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Elder Porter: Building the kingdom

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Nearly 25 years ago, our family lived in Massachusetts, where I was enrolled in graduate school. My program of study was very demanding, leaving me little free time. One Sunday in church the ward Primary president approached me and asked if I might substitute as a Primary teacher for two weeks. Primary was then held on a weekday afternoon, and I knew it would be difficult to find room in my schedule to teach the class. But after some hesitation, I agreed.

The appointed day came to teach Primary. That afternoon I was in the university library, absorbed in a book on international politics. The subject I was studying seemed somehow more important than the upcoming Primary class. Consequently, I procrastinated until just 30 minutes before the class was to begin to review the lesson I was to teach. Then I walked from the library down to our ward chapel on the edge of campus. My reluctant attitude must have slowed my steps, for I arrived a few minutes late. As I stepped to the door of the Primary room, the children were just beginning to sing the opening hymn. It was a song I had never heard before, a song whose melody and message touched me deeply:

As I have loved you, Love one another. This new commandment: Love one another. By this shall men know Ye are my disciples, If ye have love One to another.

(“Love One Another,” Hymns, no. 308)

As I stood there, transfixed in the doorway, the Spirit bore witness that I was looking at the most important class taking place in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that day.