Soup and Swap

Several years ago our ward leaders realized that some of our members needed household goods while others had excess items. We needed a way to share with everyone, so we decided to have an annual “Soup and Swap” activity. After the Christmas holidays, when people are likely making room for new things, we have a ward exchange. Prior to the activity, ward members sort their good, donatable items and place them in front of their homes. A description of large furniture or appliances is noted so their availability can be announced at the activity. Then the youth and their leaders collect what they can and take it to the meetinghouse. In half of the cultural hall, we arrange the items on tables labeled with categories such as clothing, shoes, linens, kitchenware, sporting goods, toys, and crafts, to name a few.

In the other half of the hall, we set up tables and chairs to enjoy a potluck soup dinner. After a nice meal we open the divider doors in the cultural hall, and everyone gets to do some free “shopping,” choosing whatever they can use. After the activity we donate any remaining items to a local thrift store.

We happily use our “Soup and Swap” items, even clothing that we know someone in the ward may recognize as a former possession. And it’s fair game to return items the following year if we no longer need them and they’re still in good condition. Through this activity we care for our own and provide for needs in the community while teaching our families about self-reliance and service.

Debbie Parker, Utah

[illustration] Illustration by Joe Flores

Chatting with Your Children

It didn’t take me long to learn that vague questions elicit vague answers from my children. So instead of asking the standard question, “How was your day at school?” and hearing the usual answer, “Good,” I started to ask more specific questions. The result? My children were actually eager to talk about things they had experienced or seen. These visits became a regular habit after school or following activities when I couldn’t be with them. To start some great conversations with your children, try asking questions such as the following, which show you really care and want to know how and what they’re doing:

  • What was something good that happened today?

  • Did anything bad happen?

  • What did you learn?

  • Did you see or hear anything that you have questions or concerns about?

Stacey Taylor, Illinois

Our Family Service Calendar

Our family loves to serve those in our community who sometimes go unnoticed. At the beginning of the year, I create a simple calendar of fun service projects, one for each month. We have left cookies for our garbage men, delivered goodies to our local firefighters, and visited a children’s shelter and hospital. One year in July we made flags and cards that said, “Thank you for keeping us free!” We then gave them to various veterans, one of whom became emotional as he shared how he had served in three wars. Because of these and other touching experiences, my children look forward to serving others all year long.

Erika Pack Whitmore, Nevada

[illustration] Illustration by Joe Flores

Family Home Evening Helps:

A Quiz for Couples

“What is your favorite gospel topic or scripture story?” “Your favorite hymn?” My husband and I tuned in to one another during family night to find out. Some of the answers to these and additional questions were very touching as we discovered more about our spiritual feelings and experiences. Since we have an infant, we enjoyed this activity just as a couple, but it could be easily adapted for an entire family. We simply wrote questions, such as the following, on slips of paper that we placed in a bowl. Then we took turns answering them and in many cases elaborated on why something was so meaningful to us.

Sample Questions

  • Why do you like to attend the temple?

  • How did you feel when you baptized someone on your mission?

  • Describe a time when your prayers were answered.

  • What do you remember most about the day we were sealed in the temple?

  • Talk about a time when you felt discouraged but were then comforted by the Spirit.

  • When have you felt prompted by the Spirit to do or not do something?

Brooke Bergin, Utah

[illustration] Illustration by Beth Whittaker