When Sister Rosemary M. Wixom, the General Primary President, was here a few weeks ago, I had the great blessing of witnessing her interaction with some Tongan Primary children. About 60 of them sang to her in both Tongan and English, and she left the podium to go down close to the children and spoke to them personally.
She spoke with a few children individually, asking for responses to questions or for volunteers to tell her something important they wanted her to know. She asked the group some questions for the entire group to respond to, as well. She asked the children, “Raise your hands to show me this – how many of you want to go back to live with your Heavenly Father?” Of course, every single hand in the little Primary choir went up.
Then she asked, “How many of you want to go there alone?” No hands. The children just sat there. Sister Wixom let the silence sink in for a few sentences, and then she turned to the adults in the room. “It is our job to live so that we can go back to Heavenly Father WITH these children.”
Many years ago, I had a very cherished interchange with some young students who exacted a promise of me to continue to live my life in such a manner that I could help them. Because of Sister Wixom’s visit, I had a second, with the Primary children in my little ward.
Sister Wixom taught the children how to say “I will stay on the path back to my Heavenly Father” in American Sign Language. They practiced it many times with her, and she made points to the children and to the adults in the room each time they practiced it. So a few days later in Sunday Primary, most of the older children still remembered the signs, and we reviewed it together.
We practiced the signs, and we talked about how to stay on the path. We talked about the importance of obeying the commandments, and staying true to our promises and covenants. And at the close of our conversation, I looked at each child in the room, and asked, “Will you promise me today that you will stay true? Will you stay on the path?”
“Yes,” came the chorus.
“Even when it’s hard?” I asked.
“Yes,” came an even firmer reply.
“Even when you’re sad, or you’re angry, or you’re feeling like no one loves you?”
“Yes, yes, yes.”
In return, I made a promise that I would remember their names in my prayers. I told them that if it was possible, I would like to come back to Tonga in 15 years and find them being true to the gospel – serving missions, marrying in the temple, serving responsibly in callings, helping others find a testimony.
I have two wonderful sons. I am not yet a grandmother, but I have at least 50 souls to pray for every night - among them the much-loved students who exacted my promise those many years ago, and now, these precious Primary children. If the Lord will allow me to keep my wits about me, these children will be in my prayers for many years to come. And praying for them will be my best motivation to stay on the path, too.