It has now been one month since our congregation's primary program. I told myself that if I didn't get this typed up before a month was over I would never do it. I have 1 hour and 3 minutes before a month is over.
That Sunday was by far the best Sunday I have had during our almost one year (i can't believe it) in serving downtown. We now take two cars as Jeff has lots of meetings and helps pick the young men up to go to church. Is it amazing that almost all of them come without their parents - amazing boys. So I had to take this photo of me an the girls leaving out of the garage. I have started wearing a little makeup now that my marathon training tan is long gone and I am pasty white again.
For some reason driving alone with the girls is always tricky. I think it is because we always get so geared up to get ready for church then we race, race to get in the car to then sit there for an hour. We pretty much have to pack lunch for the girls to eat during the drive as the hour before we leave is packing everything up and getting ready, no time to feed them. It is so crazy that we pack food for them to eat to go to church and then for the ride home because it is around 5:30 by the time we leave.
This day was not only our primary program but also our munch and mingle and i was in charge of sharing time (Sunday school group lesson for ages 3-12) for the primary children. It took me 20 minutes to pack our car. We brought 3 pies, 4 dozen rolls and a large pan of stuffing.
My sharing time included ice cream which was a little tricky to pack up and keep frozen for two hours but it worked. We only have street parking to our church building so finding parking, getting the girls out and bringing all the food was an experience.
Our primary program is where the children ages 3-12 do the entire large congregations meeting by giving talks and singing songs that they had been working on all year. I had written the program and then handed it over a month before to one of the DARLING girls that was here with husband who was doing a Washington D.C. internship through BYU. Nicole - is she not so darling!We asked her to execute the program and she did an amazing job. The week before the program two children who were not members of our church had come with their neighbor and wanted to come the next week and be part of their program. Nicole just was all over that by giving them parts and helping them feel so welcome. The two children came back and were in the program. I wish their parents could have seen them they would have been so proud.
Caroline actually read her part. Nicole had promised her if she did she would bring her two pink pieces of candy. I can't believe Nicole remembered and after the program handed her two pieces of laffy taffy. Annie Kate did a good job reading her part. I honestly had never gone over with it at home. She wrote the entire talk herself and I kind of felt bad that I didn't help her memorize it but you do what you can do.
The miracle of the program was regarding a little 10 year old boy. He comes every once in awhile and comes with his aunt. He has many challenges in his life. I had actually not written him a part thinking that he probably would not be there that day. But the primary president reminded me to include every child on the roll as if they were going to be there. Nicole had send each child their part in the mail encouraging them to go over it during the next few weeks. This boy came for the program. Due to a series of errors, which were all my bad, we ended up doing the entire program and forgot to have him come up during the program. I was in the back of the chapel and signaled to Nicole that we had left him out during the closing song. Being the super girl that she was she guided him to the microphone after the program to say his part. He walked up to the microphone and out of his pocket he pulled out his part that had been sent to him in the mail. The paper was torn, dirty and as soft as fabric. And in a voice that was sweet and tender he said his part, "John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I seriously had alligator tears just streaming down my face. It was the perfect ending! And the fact that he ended it could not have been any better. I was overcome with emotion. I felt a new kind of heart burn that I had never felt before, a good kind of heart burn. I know it was the spirit telling me what all of these kids said was true.
After it was over all of us primary leaders were rushing in the crowd of the congregation to see and hug each other. It seemed like we had witnessed a miracle seeing this program come together!
then for sharing time. Another friend who also is named Nicole gave me the BEST sharing time ever. It was perfect to do after the program and a way to celebrate the kids hard work. I set up a table with a big bowl and tons of condiments, ketchup, mustard, colored sprinkles, mayonnaise, syrup, chocolate, taco sauce, you name it - it was on the table. I wore my darling apron given to me by Sheri K.
I told the kids we were going to make an ice cream sundae to share. They about jumped out of their skin they were so excited. So I pulled out of my cooler a half gallon of ice cream and scooped into the bowl vanilla ice cream. I asked the kids what we should put in it. We put in the usually ice cream topping and mixed it up. I explained to them how great Sundae's are and they are something special that we don't have every day, just like a Sunday! We talked about what makes Sunday's special and how we don't want to do anything to ruin a Sunday. In our church we are taught to keep in a special and sacred day. We talked about doing things that you would do any other day start to take away what makes Sunday so special. It was then I compared some of these things to the ketchup, mustard and taco sauce and started pouring them in the perfect bowl of ice cream. I acted like it would make the Sundae (Sunday) better and they should just try it. They were so cute and just screaming that I had ruined the Sundae. Some of the kids even said, it is ok I will still eat it. We talked about how even just adding a little bit of taco sauce ruined the Sundae. I used the example that Ketchup is not bad, it just tastes bad on a Sundae. There is nothing wrong with doing things during the week but on Sunday's it ruins the day. It was a great object lesson and I think really stuck with them. I then pulled out of the cooler the prepackage ice cream in little cups for the kids to have and put their own toppings on. It was just awesome and huge thanks to my friend Nicole for the idea! This would be a great object lesson for the youth too.
While they were eating their ice cream I had given a gift to the music leader of the program. I handed her over 20 sheets of paper where members of the congregation during the program had written what touched them about the kids songs and talks. (great idea from my friend Laura G.) It was touching to have her read these out loud to the kids.
Then if this was not enough, this was our big Sunday to try to figure out what some of the kids needed for Christmas. Many of these kids are in very tough situations, it is heartbreaking for me. I feel like want to do so much more than I can do. So while they were still eating we did a little survey and told the kids we were pretending to be private investigators, kind of like a game. Each teacher was matched up with a child and had a list of questions. Their favorite color, breakfast cereal, games they like to play etc. In between the fun questions were the questions about what they need or want. I just have to give a summary of some of their answers it is so touching every time I read them.
My favorite story in the scriptures:
Joseph Smith praying and Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ coming, The Good Samaritan, The Brother of Jared, David and Goliath, Lehi's dream, When Jesus walked on water, Samson, When Jesus got baptized, King Benjamin talking about baptism.
My favorite thing about coming to church:
primary, see my friends and being with people. sharing time. talk about God primary. learning and reading scriptures new things we learn, new people we meet. friends and munch and mingle. the prayer, God and the . primary - all of it! , to learn about God. my primary class.
What do you need?
Gas dirt bike and clothes,
socks and a winter dress,
and a bag,
money and clothes,
haircut, , clothes and shoes,
clothes and a house,
to be baptized,
to be close to God,
a brother (this was by my daughter Annie Kate - yikes)
If you could give your mom, dad, grandma anything for this year what would you give them?
a new car, my Grandma a house - hers burnt down.
new truck and a new house and my sister a puppy.
my mom a and a trip to
a day off, money and a ticket to Disney World
a house (mansion)
a basketball stadium
a big fat t.v. and money
my mom jewelry and a , love and a card
love and money for my grandma for brand new glasses
my mom a necklace and my dad a watch
my mom jewelery and necklace and a pierced earrings.
my mom a back massager
Then it was time for the ward Thanksgiving Dinner after church. It could have been one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I have ever had. I was one of the last to go through the line and most of mine was cold but I had just felt so great about the day anything would have tasted great.
During the dinner Annie Kate interviewed one of the most amazing young men at church. He is a senior in High School and his family moved her from Africa. Annie Kate was doing a school project and had to interview someone who moved to this country. She loved doing her project with him. His family really has an amazing story and are awesome people.
We left the building at about 6:00 pm and took three great kids home who had just moved near our church and came to their first Sunday by themselves. They have so little. I was almost embarrassed having them come in my car with the two TV screens. One boys kept saying, "you have a t.v. in your car!" It was interesting when they got in the back seat and saw Annie Kate's little handheld Nintendo. The little girl said that is what she wanted for Christmas and Annie Kate said, "you should just ask Santa, I didn't even ask for it and he gave it to me last year"
I have spent many hours (my Pink Christmas project looks like minutes to the hours I have spent on this and is many of the reasons my blogging is few and far between) in the last month working on figuring the needs of the primary and matching them up with generous friends and families in the area who are helping them out. Annie Kate has heard me on the phone every day talking about needs and gifts and such. One day she said to me, "I don't understand why don't these families just ask Santa for what they need, I am sure he will bring it to them, especially because they need it so much. I didn't even need a Nintendo DS and he brought it to me last year" I have been at a loss for words the few times she has brought this up.
I have become consumed with Christmas for our church congregation. It has become my every thought. It has changed my whole outlook on Christmas this year. A month ago a blogger who reads my blog emailed me and asked for a list of needs for a family in our church. She and her husband this very night are hosting a party in California and on the invitations were the needs of this family. The guests are bringing the items to the party and then they will ship it to me to deliver to them for Christmas. I still can't believe it as I type this story. It is just amazing to me. I have never met this girl but hope someday I do. She has asked to remain anonymous even though I want to shout her name off the rooftops. If you read this, a million thank yous!
We got home on this Sunday by 7:00 pm. It was one of our long days. Jeff didn't get home until 10:00 pm and had left at 10:00 am. That night we both talked about how amazing this experience has been. Our hearts have been softened to the art of service.
This Sunday was the best. It had all the toppings and I ate every last bite!