'It all began in Primary'
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Primary children all over the world have missionary opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They can share their testimonies and what they learn each week in Primary with other children, who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The following is a true story about Paul Larson, who at the age of 9, first learned about the Church and Primary from a young neighbor.
This is where Paul Larson's conversion story began:
The Larson family lived in Pleasanton, Calif., when the Petersons, an LDS family, moved in next door. Paul's younger brother, Stanley, became friends with one of the Peterson children who invited him to Primary. The Larson and Peterson children played with each other and spent time in each other's homes after school. One day, Stanley noticed a calendar on the wall in the Peterson's home with Joseph Smith's birthday circled on it.
"Why don't we have Joseph Smith's birthday circled on our calendar?" asked Stanley as their family discussed the day's activities around the dinner table one night. Not being members of the Church, the Larson family had no idea who Joseph Smith was.
About this same time, Paul Larson, now a counselor in the Pleasanton California Stake presidency, also remembers asking his mother who God was, where He lived and what He looked like.
His mother tried to explain the best she could, but Paul could tell she was uncertain and really didn't have the answers. However, the questions about God prompted his parents to search for a church. One time the Larson family attended a neighborhood church suggested by one of their friends. But trying to keep numerous energetic little boys quiet proved to be too much for his parents and that ended their quest.
In time all the Larson boys started attending Primary with the Peterson children each week. Soon the missionaries became regular guests in their home. Brother Larson remembers the smiles of satisfaction on his parents' faces as the children gathered around to watch their parents pour all their beer and wine down the kitchen sink after they learned about the Word of Wisdom.
The Primary songs and memorizing all of the Articles of Faith stand out today as treasured memories of Paul's Primary years. To this day, President Larson remembers the power of the Primary songs, such as "I Am a Child of God" and "Book of Mormon Stories."
The entire Larson family was baptized. President Larson said, "There was something special about this new chapter in the Larsons' book of life. We had dozens of new friends and actually enjoyed going to Church on Sunday. I remember our baptisms, but what really stands out in my mind is when our family went to the Oakland temple to be sealed as an eternal family one year later."
"I am a firm believer in Primary. Primary really drew us into the Church. It all started with my younger brother Stanley going to Primary."
"It's hard to imagine how our lives would have been if the Petersons hadn't shared the wonderful news of the gospel with us," said President Larson.
It has been many years since the entire Larson family joined the Church. Over the years, the Larson children have served as missionaries, bishops, Young Men leaders, elders quorum presidents and in stake presidencies. Paul's sister has served faithfully in the Church. His mother's first calling was in the Primary. She later became the Primary president and served there until he went on his mission. His parents have served a proselytizing mission and in the temple for many years.
Paul Larson will always be grateful to David and Linda Peterson for teaching their children to not be afraid to open their mouths and invite the neighbor boys to Primary.
Primary children everywhere, might ask this question: "Is there someone I know that I can invite to Primary?"
Inviting someone to attend Primary may change a person's life — just as it did for Paul Larson when he was only 9 years old.