Helping Home Evening Succeed


Teens in the Philippines are learning that they play a big part in having good family home evenings.

Lehi, the Book of Mormon prophet, never saw a PowerPoint presentation during his travels from Jerusalem to the promised land, so Erika Santillan isn’t sure what Lehi would think about being in one. But Erika’s family thought it was great.

Erika, a Laurel in the Cainta Second Ward, Taytay Philippines Stake, enjoys family home evening, but she admits that sometimes it’s easier to be interested in some lessons than others. So when it was her turn to give the lesson, on Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8 [1 Ne. 8], she wanted to make it fun.

“We watched a Church video and talked about it,” she says. “Then I did a PowerPoint presentation on Lehi’s dream to help us visualize it better.” She grins. “It was really high tech.”

Erika’s enthusiasm and creativity didn’t just help her family understand the scriptures better; it helped them enjoy other blessings of family home evening too.

Youth all over the Philippines are learning that they play a big part in making family home evening successful.

The Secret to Success

Filipino youth are some of the many around the world who have discovered the secret of a successful family night: the more you’re willing to put into it, the more you’re likely to get out of it.

It all begins with having a good attitude and being willing to participate, according to Michel Angelene Ramirez, a Laurel in the Taytay First Ward: “It helps make it fun.”

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has encouraged youth to play a role in making family home evening successful:

“The full burden of planning and preparing for family home evenings should not be left to parents alone. The most successful ones I have witnessed are when the youth of the family take an active part.

“I call on you great deacons, teachers, and priests, you Beehive girls, Mia Maids, and Laurels to make a major contribution in the success of your family home evenings” (“Therefore I Was Taught,” Ensign, May 1994, 37).

Your participation doesn’t have to be a high-tech computer presentation. These Filipino youth are finding simple ways to contribute each week. Just offering a prayer, reading a scripture, leading the music, or being in charge of a treat or activity can bring a spirit of harmony and set a good example for brothers and sisters.

And then there’s giving the lesson. It makes some nervous, but giving a lesson can be a good experience. “I still remember the first lesson I gave,” says 17-year-old Milliza Anne Ramirez, who goes by Li-anne. “It was on how kindness begins with me.”

“I remember one lesson I taught,” says Li-anne’s sister Michel Angelene. “I gave the lesson using the poster on foul language [see New Era, Apr. 1991, 15]. We videotaped the lesson so we could send it to some of our relatives. We still watch it sometimes,” she laughs.

“Participating in family home evening helps our family become closer,” says Kyla Medes, a Mia Maid in the Taytay First Ward.

The Blessings of Success

These Filipino youth have discovered that holding family home evening brings some specific blessings to their families, including increasing communication between family members, bringing family members closer together, and learning gospel principles.

“In family home evening we talk about Jesus Christ, the Church, and the problems we face,” says Rhea Reyes, a Beehive in the Taytay Second Ward. “We pray together for God’s guidance and blessings. That strengthens us.”

“We can just talk,” Kyla says. “We learn about how the Church works, how much Jesus loves us, how prayer really works.”

“We enjoy being together. We learn, we have fun, we get to communicate,” says Michel Angelene. “When we communicate, it brings us closer together.”

The youth are especially grateful for the opportunity home evening gives them to speak openly with their parents. “It lets me talk to them about serious things,” Erika says. “Family home evening is a great way to talk with your family.”

These blessings strengthen families and can bring family members closer together. Even though it’s sometimes hard to pull off a family night when the world is pulling everyone in different directions, the effort is worth it.

“Every time we have family home evening, it helps us through the week,” says Dwayne José, a priest in the Cainta First Ward. “If we don’t have it, my week feels incomplete.”

Something Wonderful

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“Out of those simple little [family home evening] meetings, held in the parlor of our old home, came something indescribable and wonderful. Our love for our parents was strengthened. Our love for brothers and sisters was enhanced. Our love for the Lord was increased. An appreciation for simple goodness grew in our hearts. These wonderful things came about because our parents followed the counsel of the President of the Church.” —President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Family Home Evening,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 3.

Monday Night in Manila

Monday night in Manila doesn’t seem much different at first glance than any other night. Traffic in the city moves like a million ants all trying to use the same narrow tree branch to crawl in two different directions at once. Except these ants honk.

We were trying to get to the Velascos’ house so I could see a Filipino family home evening in action, but rush hour wasn’t cooperating. Finally our guide announced he was taking a shortcut, and we pulled onto a narrow street packed with people buying and selling items at small roadside stands. The shoppers were enjoying themselves, laughing and calling out to one another. They paid little attention to our compact car inching its way through their open-air shopping center.

When we finally arrived at the Velascos’ at the other end of the market, the contrast was astonishing. As we walked into their home, the hustle and bustle outside seemed to simply fade away.

They hadn’t sat down for a lesson yet, but family night had already started. Six-year-old Stephen sat on Sister Velasco’s lap while she and Brother Velasco chatted with Grandma and Grandpa. Kevin and Kirby, 14, laughed about something 15-year-old Naomi had said. Katrina, 11, was setting out the scriptures and hymnbook.

After we had met everyone, the family sat down together. Grandpa offered an opening prayer. Brother Velasco talked about talents. During the discussion the family switched easily between Tagalog and English whenever one language suited better than the other. Katrina and Naomi took turns reading the parable of the talents from Matthew 25:14–30. Brother Velasco pulled out his guitar and shared one of his talents in song, then passed the guitar to Kirby, who played a song too. Sister Velasco helped Stephen say the closing prayer, and everyone stepped into the kitchen for a special treat, homemade pizza.

While everyone was chewing, I had the chance to ask them their feelings about family home evening.

“What’s your favorite part?” I asked Kirby. Unfortunately, he had just taken a bite. “The refreshments,” he said around the mouthful. Everyone laughed.

“The laughter,” Naomi said as their fit of the giggles passed.

“What has it done for your family?”

“It has helped us bond,” Kevin said. “That’s what happens when you share your thoughts and feelings.”

It was a good answer, but I wanted to make sure he wasn’t saying it just because I was there. “Does it really?” I asked.

They all nodded. “Because of family home evening, we have become closer,” Naomi answered. “We’re more friendly to each other.”

That was obvious. The blessings of family home evening were obvious too. And it was with great reluctance that I said good-bye and stepped back out into the endless rush of a busy world.

[photos] Photography by Adam C. Olson and Thomas S. Child

[photos] These youth in the Philippines don’t just enjoy family home evening; they enjoy making it fun. Opposite page: Kyla Medes. Above: Erika Santillan, Kyla, Milliza Anne Ramirez, and Michel Angelene Ramirez. Inset: Dwayne José.

[photos] Every Monday night the Velasco family steps out of the world to enjoy time together. Top: Kirby, Kevin, Brother Charles Velasco, Katrina, Sister Janette Velasco, Stephen, and Naomi read an article from the Liahona. Above: Kirby plays the guitar.