Lessons Learned in Teaching Children

A tear formed immediately when I heard, “Brother Harper, we are extending a release to you from your calling as a primary chorister.”  I felt my heart would break, though I should have been ready. I had an impression it was coming. For two years I had taught songs to our little children, making a whole library of visual aids in the process. As we sang we made temples out of pyramids, saw the clouds at the Savior’s death rain down hope on a tiny seed, went on imaginary safaris, and played lots of games.

“You’ve done a fine job, but when we saw you volunteered to serve in the temple, we felt we needed to extend the primary call to another. We have a large ward with 27 people we just don’t have callings for.” When he told me the sister they were calling in my place, I couldn’t help smiling. She has a handicapped son with an infectious smile borne from a heart brightened by a loving family. This sister would be wonderful! The primary children were in for a treat.

Things I am Thankful For
From my Primary Children: Things I am Thankful For

I learned so much from these little children. I learned to reciprocate their bright, caring spirit. I found they love stories and trying new things. I learned they have a deep desire to do what is right. I learned that they have a very natural love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. With them, I learned of eternal families.

In the nursery while teaching songs to the 2 to 3 year olds, I always knelt in front so they could see and hold pictures and objects related to the songs. Once a little child unexpectedly came and sat on my lap and then looked up and kissed me on the cheek. My spirit was touched. “This simple, unconditional love,” I thought, “must be what Heaven is like.”

And so, I miss my primary children, but I got a glimpse of why Jesus said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

The Hmong Sacrifice

I said that I would be posting more about our Hmong brothers lost in combat during the “Secret War in Laos”. I feel compelled to do so to say ‘thank you’ to this group of now American citizens who were initially ignored and misunderstood and too often belittled. I love the Hmong men and women who now feed and bless my son as he works as a missionary among them.


Hmong Pilots Being Thanked 37 Years After Their Service

My Note of Thanks:

Thank you for joining the fight to stop the advance of communism in Laos. Your people have long fought governments threatening your freedom and families. We Mormons believe that the Spirit of God is the Spirit of Freedom (Alma 61:15). We also believe government, “should restrain crime, but never control conscience [or] suppress the freedom of the soul.”

My heart breaks when I consider the many 10’s of thousands of your people that were lost. I sorrow to think that your people suffered so much. When you came to America, you were forced into a lifestyle that left many sad and empty. I am glad you are here and that your new generations are now adding so much to our culture with your strong family values and hard work.

I was especially touched by the following video of Hmong pilots who were honored after 37 years of being hidden from public view because of the politics. This video says what I can’t. I’m sorry you had to wait so long. I didn’t serve my country in the military. I owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you!


Here is a video on the secret war in Laos (1 of 4):


The Alligator Farm


Some time ago, I saw a documentary about a man running an alligator farm. He typically kept employees only 3-months before letting them go and hiring someone new to take their place. When asked why, he replied that it was to prevent harmful incidents. He explained that people gradually get careless when they get used to being among these powerful creatures. The alligators appear lethargic, but these beasts strike with incredible speed and are really patiently waiting for a victim to get close enough to execute a successful attack.

When overcoming sin and heartbreaking habits, remember that the emancipating joy of recovery  and forgiveness can be fleeting. The scriptures warn, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

A critical step in the addiction recovery program is to examine our lives at least daily and immediately make needed course corrections. By this step, many begin feeling comfortable that they have overcome and wonder if this is really necessary. It is necessary – and it is for everyone:

“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.” (Mosaiah 4:30)

An exciting part of true and lasting conversion is when one is so busy looking up to new heights, the pull of sin and addiction loses hold. In contrast, it is sad when setbacks and painful relapses occur due to gradually letting negative thoughts and habits weaken righteous resolve. Remember to “be vigilant; because your adversary the devil… walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Never give up. Pick yourself up again and again… and then stay focused on the higher path.