Making Time for a Boy

Mark Koltko-Rivera

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    My start in the gospel came about in no small part because of my first Sunday School teacher, whose impact on my life cannot be measured.

    In the summer of 1972, I was a 15-year-old boy on scholarship at a summer camp in New York state. One emphasis of the camp was learning about different cultures, so I began attending—in jeans and sneakers—the services of an unusual religion practiced by a few of the campers and staff. Before the camp, I had never met a Latter-day Saint.

    I was not considered to be a particularly good prospect as an investigator: I was a New York City street kid who attended a parochial school and was pondering entering the clergy. But I liked learning, and I took the Gospel Essentials class seriously, reading every assignment and bringing up questions during class. The teacher, a convert named Larry who worked during the week as a fast-food manager, was clearly a prayerful person with a strong, spiritual testimony of the truths contained in the scriptures.

    What really touched me about Larry was his willingness to go the extra mile with me. He would meet me before or after class to go over my questions. He was completely accepting and tolerant, and sometimes he would shelve questions until the following week so he could have some time to study them at home. Nothing was too trivial; if it was important to me, it was important to Larry. Through his help and the help of others, I finally understood enough about the gospel to join the Church.

    Whenever I have the opportunity to teach, I try to emulate Larry’s example. I strive to gain a thorough grounding in the scriptures, seek after the Spirit, honor each person regardless of earthly station, and accept all honest questions as legitimate. His example taught me that the gospel of truth need fear no question. By giving me so much personal attention and teaching, my first Sunday School teacher emulated the love of the Savior.Mark Koltko-Rivera, West Hartford, Connecticut