We Love You Every Week!

When my parents were called on a mission to Africa, I was concerned that my letters to them might be delayed or lost in the mail. Since I wanted to keep in touch with them each week, I devised a safety net to fill in if our regular letters didn’t arrive—a flip chart of “mini-letters” that they could take with them and enjoy throughout their mission.

First, I purchased enough five-by-seven-inch index cards so I would have one for each week of Mom and Dad’s mission. At the top of each card, I wrote the week’s dates; for example, January 7–13, 1990. With a paper punch, I made a hole one inch from the top and exactly in the center of each card so that I could insert a metal ring to hold them all together.

Since there are seventy-eight weeks in an eighteen-month mission, I decided to get my six brothers and sisters to help me write the mini-letters. I split the cards into seven piles of eleven cards, rotating the dates so that my parents would get a message from each of us once every seven weeks.

When I mailed the dated cards to my brothers and sisters, I asked them to watch for holidays, Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary, and birthdays as they wrote. Then I told them when I needed the cards back and encouraged them to have fun creating their letters.

When I got the completed cards, I was impressed with their diversity and creativity. Some letters were inspirational quotes from prophets, favorite scriptures, or poems. Some family members had written of their own missionary experiences and given advice on being an effective missionary. Grandchildren had pasted their school pictures onto the cards, written love letters, and drawn pictures. There was art work, calligraphy, and even jokes. One sister taped a small bag of balloons to her card so Mom and Dad could give them to African children.

I put the cards in chronological order and secured them with a ring binder, and we gave the mini-letters to Mom and Dad when they went into the Missionary Training Center. Every Sunday of their mission, they flipped over a new card for their weekly note of love.Laurie Ann Hasson, Lindon, Utah

Use and Reuse

There are many ways recycling can help us save money and reuse items that would otherwise be discarded.

Metals are among the easiest items to reuse. Scrap metal dealers will pay for aluminum cans and siding, copper and steel tubing, cast iron pipe, and old automobile radiators and batteries. Old gold, silver, and brass are salable because they can be melted down into new forms. In addition to ridding ourselves of debris, we can also benefit by collecting metals as a fund-raiser for special projects or school groups.

Paper products are biodegradable, meaning they break down into a form that can be reabsorbed into the ground. Old newspapers, cardboard boxes, and office and computer paper can be sold to waste paper companies on a per pound basis, then reprocessed. Newspaper drives are a great way to help dispose of accumulated papers.

Plastic is the most commonly manufactured material in modern time. It is not biodegradable, but due to environmental and consumer demand, certain types of plastic (such as milk cartons and soda pop bottles) can now be recycled. Some grocery stores will even recycle plastic grocery bags. Finding other uses for plastics is an excellent way to recycle them. For example, five-gallon containers used by soft drink manufacturers and plastic storage bins used by commercial bakeries are ideal for food storage projects.

In the home there are numerous ways common household items can be recycled.

  • Cut old carpeting into small rugs for use in other areas around the house or garage.

  • Remake lace tablecloths into curtains.

  • Sew used cotton or chintz curtains into throw pillows.

  • Cut soft, absorbent fabrics or towels into rags.

  • Remake used clothing into new outfits, such as an old jacket into a new vest or old sheets into play clothes.

  • Replace dry-cell batteries with rechargeable ones.

In the yard you can also find ways to recycle.

  • Make a compost pile in a warm, sunny spot in the yard by layering grass clippings, dead leaves, wood chips, and vegetable peels with dirt. Turn the mixture occasionally with a shovel. Eventually you will have an excellent mulch for flower or vegetable gardens.

  • Use old newspapers between rows of vegetables in the garden to help the soil retain moisture and to inhibit weed growth.

Of course, there are many more ways we can recycle things around us. Becoming aware is the first step. With some thought, planning, and common sense, we can learn to utilize our resources better and preserve our environment for future generations.Lori Young Nay, Louisiana, Missouri

Scripture of the Week

Our sons are all under the age of ten, yet despite their youthful enthusiasm, family night has usually been a special and reverent time. However, recently my husband and I began to feel out of control in our efforts to keep the Spirit with us through our family night lessons.

One night after an especially “un-special” family night, I knelt in fervent prayer for some guidance. The answer immediately rushed over me with solid, comforting assurance—we needed to read the scriptures. Up to this point, we had refrained from reading the scriptures in our home evenings for fear of overwhelming our young children and losing their attention. But I knew at that moment that we had misjudged our children’s ability to love and appreciate the scriptures.

The next week at family home evening, we started a simple scripture-reading program. I took the lead and selected a favorite scripture. Then I printed it in bold letters on brightly colored poster paper. That night, I stood and introduced our new tradition—our “scripture of the week.” I displayed my sign and read its words: “Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.” (D&C 108:7.)

Our family repeated the scripture together. Then I bore my testimony and explained why the scripture was important to me and how it could bless our lives. The Spirit was strong, and we welcomed the opportunity to enjoy its peaceful presence as we proceeded with the rest of our family home evening.

The next morning at breakfast, all eyes were drawn to our “scripture of the week” sign, which I had taped to the kitchen cupboards. We reviewed our scripture and its meaning and rehearsed it aloud before each of us went on with our day.

A few days later, I had an unexpected surprise when I heard my son reciting our “scripture of the week” from memory. Suddenly I realized that without really planning to do so, I had memorized the scripture, too. Somewhere between our introduction of the “scripture of the week” and our testimony of it, our minds had been opened to receive its words, our hearts had been lightened by its message, and our home had been blessed by its spirit.Stacey Child Weeks, Carson City, Nevada

Jeni’s Cookbook

I wanted to give my oldest daughter, Jeni, something special for her graduation from high school. About two months before graduation, I decided to send a letter to people who had been an influence in Jeni’s life and ask them for their favorite recipes.

The response was wonderful! I received nearly one hundred recipes from grandmas, great-aunts, Primary and Young Women leaders, seminary teachers, and friends. I typed up each recipe, grouping them in categories. Then I put each of the thirty-five pages in a plastic page protector and compiled them in a three-ring notebook. Jeni’s Aunt Holly made dividers on pink paper for the cookbook.

Since some of the recipes were special, I also gave her the originals. Now she has a copy of Great-Grandpa LaBaron’s pudding recipe in his own handwriting.

Jeni was thrilled as she thumbed through the cookbook and read the names of those who contributed. Since graduation from high school, she has used her recipe book at college. It is practical, and yet she also treasures it because it is rich in heritage and memories.Rebecca Kelly, Federal Way, Washington

[photos] Photography by Phil Shurtleff; photo props by David McDonald