Sharing Cultures

Leonard Heo-Moun, Tahiti

When I attended BYU–Hawaii, I lived with roommates from various parts of the world. In some ways it was a challenge because of cultural differences. But we learned how to work together.

If you’re in a similar situation, I recommend getting to know your roommates as soon as you can. Ask questions about them and their families. Discover what you have in common, and learn to appreciate one another’s cultures or backgrounds. Maybe you could share a favorite dish from home or do activities together.

Since you share living space, you’ll want to build a friendship on honesty and trust. So that you understand one another’s expectations, it’s good to establish apartment rules up front. Be respectful of each other’s property and space, especially shared space.

As you set a good example for one another, you could be establishing a long-lasting friendship. I’ll never forget a nonmember roommate from Brazil who always helped me remember to choose the right. Years later we are still friends, sharing the good things about each other’s religions.

Illustration by Joe Flores

Budgeting for Unexpected Expenses

Alena Johnson, Utah

As I counsel and educate individuals about using a budget, I find they often struggle with three stumbling blocks. But I quickly reassure them that there are solutions.

Irregular expenses. Car registration, insurance, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and school expenses are all examples of irregular expenses—something that you know about but that don’t occur every month.

Solution: Establish a revolving savings account. Start by listing all irregular expenses. Add them up for the entire year and divide the total by 12. This will give you a set dollar amount to include in your monthly budget. A good place to keep this money is in a basic savings account. You can even create an automatic withdrawal from your checking account to be deposited into your savings account. This process transforms irregular expenses into one regular expense.

Large, unexpected expenses. A car repair, an extra medical bill, or a broken appliance are some of the many possible budget wreckers.

Solution: Create an emergency fund. This will also help if you experience an unexpected drop in income. Though the potential unexpected expenses can seem overwhelming, try to decide how much you can realistically save each month. Even if it’s a small amount, commit to that goal. It will eventually add up.

Small, unexpected expenses. These might include children’s school expenses, a donation to a fund-raiser, or a wedding gift.

Solution: Create a miscellaneous category in your budget to fund such expenses.

When we do our part, budgeting stumbling blocks, such as these, don’t have to be permanent. Though we cannot foresee all possible financial obligations, we can show the Lord we are wisely using the resources He has given us.

Family Story Ideas

Sharman Tullis Gill, Washington

Does it seem like an overwhelming task to record your personal and family histories? Actually, it may be more doable and enjoyable than you think. I’ve discovered some fun ways to broaden how we might preserve our precious history.

Ancestral safari. Organize an outing where family members retell old stories at the sites where they occurred. This is a great opportunity for grandchildren to learn about their ancestors. Don’t forget an audio tape recorder and camera to preserve everyone’s recollections. Perhaps make it an annual tradition.

Family recipe book. Collect favorite family recipes and any memories or stories associated with them. You will probably find that reminiscing about the aromas, textures, and tastes of favorite foods will bring back a flood of memories. You can work solo on the project or make it a cooperative effort.

Memory books. Compile a book of recollections focusing on a particular person, such as a child. You might include handwriting samples, news clippings, schoolwork, and photos. Be sure to include your own memories or journal entries about the person.

Heirloom stories. Any heirloom becomes more meaningful if it’s presented with a simple written history about its original owner. You could include how the individual acquired it, how it was used, original cost (if known), and any family stories associated with it.

Quilts. Create a stitched family history using such materials as favorite pieces of clothing, blankets, or curtains. Perhaps the quilt could be put together over the years as a child grows up. When it is finished, include an heirloom story, sharing the memories associated with the various fabric pieces.

Family Home Evening Helps

Conference Family Home Evening Idea

Natalie Greaves, Arizona

After two days of sessions, general conference is finished for six months, right? Not at our house. My husband and I decided to incorporate topics learned at conference into our family home evenings. After the last session of conference, we pick six topics from conference for our family to discuss, one each month until the next general conference. Along with this simple schedule, we choose either a supporting scripture, an article of faith, or a related quotation from a General Authority.

Some of the topics we have discussed include the Atonement, the importance of our bodies, Joseph Smith, pioneers, reverence, scripture study, and temples. We post our topic list in the kitchen. We also keep our monthly scripture or article of faith handy at the dinner table so we can memorize as we eat.

We take turns preparing and sharing our conference-themed lessons. Our family is strengthened as we study and do what our leaders have taught us.

Illustration by Beth Whittaker