Helping Children Be Missionaries

As parents of five, we are teaching our children to recognize their missionary opportunities. Every week in family home evening we take a few minutes to discuss what opportunities each family member had during the seven days to be a missionary and how each person responded to them. We talk about different options for the situations. This way family members learn how to identify moments when they can share the gospel.

Our weekly discussions have enabled our children to share the gospel in ways I never thought of as a child. When our son turned eight and schoolteachers wished him a happy birthday, he made a point of telling them he was going to be baptized and how excited he was about it. When we lived in western New York, our daughter was assigned a local history project. She announced that she was going to report on the history of the Church and the restoration of the gospel. At the end of her report, she invited her classmates and the teacher to attend the Hill Cumorah Pageant. The next fall she found out that the teacher had attended the pageant.

Our children are learning what constitutes a missionary opportunity and how they can live their beliefs. They learn to give the full name of the Church and not to refer to it by nicknames that might be confusing. Having guests in our home or inviting them to a Church activity often leads to even more missionary work.

Occasionally one of us will admit that we had a good opportunity that we simply didn’t take. Then we analyze why not and discuss appropriate options. Family enthusiasm helps us overcome embarrassment or laziness. We consider it a success any time a family member chooses to be a missionary or to share some information about the Church.

Discussing our missionary moments in family home evening and then asking for strength and guidance during family prayer encourages family members to renew their efforts to identify new opportunities and to keep missionary work in their personal prayers. Our children now actively look for opportunities on their own and eagerly report to the family for feedback. Their enthusiasm encourages me to be a better missionary too. By helping each other this way, we are growing in our own capabilities to share the gospel.Laura F. Nielsen, Cupertino Ward, Saratoga California Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker

Keeping Balance in Food Storage

The question is sometimes asked: How do we plan a food storage program? Since our bodies have certain nutritional requirements, we need to choose carefully the food we keep in storage. A well-balanced storage plan should include these essentials: carbohydrates, fats and oils, protein, salt, and water.

Carbohydrates: Starchy foods, such as those made from grains, and sweet foods, such as honey, sugar, or molasses, are representative of the carbohydrate group. Starches and sugars are used mainly as sources of energy. In countries or locations where applicable, wheat can be the mainstay of a storage program because it contains not only carbohydrates but also some oil and some amino acids that can be converted to protein. Similarly, corn and other grains may be stored to add other nutrients to the diet and to provide variety. A benefit of eating a mix of grains together in one meal, such as wheat and corn, is that the body may better utilize various amino acids found in each grain to construct complete proteins.

Fats and oils: Some fat and oil can be found in almost all grain and animal food, but additional fats and oils should be stored. Fats are easily digested and provide the most calories for the least amount of weight of any common food. They need to be stored in a cool place and rotated frequently (see Oscar A. Pike, “Storing Fats and Oils,” Ensign, June 1999, 71).

Protein: Our bodies need protein to stay healthy. Growing children, sick or injured persons, pregnant or nursing mothers, and those doing heavy physical labor need a significant source of protein each day. While a mix of grains may provide complete proteins, other sources should also be stored. These could include canned meat or fish, dried eggs, or powdered milk. In some countries soybeans or dried fish might store better. When you prepare soybeans to eat, cook them in a pressure cooker or, preferably, roast them until they change color. Cooking them at a high temperature inhibits certain chemicals that could stunt growth in children. Commercially prepared products made from soybeans, such as TVP, are safe to use.

Salt: A necessary part of our diet, salt should also be stored. As part of our storage plan, we place a small packet of salt in each container of grain. Then, if a portion of our food storage were to be lost, we would still have salt to use when preparing our grains.

Water: It is suggested that a two-week supply, or 14 gallons per person, be kept on hand for emergencies. Some people may also wish to make provisions to purify water for drinking. Boiling is generally helpful, or chemical additives or filters can be kept on hand to purify water during emergencies. When using chemical purifiers, read and follow directions carefully and allow enough time before drinking to be sure the chemicals have had time to work.

With careful planning, families can organize a well-managed food storage program that meets individual needs and preferences.Donald G. Starkey, Haines City Ward, Winter Haven Florida Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Finding Joy with Preschoolers

If you are a mother of young preschoolers, do you ever find yourself feeling drained by the demands of children? Do you ever crave adult conversation? As a mother of six children, I know that at times I have answered “Yes!” to those questions. I began searching for ways to better meet my needs and those of my children while more fully enjoying my experiences as a mother. The following ideas have helped.

Have fun with the children. One day I realized that when my husband arrived home each night, our children typically ran to tackle him with shouts of delight. He often stopped to spend a few minutes with the children, wrestling on the floor or playing airplane with them. As I watched, I realized I seldom spent time just playing with my children.

I decided to set a play time every day. First I made a list of fun things my children and I could do together, such as coloring, playing tag, and other fun ideas, then I made time each day to play. I soon found myself laughing and enjoying being with my young children.

At bedtime my husband and I began spending a few minutes with each child, talking, singing, or reading stories. Those have become happy times for us.

Handle children’s needs respectfully. I begin each day with a prayer that I might understand my children’s feelings and handle them with tenderness. During the day I make a real effort to be more respectful when replying to them. When several children are upset at the same time and I am overwhelmed, I feel more confident if I take a deep breath, say a quick prayer for guidance, and then speak in a quiet and gentle manner. This can help us all feel calmer and better able to find the best solution.

I have also allowed the children to take more responsibility for their needs. This has meant allowing more messes to be cleaned up by the children at their own rate, which required much patience on my part. As I have done this, the children seem happier and more confident.

Another helpful idea has been to identify those times in our day that seem most stressful: mealtimes, bedtimes, and getting ready for church on Sunday. I thought deeply about what we could do to make those times go smoother and found that, in most cases, better preparation takes away a lot of the stress.

Fill my own empty bucket. After lunch each day I put the youngest children down for naps and take the others to their room for a quiet time with toys or books. I let the children know that this is Mommy’s quiet time too and that they are to play quietly. After the children are settled, I turn to doing something I want to do for about an hour. This break in the middle of the day gives me a chance to renew myself and do something that is important to me. About once a week I swap baby-sitting with a neighbor, and we both enjoy the benefit of a few hours to ourselves.

Another way to take care of my own needs is to spend time each day with my husband. Each evening we wait until the children are in bed, then spend time talking together. This adult conversation helps us to feel we are partners in our home and gives us an opportunity to share our responsibilities and concerns with one another.

As I have realized I had the means of bringing creative solutions to stressful times, I have found myself experiencing more joy in my role as a mother.Jonene Ficklin, Ben Lomond Fifth Ward, North Ogden Utah Ben Lomond Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker