Visiting a less-active member can at times be intimidating. When I received a new visiting teaching route that included a less-active sister, I put the assignment on my refrigerator door, where it stayed for a month while I mustered up the courage to call her. When I finally did call, I got a chilly reception.
While I was struggling with this assignment, I happened across a scripture that changed my attitude: “Lovest thou me? … Feed my sheep” (John 21:16). I realized that as a disciple of Christ, I needed to reach out to His sheep that have strayed. Instead of thinking of this woman as hostile, I began to think of her as my sister—a child of God—who needed to be loved back into the fold.
As I visited with this sister, and later with other less-active members, I discovered a number of things that have improved our friendships.
• Be a true friend. At first less-active members may act cold toward home or visiting teachers, but don’t give up. As you continue to come by with a smile and show interest in them as you try to share a message, they will realize that you are sincere in your offer of friendship.
• Keep them informed. Call less-active members and keep them informed of upcoming ward events. While some may not be ready to attend church, they may be willing to join other ward or branch activities.
• Offer rides. Invite them to ride with you to ward or stake meetings and events. Arrange for Primary, Scout, or Mutual teachers and advisers to offer rides to family members who may not otherwise be able to attend auxiliary functions. Once they attend, they will likely make friends with other ward members.
• Bake a treat. Once, when a sister would not return my calls, I left cookies on her doorstep along with an inspirational message. She called the next day to thank me.
• When appropriate, share a gospel message. Some sisters really do long for a spiritual uplift despite their unenthusiastic response. Share a short spiritual message or leave one in a note. Include your testimony of the love Heavenly Father has for her, and include your own feelings of love for her family.
• Seek common interests. Invite a sister to go with you to take a class, shop, or attend a sporting or cultural event.
• Remember special days. A birthday card or telephone call shows you care, and bringing special treats on holidays can brighten any family’s day.
• Pray for them. As you remember your less-active sisters in your daily prayers, you’ll find you have increased awareness of their needs and new ideas of things you might do that may further soften their hearts.—, College Station Second Ward, College Station Texas Stake
Family Home Evening Songbooks
A few years ago our ward Primary music leader informed me that my young son was reverent in Primary, but he wasn’t singing the songs. I was surprised; I knew he liked to sing. When I asked him why he wasn’t participating, he said he didn’t know the words. So I decided he needed more reinforcement at home.
I asked the music leader what songs the Primary children were working on. Then I made copies of the songs from the Children’s Songbook (1989), enclosed them in clear protective sheets, and put them in binders for each family member. During the family home evenings that followed, the family member with the assignment to pick the songs would choose from our songbook.
It worked! This process helped our son learn the Primary songs, and it gave the rest of the family an opportunity to learn them as well.
Because of this successful experiment, our family has continued this each year. In January we ask the music leader what songs are in the new Primary sacrament meeting presentation. Then we add copies of these songs to the front of our songbooks. Even children too young to read can learn the songs when they hear them often.
Primary music leaders may be able to help in this process by regularly providing parents with the names of songs the children are working on. Since many parents do not have copies of the Children’s Songbook, where possible music leaders may want to provide copies of the songs for the children to take home.
Keep in mind that due to copyright restrictions, some of the songs in the Children’s Songbook may not be photocopied; those songs have a notice at the bottom of the page. Page 301 of the songbook has guidelines and restrictions for copying music.
Parents may also help children learn the songs by using the Children’s Songbook recordings available through Church distribution centers or by making their own customized tapes of the song.—, Ledgewood First Ward, Morristown New Jersey Stake
Walking Your Way to Good Health
Several years ago I realized that amidst a busy schedule of family, church, and work activities I was not getting the physical exercise I needed to stay healthy. I sought a beneficial activity I could easily work into my daily routine and found it in something I had been doing all my life: walking.
Walking improves strength and endurance, helps build healthy bones and muscles, helps control weight, reduces anxiety and stress, increases self-confidence, and may improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Walking regularly reduces the risk of diseases such as osteoporosis, coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes mellitus. Walking is also often appropriate for people whose condition does not allow them to do more strenuous physical activities.
The following ideas may help you integrate walking into your everyday life:
• Walk to church if distances allow. Plan to leave home a little earlier each Sunday if necessary.
• If possible, walk to work or your source of transportation. In addition to starting your workday on the right “foot,” you will save money on travel and parking costs.
• If you ride to work, park your car or get off the bus a few blocks early. This will give you a few valuable minutes of exercise even if your trip is too far to walk all the way.
• Walk children to a nearby school instead of driving them. This can teach them good habits about active living and will help reduce traffic congestion near the school. Babies in strollers can go along too.
• Walk to a local store instead of driving to a bigger one farther away. Reduced transportation costs in some cases make up for higher prices at a smaller store.
• Take a walk at lunchtime or on a break. You will find yourself refreshed and more alert afterward.
• If your health permits, climb stairs instead of using an elevator. Do not overdo it; climb an appropriate number of stairs for your age and condition.
• Turn off the television and take a walk for recreation. The world around you is glorious and full of amazing details only evident when you pass by at a walking pace.
• Find a walking partner. Go for walks with people you want to spend time with.
• If you are planning a move, consider a location within walking distance of your most frequent destinations (for example, church, school, workplace, grocery store).
Walking affords time to think, unwind, or spend time with others while providing the moderate physical activity that increases personal fitness.—, Connors Hill Ward, Edmonton Alberta Bonnie Doon Stake