“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller

Many Happy Returns

by Lisa Grover
Editorial Associate

Birthdays are exciting, whether you celebrate them with a simple cake and your favorite ice cream, or by throwing a surprise party for your best friend. Birthdays celebrated creatively can make lasting and happy memories, both when you’re giving and when you’re receiving. Here are some ideas on how to celebrate birthdays in an original way:

On Your Parent’s Birthday:

  • Write your testimony in a birthday card. It’s the best present your mom or dad could ask for.

  • Make an agreement with your brothers and sisters not to argue for one whole day.

  • Do your assigned chores without being asked.

  • Cook a favorite meal for the family, and then do all the dishes and cleanup.

  • Find a favorite snapshot of the two of you together and frame it.

  • Entertain a younger sibling so your mom or dad can have a few hours to relax, read a book, take a walk, etc.

  • Find out how your mom and dad celebrated birthdays when they were your age. Then try to re-create one or two events.

  • Tape-record friends talking about a happy memory they have of your mom or dad. Wrap the tape up and give it as a gift.

On Your Birthday:

  • Surprise your friends by giving them small gifts.

  • Give your mother a flower; thank her for the gift of life.

  • Read your journal entry from your birthday last year. If you don’t keep a journal, your birthday is a great time to start.

  • Think of one way you can strengthen your testimony in the coming year—be more consistent with scripture study, pray more often, or share the gospel with others.

  • Thank your Father in Heaven for the gifts you receive from him daily (see Mosiah 4:19).

  • Write thank-you notes to people who are important in your life: friends, family, and teachers, especially.

  • Have someone take pictures of you and your friends in front of your house. Make the picture an annual event so you can see how you change over time.

  • Since it is the beginning of a new year in your life, make a list of ten birthday resolutions. Review your progress on your half birthday.

On Your Friend’s Birthday:

  • “Arrest” your friend and hold a birthday trial. Have people give evidence to prove it really is the person’s birthday. Have the “judge” award the appropriate number of candles at the end of the trial.

  • Copy the front page of the newspaper from the day your friend was born and give it as a gift. Newspapers on microfilm can be obtained at your local library.

  • Make a “thanks for the memories” card. Write sentences or phrases that will remind your friend of fun and funny times you’ve had together.

  • Give your nonmember friends a Book of Mormon with your testimony written inside the front cover.

  • Fill a basket with their favorite snack food and secretly deliver it to the doorstep on their birthday.

  • Slip a birthday note into their locker at school, or, if you know the combination, fill their locker with small balloons.

For Your Grandparent’s Birthday:

  • Sing happy birthday over the telephone with the rest of your family.

  • Promise to write a letter once a week for an entire year—then keep that promise!

  • Tape-record favorite books, poems, or scriptures for a grandparent who can no longer see.

  • Fix a fancy dinner and listen to the music your grandma or grandpa likes best.

  • Go to a matinee movie of your grandma or grandpa’s choosing.

  • Help with a chore that is difficult or unpleasant. Yard work, shoveling snow, or vacuuming might be some possibilities.

  • Tell them that you love them.

Eagle Project Takes Off

Boy Scout Christian Washburn, inspired by the strength and courage of his younger sister who has had cystic fibrosis since birth, decided to organize a fund-raiser for cystic fibrosis research as his Eagle Scout project.

“Laura Beth has a continually positive attitude,” says Christian. “During all those times in the hospital, good or bad, Laura Beth would always have a smile for you.”

Christian’s project, a walk-a-thon, raised more than $50,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s research.

Christian and ten other Scouts in the Orange Sixth Ward, Orange California Stake, all received their awards at the same time.

“I’m proud to have been a part of this great effort, and I’m proud of my sister,” says Christian.

Mormon Moose?

Seminary students in Farmington, Maine, had an unusual visitor to their early-morning seminary class—a 240-pound moose named Matthew. Because Matthew was abandoned by his mother, he was adopted by a couple in the ward and became the talk of the town. Matthew also served as a good missionary tool, since people connected him with members of the Church.

Last spring, Matthew was released back into the wild, but his friends in seminary will never forget his visit.

These Officers Have Class

Although only about 3 percent of the student population at South Pasadena High School is LDS, those who are hold a high number of student government positions. Kevin Ning, Daniel McNairy, Chris O’Neil, Jason Postelwait, Christina Cortez, and Suzanne McNairy, all members of the South Pasadena Ward, California Pasadena Stake, have left their marks as leaders in class, student body, and pep club.

Through their examples, these students have left favorable impressions on both their classmates and their teachers. In fact, one teacher commented that “it would be a good year with so many Mormons in office.” She wasn’t disappointed.

All of the students are active in ward and stake activities, and all of the young men are currently preparing to go on missions.

Goal Getters

Neither rain nor earthquakes nor dark of night can keep the young women of the Mission Hills Ward, Los Angeles Van Nuys Stake, from achieving their Personal Progress goals. During one recent six-month time block, these girls reached more than 230 goals, with some girls passing off as many as 20 each. Rachel Wheeler, pictured above in the wheelchair, was able to finish 34 goals. The girls received special recognition at their annual New Beginnings program.

Super Sister

Keri Lister, a high school student at Harry Ainley High School in Edmonton, Canada, is known for many things. She was elected as the president of the 2,400-person student body. But even more important, Keri is known for her high standards and missionary efforts to the many nonmembers in her high school.

Because Keri is so vocal and positive about her religious beliefs and values, she has come to be known around school as “Sister Lister” by members and nonmembers alike. Keri is a seminary student and a Laurel in the Edmonton Seventh Ward in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

All Aboard!

Girls in Grand Forks, North Dakota, got a real-life taste of what Noah’s Ark was like. But instead of braving a flood, these girls sailed toward friendship, love, and a stronger testimony of the scriptures.

Besides the normal camp activities of hiking, tying knots, and building fires, these girls spent part of their camp time constructing and spending time inside a mock ark. The ark helped the girls understand how involved building the ark must have been, and protected them from heavy summer rains!

Testimony meetings and other campfire activities were held inside the ark. These events helped the girls grow closer to each other and to their Heavenly Father.

After camp was over, the girls agreed the project helped them “get on board the gospel.”

High Adventure

True rough-and-tough camping is alive and well deep in the heart of Texas, where girls of the Boerne Ward, San Antonio Texas Stake, went on a three-day high adventure.

“The trip began with a training meeting where the girls divided themselves into teams of two or three for sharing tents and cooking meals. They learned how to stay safe and comfortable in a primitive environment,” says their leader, Linda Bohman.

While they were on their campout, the girls went swimming, canoeing, rappelling, had devotionals, and went exploring.

After such a rigorous activity, everyone was ready to come home.

“Wow, it was hard, but I did it!” said one girl.

We Need You!

In our October 1992 edition of FYI, we printed dozens of goals to be put into a jar and then pulled out one at a time and worked on. We recently received a letter from a reader requesting a new set of goals—she had completed all the goals we provided in the original feature!

We need your help in creating a new set. Please send your goal ideas to the New Era, 50 East North Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150. Goals should be about one sentence long, should focus on spiritual and service topics, and should be easy to complete in one day. Goals in the last segment went something like this: “Today I’ll keep working on whatever it is I’m doing until I’m finished.” Look for your goals in a future issue!

All Sewed Up

Chris Rose of Provo, Utah, wasn’t pulling the wool over anybody’s eyes when he won the national “Make It with Wool” competition in Sparks, Nevada, last January with a coat made of black wool and leather.

Previously, Chris came in fifth in the national competition with his “coat of many colors” made from a wool blanket. From that win, Chris has developed a keen interest in clothing design and sales, and plans a career in clothing design after his mission.

With the national victory, Chris won a scholarship, a serger (a special kind of sewing machine), and a gift certificate for wool and clothing design supplies.

Photography by Welden Andersen