We have 9am church this year, and this morning at 8 as I finished my shower, I received a text message that asked me to substitute in Primary for a teacher who’d woken up sick.
This may have happened to you in the past, and I want to share how I prepared in the hopes that it may help someone else.
Why You Should Always Say Yes If You Can
It’s important to keep in mind why we say yes to last minute things like this so that we keep the Spirit with us.
I’ve been to the temple, and I’m under covenant to share my time and talents with the Church. There’s that.
I’ve also been a sick Primary teacher or a teacher with a sick child, and there is nothing more discouraging than to call person after person and have them tell you no.
We raise our hands to sustain people in their callings, and this is part of what that means.
How I Prepared
It will be different for everyone, but I hope these steps may help you to avoid panic or simply reading from the manual.
I had about 35 minutes to finish getting ready and prepare the lesson. Here’s how that time broke down:
First, I got the information I needed. How many children are in the class? Where is the classroom? What lesson is it? Which manual are you using? All of the Primary manuals are on our Primary page, so I simply clicked on that manual and had the lesson in front of me. (2 minutes)
Next, you pray. The Spirit is the teacher, and I rely on that even more strongly in last-minute situations. (2 minutes)
The next thing I did was to read through the lesson quickly. I then finished getting myself ready, letting my mind start thinking about the topic (in this case, the great apostasy) and what the lesson was emphasizing. (5 minutes)
Deciding what the objective was and what I wanted the children to really come away with was next up. I wanted them to have an understanding of the great apostasy that would lead them to a stronger testimony of the importance of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 minutes)
I had about fifteen minutes to actually get the lesson ready at this point. Here’s how I used that time:
I eliminated the activities in the lesson I knew I could not do. For instance, the lesson suggesting arranging for children to prepare something ahead of time. Clearly, that was not going to happen.
I pulled up pictures of people referred to in the lesson from the internet and printed them out.
I searched “LDS friend apostasy activities” and found an activity from a Sharing Time years ago that I could use. I printed that out to replace something in the lesson I didn’t think would work with the group I had.
While I was working, another object lesson came to mind using a toy I had, so I grabbed that, too.
I gathered materials I wanted to take (I’m a crayon snob, so I had to bring my own) and prepared the object lesson from the manual.
When I finished, I realized I still had five minutes, so I typed up the word strips from the lesson and printed them out, too. If I hadn’t had time to do this, I would have just written them on the board.
Off to Church
As I drove to church, I thought about the great principle of the lesson. I allowed myself to feel the Spirit of the testimony I have that the apostasy did occur and the blessing it is to me to live in the light of the Restoration.
I got to church a few minutes early and skimmed through the lesson again, making notes.
The Sacrament is a good time to read through the scriptures used in the lesson.
I had a notebook in my church bag, and I used it to jot down an outline during the meeting.
How Did It Turn Out?
It went well. Would anyone from the Church send a video crew out to film it as an example of a wonderful Primary lesson. Um, no.
But this I know: I felt like the children learned and their testimonies grew.
I also grew to know and love them more. What a great opportunity and blessing I would have been denied if I’d said no.
One of the things that post discusses in the importance of your whole life’s being preparation. I knew the doctrine. I had studied those scriptures before, many times. I knew the context. Every calling you have prepares you to be able to help like this later.
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