was going through. The entire class with the teacher and one of the parents arranged to have a lesson and play a little game with the scriptures while they visited my son.

Before going to the hospital, Bryan’s friend had learned Bryan was afraid of the procedure about to be done. He promised Bryan he would visit him every day. At the time we thought he’d be in 3-5 days. It turned out this boy came to the hospital every single one of the twelve days except two. On those two days he called and they talked on the phone for quite a while. My son looked for that boy every single day. He kept saying, “He won’t let me down. I know him. He’s the best kind of friend anyone could have.” And it’s true, that young boy never let him down. He kept my son’s spirits up like none of the rest of us could do.

For my birthday, I got to class and was surprised when they sang to me personally then laughed when I turned red. This last Halloween, I can’t tell you how much it meant to me, when one of the mothers let a secret slip. One night for Family Home Evening the family went around leaving secret treats for neighbors. Each of her children got to pick one family to leave a tasty surprise for. Her son picked his teachers to play “Ghost” on.

I could go on and on with the way these boys have touched and influenced my life and played such an important part in my family’s lives.

I had always hoped for a large family. After six miscarriages and some cervical cancer, I feel extremely blessed to have the two boys I have. Our family has been small but I have always felt very blessed. Over the last year I have found my home constantly filled with boys. I am finally starting to see that maybe there is another way to fill my home with even more laughter and love.

Our class participated in the Primary program yesterday. Being the oldest, it was up to them to prepare their talks rather than say the lines prepared by the Primary Presidency. I listened carefully as each of my boys bore testimony of our Saviors love, the Holy Ghost, the Temple, the Atonement, and others gospel topics. I couldn’t help the tears that welled up in my eyes as I have thought over the last two and a half years I have spent with these boys. I think back to when the call was extended to us. I am disappointed of the memory of my heart dipping even just that little bit. I would have missed out on so many blessings and such powerful experiences if I had not accepted the call. I can’t help but be grateful that my parents taught me to serve wherever I am asked because it is I who had a lesson to learn. These boys have taught me more through their example than I have ever gained from any other calling I have had.

As we stood to sing the song, If The Savior Stood Beside Me, I was reminded that the Savior loves his children. I couldn’t help but think that if the Savior were to come and visit our ward, the first place I believe he would want to be is with the children in the Primary…and that’s right where I want to be.

I added the words to the song I spoke of. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.

If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?
Would I follow his commandments and try harder to be true?
Would I follow his example? Would I live more righteously?
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.
If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind if He were never far away?
Would I try to share the Gospel, would I speak more reverently?
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.
He is always near me, though I do not see him there.
And because he loves me dearly I am in his watchful care.
So I’ll be the kind of person that I know I’d like to be
If I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.

May we all strive to be more like the children.


Jennie said...

Great blog and what a choice experience. I've had two classes that have touched me that way. One was the Blazers Scouts a long time ago and the other was seven-year-olds-turning-eight more recently. It's fun and thrilling to watch them continue on in their lives, to see the boys pass the sacrament and later go on missions, to attend their weddings, and to see them take their place as leaders in their wards and stakes.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Your blog was so wonderful and touching. What a blessing it is when these sweet children teach us what we, as adults, should be doing. The are the strong and valiant, at such a young age. I am so grateful you took time to share these thoughts, Jeri. The story of Bryan and his friend is a perfect example of Christlike love.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Your blog was so wonderful and touching. What a blessing it is when these sweet children teach us what we, as adults, should be doing. The are the strong and valiant, at such a young age. I am so grateful you took time to share these thoughts, Jeri. The story of Bryan and his friend is a perfect example of Christlike love.

Cheri J. Crane said...

Primary is a wonderful realm. How lucky those boys are to have you and Brad for teachers. =)And I agree, as with any calling, we always receive more than we ever give.