The Big Blue Books

You’re preparing a lesson, and you’re looking for just the right story for a great conclusion. Then you think: Didn’t President Monson tell a story on this subject last year in general conference? Wait—was it in April, or was it two years ago in October? On second thought, you remember that little Elizabeth was on your lap as a baby when you heard it, so it must have been three years ago. Or was that baby Spencer?

Still hoping to find the story, you trudge out to the garage and start sorting through boxes and boxes of old magazines to find the Ensign conference issues. This takes much more time than you really have because you stop to read through a few articles you missed the first time, and then you take a peek in the old high school yearbook, too.

After years of bumbling around my garage, I finally found a better way. One day, while at the Church Distribution Center in Salt Lake City, I noticed some big blue books titled Index to Periodicals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not exactly a crowd-grabbing title, but I was amazed at what I found inside! Every article printed in the Church magazines, Church News, and Conference Reports since 1960 was indexed by author as well as by subject, and each entry included the periodical, issue, and page number where the article could be found. Why had I never before heard of this useful tool? I wondered. Was it new? This should be available for general use.

A few Sundays later, as I was searching for some pictures in the ward library, my eyes wandered to an adjacent shelf. There they were—the big blue books! My ward library had not just one, but half a dozen volumes holding the secrets of finding more than twenty-five years’ worth of Church-related articles.

What’s more, the ward library had not only the indexes to the periodicals, it had back copies of the magazines and the Church News as well, neatly arranged year by year on the shelves. Using the index and ample periodical supply, a ward librarian could locate any article in about one minute. Of course, that doesn’t carry quite the same sense of adventure that I found in searching my old files and boxes—who knows what you’ll uncover in a box at my house—but those indexes have revolutionized the preparation of lessons, talks, and even family home evenings.

Since 1972, the big blue indexes have been available to meetinghouse libraries for use by Church members. The indexes are published annually, and then compiled into one larger volume every five years. Articles appearing from 1961 to 1970 are indexed together in a two-volume set. While these two volumes and one subsequent index (1971–75) are out of print and available only at ward or branch libraries, the most recent three volumes can be purchased at the Church Distribution Center for individual use: 1976–80 (PBLI0636, $9.00), 1981–85 (PBLI0738, $9.00), and 1986 (PBLI0782, $5.00). The 1987 index should be available by April 1.

In addition to the comprehensive indexes, each December issue of the Church magazines contains an index to the articles that have appeared in that particular publication during the year. The Ensign has printed its own annual index since 1973, the New Era since 1983, and the Friend since 1984.

Next time you’re looking for just one more idea for your Church lesson or project, you might think of heading to the meetinghouse library and the big blue books before you confront those storage boxes. Unless, of course, the garage needs cleaning anyway!Diane Lofgren Mangum, Salt Lake City

From Moroni to Massasoit

The idea was born one evening as we drove toward our state capitol with our two-year-old and some good friends. We simultaneously asked our daughter, “Now who is that?” while pointing to a towering statue of an Indian on the capitol grounds. “Angel Massasoit!” she proclaimed with confidence. The car bounced with our chuckles as we delighted in the mix-up. She had confused Massasoit with another statue down the street atop the Salt Lake Temple.

We decided a trip was in order to discover the difference between the two statues. We had pointed out the statues, we had even told her the story of Moroni. However, real learning did not take place until she traced the foot of Massasoit with her curious fingers and peered upward at the golden Moroni. Reinforced was the notion that experience is the greatest teacher.

Thus was born the idea of family field trips—an activity we have enjoyed for many years. Here are some ideas we have found helpful in planning our trips.

Turn Questions into Field Trips

What do you do when a four-year-old wants to know if a ghost town is where ghosts live? Go see one!

How do you answer the question, “What does Grandpa do? Does he work?” Make an appointment to visit the site of Grandpa’s toils, during working hours, if appropriate. Don’t neglect a lunch invitation so he can share why he chose his vocation.

What is your response to “Does chocolate milk come from brown cows?” Find a friendly dairy farmer (preferably one with a brownish cow) and let your kids see the truth with their own eyes.

Is the reply to “Is our baby alive in there?” a one-word yes? Arrange with the obstetrician for the family to accompany Mom and listen to that very much alive and beating heart.

Don’t Succumb to the “Grass Is Greener” Syndrome

Discover your own city and state. Visit attractions such as restored buildings, museums, fish markets, natural disaster aftermaths, cathedrals or tabernacles, national parks, and monuments.

Scour the newspaper for events that might be of interest to your family. Consider such things as concerts, pageants, art festivals, cultural or ethnic festivals, and special showings at museums. One of our most memorable summer field trips was a jaunt to the German festival in a nearby city. We sampled genuine rotkohl and tongue-tickling pretzels. The folk dancing was a fascinating, foot-stepping favorite. Dad, who served a mission in Germany, was in bratwurst heaven.

Spark Future Career Interests

When a child or teenager says, “When I grow up I’d like to …” or “I’d love to try that,” turn it into a field trip. Let them see the work behind the title. Observe the legislature in session. Explore a violin-making school, a textile mill, the stock exchange, a university classroom, a symphony rehearsal, or a television station. Give a six-year-old the opportunity to ask the zookeeper, “How do they catch the animals without killing them?”

Errands can become field trips. Cooperative craftsmen, artists, merchants, and professionals are really quite easy to find. Let the children watch the mechanic change the oil or the shoemaker resole your shoes. Watch a carpenter work at a construction site.

A field trip need not damage the family budget. Field trips are not lengthy stays, but more of a go-see-taste-return experience. Pack a picnic or question the locals for the best food for the money in town. If you need to save up for a special outing, make it a family project.

Prepare children beforehand by reading about what is prompting the trip. Stimulate learning through questions. Before a visit to an architect, ask: “What do you think he does? Do you think he had special training?” Afterward, ask: “Tell me five things you thought were interesting. Would you like to do that? Why or why not?”

If possible, obtain literature that will expand the experience on your trip. You will be pleasantly surprised at the energy focused on literature brought home from field trips.

Record your memories. The experiences jump back to life with pictures and journal entries. Our field trips have not been without disasters. But even most of those, through a cushion of time, have become favorite family stories.

Give your children a new interest, a brighter understanding, a thirst for more knowledge. Encourage growth as a family, togetherness, memories. Take a family field trip!William J. and Shelley L. Davies, Centerville, Utah

Family Facts and Fancies

Our family has started some projects that motivate us to keep our journals up-to-date—projects that benefit the entire family.

For our Golden Wedding three years ago, we published our family story, Facts and Fancies. We asked each of our children to contribute a chapter using events and quotations from their journals, and included stories and journal excerpts from our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We bound the chapters, along with lots of pictures, and gave one to each family member.

Another project we started is a circulating letter sent around the family at regular—or irregular—intervals. When the packet comes around to each child, he replaces his old letter with a new one, then files the old letter in his journal.

We’ve had fun keeping our journals and feel rewarded that we can use them for good purposes.Caroline Eyring Miner, Salt Lake City, Utah

Button, Button

I use less time and effort when I sew on buttons by doubling the thread before I put it through the needle’s eye. I then bring the double strand through the eye, make it even with its other end, and knot it. Sewing with four threads at one time saves me a lot of poking in and out of button holes.Regina M. Schulte, Tonisvorst, West Germany

[illustrations] Illustrated by Bill Swensen