REXBURG, Idaho — So what do you do when an Apostle and his wife make a surprise visit to your Primary sharing time?
Easy answer: Sing them their favorite Primary song.
On March 1, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf drove to a rural corner of northeast Idaho to enjoy Sabbath morning services with the Plano Ward of the Rexburg Idaho Henry’s Fork Stake.
The Uchtdorfs were scheduled to speak later that evening at a BYU-Idaho devotional, but they were eager to make a first-time visit to Plano, a snow-blanketed farming community a few miles northwest of Rexburg.
Elder Uchtdorf told the Church News that being with the Plano Ward Saints “was like coming home to family. And that’s how it is anywhere we go in the world to be with the members — whether it’s to Rexburg or Santiago or somewhere in Germany.”
As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Uchtdorf is often in front of large congregations. His Feb. 29 – March 1 weekend in Rexburg included a Saturday leadership conference in a capacity-filled stake center, along with Sunday’s BYU-Idaho devotional attended by thousands of students. In a few weeks he will address a global general conference audience.
But spending a couple of hours with the members of the Plano Ward made for an intimate, unforgettable Sabbath for the Ucthdorfs.
The couple participated in Sunday’s ward testimony meeting and then visited the Primary and a youth Sunday School class. They shook hands with folks of all ages, exchanged smiles and spent time learning about the Plano members’ lives and unique challenges.
The spiritual commitment reflected in the members’ testimonies was inspiring, said Elder Uchtdorf.
One man spoke of how he recently learned lessons of diligence while nursing a sick calf back to health. Another woman expressed gratitude for the purity of the restored gospel.
In her testimony, Sister Uchtdorf noted that she may not know the names of the Plano Ward members — “but I feel like you are my brothers and sisters because we share a love for Christ.”
Elder Uchtdorf testified of the blessings that come from following the Lord’s Two Great Commandments: to love God and to love one’s neighbor. He encouraged the Plano Ward members to find joy in inviting their neighbors and friends to “come and see” the gifts offered by the gospel.
When the Uchtdorfs visited the Primary, the children were singing “I Feel My Savior’s Love.”
They asked their special guests if they had a favorite Primary song.
“Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam,” replied Elder Uchtdorf.
Enthusiastically, the children performed the Sunbeam song, “and they were cute as can be,” said Antje Evans, Elder and Sister Uchtdorf’s daughter who was traveling in Idaho with her parents.
Plano Ward Primary President Amy Hancock marveled at the reverence and respect the children displayed despite the excitement of the moment.
“I told the kids that one day they would tell their own children about this special Sunday. … The children really felt the spirit of that moment,” she said.
The Uchtdorfs also dropped in on a youth Sunday School class. The young men and young women asked several gospel-related questions of their guests. They discussed ways to prepare for missions and asked Sister Uchtdorf to share her own conversion story.
“We loved being with them,” said Elder Uchtdorf.
Rexburg Idaho Henry’s Fork Stake President William J. Dalling fought back emotions discussing Elder and Sister Uchtdorf’s visit to the Plano Ward.
“It was so moving being with them,” he said. “When the Uchtdorfs walked into the chapel, many of the ward members were in tears.”
Rural life, he added, is seldom easy. Some of the Plano Ward families are enduring the challenges brought on by the unpredictabilities of weather and the farming market. It’s easy to get down.
“But Elder and Sister Uchtdorf’s visit on Sunday was a note that the Lord was mindful of them during a difficult time,” he said. “The Uchtdorfs’ visit will bless their lives for a long, long time to come.”