Welcome to Cyber Family Home Evening

Then one Monday night a couple of months ago, my daughter Samantha and her husband Mark called and reminded my husband that he had once suggested that we have an online family home evening. They suggested that we meet them online with Yahoo IM (instant message) and share a lesson. Derek and I had a webcam, so even though we couldn't see them, they could see us. We shared a lovely lesson and had a great time talking. This was the birth of what was to become our very own cyber FHE.

Down to Business

Sharing a spiritual lesson with our kids 1,400 miles away was such an enjoyable experience that my husband immediately went online and ordered inexpensive webcams for each of our kids. The next week was even better. This time we had three small windows on our computer monitor: one with Samantha and Mark, one with our son Chi and his wife Heather, and one showing Derek and me.

Derek officiated, asking for a volunteer for the prayer, then announcing any business pertinent to the whole family. Chi gave the lesson, and afterwards we just goofed off. We used our webcams to show each other changes to our homes, recent birthday gifts, favorite pets left behind when our kids went to college, and most importantly, real-time images of our daughter's and daughter-in-law's baby bumps as they grew bigger with our first two grandkids.

No Need for Extra Chairs

The next week, our son-in-law's parents in Connecticut joined in and shared the evening with us, and a week after that, my sister in Louisiana was logging in. Now on our monitor, we have two or three webcams logging in from Connecticut (Mark's parents and two of his brothers' families), two from Idaho, one from Nebraska, one from Louisiana, and most recently, one from Mark's sister-in-law who is in the military in Germany. Our monitor is now covered with eight little windows.

Our cyber FHE has been a source of great joy to us. We have gotten to know our son-in-law's family better. And my sister, currently on her own in Louisiana while working on her doctorate, doesn't end up feeling alone for FHE. Even my eighty-one-year-old mother sits in and participates. Her hearing is very bad, so my husband types in a synopsis of what is going on so that she can keep up. It's our own version of personal closed captioning.

What a wonderful thing it is that eight families across America (plus Germany) can see each other and share a spiritual message. We feel renewed and reconnected to our family. The sadness of being separated geographically is eased by this wonderful opportunity to reconnect each week.

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