Scripture Study with Children

I remember how much my interest in studying the scriptures grew when I began marking them as a teenager. Wanting my elementary-age children to experience this excitement, I introduced a marking system that is simple enough for children yet meaningful for adults.

Red: Like a stop sign, this color reminds us what we should not do.

Green: A signal to “go,” green indicates what we should do.

Blue: We use blue to highlight the blessings we are promised if we obey.

Now when we read the scriptures together, the children, each with his or her own book, pay a little more attention when I remind them to get their pencils ready. They enjoy looking for scriptures they can color, and all of us are turning our scriptures into personal guidebooks.

Marianne Olson, Garden Grove Sixth Ward, Garden Grove California Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores

Activation through Visiting Teaching

I enjoy reaching out to sisters in my ward through the visiting teaching program. I have a testimony of the importance of these personal visits and make them a priority. Throughout the years, some of the sisters I have visited have been less active. As I have befriended them and helped them grow in the gospel, I have learned several ways to help activate and retain those I visit:

Fast and pray. To determine a sister’s needs, consider fasting and praying for her. Before each visit, pray with your companion to invite the Spirit and to seek guidance.

Befriend. Get to know her personally. Ask about her interests, her background, and her family. If you know how to do family history research, offer to help her start. Another way to build your friendship is to remember her birthday, anniversary, or children’s birthdays—information you may be able to obtain in a get-to-know-you visit. Celebrating the birthdays does not have to be expensive. The fact that you remember them is more important.

Inform and invite. Provide information about your ward and stake. Notifying your sister of leaders’ phone numbers, meeting schedules, and plans for upcoming activities is especially helpful. Invite her to Sunday Church meetings, as well as home, family, and personal enrichment meetings.

Listen. Sometimes the sister you visit will need a listening ear, not a solution. Try not to judge, and encourage her to seek help from the bishop or Relief Society president when needed. And if your sister wants to recount favorite memories from her vast life experiences, listen and respond politely. While it is important to share the visiting teaching message, be careful not to interrupt something your sister needs to say.

Introduce and include. When she attends Relief Society, be sure to sit with her. Introduce her to the presidency, to the sisters sitting nearby, and to those who share her interests. Also invite her to join your circle of friends for other social occasions. If she has a spouse or children, introduce them to members of the elders quorum, Primary, or Young Men and Young Women organizations.

Serve. Show you care throughout the year by sharing a start from your favorite plant, a batch of warm cookies, or a Church magazine. Especially meaningful are gifts of time. Try to help with something she needs to have done. Instead of saying, “Let us know if there is anything we can do,” offer assistance. If she’s been working in the yard, for instance, ask, “Could we help you plant your flowers?” Then let her decide if she’d like the help.

Uplift. Be optimistic in your visits. All of us experience challenges and need support from others. But as visiting teachers we should be careful about discussing our personal or family problems during visiting teaching. Focus on the sister’s needs, and if she needs a boost, contact her throughout the month with a short, unexpected phone call or a note of appreciation.

It is important that we reach out to everyone, and visiting teaching provides a wonderful way to do that. Stressing the importance of activation and retention, President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “Put your arms around those who come into the Church and be friends to them and make them feel welcome and comfort them and we will see wonderful results” (“President Hinckley Urges More Missionary Work in Venezuela,” Church News, 14 Aug. 1999, 7).

Bunkie Griffith, Irvine Fourth Ward, Irvine California Stake

Family Home Evening Helps: Five Family History Activities

What better month than February to help your family remember loved ones from long ago? With a little creativity, you can easily adapt the following family history activities for family home evening:

Play “What is this thing?” Display antique items or find pictures of items that your ancestors likely used. Have your children guess what each item is and how it was used.

Map your ancestors’ travels. Using a map of the country where your ancestors lived, locate their places of residence. If they moved often, discuss their modes of travel. Children will enjoy marking locations with stickers or colored markers and drawing pictures depicting their ancestors’ travels.

Prepare to visit a family history center. Discuss which ancestors you would like to know more about. Before the visit, choose one or two ancestors who you know are listed on the IGI or Ancestral File. Then watch as your children excitedly find them during their computer search. You can also create a similar activity at home by accessing the Church’s family history Web site at

Plan an “old-games” night. Choose activities children did long ago. Make paper dolls or slingshots and practice shooting inanimate targets outside in a safe place. For additional ideas, invite grandparents to share their favorite childhood activities.

Make old-fashioned musical instruments. Because resources were often limited, immigrants often devised their own musical instruments. With a little creativity, you can do the same. Strum an old washboard, clank a set of pots and pans, or clack an old pair of spoons between your knee and an open hand. Many household items make great “instruments.”

When we experience a small part of our ancestors’ lives, they become real to us—not just names and dates on a chart. Family history work then becomes personal as we help fulfill the prophecy to turn “the heart[s] of the children to their fathers” (Mal. 4:6).

Sharleen Wiser Peck, Brighton Ward, Rochester New York Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Beth Whittaker

Out of a Job?

A few years ago, my husband lost his job unexpectedly. To compete with other qualified applicants during a weak economy, we had to be very proactive in our search. Losing a job is never easy, but after fasting, praying, and continuing to pay a full tithe, we gradually learned some key points for surviving financially and finding employment:

File for unemployment benefits. Everyone’s situation is different. Therefore, it’s helpful to prioritize according to your needs. In the United States, it takes time to start receiving benefits. Contact your local unemployment office immediately to discuss your options.

Begin your job search immediately. Use as many sources as you can. Visit employment, recruiting, and temporary work agencies. Consult your ward or branch employment specialist, phone books, Internet sites, classified ads, and anyone you know who might be aware of job openings in your field.

Continue searching. Even if an interview goes well, continue to look for other opportunities. Being proactive will help you to avoid discouragement if the job is offered to someone else, and you won’t lose valuable job-search time.

Follow up. Until the job has been filled, potential employers often appreciate knowing if you are still interested.

Research health insurance options. In some situations, your health insurance may not be affected, but if it is through a private company, it may be discontinued. If you still have health insurance, take care of any medical or dental needs quickly. To ensure continuous coverage for your family, discuss your options with an insurance agent, a professional organization, or your school, if you are a student.

Be open-minded. You may need to accept a job that is not exactly what you hoped for or that requires relocating. Continuing to be optimistic will help you view the change as a new opportunity to enhance your career and to help your family grow.

As you search for a new job, stay busy, and try to maintain balance in your life. With persistence and the help of family and friends, you can do your part to successfully find new employment.

Rebecca B. Davis, Everett Fourth Ward, Everett Washington Stake

[illustration] Illustrated by Joe Flores