Little children are precious to our Father in heaven. He loves them and looks after them with the same tender care no matter where they live or how they dress or look. He loves the dark, curly-haired Fijian, and the kind, gaily dressed children in Samoa and Tonga and Tahiti who wear lavalavas and run barefoot on their warm land of the South Seas. He loves the little English boys and girls who all dress alike at school in their short pants, shirts, and ties, or skirts and sweaters. He loves the children in Japan, who wear westernized clothes and always remove their shoes when they enter the chapel. He loves the sun-tanned children in South America who eat tortillas with all their meals, and the Lamanites with their brightly colored beads and their ancient ceremonial dances. Our Father loves his children everywhere.
Let me show you how much alike you and all of these children are. It’s Monday night in Tonga, and inside their home or fale a Tongan family is preparing for family home evening. They have the same lesson book there as other families have all around the world. Their parents, like yours, want to help them understand what a conscience is and how it guides their lives. They love to play games, sing songs, and have special treats. All children love that part of family night.
When it is bedtime, loving parents in all lands kneel with their children to say prayers. It may be by a high fluffy featherbed high in the Alps or a little mat on the floor of a hut. But our Heavenly Father hears and understands them all.
Children in the Church have an opportunity to attend Primary and Sunday School. There they sing the same songs and hear the same lessons all around the world. It is a thrilling experience to hear the children in Japan sing, in their beautiful melodious dialect, “I Am a Child of God” or “Come, Come Ye Saints.”
In February each year children everywhere contribute their pennies, pesos, and francs for the Primary Children’s Hospital. Two little four-year-old girls whom I know made and sold cupcakes and earned $1.25 to give to the children at the hospital. Efforts similar to this unite children around the world in a good cause.
For children everywhere there is that same feeling of excitement and fright that comes when they give their first talk in a Church meeting, or participate in some other way. They all experience the same feeling of satisfaction and joy when the program is over and Mother and Father proudly greet them with a hug to let them know they have done well.
Children in the Church are baptized when they are eight years old. They may be baptized in a lovely, modern, tiled baptismal font in a beautiful new building or on the shores of an icy lake or in a small stream or pond. But their baptism is always performed by one holding the Holy Priesthood of God, and it is always by immersion.
Children throughout all the world learn the blessings of paying tithing. Bishops love the children and accept their tithing pennies with thanks and appreciation, knowing the joy it brings them and the willingness with which it is given. Bishops try always to provide the best teachers to help in Primary and Sunday School.
Teachers love children, just as I do. And wherever I meet these little ones, I see that they are the same eager, trusting, faithful kind of boys and girls that Jesus knew when he said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”