Helping the Earth—a Little at a Time

After studying recycling, pollution, and the environment in school, my children became aware of and concerned about these issues. They brought home a list titled “101 Ways You Can Help the Environment” and insisted we begin to implement some of the suggestions. Our lives were already busy, but I took a look at the list and realized that while we couldn’t tackle all the items at once, we could start with a few.

We began by using cloth diapers instead of the disposable kind for our new baby. At first I was skeptical because I thought this change would entail much more work for me. But when the whole family offered to help, I found it was less difficult than I had imagined. The cloth diapers were easy to launder and far less expensive than the disposable ones we had been buying. As we worked together, we felt pleased with our efforts and also saved money.

Encouraged by one success, we took another look at the list and found ways we could start recycling newspaper, aluminum, glass, and plastic. The children enjoyed squashing the plastic milk jugs and throwing the glass bottles into the recycling bin. They also earned a little extra money by turning in aluminum cans.

We still have a long way to go on our list of 101 ways to help the environment, but we have learned that by making small changes, we can do our part. Also, the whole family is learning valuable lessons about not being wasteful. We are even earning money, and we enjoy working together to make our part of the world a better place.Ann Fluekiger Larsen, Salt Lake City, Utah

A Journal of Letters

Three years ago I made a personal commitment to write to my 94-year-old grandmother every week for the rest of her life. My mother has been caring for her for several years, and because my grandmother’s eyesight is failing, Mother reads my letters to her.

It hasn’t been easy to write every week, but as I have struggled to fulfill my commitment, two specific blessings have come into my life. The first blessing was one I expected—the joy of knowing that both my mother and my grandmother would come to know and love our five children as they read about our daily activities and experiences.

The second blessing came after I had written the letters for one year. Without my knowledge, my mother had kept each letter I sent. After accumulating a year’s worth of letters, she bundled up the stack and mailed the letters back to me.

As I reread my old letters, I discovered I had a detailed family journal in my hands. Although I recorded major events in my personal journal, detailed accounts of our family’s day-to-day activities were kept alive in the pages of my letters. This unexpected family journal paints a vivid picture of our family life and will help our posterity know what we were like as a young, growing family.Laura S. Shortridge, Lockport, New York

Home Evening for Young Families

Many parents find that some of their children are too young to concentrate on family home evening lessons that are suitable for older children. Yet they know family home evening is important.

Family home evening does not have to involve complex lessons to be beneficial. Simple lessons and games can keep young children interested and teach them important gospel principles at the same time. Remember, the goal is to have fun together.

Here are some activities that can make family home evening a good experience for families with young children:

  • Show children pictures of Jesus and talk about his life.

  • Study nature. Take a walk, press leaves or flowers, or go to the zoo. Teach the children that Heavenly Father created all things in nature when he made the earth for us to enjoy.

  • Have the children make their handprints on construction paper. Show the children how each person’s handprint is different. Teach them that everyone is different and that differences are good.

  • Cook something simple. Help children understand that Heavenly Father gave us food so we could be strong and healthy.

  • Play. Teach children how to take turns with siblings or parents and teach them that Heavenly Father is happy when we share and are kind to each other.

  • Listen to tapes or read books. Materials such as the Family Home Evening Resource Book, the Nursery Manual with its accompanying sound sheets and audio cassettes, and illustrated scripture books with audio or video cassettes can be found at meetinghouse libraries. Many different gospel lessons can be created using these resources.

Other successful activities can be built on these principles:

  • Allow for spontaneity. Children have great ideas.

  • Have treats.

  • Do something new. Everyone, no matter what the age, loves to learn new skills.

  • Start and end with hugs and prayers. Be loving and cheerful.

These and other ideas can make family home evening enjoyable for everyone.Tara Bangsberg, Puyallup, Washington

The Good Neighbor List

For many years, I have made a list and distributed it to my neighbors for them to hang by their telephones and share with their families. After I have obtained the approval of each person I contacted, I have prepared a list that includes the names of people on our street, along with their home addresses and phone numbers, occupations, and office phone numbers.

A few years ago while we were living in Ohio, the list came in handy when we had a tornado in our area. One neighbor was up at 5:00 A.M. getting ready for work and heard the alerts on the radio. Using my list, he quickly called neighbors on our block to tell us to go to our basements. This man could not have warned us without the list; it would have taken too long to look everyone up in the phone book.

Having a neighborhood list encourages us to get acquainted with the people who live around us. When handled with discretion and goodwill, making a neighborhood list can help us feel more unity and be more willing to help each other.Martha A. Smith Jenkins, Tucson, Arizona

Sharing the Spirit on Tape

One year my husband hinted that he would like recordings of the scriptures on cassette tapes for Christmas. He wanted to listen to something uplifting during his 45-minute drive to work. As I thought about his request I had an idea. Instead of buying prerecorded tapes, I would make a personalized set of scripture tapes for our family. Every day when my little son took his afternoon nap, I got out my tape recorder and made a recording of myself reading aloud chapters from the Book of Mormon. When my husband opened his Christmas gift, he was eager to start listening to the tapes.

After recording the first four tapes, I continued to rerecord new messages for him on these same tapes. I now fill cassette tapes not only with scriptures but also with articles from the Ensign. I play and record pieces of music and include comments about happenings of the day. I look forward to the quiet time I can spend sharing these things with my husband, and he enjoys listening. When he hears the tapes, he can feel the Spirit as I did during those recording sessions. It has been a wonderful experience for both of us.Claudia Bill, Georgetown, Ontario, Canada

[photo] Photo courtesy of The New Era

[illustration] Illustrated by Dave McDonald

[photos] Photography by Matthew Reier