Have you ever heard of the Heavenly Air Force? Or maybe the Angel Harold?
Probably not. But if you have children or grandchildren, or your church calling involves working with kids, you can likely guess how such terms originated.
As children grow up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gospel-related words don't always register accurately, and what translates to those little ears can make for heartfelt humor and lasting memories. Whether the result of a misheard hymn, where parents are "kind of weird," or an innocent interpretation of a gospel concept, like "slow Sunday," stories about children in the church tend to endure.
And they should be shared.
Last month, we asked readers to send in their stories about the humorous things kids say. We received e-mails not just from Utah, but from around the world. Some happened just last month, while others were decades-old memories. And judging by the number of responses we received, these accounts can be counted as a shared experience among parents, grandparents and teachers in the church.
The following are some of our favorites:
While a family was sitting in sacrament meeting, one of their children started to misbehave. The father softly turned to his son and said if he didn't cease to be disruptive, he would have to take him out in the foyer. The child obeyed for a time but eventually misbehaved again. The mother and father were very embarrassed. The child, by now, was over his father's shoulder and knew he was in real trouble. As they were going out the door of the chapel, he called out, "Bishop ... help me!"
Sterling R. Provost
One of our family's favorite activities is playing a game after our Family Home Evening lesson on Monday nights. This particular evening we were playing a board game that I had made where gospel questions were asked, and if you answered correctly you got to move ahead. It was my 4-year-old daughter's turn. I read Emily the question: "Name three of the 10 commandments." She immediately answered, "Thou shall not steal and thou shall not kill." Then there was a long pause as she sat thinking, trying to recall a third commandment. Suddenly, Emily's face lit up with a big smile and she shouted out, "Thou shall not drink and drive!"
The event of Jesus' birth was being discussed and the New Testament was quoted (Luke 2:13) which translates in the German Bible as "a heavenly army praising God." Our 8-year-old son, Jannik, couldn't quite agree with the image of heavenly beings standing in the air being called an army. "But this wasn't an army of the Lord," he said. "It was his air force!" My wife and I wondered what the navy of the Lord might be like.
On the way to church in Southern California one Sunday, my mom was explaining to the children we were baby-sitting the blessings of being reverent during the meetings: "If you're really quiet, you might hear the angels!" The little boy thought for a moment, then replied matter-of-factly, "I'd rather hear the Dodgers."
When she was 3 or 4 years old, my oldest granddaughter came home from Primary singing: "I am a child of God, and he has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home, with parents kind of weird." This same granddaughter once attended the Bountiful Temple open house with her family. When I asked her what she liked best about it, she said, "Oh, Grandma! The cholesterol room!"
South Salt Lake
I recall my eldest daughter, Megan, at age 3, singing: "I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Lullaby Saints." Whilst I'm sure many others will have heard similar, I confess to using this quote in a talk on service quite soon afterwards!
When my son Mike was about 3, he had been carefully taught that there were things we did not partake of because we are Mormon. While pushing him in the shopping cart at the grocery store one day, my husband was keeping him occupied by pointing out different items. He playfully showed Mike a giant jar of pickled pigs feet. My son looked a little horrified. "Do we eat pigs feet, Dad?" he asked. "No, we don't," replied my husband. Mike shook his head: "Yeah, 'cause we're MORMONS!"
I had been asked to substitute for the pianist in Relief Society, and since I don't sight-read music very well, I was preparing for church by practicing the hymn "Called to Serve" over and over. My 4-year-old was listening from the kitchen and singing along. As he came into the living room where I was playing, I heard him belt out the chorus: "Awkward, ever awkward!"
One day while dressing one of my small children for Sunday meetings on the first Sunday of the month, the child said, "Is this a fast Sunday or a slow Sunday?"
Another story happened when my daughter and her family moved into a new ward. On the first Sunday in the new ward, the mother was taking each child to find their new Primary class. After successfully delivering a couple of younger siblings, she turned to her 9-year-old son and told him they were headed out to find the Valiant 9 class. He stopped dead in his tracks and told her he belonged in the Violent 9 class.
Nyla W. Banner
Once while walking through a store, our 3-year-old grandchild, Cary, saw a plastic bird sitting on a perch that chirped whenever someone walked by. Cary really wanted that bird, but being the clever fellow that he is, and maybe knowing how to get around me, he said, "My mother would really like that bird." How could I resist? I asked him if he would take care of it for her, make it a nest and watch over it. He assured me that he would.
Days of constant caring for the bird showed his tender side. But one day, his sister Kelly, age 7, had enough and said, "Cary, put that stupid bird away." He quickly replied, "Kelly, Heavenly Father loves fake birds, too."
While I was serving as a bishop, our family was having Family Home Evening in the family room of our basement. Participating were my sons Sean, 16, and Keelan, 10; my daughter Kellie, who was staying over with us along with her 2-year-old son, Ashton; my wife and myself. As we were having the lesson, Ashton began to misbehave. After several warnings from his mother, he was sent to timeout in the bedroom just off the family room.
As the lesson continued, we soon heard the quiet, repentant voice of Ashton saying, "Mommy, please help me." She ignored him and told us to ignore him so he would learn his lesson. A few minutes later we heard, "Sean, please help me." He, too, didn't respond, following Ashton's mother's wishes.
Each family member's name was then called out one by one. With each innocent plea, our heartstrings were pulled, but we wanted to help Kellie make her point to her son. After the last plea, we heard no more for an extended period of time and figured he had given up. Then that sincere, faint voice pierced my ears with a plea I couldn't ignore: "Bishop, please help me."
West Valley City
The Father's Day sacrament meeting program included the Primary children singing "I'm So Glad When Daddy Comes Home." All the children came to the stand and faced the audience except 6-year-old Allison, who was facing the opposite direction. The bishop whispered to Allison, asking her to turn around and face the audience with the rest of the children. Allison replied, "No, my teacher said we were singing this song to our fathers, and my father is over there at the organ."
When I was on a mission in Austria 45 years ago, I heard the most comprehensive prayer ever. A little 4-year old got up in primary and said, "Dear Heavenly Father, please bless us until we're all dead. Amen." Of course, this was spoken in German.
In a Primary sacrament program, a little girl was supposed to say, "I want to be good so I can live with Heavenly Father again." I whispered the words to her, and she said all but the "again." So I whispered "again," and she thought I meant to do the whole thing over. So she repeated her sentence, except the "again." I whispered "again," and she repeated the whole thing. By the third time, I stood near her and said "again" as she finished her part.
Judy B. Christensen
Salt Lake City
Somewhere along the gospel instruction line, my 5-year-old grandson, Ben, gained a very convenient understanding of the pre-existent world of spirits.
One evening at the dinner table, Ben's mother insisted he eat the vegetables on his plate. His response was, "I don't have to because my vegetable compartment is full." When Mom continued to insist and asked what he meant by that, he replied, "Mom, you don't understand! Before I came to earth, my spirit and my body made a deal. My spirit said, 'I will eat all the vegetables here, and when you get to earth, you can eat all the desserts.' We asked Heavenly Father, and he said it was OK, so I don't have to eat any more vegetables."
Needless to say, Mom was rendered speechless definitely food for thought. ...
Linda M. Olsen
My young grandson, not yet baptized, had been challenged, along with his Primary friends, to read the Book of Mormon at home from cover to cover. He accepted that challenge and had been reading it over a fairly long period of time.
One evening while reading in Mosiah, he was called to dinner. He put the book aside and walked to the dinner table in the kitchen. It was his turn to say the blessing on the food, and he began with the words, "And it came to pass."
Paul A. Christie
One fast Sunday, we heard from three children who wanted to "bury their testimonies."
During one talk during sacrament meeting, the speaker mentioned "inspired men." My little boy Ian, 3, asked me why the speaker was talking about "Spider-Man."
Scott R. Edgar
Salt Lake City
When our daughter was 5 years old, we had been learning the hymn, "I Wonder When He Comes Again" in Primary. We sang it at home occasionally also. Apparently, when she sang the words, "I wonder when he comes again, will herald angels sing," she had a definite picture in mind. One day as we entered the Deseret Book store at the Cottonwood Mall in Salt Lake City, she looked up at a framed picture of Jesus Christ with his arms extended out, flanked on each side by a host of angels, and she said, "Mommy, I know which one is Harold Angel!" Since then, I never think of or sing that hymn without remembering her remark that day.
Salt Lake City
The Primary president asked the question: "What is the greatest gift Heavenly Father has given us?" Several hands went up "home," "cars," "clothes," "church," "flowers" ... Finally, the president repeated the question: "What is the GREATEST gift Heavenly Father has given us?" A little 3-year-old stretched up her arm and shouted, "Grandma!"