From my journal on 7 March 2021:
The Editor of the Friend sent me sample questions they use in a series of articles about getting to know Primary children around the world. They want to know these things:
Name, age, place, languages, family, goals and dreams
How the child helps in the family
How they feel when they help others
How they feel when they follow Jesus Christ
Favorite place, story about Jesus, Primary song, food, color, subject in school
I was able to visit the Gonzagueville Ward in the Grand Bassam Stake here in the Ivory Coast today. It was wonderful. After church I met with Christ (pronounced Kreest). He turned 12 last week and today he was helping to pass the sacrament. He was such a wonderful boy. I loved him immediately. His older sister is one of our currently-serving missionaries here. He comes from a family of 10.
After church, I found Elder Amani to translate for us, which was perfect. He sat close with his arm around Christ and helped me ask him questions. Christ has a very strong spirit. He’s quiet and he spoke softly, but he was very confident. I could feel his testimony. I could tell he has felt things about Jesus Christ and who He is. He wore a white shirt and a red tie and he was a little shy, but willing to share his feelings with us.
Christ turned 12 last week on March 2nd. He became a deacon at the first of the year and today was his 5th time to pass the sacrament. He speaks French and is learning some English in school. He is the 7th of 8 children. He has an older married sister and a sister on a mission here in the Abidjan East Mission (Sis Ahoulou). He’s not sure yet what he wants to be when he grows up.
Christ helps his family by helping to fill the water drum from a tap in the neighborhood. There is a well in their family compound that they use for washing and bathing water.
His family has a small neighborhood shop where they sell water, treats and biscuits (cookies) and some food items and simple groceries. He helps to clean his family’s compound and helps to clean (sweep) the shop.
I asked him why he thought it was important to be a good example of how Jesus would want him to act. He said that many people believe there is no God and sometimes people do things that aren’t good for them like drinking alcohol. He feels proud, like he won a trophy, when he is a good example. It makes him feel like he is successful when he is a good example. Sometimes friends mock him, but other friends like it when he stands for good.
His favorite subject in school is French. His favorite food is footoo (a staple food here made from cassava).
I asked him what things he did while he was in Primary to help him prepare to receive the Priesthood and to prepare to be a good missionary some day. He said he studied his scriptures, scripture stories and he learned the Articles of Faith. He has also loved learning about other countries and cultures. If he could pick a place to be a missionary he’d pick the United States.
I asked him what it was like the first time he got to pass the sacrament. He said he was excited, but nervous the tray would be heavy and he would have to be very careful.
His favorite story about Jesus is when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. He said he feels grateful that Jesus made it possible for us to repent, but very sad that He had to suffer and bleed for us. He said thinking about it makes him very happy but also very sad. He said sometimes he cries when he thinks about how Jesus suffered for us.
The Bishop had told me that Christ memorized the names of all of the prophets and I asked him to recite them (I videoed it, it was priceless).
When I asked him what his favorite Primary song was, he immediately started to quietly sing in French, “All over the world at the end of the day, Heavenly Father’s children kneel down to pray, each saying ‘thank you’ in his own special way, saying ‘thank you, thank you’ in his own special way.” He sang the entire song perfectly and sweetly, with all the different languages saying “thank you.” He said he loved to imagine all the children in the world praying every night and thanking Heavenly Father for our blessings. It was tender and sweet. He said, “we all speak different languages, but God understands us all.”
When he shared his feelings about that song, I felt like he was connecting all of our worlds in a very simple and pure way. “God understands us all.” That was his message to me today. What a wonderful young man.
Here is the article just published about A. A. Christ:
Goals and dreams: 1) Learn about other countries and cultures. 2) Serve a full-time mission.
Family: Dad, stepmom, and five siblings
Animan helps by filling the water drum his family uses for washing. He also helps his family with their shop. He sweeps, cleans, and fills the shelves. He is honest with customers.
Animan always tries to be a good example. Sometimes people make fun of him for not drinking alcohol. But others support him when he defends what is right. He says doing what’s right makes him feel like he won a trophy! Animan is a deacon. He likes to pass the sacrament because it helps people remember Jesus.
Story about Jesus: When He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane
Primary song: “Children All Over the World” (Children’s Songbook, 16–17)
Food: Foutou (mashed cassava and plantains)
Subject in school: French