Primary children discussing the life of Jesus, as seen in a video, with Brother Dave. (Author’s Photo)
When Jesus was doing His ministry here on earth, he loved the little children. Children by nature are curious and inquisitive. They are pure and honest. The love of Christ to these children is shown when He rebuked His disciples who stopped the little kids from seeing Him. And this is what He said: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt. 19:14, KJV).
Parents are commanded by God to nourish their children according to His admonition and nurture. What about the school and the Church? The school, the church, and the family are the common institutions that give the child an opportunity to achieve a bright future. In school, they are taught the 3 Rs of education: reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic. In church, they are taught of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how Jesus offered His life for the salvation of mankind. The family can make their house like Heaven. The parents do their best to rear up their children according to the “admonition and nurture of the Lord.” (Ep. 6:4, KJV) And children are commanded to honor and obey their parents.
When I was a kid and studying in a public elementary school, I could never be moved by my parent’s bid to be absent. I always wished that there was no weekend and that classes would go on throughout the whole week. I didn’t want to miss my classmates’ camaraderie, friendship, and the fun that we had every day. Moreover, I don’t want to miss the love and care of our teacher-adviser who gave us all the motivation and inspiration we needed in our young lives. Missing a class was like being deprived of the happiness the children need as part of growing up.
La Carlota District Primary officers; children from different branches. (Author’s photo)
“The Primary is an organized program of religious instruction and activity in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for children from eighteen months of age until their twelfth birthdays. Its purpose is to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it” (Encyclopedia of Mormonism , 3:1146).
This August, our Church celebrated the 138th anniversary of Primary, a children’s program that was started in Farmington, Utah, in 1878.
I have just come back from the Church after taking some pictures and joining in the fun of the anniversary celebration. I was amused by the active participation of my two Primary granddaughters, Stephanie and Sophie. “How I wish I could go back to my Primary days to enjoy the games, the fun, and the foods prepared by the Primary teachers without taking any pennies from the pockets of children’s parents,” I thought.
There are eight branches of the Church that participated in the one-day Primary celebration. Every one of them joined the games. Small children, as young as three years old, were full of enthusiasm. But they always lost the game, for the older kids have more skill. At least, they had the opportunity to be a part of the group. They had the opportunity to develop their self-confidence and the determination to try winning the game. I loved to watch the older kids running to and fro for their scripture chase game. Every group was provided with Scriptures to look for. The group which found the required number of scriptures was declared a winner.
The last game is called “Tumba-Patis” in our local dialect. When were kids, we used to play this game. Tumba-Patis (in English, “Hit The Can”) is one of our national games. It is a game played by a group of 10. Each member has to hit an empty can placed about 8-10 meters away. When the can is hit, another child takes his turn. Play continues until each member of the group has successfully hit the target can. The first to complete the 10 hits is declared the winner.
The group of players who touched me the most were the children from the Magallon Branch, Moises Padilla, Philippines. It is the most distant unit of the Church. Many of their Primary children came and actively participated in the activities. I was very proud of them, for they were talented. They danced and sang very well.
These two institutions, the school and the Church are completed by the family to provide for the holistic growth of the child. The parents follow up on their children’s activities in school and in church. They praise their children’s good achievement. They instruct them well when their children fail to obey them. That completes the all-round development of the children in terms of education, spirituality, and charity – which is the love of Christ in their own family.
These are some of the ways to make children happy. Since we live in a faraway country with a different culture and folkways, you may have different activities for getting children involved and feeling the proper fellowship as the children of God.