Teens are already self-conscious without adding the intimidation of trying to share the gospel. Want to learn a few simple steps for being a member missionary at your tender age? We're here to help.
Practical (and easy) instructions for something we all know we should be doing.
Interviewing family members about family history can be like using a water pump - you might get a gush of stories that need to be "filtered" afterward. Or you might get just a few drops. Have you ever asked a relative about your family history? The experience is like lifting the handle on an old-fashioned water pump. You never know what’s going to come out. Maybe nothing: maybe the pump doesn’t work anymore or its source has run dry. Or you may prompt a sudden torrent that soaks your shoes and disappears into the ground before you can catch it. You may luck into a perfect stream of water—then find it too muddy to use.
Preparing for a family history interview is like preparing to collect water from that old pump. You may have to “prime the pump” before any information spouts forth. You need to be prepared to catch a burst of names or stories, and you may need to filter a bit before the content is meaningful.
Prime the pump
I find old-fashioned water pumps at parks and beaches, where they are used infrequently or only seasonally. To get the water flowing, I pump the handle several times. I listen for a gurgle in the pipe below and feel for a tell-tale resistance in the pumping rhythm before I expect results.
When we ask our relatives to remember names, dates, and stories, we are asking them to dig deep into memories they may not often access. Ease them into the process and wait patiently for them to recall things. Ask them to think about topics in advance: “When I see you this Christmas, will you please share some of your memories of Christmases past?”
My favorite “pump-priming” technique is a casual conversation. I ask about their lives in general: career, education, family. I let them lead the discussion and note whom and what they love to talk about—and which topics they avoid. I may ask whether they know much about their parents or grandparents. A conversation likes this serves several purposes beyond priming their memory pump. Showing sincere interest builds trust and rapport. Gathering facts helps me prepare meaningful interview questions. Knowing their pet topics and any emotional boundaries allows me to steer future conversations appropriately.
Christmastime is here. While you may already have most of your ward party finalized, check out these ideas for wrapping up some of the details and taking your party to the next level.
Carols. Candy canes. The ward Christmas party. These signs of the season are just about to arrive. Since wards no longer have formal activities committees, the coordinators of this annual event will vary from ward to ward, but the following tips will help anyone host an unforgettable Christmas bash.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
The holiday season is full of neighborhood and work get-togethers, so how do you find the perfect day for your ward family’s celebration? Earlier in the month may be more convenient since families are still in town and kids are still in school. Plus, not stressing about the details of the ward party later in the season leaves you time to enjoy it, too. Weekend evenings or Saturday mornings work well, but coordinating with the young men and women leaders to host the party on a mutual night lets you accomplish two purposes in one evening.
Deck the Cultural Hall
Don’t let finding decorations for your party seem like a chore. Instead of spending time and money assembling brand new centerpieces, borrow holiday decorations from a few ward members. Maybe someone has a collection of holiday tins to display or those spare ornaments and bells would look great presented in a jar. Edible accents for centerpieces like red and green M&M’s are always a hit—and they practically clean themselves up!
To make the decorations more interactive, hold a decorating contest. Get each table the same centerpiece—like a small Christmas tree or a box to be gift-wrapped—and tell guests to come prepared to decorate for their dinner. Award extra points for arriving on-time, and have the bishopric or a ward-decorating expert select the best of the bunch. The winning table gets to go through the buffet line first.
Does the daunting thought of writing your life story overwhelm your desire to record it? Take a deep breath. The project is entirely doable if you start with a few simple steps. Recently my friend Cindy Johnson expressed frustration that she hasn’t recorded her richly-lived life in journals. “Now I’ll have to resort to writing my memoirs!” she lamented. “I don’t even know where to start.”
Whether you’ve kept regular diaries or not, you may easily find yourself like Cindy—wanting to write your life story but overwhelmed by the prospect. There are so many reasons to write: to share life lessons, relive cherished memories, introduce ourselves to future generations, or acknowledge the hand of the Lord in our lives. But life isn’t just one story. It’s a series of stories about events, people, circumstances, struggles, and growth. Some of these stories unfold simultaneously and some aren’t over yet. Some are painful; some are half-forgotten. We’re not even sure what some of them mean. So where do we start?
Start with What’s Interesting
Some people think they should begin their story-telling with the story of their births. But you don’t remember your own birth, and it’s likely not your most interesting story, anyway. Don’t bore yourself at the outset. Instead, begin with a memory that is:
· interesting or meaningful to you right now;
· clear and vivid; or
· on your mind lately.
The point is to get something on paper without getting stalled by hazy memories, raw emotions, or boredom.
Write a few of these interesting, vivid memories before attempting a full life history. You’ll get your memories flowing and find your story-telling voice. You’ll be drawn into your own story, which will give you the motivation to tell more.