Saturday, September 24, 2016

Primary Sharing Time September 2016 - Missionary Work

Our Primary has been focusing on missionary work this month. I have had fun experiences all week while thinking about this lesson. I'm excited to have the children participate and talk about different ways that they can be missionaries now. My favorite is just being a good example. We remember the people around us that have done kind things for us, and that makes us want to be more like them. We also remember people that are happy and want to be around people like that.

LDS resources has about 40 really great stories and articles about missionary work. I have read most of them and highly recommend you spend some time in there, both if you are teaching it, but also as a child and as an adult. These are great stories that apply to everyone, everywhere:

In particular, I was so inspired by the story about how Abish was a missionary, that I ended up re-reading Mosiah 27, and Alma 17-19, to fill in all the details on the back story. I plan to discuss some of this story with the children tomorrow. This is really the story of several missionaries and several moments of great faith. In Mosiah 27, Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah don't believe in God, and because they are good speakers, they are successfully confusing people and leading people away from God. Finally, an angel visits them and tells them that he has been sent because, in Mosiah 27:14,  "the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth ..."

After this great experience, the five of them are converted, repent of their ways, and become great missionaries. I want to note that this is significant because in 1 Nephi, Laman and Lemuel are visited by angels more than once, and quickly forget and fall back into their sinful ways. Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah had great faith and great resilience. After this amazing experience that lead to their conversion, the five of them weren't all together again until 14 years later, in Alma 17. They rejoice upon meeting up because they are all still doing good and teaching the word of God. They then split up, and continue on their five separate ways, teaching others. Ammon goes into the land of Ishmael in Alma 17:19, and is immediately captured by King Lamoni, who's usual plan is to kill or jail all Nephites who fall into their hands.

Ammon is not imprisoned or killed. Instead, he impresses the king, refuses the honor of taking one of the king's daughters to wife, protects the King's sheep, and one day, defends the sheep against so many bad men that it's clear to the other shepherds and to the king who later hears this tale, that he they all believe him when he tells them about God. So much so, that the king loses the ability to move or speak for two days and two nights, and pretty much looks like he's dead. In Alma 19:10-11, the queen has gone to Ammon for help. Ammon tells her that the king is not dead and that he will rise the next day (so don't bury him!). The queen believes Ammon, even though she has to go on only Ammon's word and the word of the servants. Ammon says in Alma 19:10, "I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites."

Then, a servant named Abish, who is also a believer of God because her father was converted when he had a great vision, sees all that is happening and the opportunity to show others that God is real and true. She runs out, telling everyone the story, and inviting them to come witness it, because she knows that when the king arises, there are many that will believe. Abish is right, and because of her faith, the queen's faith, King Lamoni's faith, and Ammon's perseverance, it says in Alma 19:36, "thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name."

Children are SMART! I know many of them will at least know parts of this story so I want them to help me tell this story, and in Senior Primary especially, look up pertinent scriptures. I love that in Alma 17:2-3 it talks how about Ammon and his brothers were prepared to serve, that they prayed, fasted, and were open to the spirit of prophecy and revelation. And how Abish, in Alma 19:16-17, "knew that it was the power of God," and that she had an opportunity to share the word of God with others!

In our times, we have so many simple opportunities to share the gospel. There are ten great suggestions here. Or in this story about how a primary girl knew her articles of faith.

In general, my suggestion for this lesson is that since it's about the fact that they can do missionary work now, it's a great lesson in particular to get a lot of participation so they can practice raising their hands and sharing their thoughts. I'm thinking about even having every child say one way they did or can be a missionary now. They can discuss it in their classes first, and come up together, but everyone would share something. Or I have scenarios I could have them respond to. There are so many ways to engage the children in this one ... I've also thought about putting categories on the wall, like "Family Home Evening," "School," "Primary Program," "Favorite Scripture Story," "Article of Faith" and calling on children in some fun way to come pic a category and add a story or way they can be missionaries today under that topic. If they land in or pick the "Article of Faith" category I'd like them to recite an Article of Faith and then with the classes' help, tell us what it means.

I also emailed all of the missionaries in our ward that are out serving and have asked them for advice on what they would tell the Primary children today. I printed out the emails they sent back, and will share some of their messages from there, too.