Twelve-year-old Annette Luthy is a writer with one hand-written book—Helpful Hints to Kids—already to her credit. She started writing the book when she was ten, and she has been writing stories since she was six. Since 1984 Annette has been living in Helsinki, Finland, where her father, Melvin Luthy, serves as president of the Finland Helsinki Mission. She learned to ice-skate there, and she goes on long bike rides with her mother and friends and swims in the Gulf of Finland when it’s not too cold.
Besides their other classes, boys and girls in Finnish schools can choose a class in either carpentry or handwork. Annette chose handwork and learned to knit the European way. A winter hat, a sweater, a baby’s dress, a purse, and a pencil case are only a few of the many handwork projects that she has completed. Annette excels at school and is well liked by her Finnish classmates. One year she was voted the most congenial member of her class and awarded a small sum of money.
When Annette isn’t writing or reading—she’s an avid reader—she helps with the family cooking, organizes drawers and closets (hers and other people’s), and plays with her sister Michelle (10). She has another sister, Melanie (16), and a brother, Mike (19).
Annette’s Helpful Hints for Kids is a sprightly and charming book. In the chapter “Ways to Save Up,” she describes several workable ways to earn money, one of which admonishes the reader that there are seven steps “to do a good bake sale (read thoroughly): (1) plan, (2) get a partner, (3) make sure you have everything, (4) get some change, (5) make signs, (6) prepare, (7) price. … If business doesn’t pick up, lower prices a few cents, and either you or your partner can … walk or go by bike and ‘advertise’ the sale.”
In the same chapter, under the heading “Saving,” she writes that a saver “must have will power. … Don’t let peer pressure get to you. It can get pretty demanding at times … , but don’t buy something that’ll cut you short … of money.”
Annette advises in the chapter “Coping with Brothers and Sisters” that “if you get into [an argument], … just end the argument by saying, ‘Well, my opinion is different.’ And just leave it at that.”
“When you are talking with one of your friends,” Annette suggests in the chapter “Friends,” “… DO NOT INTERRUPT!!! And let her [or him] get in some words. … Don’t just keep spurting ideas. …
“In order to keep a good friend, you have to spend time with them—quite a lot.”
Anne Luthy, Annette’s mother, knows Finnish well, and she helped translate Annette’s testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel onto the inside cover of several copies of the Book of Mormon. Annette took the books to school, where she is one of only three members of the Church, and gave them to five of her teachers and several of her classmates. She also found occasion to tell her friends the Joseph Smith story.
Annette says that “being in the mission field is a wonderful experience. I have seen how missions affect the lives of missionaries, and have seen what missionaries really are—what mission work really is. Being here has made me want to go on a mission more than ever.”