My Airmail Journal
My parents were startled during my mission to Hawaii to learn that I had been living on a different island for many weeks. Somehow, I had failed to mention the transfer in my letters home. Reading between the lines of Mother’s next letter, I could tell that my parents were hurt. They had made many sacrifices to send me on a mission, and I felt sad that I had made them feel left out.
Duplication! That was the reason, I figured. What I wrote in my journal I wrote again in separate letters to at least my parents and my girlfriend, Jeanne. Writing down my activities more than once was tiring for me, so as the months passed, my accounts became more and more sketchy.
Then I had an idea. I went to a stationery store, where I purchased some loose-leaf paper about half the size of an Ensign page. Instead of writing in my bound journal that night, I clipped a piece of carbon paper between two sheets of the looseleaf paper so that I could make a copy of the entry. In the right-hand corner I numbered the page. On the left side I wrote the date. Under the date I detailed my day.
I did the same thing the next day, and by the end of the week, I had several pages filled with my experiences. When it was time to mail my weekly letters, I folded each set of pages, with the exception of the last page (so that I would not miss the continuity and the page numbering), and placed them in two envelopes. I then wrote a short personal letter to slip in with each set of pages and mailed one set to my parents and one set to Jeanne.
Both Mother and Jeanne purchased loose-leaf notebooks, and each week they snapped in the new journal sheets. If a letter went astray, lost pages could be duplicated from the other person’s set.
Even though I spent less time writing, the journal grew rapidly. Mother and Dad were delighted with the additional details, and they often told me that they felt more involved in my mission. I think I also became a better missionary because I analyzed my progress each day as I wrote.
When I returned home, Mom and Jeanne presented me with a two-volume journal of my mission, complete with an index. That journal is much more meaningful than the one I had kept in my bound book at the beginning of my mission.—, Provo, Utah
“Honey, There’s Something Strange under the Bed”
Moving our family of four into a 10- by 55-foot mobile home presented a few challenges, not the least of which was trying to find a place for our food supply. Our solution is simple: we sleep on it!
We keep our year’s supply of wheat, beans, rice, peas, honey, powdered milk, and other dry foods in five-gallon plastic buckets that have been approved for food storage. When we moved into our mobile home, we abandoned our traditional bed frame and placed our box springs and mattress on our wheat storage buckets, which we stacked two high. We placed these stacks in strategic support positions: one under each corner of the bed and another halfway between each corner. We used our wheat buckets for the main supports because they are slightly taller than our other storage buckets. This gives us enough room to easily slide out buckets containing food that we frequently use. (We packed some wheat in smaller buckets so that we have plenty to eat without disturbing our bed frame.)
I sewed an extra long dust ruffle to conceal our cache.
We have received some comments and questions about our “high-rise” bed. But that gives us a chance to share our almost-perfect food storage solution with members who face a similar situation. And for those who aren’t familiar with the Church and the practice of food storage, it gives us a good opportunity to do missionary work.—, Rainier, Oregon
The “Write” Way to Discipline
One day while upset with his younger brother, our nine-year-old lashed out with a verbal list of his brother’s faults. This had happened many times before, and it troubled me. But this day I felt inspired to try a more positive approach to solving the problem. I sent my son to his room and told him not to come out until he had written down ten nice things about his younger brother.
When he emerged with the list, his attitude had changed. Looking for the positive had crowded out his negative thoughts and feelings.
We have since used this form of discipline frequently and have found it an effective way to maintain an atmosphere of love in our home. And learning early in life to look for a person’s good qualities will make our children happier and better prepared to get along with others in the future.—, Sacramento, California
Streamline with a Time Line
Doing research for writing an ancestor’s biography is a lot like working a jigsaw puzzle. You gather information in bits and pieces and then try to assemble them into a pattern. When you sit down to write you often discover that important information is missing. But I’ve found that using a time line is an effective way to be more thorough in my research.
A master time line—one that shows major events in a person’s life on one page—is my guide and index to all the information I gather. I can then create detailed notes for each event and key them to the master time line.
Suggested Steps for Creating a Time Line:
First, create a master time line. Draw a straight line running horizontally across a large sheet of graph paper. On the left side, write the individual’s birth date. Leave plenty of space to record events under each year. I first write in years by fives, then add other years as needed.
In pencil, add to the time line significant events such as moves, schooling, marriages, births of children, calamities, deaths of family members, jobs, achievements, Church service, and military service. Next to each event, indicate with a code how the information is documented. For example: “11” for the eleventh reference in your reference file, “P#3” for the number of the corresponding photograph, “M” for map, “C” for facts calculated from documents.
Create a page or more for each event entered on the master time line. This will allow you to write detailed entries. Use all your facts about the event, people, and locations involved. Indicate questions that need to be resolved. Document the sources of information with the code described above.
Use the master time line and event notes and questions to suggest where the research needs to be done and how to organize it. For example, if you note that in later life an individual was known for his ability to grow excellent apples, how, where, when, and from whom did he learn? Where did he grow apples? What varieties? These questions can then be researched and the information added to the detailed event notes.
Make copies of the time line and the detailed event notes to use in interviews and to send with information-seeking letters. Ask for written comments on the time line. Include an extra copy for the recipient of your letter to keep.
Use the time line to search for local and national events that might have impacted the life of the person you are researching.
Use the time line to crosscheck your dates, references, connections, and assumptions as you write the detailed history.
Include the master time line in your completed biography, and add page references. This will give your readers an overview of the person’s life and help them reference selected events.—, Provo, Utah