Yesterday was Sunday. My favorite sermon of the day came from my 6 year old grandson. He was playing with his sister and cousin on the front porch below our veranda. We couldn’t see them but could hear them. My daughter, concerned the little one was ok called down. “Do you have your sister with you?”
“I know where I am and I know how to get back.”
My daughter explained there had been a traumatic experience this summer when Sam took her 6 year old to Lagoon. They had seen a little boy that was lost. After returning home, he told his mother about the incident and she used that as an opportunity to teach him what to do if he was ever alone and needed help finding his way back.
I hope I have done my motherly duty. I hope my children can recognize where they really are and when they are lost are courageous enough to admit it and sensitive enough to remember what I have taught about repentance, the Spirit so that they and will not only know the way back but return.
In April I went on a biking trip with two friends to see the Dutch countryside abloom in the bulb flowers for which my ancestral home is famous. None of us spoke Dutch. None of us had ever led a biking excursion before let alone in a foreign country. While we were all sufficiently intelligent and reliable grandmothers we felt a little inadequate on this adventure. We rented a GPS device and consulted maps but most important, once on the road, looked for the important road signs that would take us to our destination.
We quickly learned how much help it was to have multiple sets of eyes ready to take responsibility and speak up. Not one of us was ever right the entire time. Going ‘at the speed of bike,’ it was easy to be looking in one direction and miss a sign in the direction where you weren’t looking. At one time or another, two would hear the voice of the third calling “Did you see that sign? These roles changed frequently. We were always happy to receive immediate course correction so we could continue with minimal delay.
I’ve thought of this recently as I’ve considered our stewardship to teach and lead children.
As prepared as we might be or as sure of the stories or doctrines we are, inevitable slip-ups occur when we are on the spot. Maybe we get flustered and say something when we mean something else. Maybe we get distracted by something or feel we need to finish our sharing time and inadvertently miss an opportunity to clarify or engage in important discussions. I recall a sharing time where modesty was being discussed and the primary counselor explained that some clothing that was too tight could be immodest. One child, thinking she understood perfectly well, nodded her head as she pulled at the heel of her shoe and said “Yeah, like when your shoes are too tight.” While suppressed chuckles danced around the room a sincere inquiry by another child “What if someone likes to wear tight cloths?” went unaddressed.
Even after much preparation you may experience slips-ups at the moment you are before the children teaching. We invite you to join us in implementing a “culture of catch” amongst ourselves in which we receive and give kind but clarifying correction happily and immediately.
Let’s not avoid a correction or clarification for fear we may offend. Let’s not assume an incorrect statement will go unnoticed or be ‘over’ the children’s heads. Primary should be a place free from misconceptions. Primary should be the port of embarkation in a child’s journey introducing them to vistas of testimony, truth and light in an environment abloom with love and humility.
We invite you to be both teacher and student in a culture where we happily catch each other as we lead on the path back to Heavenly Father.
November 3rd is my Dad’s birthday. Dad was made a sealer when he and mom were on a mission in the Philippines. When they returned I invited mom to start coming to the Family History Library with me. I’d started to go once a week and was working on her Scottish line. Mom joined me and we searched for quite some time and tried to understand the programs and trace family names so we could do temple work. It was like looking for gold but finding only coal. Most of her line had been researched and temple work had been completed.
We really wanted to find some ancestors whose names we could submit for temple work. That is when we decided to branch out to Dad’s line. Neither one of us spoke Dutch but we plowed ahead. I remember the first day we found a family name that really needed to be done. It was so exciting, I shared our joyful news at a ward dinner that night with friends. It was monumental to me. It was a gold nugget. We eventually were blessed to cull thousands of names from Dad’s Dutch ancestry and he was able to perform the sealings for his ancestors with us, his children and mom, as proxies in the Jordan River temple. It was one of the sweetest gifts we could have shared. It was gold.
Today the 4000+names for which Dad’s father had researched has grown to almost 40,000 names. To celebrate Dad and honor him on his birthday we will do a sealing session on the greatest single genealogical discovery we have made in the past 17 years. It was not panning in a river for gold but a direct hit of a marvelous vein of precious metal. But, it happens to be on Mom’s line. Hastening of the work is in full swing here. It took almost years to come up with the names we have from the Netherlands but in months we have compiled thousands of names of direct and collatoral lines.
The day we discovered the parish record for extending her father Melvin Burt’s line I imagined a conversation between Dad and Grandpa -“Tom, would it be okay if Lila went to the library on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays? There is something she will be able to find with the help of two experts there- before she can work on my Polish Rositsky line she will find that my German line is incorrect and once she discovers that there is a book recently published that will unlock the door for multiple generations.”
I think Dad not only said yes, but is helping with the conversion of not just one congregation but centuries of a parish’s families who are now offered the fulness just like the early congregations in England. This experience has been and will continue to be mined for a long time. It is pure gold.