Random Sampler

By Small and Simple Things

Jessica Edwards–Englestead, Virginia

Years ago a severe car accident left me with chronic back pain. Because of a bad reaction to a cortisone treatment, I’m unable to sit for more than 45 minutes at a time or lie down for more than two hours unless I am connected to an electronic device to ease the pain. But I have learned to use these precious snippets of time when I feel well to be of service to the Lord. There is much that I and others in similar situations can do even when we are homebound.

Callings. As a visiting teacher, I contact the sisters who have requested only phone calls or written correspondence. I’m also a visiting teacher supervisor, and I enjoy sending out birthday cards from the Relief Society.

Family history. I began by entering information on Personal Ancestral File. My daily goal then was to increase my time sitting at the computer by one minute. I would do this several times a day. When I finally gained Internet access, I had over 700 names in my computer files that I had entered in just three months. About a year after that, I submitted more than 40,000 names—and I’m still going strong. There are also volunteer opportunities to index names from home. Just log on to FamilySearchIndexing.org to get started.

Friends. I have a list of friends who are homebound like me, and I call them regularly to visit and make sure they’re doing well.

Overlooked projects. The baptismal clothing for our ward was not sorted well. I asked to have it delivered to my home, where I organized it into boxes labeled by size and type of clothing.

Though I’m limited in what I can do, I feel immense joy and inner peace as I serve Heavenly Father and those around me in small and simple ways.

We Can All Learn

Amanda Merrill, Texas

Since being diagnosed with dyslexia as a first-grader, I have come to understand that my disability doesn’t prevent me from learning. It just means that I learn differently than many of my peers. Here are a few things that teachers have done to create an ideal learning environment for me; the ideas may also be helpful for those teaching other people who struggle with learning disabilities.

Visual aids. Because it helps me to both see and hear a subject, I appreciate it when teachers provide pictures or other visual aids relating to the lesson. However, an excessive amount of text, illustrations, or photos (for me, more than three or four visual aids) can prove distracting from what the teacher or other class members are saying.

Focused material. Rather than presenting all pictures, notes, or quotes at the beginning of a lesson, place them on the board as they are discussed. This can help all learners—including those who do not have learning disabilities—focus on the current discussion.

Short quotes. Long quotes posted on the board can be overwhelming and difficult to comprehend for people with dyslexia. For me, keyword summaries work better. Similarly, it’s difficult for most class members to read and comprehend long scriptures or passages of text without a discussion. I feel grateful when teachers pause during or after the reading of passages to provide opportunities for questions, explanations, and clarification.

Sensitivity to readers. As a child, I dreaded reading aloud because I was self-conscious about my ability to do so. When a teacher asked us to “go around the room” and each take a turn reading, I would cringe. Although I don’t mind reading aloud now, I appreciate teachers who are sensitive to class members’ preferences and abilities.

These suggestions are based on my experience. Some people may like more visual aids than what I am comfortable with, for instance. The best way to find out the particular needs of those you teach is to ask them.

I am thankful for leaders and teachers who have taken the time to find out about my specific learning needs. The compassion they have shown in doing so has made a tremendous difference in my gospel learning experience.

Family Home Evening Helps

Family Night Notebook

Sarah John, Utah

You’re thumbing through a Church magazine and see a great lesson idea. But by Monday night you’ve either forgotten about it or can’t find it without a lot of searching. It’s a good thing there’s an easy solution: simply cut out or copy the article or picture and slip it into a binder or notebook kept specifically for lesson ideas. Using a few tab markers, you can easily organize a growing collection of lesson material by basic gospel topics.

Early in our marriage, my husband had an erratic work schedule that left him little time to prepare family home evening lessons. But with the binder, he could quickly select a topic he felt we needed to study. As a result, we enjoyed consistent lessons and established a good Monday-night habit. Now that our children are old enough to take turns leading family home evening, we still have plenty of lesson ideas in the binder if they choose to use it.

It’s easy to update our lesson notebook whenever we read the Church magazines. We cut, copy, and save as we go so we are always prepared for family night.

Left: illustration by Joe Flores; right: illustration by Beth Whittaker

Do you have ideas for Random Sampler? We invite you to send short (less than 500-word) articles on any of these topics related to practical gospel living:

  • Teaching ideas for home or church, especially for family home evening

  • Personal or family financial management tips

  • General health and physical fitness tips

  • Home production and storage ideas

  • Gospel-related holiday traditions that build testimony.

Please see the “Do You Have a Story to Tell?” box on p. 2 for submission instructions.