samedi 24 janvier 2015

My son goes to the Primary [Faith Celebration Blog Hop]

Hello dear readers! I'm so happy to take part in this Faith Celebration Blog Hop with my fellow bloggers of the MKB community. I firmly believe that, when we get to learn the cultures of other peoples (Faith included), we can live better all together. So this blog hop has really spoken to me! Take a look at all the others posts and religions by clicking on the link above and try to win this giveaway:

Wisdom Tales Press is offering a reader a copy of the book
 Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World by Alexis York Lumbard. 
To enter the giveaway (January 26 to February 10, 2015), follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter at MKB.


For those who don't know it, my husband and I are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. Yeah, it's kinda a mouthful. That's why many people had started to call it the "Mormon Church". Not that I don't like the prophet Mormon (he's the one who compiled the ancient records of his people and wrote from them what is now known as the Book of Mormon), but it diminishes the fact that we believe in Jesus Christ and that He is at the Head of our Church (by His inspiration and His Gospel). The Church uses this nickname for some programms but overall, the term LDS (Latter-Day Saints) is more adequate and it has to be noted that members are quite sad when someone tells them they are not Christians... when we definitly are!

To read more about our believes and principles, here's a post I wrote about some basics facts about our Church, another about the role of Redeemer of Jesus-Christ and in this blog-hop you will find the post of Lisa talking about "Demystifying" our Church.

Jesus Christ, surrounded by a group of children, shows them love and compassion.

Every Sunday, my children attend their classes at our local ward. Gabriel and Sophie have roughly two hours of lessons, songs, plays, etc. Meanwhile, my husband and I have also our classes: the Sunday School (Teachings of the Scriptures) and the Priesthood for Jo, the Relief Society for me. I could talk to you about these organizations but it's not my topic for today...

So come on, I will present you the Primary of the Friedrichsdorf ward (but it could be anywhere else in the world, the organization of the Primary is nearly the same everywhere)

The Presidency:
Each ward has an organization called the Primary, lead by a President and two consellors (all three are women). In my ward, the President is a young woman who is married for a little over one year and a half and has no kids (yet). When she was called as President of the Primary, she was a bit overwhelmed but with the help of her consellors and her secretary who are already mothers (one with teenagers, the other with kids from toddlers to 11 years old and the last with 2 young kids) she overcame it. Now, she still finds it challenging but is more confident and loves her calling.

If a child is between 18 months old and 3 years old, he will go for the 2 hours at the Nursery. Sophie loves to go with the other kids. She's the oldest for now and likes to say the prayer (with some help of course), have a small lesson about a Gospel principle (kindness, love, honesty, etc) adapted for toddlers, have a snack and play!
Going to the Nursery helped my daughter to learn German: she started to attend this class when we moved to Oberursel and it was her first real contact with this new language! She also picked up a bit of English as some of the women who managed this class were English speakers.
But what is the most important for kids this young is for them to be together, in peace and happiness. For the children who are with one of their parents, at home, during the week, it's also a moment of sociabilization.

When they are 3 on the 1st of January, they will attend the Sunbeam (3 years old), and the following years the Choose the Right (4 to 7 years old) and then the Valiants (8 to 11 years old) after their baptism.
 At 8 years old, a child will be baptized if he/she so chose. The parents' agreement is necessary but it's the child's free will that matters the most. He / She will be explained what the baptism means and that this covenant will have to be kept all her life ("I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" 2Tim 4:7). It's a baptism by immersion, like the one Jesus had.
When a child reach his 12th birthday, he will be welcomed in the Young Women or Young Men classes. The classes are only for 40 minutes. For one more hour, the children will be together in the period we call "Sharing Time".

Example of Sharing Time with the whole Primary: songs, prayers, Scriptures reading, short talks, etc.

Sharing Time: Now it's time for a game after the lesson about the different teachings of Jesus. The teacher had hidden a picture and a child has to remember which one is missing... It was my son's turn to find out. He succeed with a little help from the teacher.

"Choose the Right" class for the 4 and 5 years old.

My son is in the CTR group (CTR = Choose the Right) as you can see in the picture above. He enjoys so much to be with his friends and his teacher and to talk about Jesus and His Gospel. However, it always makes me frown to hear that he loves to say the  opening or the closing prayer during Primary but pouts at home when we ask him to do it. Hum... He's only willing when his grand-parents are here (or on the phone). I guess he prefers to let his sister shines, she's so eager  these days to fold her arms and repeat after me (so cute!)

The Primary in the world:
The last two years, children around the world have been interviewed and their "profiles" including pictures, infos about their country or city, their favorite hobbies, etc, have been added to a map in short videos. It's the One in a million project. This is a simple and yet thoughful way to explain to children that eventhough they all have different lifestyles, they belong to the same worldwide Primary and are all Children of God. I love the song they created for the occasion! You can listen to it below:

I have asked some of my friends about their experiences in/with the Primary.

The first one was my Bishop and friend, Torsten who is German and is the father of 5 kids:
1/ As a bishop, what is for you the most relevant adjectives to define the organisation that is the Primary?
Playfully learning

2/ What does the Primary help the children with? 
The purpose of the Primary is to feel the love of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through singing songs, hearing the stories from the scriptures and the testimony of those who teach. 

3/ For those who think that 2h a week of religious classes is too much for a kid, what would you tell them?
Two hours are pretty fast if something is fun and rich in variety. In the two hours, the children sing songs, read and repeat a scripture, have activities like drawing a picture of a biblical hero or craft something. They also have a time for about 20-25 min, where they are together with other kids of their age group to have a short gospel lesson. 

4/ Now, as a father, what is your most memorable moment with your kids about the Primary?
As a father I enjoy to sing children songs about Jesus with my children. Often when we drive home in the car our children want to sing the songs they have learned in Primary, those songs would be „I want to be like Jesus” or „I am a child of God” or „Follow the Prophet”.

I am a Child of God, sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in October 2014.

5/ Did you attend Primary when you were a kid? And if so, what is the most important thing you have learned there?
Yes I did. From the age of 3 years until I turned 12 year old. I think in Primary I learned that God is our Heavenly Father and that he loves all his children. That he wants us to be happy and to return to him and we find happiness, when we follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Eva, a French expat in Germany, like me, is a mother of a 3 years old boy. Here is what she thinks about this organization:
1/ What is for you the main goal of the Primary?
The purpose of the LDS Primary organization is to help the children learn more about Jesus and Heavenly Father, and their divine potential and heritage as children of God.

2/ What experiences do you have with the Primary? as a child? as a teacher?
I have good Memories from my childhood as a Primary child. I remember the songs we've learnt, some of the Primary presentations we made, and the friends and teachers I had. I felt loved and important because a whole organization had been created so that children could learn and grow spiritually just like everybody in the church.

As a Primary leader I realize how blessed I am to be able to teach the children because most of the time I think I am the one learning from them. Their spirits are pure and strong and they help me strengthen my testimony as well.

3/ What is the most memorable moment of your child in the Primary?
Last sunday my son Noah started his first day in Primary after being in nursery for a year and a half. He is now a "sunbeam" (name of his group age) and I could see how proud he was to be with the older ones. It is a great joy to see him participating during the lessons and everything.

4/ What is your favorite song from the Children Songbook?
I have lots of favorite songs, I LOVE singing...but I'd probably say that my favorite one is "My Heavenly Father loves me". It talks about all the things that God created for us and that I can feel his love in every single thing he created.

My Heavenly Father loves me, by Mercy River. Photos by hiyapapayaphoto.

5/ For those who think that 2h a week of religious classes is too much for a kid, what would you tell them?
2 hours a week is nothing compared to the average time that a child spent in front of TV. Plus this time is well organized, the children have the opportunity to sing, play and have an interactive lesson about the gospel. I think it's a minimum, then the rest of the teachings should be given everyday at home by the parents.

When I moved to Paris in 2005, I met JoAnn in the ward I belonged to. American mom of four children (2 girls, 2 boys, lucky!), she was during part of her stay in France the Primary President of my ward. Now living in Tokyo, and soon moving to Israel, she reflects on what Primary had brought her since she became a mom:
1/ what is for you the most relevant adjectives to define the organization that is the Primary? what is its aim?
The most relevant adjectives to define Primary would be:
Teaching children from the ages of 18 months- 12 years of age the gospel of Jesus Christ;  to learn about the Savior and His life.  To instruct and help them to develop love and faith in Jesus Christ and in our Heavenly Father.  To develop a personal relationship with Him.
Learn about the principles and saving ordinances necessary to return to our Father in Heaven.  To learn about the structure and organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 

 2/ For those who think that 2h a week of religious classes is too much for a kid, what would you tell them?
I would tell them that in today's world, where children can be bombarded with worldly messages through TV, the Internet, movies, and music on a sometimes constant daily level---receiving uplifting messages in church of patience, obedience, kindness, service and trying to live the Savior's example, is a short amount of time!

3/ What are your most memorable moments at the Primary? as a child? a mother? an instructor or a leader?
Since I joined the church at 24 years of age, I can't share a Primary moment from that time.  As a mother....I have had many memorable moments as I have listened to my children give talks and prayers in Primary.  One particular moment stands out as my son, Noah, then about 3 years of age and still learning to pronounce his words properly, was participating in a sacrament Primary program.  His line was supposed to be "I can serve others."  Instead, he pronounced it as "I can serve udders." (udders being the body part of a cow where milk comes from).
As a leader, I had the humble opportunity to serve the primary children in our ward while living in Paris, France.  It was a phenomenal experience for me and one of the most inspiring and learning moments of my life.  There was a language barrier, but the love and faith that I felt from the instructors and children in that small primary is indescribable.  Learning in French and singing, "Je suis enfant de Dieu" and other favorite Primary hymns with the children deepened my testimony and faith in God. It was hard sometimes communicating in a language that I was not the least bit proficient in....but, the spirit I felt in our Primary room was slowly transforming me and taught me that if God has a plan, He will help us find a way to accomplish that plan.

4/ What is your favorite "Children's book" Song?
"The Family is of God".  It was sung in the 2014 Primary Sacrament Program.
      From the songbook, "We'll Bring the World His Truth."

5/ What is the most important thing you have learned while attending Primary as a teacher?
As a teacher....I have learned that it is an important and humbling responsibility to teach the young children of any ward.  God has entrusted ME to share His teachings to His children and it is my duty and obligation to do the best that I can.  I have also learned that even at my age and teaching basic principles to children, there is still something to be learned and gained.

As for myself, I am a convert like JoAnn. I was already 23 years old when I joined the Church, so I didn't have the opportunity to attend any Primary class in my childhood. However, I have been called once in this organization as the Music Leader. That's a real challenge! Especially with the young ones who can't read the lyrics or the older ones who can't be serious two minutes... Nonetheless, I will always treasure the year I had that calling because it helps me understand how children can learn good principles and how they cherish them in their daily life. I have heard some heart warming stories from those kids when they tried to apply honesty, service or forgiveness and they saw the fruits of their attempts. It also helped me to prepare myself at being a mother !
Now that I have two children, I can see how much they enjoy to learn with their classmates about the Gospel. When they are taught about a principle during a class, you can be sure the topic will come out during the following week. Gabriel read the Scriptures Stories (in the form of comic strips, but they exist as videos too -see the link) with his father and enjoys to point out what he had already learnt while in the Primary. As a family, we have set some priorities in our life. And one of them is to learn together to better understand and live Jesus' teachings.

For more informations about the Primary organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and what kind of material children use during the lessons or at home, here are some links:

I hope you will have now a better understanding of one of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you have questions or comments, leave them in the section below. I have no problems with negative comments if they are share in a respectful way. Have a nice day.

2 commentaires:

  1. Wow, what a fantastic comprehensive post on the primary! My kids love attending primary. In fact, they can't wait to go to church because of it. I think that's wonderful. I hated church, so I love how my kids learn so much and have fun. It's not a chore, you know? It's really wonderful.

    One woman who I am very closed to, left our ward. Recently I spoke to her on the phone. She said, Thank our Heavenly Father for Primary. It's the primary program that steers our children and keeps them on the right path. After she said that, I had a new appreciation. It is really the perfect structure.

    Thanks so much for this great article.

    1. Indeed Lisa, the Primary is their first step into the Church of the Lord. They learn the basics of the Gospel and will grow into them.
      Thank you for your kind comment!


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