On Sunday, November 9, 2008--yesterday--we did something we have rarely attempted over the last couple of years or so...we all went and stayed at church, ahh!!!!
It was a special occasion. The children's group at our church, called the Primary, put on their annual sacrament meeting presentation. Our "sacrament meetings" are when the entire congregation gathers together in the chapel for one hour church service, this is in addition to a couple of hours of classes. The children ranged in ages from 3 to 11, and even though our group of kids is kind of small--we have a lot of empty nesters and senior citizens in our congregation--it's always a BIG deal. After all, hearing kids sing and gave little talks during church service is absolutely precious. Those beautiful young faces looked like little angels up there.
Our youngest, Mary, 3, was wearing an all white ruffled dress that kind of bounced and flowed along with her as she moved. She has been able to join and stay with the Primary most of the time with the help of a bag of books the leadership put together to help encourage and calm her down. But, apparently there was just too much stimulation with the entire congregation and their visitors like grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins to keep Mary with the program, literally and figuratively! First, she wanted to draw, then she wanted to sit on my lap, then she kind of wanted to join her class, but when she started climbing the steps to the stand, she turned around and smiled like a little showman. She then started jumping up and down on the stairs, beaming all the while as she made a louder and louder thumping sound. After whispering a few times to get down, she had to be fetched. She didn't last much longer and Bobby, 14, had to chase after her into the hallway.
Ammon, who just turned 5, always loves being in the chapel when we sing hymns, he loves music. But, when we're not singing, we lose him quickly. I think we almost got through to the passing of the sacrament--the bread and water in our religion, to help us remember the body and blood of Jesus Christ who sacrificed Himself for us so that we can receive a remission, or forgiveness, of our sins--when John had to take off into the hallway with Ammon and Sarah. Sarah lasted the longest, was pretty calm and quiet until she kept bouncing and making her sounds that got too loud and distracting.
So, after the passing of the sacrament, they started the Primary program. Mary was supposed to be one of the first speakers, she'd be repeating a couple of sentences with help from a leader. She made it back to the chapel by then, but kept going here, there and everywhere, and Bobby ended up having to follow her out again. So, Mary didn't make it to the pulpit--like she cared anyhow little stinky winky....
Nephi, 9, did an amazing job singing. He forgot his glasses, so he couldn't read the visuals for the lyrics, but he moved his mouth almost the whole time during the songs. He also did a good job reading.
Emma was asked to write a short little talk, and we realized that maybe we should have remembered to look at it before hand, some of it that is....She talked of her family. She said that she and all her brothers and sisters have autism, then she mentioned the severity of each kids autism. She said that we're a very close family, how sweet. She then said that mom and dad get mad and yell sometimes, but they still love us! She then said that Extreme Makeover Home Edition called us and wants us to apply, that we really need a new house because it's little and the babies destroy it, but we can't get on the show because we're renters. She then mentioned our documentary and that everyone should watch it when it reruns on Discovery Health and TLC. We're very proud of her, spoken from the depth of her heart, nothing genuine held back, and with the charisma of a true spokes person.
Near the end of the program, they did a little presentation of the special needs primary children. Unfortunately Sarah was in the hallway screaming her head off, so she didn't make it and Mary was AWOL with Bobby. A 10 year old boy started counting, this is huge for this child because he has classic autism and has been making huge strides in his language the past couple of years. This boy also said "Jesus!"
Then, one of the leaders talked a bit of how special these children are, and I think it may have included some talk of tolerance, patience, respect, and how much like Jesus these children are. We believe in our religion that kids and people with mental challenges are innocent, that they were already perfect in Heaven before they came to earth, but that they needed to come to earth to get a body more than anything, that and to be a learning experience and example to the rest of us, to help the rest of us become better and make it to Heaven too. The leaders tried to encourage and help Ammon hold up a picture of Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemanie. The children then sang "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus". This song is my favorite of all the children's songs in our religion. It was so touching. I usually tear up when I hear this song, but there was just too much going on for me to soak it in--and before the song could end, Ammon dove head first from the dividing wall on the stand, then ran off, that boy!!!!
Here is a link to the song "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" by Janice Kapp Perry--I think it's sung by Felicia Sorenson though...