Home Evening Missions

“Every member a missionary.” “Every young man should serve a mission.” For years we’d heard this counsel, and we were always looking for ways to instill it in our five children. One method that proved to be both fun and educational was our family home evening missions.

We chose five countries to which we could “call” our children, then scheduled five family home evenings to carry out our plan—one to focus on each child’s “mission.” Before each mission evening, Dad typed up a letter calling the child to a particular country. We then presented the child with the letter as we sat down to dinner. For our meal, Mom prepared authentic dishes from that country (you can find recipes in international cookbooks that you borrow from the library or purchase), and we talked about the kinds of foods people in that country eat and how those foods are prepared.

After dinner we adjourned to the family room, where Mom and Dad talked about the people in the country—what they look like, how they dress, how they make a living, their traditions and customs. We gathered the information from encyclopedias, books from the library, travel and geographic magazines, the Cultural Refinement lessons in old Relief Society manuals, and family members and friends who had traveled to or served missions in that country. The children also shared things they had learned in school about the country.

Sometimes we played sports or games of that country. When our oldest was “called” to Mexico, for example, we broke a piñata and talked about the holidays Mexicans celebrate.

We ended each evening with Dad talking about Church activity, missionary work, and stories about members in that country. Ensign articles, the Church News, and Relief Society manuals were good sources of information. Throughout the lesson, we bore testimony of the importance of missionary work and talked about how we can prepare for missions.

During these home evenings, we remembered to focus on the “missionary” child. We asked him what he thought about the food and if he would enjoy eating it regularly. We encouraged him to discuss how he felt about the clothes the people wore or the type of home he might live in.

Where did our children go on their home evening missions? We chose places our family had some special interest in. For instance, one child “served” in the country our ancestors came from, and we included their pictures and stories in our discussion. Another child was “called” to the country where Dad had served his mission. We showed slides he had taken and displayed items he had brought back from the country. Another child, who is interested in animals, was “called” to a country rich in wild and exotic animals.

These home evenings took time to research and prepare, but they were worth it. We learned a lot and felt the Spirit strongly as we talked about Heavenly Father’s children in other lands and his love for all of us. Each child waited eagerly for his or her turn to go on a “mission.” And we drew closer as a family as we looked forward to the day when our children would be able to serve the Lord on full-time missions.Rex and Linda Brown, San Jose, California

One-a-Days

As the mother of six young children, I know that most of the work I do in my home will have to be redone in an hour or a day or a week. To feel a sense of achievement in spite of this, I try to find a way to accomplish something each day outside of my usual routine. I call it my “one-a-day.”

A one-a-day is a small task I can do in a few minutes that will give me an instant feeling of achievement or bring me one step closer to completing a longer-term goal. It must have a definite end rather than being part of an ongoing project.

Sometimes my one-a-day helps me succeed at my responsibilities outside of my home: reading a lesson that I will be teaching or writing an announcement for the PTA newsletter. Or it may be something I do for someone else, such as mailing a birthday card or jotting down a humorous anecdote in one of my children’s journals. Perhaps it is an uncommon household task like getting the car inspected, installing a robe hook in the bathroom, or calling the sprinkler company about that slow drip. Whatever it is, it will not leave me with an unfinished project or eat a big chunk out of my day.

I keep a running list of possible one-a-days and try to chose one each day that fits my mood and my time constraints.

These accomplishments may not sound like much to a fast-track executive, but they give me an “Aah, that’s done” lift.Anne Whitney Walch, San Antonio, Texas

It’s a Cinch to Save a Life

What a beautiful porcelain figurine—so perfect and yet so fragile. It must be worth a fortune! If someone were to give you such a gift, would you put it carelessly in the back of your car or pickup truck, hoping it wouldn’t break or fall out before you reached home? Or would you, perhaps, lay it carefully on the seat beside you, thinking that surely you could secure it in the event of a sudden stop?

Of course you wouldn’t. Yet people often do this to themselves and their families—who are of infinitely more worth than the costliest figurine—when they travel in a car.

What kind of care should you take to protect yourself and your passengers while you are driving? The answer is simple but effective: Use safety belts and crash-tested, approved child car seats. Researchers have found that wearing a safety belt can reduce by one-half your chance of being hurt seriously in a crash, and those percentages hold true regardless of speed. Safety belts help by:

  1. 1.

    Stopping the wearer’s forward motion when the car’s forward motion stops.

  2. 2.

    Keeping the head and face of the wearer from striking objects inside the car, such as the windshield or dashboard.

  3. 3.

    Spreading the stopping force widely across the strong parts of the body.

  4. 4.

    Stopping vehicle occupants from colliding with each other.

  5. 5.

    Helping the driver maintain control of the vehicle, thus decreasing the possibility of an additional collision.

  6. 6.

    Keeping occupants from being ejected from the car.

If wearing safety belts is so helpful, why don’t more people use them? Here are some of the common reasons—and the corresponding facts:

“I can touch my head to the dashboard while I am wearing my safety belt, so there’s no way it can help me in an accident.” Safety belts are designed to allow you to move freely in your car. They are also designed with a latching device that locks the safety belt in place if your car comes to a sudden halt. It’s there when you need it.

“I don’t need safety belts because I’m a good driver. I have excellent reactions.” No matter how well you drive, you can’t control the other car. There’s no way to protect yourself against someone else’s poor judgment or bad driving or your or another car’s mechanical failure.

“In case of an accident, I can brace myself with my hands.” In a crash or sudden stop, your body weight is multiplied by the speed of the car. That means a thirty-pound child in an impact of forty miles per hour will strike the interior car surfaces or objects outside the vehicle with the force of a twelve-hundred-pound object. At thirty miles an hour, a person would be thrown toward the dashboard with the same force as if he or she jumped headfirst off a three-story building. No one’s arms and legs can withstand that kind of force.

“I need to wear safety belts only when I have to go on long trips or when I am driving at high speeds.” Eighty percent of deaths and serious injuries occur in cars traveling slower than forty miles per hour, and 75 percent of deaths or injuries occur fewer than twenty-five miles from home.

“I don’t want to be trapped by a safety belt. It’s better to be thrown free in an accident.” Being thrown free is twenty-five times more dangerous than being held in the car. Safety belts can keep you from plunging through the windshield, being thrown out the door, or being crushed by your own car. And if you’re wearing your belt, you’re far more likely to be conscious after an accident to free yourself and help your passengers.

“But what if I’m trapped in a burning or submerged car?” Less than one-half of 1 percent of all injury-producing collisions involve fire or submersion. But if fire or submersion does occur, wearing a safety belt can still save your life. If you’re involved in a crash without your safety belt, you might be stunned or knocked unconscious by striking the interior of the car. Then your chances of getting out would be fewer.

“Most people would be offended if I asked them to put on a safety belt.” Polls show that the overwhelming majority of passengers would willingly put on their belts if only you, the driver, would ask them.

“I just don’t believe that it will ever happen to me.” Every one of us can expect to be in a crash once every ten years. For one out of twenty of us, it will be a serious accident. For one out of every sixty children, it will be fatal.

Think of that fragile figurine. Think of yourself and your children. There’s no comparison in the care you should give. Do all you can to protect a life.Relief Society General Presidency

[illustrations] Illustrated by Rob Magiera