Barbara R. Matson, Washington
Several years ago I had the impression that my grandchildren wouldn’t live near me for long, and I wanted to spend lots of constructive time with them while I could. With their mothers’ permission, I invited the children over to my house twice a week for two hours each time. We called it “Gramma” school.
We started our days together with prayer and talked about Heavenly Father. We emphasized good values, enjoyed scripture stories, and colored religious pictures. And that was for starters. The possibilities of what we could do together were endless. I didn’t spend a lot of time preparing, nor did I spend much money. I just brainstormed ideas or found activities in books.
A few of our favorites included dancing while I played the piano, baking goodies, making play dough, and exploring nature. We also learned the alphabet and sounds of each letter, which helped the children become early readers. We studied insects under magnifying glasses and picked apricot blossoms to make “popcorn” balls while we sang “Popcorn Popping” (Children’s Songbook, 242). We picked autumn leaves, carved pumpkins, and told stories (while wearing homemade costumes) about pilgrim ancestors. We even had dress-up parties wearing Great-Grandma’s hats and outfits.
My feeling that the grandchildren would move away proved to be true. Fortunately, I had taken pictures of all our activities so I could make a simple keepsake scrapbook for each child. Now that I’m the “too-far-away Grandma,” as one grandchild puts it, I travel for visits, plan reunions, and use the telephone, recordings, mail delivery, and e-mail to keep in touch. I love being a grandma and am grateful for the knowledge that families can be eternal.
“Hi, I’m New”
Josi Kilpack, Utah
In our first six years of marriage, my husband and I moved five times, so we had a lot of practice getting to know people in each new ward. We quickly learned that if we waited for others to make us feel at home we might have to wait a long time. But it wasn’t that way when we did our part. Here are some ideas for getting to know people in a new ward.
Show up. Though it may seem intimidating to attend a new ward, go the first Sunday you’re there. The longer you wait, the harder it will be. Along with your Sunday meetings, do your best to support home, family, and personal enrichment activities, youth activities, and other ward get-togethers.
Speak up. Don’t be afraid to offer your insights during class. Sharing your thoughts and life experiences within the context of the lessons is an excellent way to let others get to know you.
Sign up. There are many opportunities to serve in your new ward. Whether it’s taking someone a meal, saying a class prayer, making a dessert, or helping to clean the meetinghouse, be eager to volunteer. This not only gives you the opportunity to serve, but it also puts you in contact with others who wouldn’t have known to ask for your help otherwise.
Clean up. When you attend activities and complete the service you signed up for, stay a little longer to help clean and put things away. This shows you are interested in being part of the ward family. It also gives you the opportunity to meet more people.
Meet up. Introduce yourself to the new bishop as soon as possible. We found it helpful to pay tithing on our first visit. It opens the door for conversation and demonstrates commitment to gospel covenants.
Our Ward’s “Instant” Choir
Gayle Spjut, Kentucky
When our ward choir sings in sacrament meeting, it sometimes seems there are more people in the choir than in our congregation. And they sing with spirit and enthusiasm even though they have not rehearsed together even once. How do they do it? They participate in our ward “instant” choir.
To attend practices before or after the meeting block or during the week would not be feasible for many in our ward. So our music leader, Sister Julie Lynch, chooses a favorite hymn and gives the ward a few weeks to practice it at home. On the third Sunday, everyone who wants to participate makes their way to the choir seats.
Instant choirs aren’t intended to replace traditional rehearsals and performances where they are feasible. But the idea might be considered one of several options to help “every ward and branch in the Church … have a choir that performs regularly” (Hymns, x).
Helping Children Remember Him
Amanda Noll, Washington
How do you convince four young children to sit reverently during Church meetings? For a long time, my attempts to do so were in vain. And my solution—toys—was often the cause of our distractions.
In an attempt to remedy the problem (or at least curb it), I came up with a useful family-night activity. I gave each child a small, inexpensive photo album, to be enjoyed only during sacrament meeting. I then provided various pictures of the Savior for them to cut out and paste throughout their albums.
Now on Sundays, my children eagerly anticipate the time they have to view their special books. Not only does our family benefit, but everyone seated near us can focus better too. The key part of our Sunday worship can and should be spiritually edifying for everyone, including our little ones.
Left: Illustration by Joe Flores; right: illustration by Beth Whittaker