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August 15, 2012
Raising the Rising Generation
Firework Moments and Great Acts of Service
by Emily S. Jorgensen

Recently, our bishop asked all the auxiliary presidents to speak briefly to a combined Relief Society/Priesthood meeting. The message he asked each of us to prepare was a short report on great acts of service we had seen happen in our respective stewardship areas.

When he extended this request to me, he thought perhaps I should report on the recent baptism of one of our 11-year-old boys. This Primary child is mildly autistic. He has a paralyzing fear of water, which is the main reason he had yet to be baptized.

After taking the missionary discussions, which is a requirement for baptism for children over 8 years old, he felt he could face his fear of immersion and be baptized. However, he is fatherless. When the sister missionaries asked whom he wished to baptize him, he was quick with the reply — his Primary teacher. His Primary teachers at the time were a husband and wife team who were energetic and dedicated in their service to their class. Indeed, they were a great blessing to the children they served.

Baptizing this child was not an easy task because he is from a culture that gives many names to their children. He has about seven names, and most of them bear absolutely no resemblance to English at all. Add this to his phobia of drowning, and this could have gone very badly.

But, it didn’t. It was a beautiful baptism, and good feelings were everywhere. Indeed, this was a “firework moment.” It was one of those experiences that are highly emotional and spiritual and help bolster our testimonies and are easy stories to remember ten years from now.

However, to me the great act of service in this story was not the baptism or the time this Primary teacher spent memorizing very long Native American names.

The great act of service was the weekly slogging through this teacher and his wife did for the months previous — the coming every week and being a constant source of positive experiences for this child.

Firework moments are wonderful and give us that motivation to keep on keeping on, but they are not what life is all about.

The great work of our life is the daily, boring, monotonous task of going to work to provide for our family, or making 6,000 sack lunches over the course of our three children’s school careers. It is changing over 5,000 diapers per child, and then laundering an endless amount of soiled clothing when they finally “graduate” to potty training.

It is the daily act of holding your tongue to show respect for your preteen child even when he is not showing respect to you.

Great acts of service are all about the dull, the humdrum, the constant. So my heroes in Primary are those nursery leaders who are always there, helping those little ones feel safe because there is a predictable face and a predictable routine every time they come.

They include the Primary teacher who holds the same weepy child in her arms every Sunday because he’d rather be with mom than dropped off for Sunbeams.

They include the music leader who you can tell feels incredibly scared of this room full of children waiting to be entertained only by her for the next 20 minutes — but she keeps coming anyway.

Every week. Every day. These are the great acts of service.

When we are called before the judgment bar, I really doubt the Lord is going to ask for an account of our firework moments. Sure, those are great and all. But it is how we do with the everyday, how we cope with spilled milk and scraped knees and grumpy bosses and nosy neighbors that really show our mettle.

Anyone can feel great and happy and close to the Spirit during a firework moment. But the real challenge is to keep the Spirit with us always. That kind of companionship with the Holy Ghost only comes from the daily grind.

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