Waste-of-Time Primary Service Project


(Based on a true incident)
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me (Matt. 25:40).

“See, Mom!” I was almost shouting as we walked into the cultural hall. “Nobody’s here!”

She looked down at me with a slight grimace. “There are plenty of people here. It’s early. More people will come.”

I knew that more people would come, but none of them would be from my class. There were only four of us, and the other guys never came to any of the Primary service projects. I only came because Mom and Dad made me. It was a real waste of my time.

Sister Montgomery, the first counselor in the Primary presidency, came over to us. “Good morning, Sister Drew. I’m glad Rick could join us today.”

I stared at the floor.

“I’m sure that he’ll have fun making up bags to take to the less-active children in the Primary.” Sister Montgomery paused. “Why don’t we go over to that table and paint, Rick?”

I looked up. Painting was one of my favorite things to do. Sister Montgomery took me to the table with small ceramic figures on it. “You can paint three, if you’d like. There aren’t very many of us here today.”

I looked into the box and chose three pairs of Noah’s ark animals. Those were the ones I’d like to be given.

After I finished painting, Sister Montgomery had me decorate three paper sacks. The little kids were having a ball. I guess they like to cut and paste.

I wasn’t done with my second bag, when Brother Kennedy, the ward mission leader, came in. Sister Peterson, the Primary President, had us sit in a semicircle around him. He told us about how we could be missionaries by being friendly to the less-active children in our ward. He talked for a long time. I listened really closely until Brother Tisch came in with a couple of big brown boxes and a few gallons of milk. I watched him take doughnuts out of the big boxes. I wanted one with the colorful sprinkles.

Before I knew it, a bunch of the little kids were running up to the table—Brother Kennedy had finished!

“Rick, you can get a doughnut now, too.” Sister Montgomery was standing next to me.

I stood up and walked as fast as I could, but it was too late. All the sprinkled doughnuts were gone. I had to settle for a plain-frosted one. I sat on the floor and ate it slowly.

After eating, we finished decorating the bags, then put some treats, a church schedule, one ceramic figure, and a picture of the Savior into each one.

“Because there aren’t very many of us here today, each group will have to visit a few extras,” Sister Peterson announced.

I groaned—more time wasted!

Some of the leaders walked around with slips of paper with the addresses of those we were going to visit. Other leaders were gathering the classes into groups.

“I guess it’s you and me, Rick!” Brother Tisch put his hand on my shoulder. “Where’s your coat?”

I trudged over to the coatrack. I didn’t want to go outside. It had been cold when we came to the church, and it would take forever for the cars to warm up.

I returned to where Brother Tisch was, and we grabbed the bags. He led the way out the door. I turned toward the parking lot. Almost everyone was gone, and all of the cars I saw had people already in them.

“Rick,” Brother Tisch called from behind me.

I turned around. The bags were in a red wagon. Brother Tisch was pulling it by the handle. “My wife had to run some errands with our car, so I borrowed my daughter’s wagon.”

I just stood there.

“Come on, Rick—let’s go! If we walk quickly, it won’t be too cold.”

Brother Tisch checked an address on a slip of paper, and we walked to the house that was farthest from the chapel. “This is Diana’s house.”

“Brother Tisch, I really don’t want to go up there. She goes to my school.”

Brother Tisch nodded. I was sure glad that he understood. I stayed by the wagon while he knocked on the door. No one was home. Great! I thought.

Brother Tisch returned to the wagon with a smile on his face. “I’ll take this one to her later.”

We walked to the next house. This time the girl on our list was home. She smiled as Brother Tisch told her about the bag. I didn’t say anything. The same thing happened at the next two houses.

“Rick, I’d like you to talk to the next boy. He should be in your Primary class.” Brother Tisch had stopped walking. “Would you please do it?”

I hesitated.

“Just do it the way I did,” Brother Tisch reassured me.

I nodded, though my stomach jumped a little. This bag-giving stuff looked pretty easy. Besides, I knew Carl pretty well from school. I hadn’t known that he was supposed to be in my Primary class, though.

I knocked on the door. When Carl came to the door, I gave him the bag and told him all about it, just the way Brother Tisch had.

Carl stood there quietly. After I finished, he said “Thanks” and shut the door. For a second, I thought I saw tears in his eyes. But I must have been mistaken. It was only a silly bag of stuff.

Brother Tisch walked me home. We didn’t talk much. I was thinking about the look on Carl’s face.

The next day, as I walked into Primary and looked at the row of chairs where my class sits, Carl was there!

“Thanks for the bag. I never knew when church started. My mom and dad don’t go to our meetings very often, and I always feel kind of dumb asking about it.” Carl had a big smile on his face. “I put the picture right next to my bed, so I can see it every day!”

I felt a warm feeling grow inside of me. It seemed to start in my chest and move up to my face, and I had to smile, too.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Mark Robison