I looked up from my in-flight reading. A fussy toddler sat on his mother’s lap diagonally across from my aisle seat. I’d spent much of the flight entertaining him with funny faces when he squawked (and I have some award-winning funny faces). He had just dropped a toy car, which rolled towards me. I made the mistake of zooming it back to him in the air across the aisle, complete with sound effects, which brought a broad grin to his face; he eyed me and dropped the car again. I realized I’d started a not-s0-good game across a busy passenger airplane aisle.
I resumed reading the book in my lap. I turned the page and (I’m not making this up) read this story about a former ward member, now a member of the Seventy:
“Bruce Porter was working on his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University during the summer of 1979. Because many members of the Cambridge Second Ward left for the summer, the Primary president approached Bruce and asked if he would be willing to teach Primary for six weeks until some of the teachers returned. Primary met in the middle of the week, so Bruce was reluctant to accept because he was busy with research. Hemming and hawing until things got uncomfortable, the Primary president finally asked if Bruce would be willing to teach a class for two weeks. Still reluctant, Bruce agreed because two weeks was better than six.
“When the first class rolled around the following Wednesday, Bruce was studying world politics in Widener Library, absorbed in what seemed to be terribly significant issues. The Primary class he’d agreed to teach seemed unimportant in comparison and an inconvenient distraction. Delaying for as long as he could, Bruce finally pulled out the manual and skimmed the lesson twenty minutes before Primary was to begin. Leaving the library, Bruce walked slowly toward the Cambridge chapel on the opposite side of Harvard Square, fixated on the time he was being asked to sacrifice. Walking in the shadows of ivy-covered buildings, Bruce could think only about the great seminars, conferences, and classes taking place around him, while he was left to attend to the ordinary, simple task of teaching a small group of children.
“Arriving late at the meetinghouse, Bruce made his way up to the Primary room on the second floor, where opening exercises had already begun. As he stepped through the door of the room, the children began singing a hymn he had never heard before:
As I have loved you, love one another.
This new commandment, love one another.
By this shall men know ye are my disciples,
If ye have love, one to another. (Hymns, 308)
“As the music faded, Bruce continued to stand frozen at the door, transfixed by the hymn’s beauty and message. His eyes filled with tears as the lesson he had not been seeking became clear.
“‘It struck me with great force that I was looking at the most important class taking place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that day,’ said Elder Porter. ‘Back on the campus, all kinds of great issues were being discussed. People were searching for answers to the world’s problems, but I was looking at the answer to the world’s problems. . . . Not political or economic schemes, but teaching little children one by one so that they would grow up in righteousness. . . . If we want to build the Lord’s kingdom on earth, we must look to its natural heirs.” (Kristen Smith Dayley, For All the Saints, Cedar Fort Inc., 2012, 184-5, 183).
I thought back to my morning prayer — that God would lead me to someone I could help today. I didn’t expect it to be a toddler, but I was so pleased that the Lord answered my prayer in that way. I realized that I had just played a simple game of funny faces with one of the most important passengers on the flight that day.
God bless you as you work with His treasured children in Primary and in your home.