Prune Creek and Other Memories

As I began to organize and write our family’s history, I realized my memories of each of our five children, now grown, weren’t complete or accurate any longer. Since I wanted our history to bring back memories as well as contain dates and places, I made up a questionnaire for each of our children to fill out and return to me.

The questionnaire contained a number of different categories. The first was “favorite toys.” One of the children listed a toy fort, and I recalled the day my husband and I drove into Billings, Montana, to purchase it.

A favorite activity appeared on two boys’ questionnaires as “dirt clod wars.” I recalled all the neighborhood boys gathering in a vacant lot, choosing up sides, and throwing dirt clods. My boys came home dirty but happy.

Two other lists were “favorite places we went” and “favorite things we did.” The children included our trip to Spokane for the World’s Fair, camping on Prune Creek, and visiting the beaches of northern California.

Under the heading of “favorite food,” I noticed that the broccoli haters of the past now enjoy eating it as adults. Asking the children to list the names of their friends and their favorite ward activities brought back memories and added useful data to our history.

The five children also remembered a variety of illnesses and injuries. Reading their comments helped me recall the time when three of them had the measles, the family bout with chicken pox, and several trips to the emergency room for sprained ankles or broken bones.

An important part of the questionnaire called for “favorite pets.” I remembered the dogs, most of the cats, a donkey named Stanley Jack, a mare named Red Lady and her colt Charley Horse, and our racing pigeons. But I’d forgotten about the hamsters, the guppies, a parakeet, and a garter snake I found one morning in John’s bed after he left for school.

Besides giving me these memories from their childhoods, our children have laughed and reminded each other of many do-you-remember-the-time stories. Now, as parents, they have shared these recollections with their own children. Our family memories have given us perspective and appreciation for the great blessing we have enjoyed of being a family.Catherine R. Slaughter, Bountiful Seventh Ward, Bountiful Utah South Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Vital Documents at Your Fingertips

If we were to have a fire or other disaster in the middle of the night, the first thing I would grab (besides my flashlight, bathrobe, and slippers) would be my portable file. I have organized a legal-size, expandable file folder containing the following valuable documents:

  • Bank account, credit card information.

  • Birth certificates.

  • Children’s vital information (adoption and guardianship papers, special medical needs, fingerprint records).

  • Funeral, mortuary, cemetery plans.

  • Insurance policies (life, home, health, automobile) with a list of company names, agents, premium due dates, cash values.

  • Marriage certificate.

  • MedicAlert information.• Military papers.

  • Real-estate documents.

  • Retirement benefits.

  • Social Security cards.

  • Vehicle titles, registration, identification and license plate numbers.

  • Wills, living wills.

  • Additional documents: citizenship papers; safe deposit box (number, location); stocks, bonds, other investments; tax papers; affiliations; lists of debts.

The idea for organizing our family’s most important documents in a portable file stemmed from a presentation I attended years ago, and I have used the file ever since. When my husband was hospitalized, medical personnel required a copy of his living will. I knew right where to find it and quickly made a copy for them. Keeping my file current is easy. Every year as I prepare year-end summaries for tax purposes, I also update my file.

While it is important to store some original documents in a secure place, having copies at my fingertips has brought me a measure of peace. I know that in the event of an emergency, I am as prepared as I can be.Berneice Neeley, Riviera Ward, Salt Lake Granite Park Stake

Follow the Liahona

Families who like the outdoors will enjoy this family home evening activity based on the Liahona. The only materials required are a copy of the Book of Mormon, a pencil, slips of paper, and masking tape. Optional supplies: (1) a picture of Lehi holding the Liahona or (2) a compass or Styrofoam ball painted gold to look like the Liahona.

Start the activity by reading 1 Nephi 16 [1 Ne. 16], which describes how Lehi found the Liahona in front of his tent. Ask questions such as “What did the Liahona do?” “In what ways did it guide Lehi’s family?” and “How are the scriptures like the Liahona?” Emphasize that the Liahona pointed the way the family should go in the wilderness and that writing appeared on it from time to time.

Next, leave a trail of notes giving directions to the “promised land.” You could leave the notes in your backyard, a park, or even a trail in a nearby canyon or forest. (Just be sure the children remove the notes after reading them.) When our family held this activity on a canyon trail, my wife walked with the children, and I was waiting at the end of the trail to give each person a big hug.

Here are some possible messages to write:

  • At the top of each note, write, “Follow the Liahona.”

  • Where children have to choose to go left or right, leave a message saying, “Choose the right.”

  • Where they should keep going straight, write, “Follow the strait and narrow path.”

  • Where the trail leads to a dead end, write, “Detours can be dangerous.”

  • Near the end of the journey, write, “You are almost to the promised land. Endure to the end.”

  • The last note could say, “Well done! You have reached the promised land!”

  • You could liken the notes to messages from the scriptures and compare reaching the promised land to entering into Heavenly Father’s presence. You could also leave notes with brief messages about the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

This activity took only a few minutes to prepare, but it proved to be a memorable adventure for our youngsters.Devan Jensen, Windsor Seventh Ward, Orem Utah Windsor Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker