Everyone in the third grade would agree, including me, that Christy was queen of the monkey bars and swings. No one could climb as fast or swing as high as Christy could. And she was equally as good at playing games. But the most important thing to me about Christy was that she and I were good friends. One day at school during recess, Christy asked, “Do you want to go to Primary with me?”
I’d never heard of Primary before. “What’s that?” I asked.
Christy explained, “Primary is something special at my church, just for children. If you go, you’ll sing songs, make new friends, learn new things, and you can meet my Primary teacher, who is really, really nice.”
“As nice as Mrs. Palmer?” I asked, certain that no teacher could be as nice as our third-grade teacher.
Christy laughed. “Yes, she’s as nice as Mrs. Palmer.”
After school I ran all the way home to ask my mom if I could go to Primary. But Mom wasn’t as thrilled about the idea as I was. “I need a little bit more information,” she said. “What’s the name of Christy’s church?”
Well, that was a tough question to start out with because, as I told Mom, “I can’t remember the name. It’s a long name I’ve never heard before.” I could tell by Mom’s worried expression that was the wrong thing to say.
“Hold on. I’m going to call Christy right now!” I ran to the phone and dialed Christy’s number before Mom could say another word.
The phone rang twice before Christy picked it up. “Hello?”
“Christy!” I exclaimed. “What’s the name of your church again?” I listened carefully and then said, “Mom, the name of Christy’s church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” When the frown on Mom’s face didn’t disappear, I knew I needed help. I said into the phone, “Christy, do you think your mom could talk to my mom about Primary?”
I think Christy heard the desperation in my voice because she got her mom on the phone in five seconds flat. Our moms were soon talking and laughing like old friends. Then my mom told Christy’s mom that, yes, I could go to Primary!
When I went to Primary for the first time, it was everything Christy said it would be and more. Christy was right—our Primary teacher was really, really nice. Every bit as nice as Mrs. Palmer. She even gave me my very own booklet about faith in God.
I went home that day and showed Mom my booklet and told her all about Primary. I even sang the “Hello Song” (Children’s Songbook, 260) to her and my two brothers, which all the kids had sung to me. As Mom studied the picture of Jesus Christ on the front of my booklet and read some of the pages inside, she got a quiet, thoughtful look on her face. Then she said I could go with Christy to Primary every week if I wanted to.
I definitely wanted to, but I actually went only a few more times after that because school let out and our family went on a summer vacation. We loaded up our car and drove from California all the way to my grandmother’s farm in Illinois.
On the second day of our trip, as we drove into Utah, we saw billboards on the highway with the name of Christy’s church on them. They invited people to see something called the visitors’ center in Salt Lake City. Mom said she’d like to stop there so she could find out more about the Church.
When we walked through the door of the visitors’ center, we were greeted by a friendly man wearing a name tag. As he showed us around, Mom had a lot of questions, and the man seemed excited to answer every one of them. When the tour was over, Mom wrote her name and address in the guest book and then checked a box with the word “YES” next to it, saying she’d like to receive more information about the Church.
When we got home from our vacation, two young men who called themselves elders came to our apartment. They told us they were missionaries who got a message all the way from the visitors’ center in Salt Lake City that Mom would like more information about the Church. They said they would love to teach our family about Heavenly Father’s plan and the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s when the missionaries started teaching our family.
The first time we went to church together, I told my family to be sure to fold their arms when we walked into the chapel. I’d learned at Primary that this was a way to show reverence. We all tried that day to keep our arms folded, but so many people came up to us to shake our hands and welcome us to church that our arms didn’t stay folded for very long.
At the end of our lessons with the missionaries, they asked Mom if she would like to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said she needed to pray about it. The next morning at 6:00 a.m., Mom called the missionaries and said she had prayed all night about being baptized and the answer was yes! My brothers and I also told them we wanted to be baptized.
I still remember stepping into the water in the baptismal font. I was wearing white and feeling so happy inside that I wanted to laugh and shout at the same time. I looked up and saw Mom crying happy tears. Then I looked at Christy, who was just about as excited as I was because it really all started with her when she asked, “Do you want to go to Primary with me?”
“The most effective missionaries, member and full-time, always act out of love.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Sharing the Gospel,” Liahona, Jan. 2002, 8; Ensign, Nov. 2001, 8.
Illustrations by Steve Kropp