Julio Cesar Merlos of the Arlington Texas Stake writes: “I remember when my brothers and sisters and I were growing up. We were new members of the Church, and our family didn’t have many financial resources, but we had faith in the gospel. My father set the example for us by his scripture reading. For him, family home evening was an opportunity to teach us what he himself was learning.
“One of my father’s family home evening lessons really made an impression on me. That was the time he taught us about agency. I remember the words my father spoke: ‘I want to give you a piece of advice to remember for the rest of your lives. When you are tempted to disobey the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity or any other commandment of God, think about whom you are sinning against. Is it God, the Church, your parents, your family, or yourself? I want to tell you that the one you are sinning against the most is yourself.’
“As I grew up, tests came to me that were as serious as the ones my parents warned me about. I tried to remember the advice my father gave us that night. Twenty-five years after hearing my father’s counsel, it still fortifies me greatly and makes me stronger. Now my children are hearing the same advice from me.”
Edevanir Leopoldino of the São Paulo Brazil São Miguel Paulista Stake remembers a family home evening that changed his life. He was 16 years old and not a member of the Church when he stopped at his friend Leandro’s house to see if Leandro wanted to attend a local dance. His friend instead invited Edevanir to share in his family home evening. Not sure what to expect, Edevanir reluctantly agreed to take part.
Of the evening, Edevanir writes, “It was great!” Leandro’s brother was going on a mission, so the family home evening was a going-away party. Edevanir recalls: “The Spirit of the Lord touched me in such a way that I felt a warmth inside me so strongly that I didn’t know what to do, and I felt a joy so grand that I could no longer feel alone.
“After that family home evening I began the missionary discussions and soon was baptized. The following year I was called to serve in the Brazil Porto Alegre Mission [later the Brazil Santa Maria Mission]. Just eight years after that special family home evening with Leandro, I am now sharing family home evenings with my own family.”
A family home evening doesn’t need to be at home to be memorable. Lyubov Salimova of the Donetsk Ukraine District shares a special family home evening she experienced while vacationing at the seashore. Her sister, who lived nearby, had invited her to family home evening at 8:00 p.m. “Much to my surprise, however, long before the appointed hour, my sister met me at the seashore. ‘It won’t work out at home,’ she explained. She tried to smile, but the smile came out wry and forced. I felt that she was doing her best not to start crying. She was having problems at home. Her suggestion to have family home evening right there on the seashore was surprising in its absurdity. All around, people were walking, sitting, sunbathing, and laughing. Nevertheless, I agreed.
“We placed our towels across from each other and lay down on them. We bowed our heads and prayed. My sister had the July 2002 Liahona, in which general conference talks were published. She began reading a talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley. It seemed that each of his words explained to us how to conduct ourselves in relation to other family members. As we read the words of our living prophet, I saw that my sister had grown calm, having found support in the Holy Ghost, which was liberally poured out on us. We felt like beloved daughters of God, able to go farther in order to fight for good. Our souls were at peace.”
Carla Santivañez Castro of the Lima Perú Surco Stake writes: “I remember one family home evening in particular. We four children were very attentive to the lesson Papa shared with us. We participated in wonderful games. We not only had a lot of fun, but we learned about the Savior. The thing I remember most about that night was seeing my parents so happy as they enjoyed this time with us, their children. Many times I have remembered the joyful feelings of that night.
“Now my beloved husband and I have the opportunity to hold our own family home evenings and experience the joy I saw in my parents. My hope is that someday our children will feel the same love, warmth, security, and safety in our family home evenings that I felt that night so long ago.”
Berengere Caviale of the Nancy France Stake writes: “A few weeks ago, during an interview with one of the members of the stake presidency, I was given the challenge to hold regular family home evenings. Since I am single, I did not feel it was necessary to have family home evening, but I did commit to trying it as an experiment. The following week I put my commitment to the test, although I was somewhat skeptical. I began with a prayer and then sang a few hymns. From that moment I was able to feel the Spirit very strongly. Then I read a passage in the Bible about the life of Christ. I read it, wrote down some comments, and then decided to follow His example. I ended with several hymns, which lifted my spirit. During those 45 minutes of family home evening, I was able to hold on to a bit of heaven!”
A challenge faced by some families is how to reach and inspire young children during family home evening. Christine Carter of the Syracuse New York Stake writes: “I recently attended the temple to receive my own endowment, and I wanted to hold a family home evening about the importance of the temple. I had prepared well, but my six-year-old son, Tyler, was inattentive and disruptive. I felt discouraged and ready to cancel the lesson.
“Prompted by the Spirit, I looked my son in the eyes and asked him, ‘Do you know that attending the temple is the most important thing you need to do?’ The impact of those words was incredible. He was sobered and became interested in learning about the temple. We marveled over the pictures of the temples and wondered about the mansion Jesus Christ is preparing for our return to Him. We put together a puzzle of the temple and then did it again because we had so much fun. We sang ‘I Love to See the Temple.’ Later, Tyler decorated our hallway with pictures of different temples. He also decided to make a temple switch plate cover for the hall light, complete with his own drawing of the Salt Lake Temple. Now every time we turn on the light we can remember that the temple lights our way to return home to the Lord.
“I am so grateful that the Spirit guided me during our lesson and that I did not give up on teaching my son of the importance of the temple.”
“Draw your children around about you. Teach them, guide them, and guard them. There was never a time when we needed so much the strength and the solidarity of the home.”
President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973), “Follow the Leadership of the Church,” Ensign, July 1973, 95.