Twiddling Thumbs

by Jeanette Waite Bennett

—What to do if you’re bored

“There’s nothing to do here!” Youth around the world make this claim. So is there a place where there is something to do?

Yes. And it’s right where you are. But it may take a little creativity on your part to make it happen.

Not every day will be full of exciting entertainment all around you. Sometimes you’ll have to invent your own things to do. The key to staying busy is having a positive attitude about trying new and different activities. Being service minded will also give you an eternal perspective about being “anxiously engaged” (see D&C 58:27).

Here are a few ideas to get you going.

Around the house

  • Read newspapers and magazines and cut out articles that interest you.

  • Clean your room.

  • Plant flowers in your yard.

  • Read the scriptures or Church magazines.

  • Write a song about your life.

  • Learn ten words in a different language.

  • Call a radio station and request a song.

  • Experiment in the kitchen—invent a recipe.

  • Start your life history.

  • Write down some short-term and long-term goals.

  • Mend your own clothes.

  • Plant a vegetable garden; care for it daily.

  • Help plan the next family vacation.

  • Write a poem to someone you like.

  • Call or write to your grandparents.

  • Paint a picture.

  • Send away for information about colleges and other youth programs.

  • Do chalk drawings on the sidewalk.

  • Make salt dough. Play Pictionary with clay sculptures.

  • Learn the alphabet in sign language.

  • Write an article for your favorite magazine.

  • Write down five things you like and five things you dislike about yourself. Think of ways to work on what you dislike.

  • Find out about your parents when they were your age. Ask them questions and also look through yearbooks and photo albums.

  • Read biographies of great people.

Around town

  • Get a job.

  • Join a ward or local choir.

  • Learn to play an instrument.

  • Join a city athletic team.

  • Adopt a pet—maybe an ant colony.

  • Go on a bike ride.

  • Play on your elementary school playground; notice how much you’ve grown.

  • Volunteer at a hospital.

  • Try a new sport.

  • Go to the library. Do some research and find out what happened the day you were born.

  • Volunteer to help read to children at a local elementary school.

  • Get a roll of film and take pictures around town with your friends.

  • Go to the airport and watch planes take off.

  • Go to the mall and pretend you have a $1,000 shopping spree. Figure out what you’d buy with the money.

Cold Hands, Warm Hearts

Alaska in February may not be anyone’s idea of warm, but Mia Maids in the Sterling Ward, Soldotna Alaska Stake, spread the sunshine of their love and smiles year round by helping others. For Valentine’s Day this year, the girls made small gift baskets and took them to the elderly sisters in their ward. Even more important than the treats in the baskets, though, was the time the girls spent visiting the women and finding out about their lives. Here’s what the girls had to say about the project:

“It was a wonderful activity that brought us together. I am so happy to be able to serve, especially the elderly people.”
—Sally Van Dyke

“I enjoyed making these baskets because I got to be with my friends and it was a lot of fun. (It always is when we get together.)”
—Megan Maxwell

“It was so nice to visit some of the older people in our ward and hear their interesting stories.”
—Shannon Christenson

“Those ladies are so happy and bring joy to my life.”
—Rachel Cook

Pajama Pals

When the youth of the Clayton Valley Second Ward, Walnut Creek California Stake, found out a group of orphans in Lithuania were living in severe poverty, they set out to make pajamas for all 96 of them.

“We had to cut the fabric out, and then we had an assembly line going. It was really fun. We all got to work together,” says 16-year-old Amanda Silvester.

Some spent the evening sewing sleeves, others ironed, and still others decorated lightweight tissue paper to wrap the gifts in. The completed pajamas will be sent, wrapped in their custom wrapping paper, with a tape of the youth singing to the orphans.

“I think it will be neat when they get them, because it may be the first present lots of them have ever had,” says Amanda.

“I think our youth realize how much we have, and they are more than happy to share with others. It’s really been a great project,” says Young Women president Marilyn Hulme.


A rest home may not seem like the best place to go for a night of fun and action, but the young men and the young women of the Spokane Third Ward, Spokane Washington North Stake, found that with lots of enthusiasm and a great attitude, almost any place can be fun.

The youth donated items from home that were no longer in use (planter boxes, games, etc.), and then took them to a local rest home to “auction” to the residents there. Each youth was paired with a resident and given play money to “buy” items with.

“I wasn’t sure I would like this, but it was really fun,” says deacon Luke Shaw.

The youth enjoyed the activity so much, they are considering going once, going twice, going three times a year!

Man with a Mission

At 18, Wellington, New Zealand’s, Tony Fitisemanu can hardly wait for his next birthday, when he’ll finally be able to serve an official mission. He’s been doing missionary work for years now—going out with the full-time missionaries and talking to his friends at school about the gospel.

“I especially like to talk about the plan of salvation,” says Tony, “because my friends are always asking, ‘Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?’ Because I go to seminary, I’ve learned how to show them the answers in the scriptures. If I don’t know the answers to all their questions, I ask my parents.”

Tony, his parents, and his five brothers and sisters moved to New Zealand from Samoa eight years ago, and have introduced a number of their friends to the Church. Several have been baptized. Their family is very close, but there’s always room for others to join in and feel right at home.

Serving South Africa

When Billy Jackson sees a need, he looks for ways to fill it. And the need for service is all around Billy in his home of Pretoria, South Africa.

When Billy arrived in South Africa he decided that he wanted to make a difference in his new home. Today a mother-child nutrition center and a well that brings water to thousands of people has been constructed as a result of the plans Billy proposed. Billy also recently organized a clothing drive which distributed 40,000 pounds of clothing to those in need.

Billy, a teacher in the Sunnyside Ward, Pretoria Stake, has also helped in assisting a local homeless shelter, a cancer hospice, and a women’s health center. He was recently recognized for his service as the recipient of the Foreign Service Youth Award. The award, which is given by the U.S. government, goes to one student each year who is living overseas and shows dedication to community service.

Cultural Exchange

Of all the activities the girls in Nuremberg, Germany, participated in at camp, the game they played the most was probably charades. Actually, it wasn’t really a game; it was a necessity as American girls (daughters of American military officers stationed in Germany) and German girls joined together for camp.

“This was my favorite camp,” says Amber Burdick of Burley, Idaho.

Amber may have loved camp because she and many of the other American girls were able to share a favorite tradition with their German friends. Or it may have been because of the games, food, and friendship they shared. But for most of the girls, camp was great because of the spirit they felt, no matter what language they spoke.

“At this camp, we realized that without the Lord’s help, we couldn’t see each other as we really are,” says Kyla Richardson, a camper from Vilseck, Germany.

Acting Up

Using construction paper crowns, plastic swords, beach-towel robes, and an old bed sheet or two, seminary students in Farmington, Missouri, taught a memorable lesson to the Primary children in their ward.

The class studied some of their favorite stories from the Book of Mormon and then re-enacted them in Primary Sharing Time. With a little innovation, and the healthy imaginations of the Primary, a ladder became the tower of King Noah, the front of the room became a battleground, and a chair became a fire pit where King Noah was put to death.

Re-enacting the stories wasn’t just good for the children; it was also a strength to the seminary students involved.

“The stories really came alive to me. I realized they were true stories that actually happened to real people,” says Tiffany Clark.

Other students said that learning the stories well enough to act them out has helped them remember significant happenings in the scriptures.

“Now we know the stories well enough that we could do this again without a rehearsal,” says Dylan Higginbotham.

Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice

These young men from the Terra Vista Ward, Rancho Cucamonga California Stake, took advantage of the time they spent waiting to get into general conference by reading their scriptures. Despite a long drive and hours in line, the boys say they had a great—and spiritually uplifting—time.

Photography by John Luke