This weekend was Conference for our Stake. On Saturday there was training for the different presidencies in the wards, so our Primary Presidency went at 3pm. They offered a nursery for the kids, but John is not quite old enough, so I went ahead and found a babysitter for the afternoon. That worked out really well - it was nice to not have to worry about John wandering around during the meeting banging on the chairs.
The main topic for our meeting was being prepared. The 3 areas to be prepared in were:
1. Personal Preparation - these little kids are always watching, and you just can't fake a testimony. So prepare by having personal prayer, scripture study, and being obedient to the commandments.
2. Program - Follow the program of the church. Get to know the handbook, meet weekly as a presidency to pray for the children - laugh about them, talk about them, get to know them. Use church approved resources - the Friend has many great ideas. Don't make things harder than they have to be. Plan in advance so that you are prepared for Sunday and not cutting out little things during Sacrament Meeting. and 3. Priesthood - invite the Priesthood to Primary at least monthly. Expect them to come, and then remind them. Welcome them any time. Counsel with the Bishopric, discuss the primary records with them monthly, don't just turn in the numbers to the ward clerk. The numbers are necessary, but they don't tell the whole story.
A music leader from Chadron Nebraska (I didn't even know our Stake goes into Nebraska, but it does. It also goes into Wyoming.) taught us the song We are Different. You can play that song if you click on the "music and voice" MP3 icon. It has a kinda fun calypso beat. She gave each of us shakers made out of plastic cups, dried beans, and duck tape. Primary Music is fun!
Then a man from the Chadron branch taught a Primary lesson about the sacrament. He brought in about 10 kids from their branch. He did a great job keeping their attention. He is a large Tongan guy, and you can tell those kids just love him. The main thing that I noticed about his lesson was that he used the names of the children. He knew all of their names, and called them by name as he asked questions and told stories. He teaches 11 five and six year olds each week. He said that the most important thing a teacher can do is get to know the children. Find out what they are like. Pray for them. Learn about their families. Get a feel for how long they can concentrate, then use other activities to keep their attention.
He bore a powerful testimony about teaching in Primary. He said that he was extended a call to teach in Primary three years ago, but he said no. He had good excuses for not being able to serve - he was working on his PhD, his wife just had a baby, etc. They moved, and when he was called to teach Primary a year ago he jumped at the chance and has loved it. He says that though the things he teaches the children are just simple, basic gospel principles, he feels that his Testimony and love of the Savior has grown tremendously. I was very impressed by him. Sometimes, I think, people feel like teaching primary is a punishment. It was great to see someone who could do anything in his ward, teaching the 5 year olds and loving his calling.
It was a great meeting. I am going to learn the names of the children in our Primary. For some reason when I am nervous and standing in the front, the names of the children (and adults) slip away from me. Even the kids that I know really well, I forget. It is mighty embarrassing. I thought it was a pregnancy thing, but it is still a problem for me. Maybe I should have them wear name tags.