I'm the 1st Counselor in our Children's Organization at Church (called- Primary), this calling came after serving in the Women's organization for about 26 years out of me and DH's (dear husband's) nearly 33 years of marriage. It has been such a learning experience for me, but in a good way. I have always loved children. And for some odd reason they love and gravitate towards me too. ;) I think they can sense who will treat them nice, care for them, see to their needs, and who they can trust. Example: I often watch a small child give a toy to a grown up (or another child), and after a few short seconds (a year in child-time) they turn around and come back to retrieve said toy. This is sometimes met with the adult or other child playing a game of keep-away, or cat and mouse. But I have noticed that if I keep the toy still, in my open palm, and when the child comes back for it, smile and let them grab it back from me without game, and with a sincere 'you can trust me' smile...I earn the precious trust of these little people, and most of all the 'like' of them too. Which is important to me. The same when I meet someone new to Primary, or children who come every week, if you get all up in the face of children they get scared...like- who is this lady? But if I smile and give the child time to aclimate to me and the situation...soon they are seeking me out because they know I'll not cross their comfort zone or boundaries. I will even tell them, "If you need anything at all, you can ask me, I will always help you. I am Sister Dodge."
Last Sunday was our annual Primary Program with all the children ages 3-11. As soon as they turn 12 they advance to the Young Men & Young Women's youth program. We actually work with children ages 18 months-11 years, it's a big job. At first I thought I would really miss my friends in Relief Society (the Women's Organization) and part of me does. But one day as I was helping one of the children I realized that the best way to love and minister to my friends in R/S is to bless, minister to, protect, teach, and love their children. This little epiphany has made me smile several times as I have reflected on the fact that so many of my friends have indeed done the same for me with my children over the years, and I am so grateful.
This year the Primary theme is: Choose The Right. Our Presidency came up with a large bulletin board that we decorated with a cute little house, and a yard filled with (empty) flowers. Each week we would pull items out of the CTR (choose the right) Box that gave a hint about the person we would spotlight. In the spotlight we would have previously spoken with the child's parents or Primary teacher to find out a way that this child chooses the right in his/her life...a particular instance, or something the have made a habit. Then when the primary children guess who it is...we would give them a paper with their 'good-choice' on it that they could walk up to the bulletin and place in the center of one of the flowers on our Choose The Right board...while the other children sing, "Choose the right way, and be happy, we must always choose the right!"
So, for our Primary program our wonderful Primary President decided that the children had really written their own program. They each would use their own experiences, and words, to describe their 'Choose The Right' moment. Mixed with the scriptures, and songs for the year. It was personal, it was their experiences to own and share with their families...and not regurgitate a line written for them with little meaning. They could really own their good choices. The confirmation was unquestionable and our Presidency was unified with the program idea.
The Primary Program was beautiful, the spirit was there. The children sang like angels, and most of the goofy antics of practice days were missing and replaced with little ladies and gentlemen. There were prior moments when I thought that some of them had channeled Eddy Haskel, or Dennis the Menace. Yes, we even had one who tied his shoe laces together and tripped and fell all the way to the microphone. Or he would have, but he was politely asked to removed his shoes and try it again nicely. The choir seats are so fun and bouncy, and make all kinds of racket if you do it right. Oh, thank goodness that was on a 'practice' Sunday. On the actual day of the Program...I was very proud of them. They were so awesome and well behaved. It was a great day to be in our Sacrament Meeting with these children, their parents, and siblings. Heavenly Father loves these children. He says we must be like them. He says we must not offend them. They are our dear little brothers and sisters. They have strong spirits, and brilliant minds. I am so thankful to work with them, and be in their association as well as the other members of our presidency, the teachers, and members of our Bishopric who love and guide us.
After Sacrament meeting our sharing time was a little celebration for the children. We read notes written by members of our congregation to the children. We had snacks for them and watched a few really OLD Mormon messages. That was fun, and very funny at times too. We even had a few minutes to sing some more songs. Sister H. called on some children to get their song requests. The children had already shifted gears and wanted to sing Christmas songs. So you see...with children we can never stagnate, we must press forward. On to the next chapter in Primary...preparing for Christmas. How fun!
(St Mark 10:13-16)
With Primary Love,