Monday, February 25, 2008

March Primary Activity Day (Letter to Primary Teachers)

Dearest Teachers,
Thank you for being who you are! You are beyond wonderful and we are so thankful to have you in our Primary. We have a primary activity day planned for Saturday March 8, 2008 from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM. The theme for this activity day is, “Looking and finding the Savior, Jesus Christ. The true meaning of Easter.”
We are asking that you could please show up around 8:20 AM to help decorate and set up rooms. In these rooms will be members of the ward dressed up as people from the scriptures who “looked and found” the Savior. They will give a short 4-5 minute presentation/testimony as that person and then the children may ask a few questions. After all the rotations, we will meet in the cultural hall for a short skit given by these people, sing a song, have a resurrection from the tomb focused snack, prayer and clean up.
So… what are my responsibilities as a teacher for this day?
1. To help bring in and set up simple decorations for the room of _________________________. Ideas may include, but are certainly not limited to ______________________________________________________________________________

2. Take a small group of 4-5 children from each room to room. (Depending on how many children show up it may be a larger group with 2 teachers per group)
3. Keep track of time! Each group will be in that room no longer than 10 minutes! Ideally, each room will take 7-8 minutes.
4. Stay for 10 minutes afterwards to help take down decorations, clean up and make sure the church is in proper order.

Words cannot really express our gratitude for all you do to help insure our children are growing in the gospel. 1 John 4:14 says, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” We hope and pray that this activity can help our children to feel the spirit and know the Jesus Christ really lives. Thank you again!
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns!

Much love,
Sister Lykes

March Primary Activity Day (Letter to witnesses/actors)

Dearest Friend,
Thank-you for taking the time to serve the children of our ward. Our primary activity day will be March 8, 2008 from 9:00 am – 11:00 am. Our theme for this activity is “Looking and finding the Savior, Jesus Christ. The true meaning of Easter.”
I have chosen ___________________________________ for you to portray the part of. We will have a room decorated for you in that character’s time and place. Please prayerfully study about this person who looked and found the Savior. You are then asked to come up with a 4-5 minute presentation AS THIS PERSON, sharing your story/ testimony about the Savior. Remember, these are children. You DO NOT need to “dumb it down”, but keep your vocabulary on a level they will understand. Please come in costume and let us know if you NEED ANY HELP!! The costume can be as simple or extravagant as you like, the idea is just to help the children visualize that person.
Teachers will be escorting the children from room to room. There are 6 different people being portrayed. Depending on how many children show up, you could be doing your presentation 3 to 6 times. We are telling the children to feel free to ask any questions, after you have finished. The total time in each room will be 7-9 minutes and the teachers will keep track of this. We will have something for you to give the children and put in their Easter baskets to help them remember who you portrayed. That something is ____________________________________________________________.
After all of the rotations from room to room, person to person, we will meet in the cultural hall for one last story, told by all of the characters together. Attached to this letter is that story/readers theatre. We will then have a song, some Easter treats focused on the resurrection from the tomb, and a closing prayer. If you could please stay for an additional 10 minutes to help clean, take down decorations, and put away chairs, that would be very much appreciated.
Again, many thanks! 1 John 4:14 says, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world”. It is so very important that our children learn this, may the Spirit be with you as you prepare and teach our young ones. God bless you always!

Much Love,
Sister Lykes

March Primary Activity Day- The True Meaning of Easter

Looking and Finding the Savior, Jesus Christ.
The true meaning of Easter.
Sparks, NV 5th Ward Primary Activity Day
March 8, 2008

Ask the children to bring some sort of Easter basket. As they enter the foyer it will be decorated by the activity day girls and duty to God boys. On poster board they will make some sort of art piece depicting their view of what the true meaning of Easter is. (Possibly take pictures and send to the friend) They can choose an Easter egg from a large basket (this will determine what group they are in). We will say prayer, have a short introduction (explaining that toady we aren’t looking for Easter eggs but something much more important, the true meaning of Easter) sing a couple Easter songs and then divide into groups (4-5 kids per group).

I found the Savior rooms. (Using GAK pictures on outside of the room) Each child will hear a short presentation from the following. Then they will receive something from each room for their basket. Each room will also have a small handout with the GAK picture of that person, a short summary of how that person found Jesus Christ and a scripture to match.
· Simeon and Anna (GAK 201, 205, 206) (Nativity Popsicle Puppet Set)
· A Blind Man (GAK 213) (Play dough)
· Mary Magdalene GAK 233 (bags of yeast?? He is risen? Boxes of Raisins-crossing out the
· The Brother of Jared GAK 318 (Clear stones from Michael’s)
· Joseph Smith GAK 403 (A CD filled with Easter Songs and Songs about Joseph Smith
and the Restoration from the Children’s Songbook)
· Jeffery R. Holland (The following talk and a lily)
Jeffrey R. Holland, “Friend to Friend: The Cactus, the Cross, and Easter,” Friend, Apr 1980, 6
Probably all of us have had experiences when we really needed someone to help us. I remember once as a small boy I surely did. While playing on a mountainside near our home, I fell into the middle of a huge, prickly cactus plant. Oh, did it hurt! The prickly spines of the cactus went through my sneakers, through my stockings, through my trousers, through my shirt—they went through everything! I felt like a human dart board.
Immediately I let out a cry that was loud enough to shake the mountains. I couldn’t move up, down, in, or out. Every movement I made seemed to send those needles deeper and deeper into my skin. I just stayed there and howled.
I was five years old at the time and my older brother, who immediately rushed to my rescue, was eight. He was overwhelmed at the sight of me and the complexity of my plight. Nevertheless, he began to pull out some of the spines, but they seemed to hurt more coming out than going in and I howled even louder. Furthermore, the pin-size wounds bled so when the spines were removed that after a few minutes I looked like an advertisement for Red Cross donations.
Finally my brother saw that his feeble plucking was hopeless. There were dozens of spines yet to pull, and I was still screaming at the top of my lungs. He did the only thing an eight-year-old brother could do. He ran down the mountain, got his small red wagon, and labored painfully to get it up the side of the hill to where I was awaiting death—I thought. With some tugging and hauling and lifting—and plenty of noise from me—he got me out of the cactus and into the wagon. Then in some miraculous way, known only to children and Providence, he navigated me down off that steep mountain in his wagon.
The rest of the story is blurred in my memory. As I recall, my mother got me out of my clothes and the rest of the prickly spines out of me. What I do remember clearly and will never forget is the sight of my brother tugging that wagon and determinedly making his way toward me. He was so concerned that he worked wonderfully hard to get to me. If I live to be one hundred, I suppose no memory of my brother will be more vivid than the view I had of him that day. I needed him desperately. And there he was, coming to help!
Easter is always a special time for us (to me it is the very best day of the whole year), and we should all try to remember that we once faced a most difficult problem and needed someone to help us. It was a problem much worse than a lost pet or a broken toy or a fall into a cactus plant. Through a long history of experience, beginning with Adam and Eve and stretching down to our own lives, it was a problem that if unsolved, would have left us in the presence of Satan and his hateful followers. We could then never be united again with our family, with our friends, and with our Heavenly Father who loves us. We would have been in a prison forever.
But Jesus, our elder Brother, did not allow himself to be captured by Satan. He was still safely outside the prison gates. In a way that we may not fully understand, even when we are very old, Jesus set us free. It was as though He had the only key to the prison door and that only He had the strength to swing it open. In doing so, He saved our lives so our families can be kept together and so we can someday return to our heavenly home. But He paid a terrible price to do this for us, a price for which we must give Him honor and reverence by keeping His commandments. He suffered a horrible death on a cross. In that anguish of physical and spiritual pain Jesus, too, momentarily thought He was all alone and without help, and yet He did not turn away from helping us.
Jesus died for us, and only the mountains that trembled and the sun that darkened seemed to understand the gift that was being given. Then something wonderful happened! One who had died and was buried came to life again in a special way called resurrection.
In the peaceful setting of a spring garden, Jesus arose from His burial tomb to live again with our Heavenly Father. And in some wonderful, miraculous way, He gave us the same power and privilege. I do not know exactly how this will happen, but I know that we have, through Jesus, been given the opportunity to conquer all doubt and despair and death. That is what Easter means to me.
Each year at Easter time, I would like you to remember how much nicer all the beautiful spring flowers look (and feel) than do those prickly cactus plants I once fell into. And I would especially like you to remember our Brother Jesus Christ to whom we owe everything, for He came to heal our wounds, calm our fears, and bring us safely home when we really, really needed Him.

Children will spend 10 minutes at each person’s room. I’d like to have rooms decorated (according to the time and setting of that witness to Christ) and witnesses in costume. Primary teachers will guide each group, room to room. The children will then be ushered into the overflow area again. The witnesses of Christ will do a concluding presentation. (as follows)

Easter Story (Adapted)
Marita Schugk, “Easter Story,” Friend, Apr 1992, 8

Simeon: What is the true meaning of Easter?
Anna: Jesus was a child, just like you. He had a body with arms and legs. Like you, He grew up too. The Bible says that He “grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40).
Simeon: Jesus loves you. He has always loved little children.The Bible says that He “took them up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).
Blind Man: One day Jesus told His friends that He was going away. He told them to remember Him and to love everyone.He said, “Yet a little while I am with you. … I say to you … love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13:33–34.)
Mary Magdalene: We take the sacrament bread and water to help us remember Him. Jesus took the sacrament with His disciples to show us that it is important. He said, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him.
Blind Man: He told His disciples (people who believed in Him) that on the third day after wicked men had Him killed, He would live again and never die anymore.
Mary Magdalene: He said, “All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man [Jesus] shall be accomplished. … They shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.” (Luke 18:31, 33.)
The Brother of Jared: In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus suffered and bled for the sins of all people. Those who repent and who believe in Him shall have eternal life.
Joseph Smith: The Bible says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).Later, wicked men had Jesus whipped and ordered Him to be nailed to a wooden cross.
The Brother of Jared: In the Bible, it says, “And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called … Golgotha: Where they crucified him” (John 19:17–18). Jesus hung on the cross a long time. And even though it wasn’t night yet, it became very dark.
Joseph Smith: The Bible says, “There was a darkness over all the earth. … And the sun was darkened.” (Luke 23:44–45.) Jesus died. His spirit left His body. The Bible tells us that Jesus said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Jeffery R. Holland: Joseph, one of Jesus’ friends, had His body taken from the cross and wrapped in fine cloth. Then His body was put into a tomb, and the entrance to the tomb was closed with a big rock. The Bible says, “And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door” (Matt. 27:59–60).
Joseph Smith: On Sunday morning, an angel rolled the big stone away from the door. When Mary and Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that it was empty, they were afraid.
Jeffery R. Holland: The angel told them, “Fear not. … For he is risen, as he said.” (Matt. 28:5, 6.) Jesus was resurrected. He was alive. His spirit and His body were together again. But Mary Magdalene did not yet understand this. She went back to the tomb later and cried.
Mary Magdalene: I wept, I stooped down, and looked into the [tomb]” and “I turned myself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.”Jesus called me by my name. He talked to me. I recognized His voice and knew then that He really had risen from the dead.
Simeon: Jesus showed Himself to others. They saw and touched His resurrected body. The Bible tells us that He told them: “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).
The Blind Man: Because of Jesus’ suffering for us, and because He was resurrected, after we die, we will be resurrected too. The Apostle Paul says, “For as … all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
Anna: This is the true meaning of Easter and why we celebrate it.
All : Jesus lives!!
The Brother of Jared: And because of His sacrifice, we will all live again and can be forgiven of our sins if we repent and believe in Him.
Sing an Easter Song and Have a closing prayer/blessing on the snacks.
SNACKS (Like a short cooking demonstration. Have the cookies baked before hand)
1c. Whole Pecans
1 tsp. Vinegar
1c. Sugar
Zipper Baggie
3 Egg Whites
Wooden Spoon
Pinch Salt
Preheat oven to 300° (This is important-- Do it now!) Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested He was beaten by the Roman soldiers. (John 19:1-3.) Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. (John 19:28-30.) Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. (John 10:10-11.) Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. (Luke 23:27.) So far the ingredients are not appetizing. Add 1c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. (Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.) Beat with a mixer for 12-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. (Isa. 1:18 and John 3:1-3.) Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. (Matt. 27:57-60.) Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. (Matt. 27:65-66.) GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. (John 16:20 and 22.) On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. (Matt. 28:1-9.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

March Sharing Time

March 16 Sharing Time 2008 Jesus Christ is my Savior.
Jesus Christ showed me how to do the will of
Heavenly Father.

Scripture: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).

“If the Savior Stood Beside Me”

Opening Activity: Hide a small picture of the Savior. Using very specific instructions, the child will go and find the picture according to your directions. Explain that obedience is listening and following the right way, which leads to the Savior.

Sharing Time: Pass out happy face and frowny face popsicle sticks to all the children. (For Jr.Primary) Using a variety of different stories (all having to do with obedience or the lack of) present to the children with as many pictures as possible. As you go through the stories, ask children questions, they can respond using their sticks. (E.G. Do you think the dog was obedient? Is this dress modest? Is paying your tithing showing obedience?) With Sr. primary, try to ask questions that provide opportunities for them to think about their own obedience. (E.G. When do you feel the spirit most strongly? What have you done to show obedience to Heavenly Father? How can you be like the Savior?) Have a child help you with each story, putting up the flannel figures as you talk. Seperate each story, with flannet figures, into large plastic bags for easiest organization.

Closing Activity: Playing the song “He Sent His Son” (CS 34) on a CD, flip through pictures for the children to look at of the Savior showing His obedience.

Possible Songs to Incorporate:
Fun To Do p, 253 Using activities that encourage obedience or service to sing about
The Third Article of Faith p. 123
Do As I’m Doing p.276 Using actions that encourage obedience or service to sing about
Baptism p.100
If The Savior Stood Beside Me
Quickly I’ll Obey p. 197 (All 3 verses)

Stories to present to the Children:
1. Marvin J. Ashton, “Friend to Friend: On the Path,” Friend, Aug 1972, 10
Flannel Board Pictures Needed:
1. Marvin J. Ashton 2.Dog 3. Mountain Lion 4. Deer 5. Rabbit 6. Chipmunks 7.Bird and Nest
I once had a friend who was a mountain lion hunter. He loved to saddle up his favorite horse, tie on the saddle bags, and make sure his gun was cleaned and ready for instant firing. One day while I was visiting him, I noticed he had a full-grown hunting dog tied to one of the sheds. “Isn’t he a beauty!” I commented. “He’s got to go,” my friend replied. “I can’t be bothered with him.” “Why? What’s the problem?” I asked in surprise. My lion-tracking friend explained that ever since the dog was a pup it had been trained to track lions. “He knows what I expect,” the man continued, “but the last time we were on a three-day hunt he took off after a deer and then a coyote and finally some rabbits, and was gone the best part of a full day. He knows he must stay on the trail of the lion to be one of my helpers. Our business is mountain lions, and this dog is bad for business. Now he’s for sale pretty cheap.” I felt sorry for that beautiful, healthy, yet disobedient dog. He couldn’t stay on the path that would keep a place with his master for him.
When I look back over my life to when I was just a small boy, I remember how hard it sometimes was for me to do as my parents asked. Baseball and basketball were more fun than practicing the saxophone, and there were times when I didn’t see the value of going to every Church meeting. I am grateful my parents helped me stay on the path of the Master until I was mature enough to choose the right for myself. Our Heavenly Father has explained to us how important it is to be obedient. “And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the thing which they suffer” (D&C 105:6). Our mothers, fathers, teachers, and our friends often scold us. Or we may have to do something we really don’t like to do (suffer) in order that we might become the mature and obedient citizens the Lord wants us to be.
All around us nature shows the value of doing what is right. If chipmunks do not store food in the summer, they will starve in the winter. If birds do not build proper nests before eggs are laid, the baby birds will die. As children of a loving Heavenly Father, we know that if we keep His commandments, we will receive the rewards He has for us. If we obey our parents, we will be blessed with the power to make right decisions, and someday we too might become good and loving parents and teach our children the right. I am grateful that loved ones, good teachers, and friends did not allow me to stray from the path of truth and right, the path of obedience.
2. Display Picture of Jesus Being Baptized
Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. John knew that Jesus was without sin, and so he thought Jesus did not need baptism. When Jesus explained that even the Savior must be baptized, John went down into the water and baptized Him. When Jesus came out of the water, John saw the Holy Ghost come to the Savior and heard Heavenly Father's voice bearing witness of His Beloved Son.
Nephi 31:7 “Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.”

3. Rex D. Pinegar, “Peace in Obedience,” Friend, Apr 1994, inside front cover
(Adapted from an October 1991 conference address. See Ensign, November 1991, page 41.)
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy (Ex. 20:8).
Flannel Board Pictures Needed: 1.Sea World Picture 2. Beach 3.Church Meeting House
4.Movie w/large R 5.Hymn Book 6.Immodest Dress2
One day I received a phone call from my grandson Joel. He had been invited to go with a group of schoolmates to Sea Camp in San Diego, California. There would be behind-the-scene experiences at Sea World—watching the trainers and helping to feed the sea animals. His dilemma was that the camp would be on a weekend, with scuba diving and beach exploring on Sunday. His parents had not wanted him to go but had allowed him to make his own choice. He had assured them that although he couldn’t attend church on Sunday, he would not swim. He said, “I can sit on the beach and be surrounded by God’s creations. Heavenly Father couldn’t feel bad about that, could He?” Joel wanted to know what I thought he should do. I answered with a question: “Joel, what do you think Jesus would want you to do?” His voice was a little choked up as he answered, “Grandpa, I don’t think He would be very happy with me if I do that on Sunday.” He decided not to go. It hadn’t been an easy decision to make, but it was the right one. We all have many difficult choices to make. There are many exciting things that, if we choose to do them, will lead us away from Christ. The movies and videos we choose to watch, the fun times we seek, the music we listen to, the clothes we wear, and the things we say are all influenced by the strength of our desire to follow Christ. In making our decisions, we may feel it is too hard to be left out or to miss out on what the world thinks is OK. When we do follow Christ, however, we will feel the peace and assurance that comes from making right choices. He will provide the courage necessary for those times when we have to stand alone.
4. Athos M. Amorim, “Obedience and Service,” Friend, Jun 1999, inside front cover
(Adapted from an October 1998 general conference address. See Ensign, November 1998, page 30.)
Flannel Board: 1.Soldier 2.Brazil Flag 3.Tithing Slip 4.Scriptures 5.Flower 6.Jesus in garden of GethsemaneAnd
If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
In an outside wall of the Brazilian Army Academy, cadets can read the words “You will command. So learn to obey!” Early in life I learned that obedience is essential to our progress. I am not talking about blind obedience but the obedience that allows us to reach a higher and more spiritual level in life, using our agency to do the will of the Lord. The prophet Joseph Smith taught that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:21). Something else I learned in the army is that soldiers in my country do not use the verb to work when they talk about their assignments. Rather, they use the verb to serve, helping them always remember their commitment to our people and our country. In Church service, this definition is enlarged to include service to Heavenly Father’s children wherever they may live.
Many times the most beautiful examples of obedience and service are given by ordinary people who live close to us. Sister Ana Rita de Jesus, an elderly widow, lived in AnĂ¡polis, Brazil. She could not read or write. The missionaries would go to her home every week to read the scriptures to her. She was loving and kind. Every Sunday she asked the missionaries to help her fill out a tithing slip. Sometimes her tithing and offerings were not more than a few cents, but she knew the law and wanted to obey it. After paying her tithing, she would walk into the room where the sacrament meeting was held in a rented house and would place a flower on the pulpit. In doing so, she served her brothers and sisters, bringing beauty to the place where we worshiped the Lord. That sister, in a very simple way, taught us obedience and service. She knew that obeying the commandments is the best preparation to serve. The greatest example of obedience and service was given by the Lord Jesus Christ when He said, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Friday, February 8, 2008

Sacrament Meeting Talk Feb. 08, 2008

Dearest brothers and sisters, may I just tell you of my deep respect and love for all of you. Being in this ward is such a pleasure and I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to each member for being who you are. Our ward has strong people, solid in the gospel of Jesus Christ, my admiration for you runs deeper than words and the same goes for my wonderful parents and children.

And I’m not forgetting my sweet Joe. I’d like to tell you a little something about my husband. It’s not much of a secret. He is pretty amazing. Every night, he takes out the trash. I don’t ever have to ask him. It could be a full pile or even just a couple diapers, no matter what though- when he’s home from work, the garbage is gone. This miracle and blessing in my life, in reference to both by husband and the fact that the garbage is taken out regularly, has lead to our home being cleaner and smelling pleasant. He never puts it off. He doesn’t wait until the next day and I never have to worry about the garbage being taken down to the street. Our home is not cluttered, messy with debris, instead it is orderly and neat, again I mention there is no rank odor. May I compare this to a scripture,” Alma 34:32–33;also Alma 13:27 “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God. … Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.” May we all throw out the ways of sin daily from our lives, and prepare and get our lives and homes in order.

As I was reading in Alma chapter 5 I pondered on the words, “Have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance?” What has each day in our lives cost others? For many of the veterans of war, they have fought brutal battles and seen death in it’s ugliest forms. All this so WE could worship, have freedom of speech, so we could have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For the prophet Joseph and the many early saints they faced persecution, hot tar and feathers, mobs who instilled fear with fire and brute, all so WE could have the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel here on earth, the church nurtured and cultivated. For our dear Father in Heaven and His only Begotten, infinite and eternal sacrifice. With blood and tears shed during prayer at the foot of an olive tree, Jesus the Christ bore the sicknesses and sins of the world and made intercession so each day and each moment WE could have a way and a path whereby to follow and return to those who so dearly love us. Have we sufficiently retained in remembrance what a true gift each day truly is?

We have 24 hours each day. No more no less and there is nothing we can do to change that. The sun rises and it sets. What exactly are we doing with those hours? I love Luila Langberg. She grew up in Wyoming with her 9 brothers and sisters. Each morning their mom would cook them breakfast and they would leave to go play in the woods and fields. When the sun set they’d come home and mother would cook them dinner, give bath and put them to bed. How I envy that time! How much richer a childhood than many of today’s youth. Exploring the world God created, breathing fresh air, filling one’s soul with the goodness of the earth. Joseph Smith taught, “The heavens declare the glory of a God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork; and a moment’s reflection is sufficient to teach every man of common intelligence, that all these are not the mere productions of chance, nor could they be supported by any power less than an Almighty hand.” Do we look around us, really look and see the goodness and glory of His creation? I love strollers. One fall morning, my girls and I went out to get the morning paper and as I looked up in the sky, the clouds were just so big and majestic as they moved slowly across the sky. The air gently burned my nose as I walked. I could feel my heart beating. I felt such reverence for the world. I felt reverence for being alive and to be able to see and hear and feel what was going on around me. I felt reverence for my life and for the day that was so lovingly granted to me. Have you ever had a moment like that? Hopefully, you have many moments like that which inspire you to lead your life to the fullest possible.

Did you know that the word gospel means good tidings or good news? So when we say the gospel of Jesus Christ we could say the good tidings of Christ. There are so many scriptures that talk about the love our Savior and Heavenly father have for all of us. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” Matthew 7:7, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you” John 15:9, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:7-10 “And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings.” 3 Nephi 10:5

The word of God declares that we are his and that he loves us. Why then with all this good news, good tidings, happiness and calm assurances are we scared? In the same breath, Alma the younger in chapter 13 says, “Now is the time to repent, for the day of salvation draweth nigh.” Then “By the mouth of angels,(he) doth declare it, that they may have glad tidings of great joy.” Why then does the thought of repentance seem so heavy. Perhaps it’s because we know that we are human. That the flesh is weak and temptations do easily beset us. We sin. Our sins are scarlet. We are unclean before our maker. I pondered a quote by Bruce R. McConkie, “The uttermost depth of superhuman woe seems to be revealed by His cry, “My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me? To this we add, if we interpret the holy word aright, that all of the anguish, all of the sorrow, and all of the suffering of Gethsemane recurred during the final three hours on the cross, the hours when darkness covered the land. Truly there was no sorrow like unto his sorrow, and no anguish and pain like unto that which bore in with such intensity upon him.” Because we are fallen, we need the Atonement. Because there was an Atonement made for us, we need to repent.

Melvin J. Ballard has said, “It is my judgment that any man or woman can do more to conform to the laws of God in one year in this life than they could in ten years when they are dead. The spirit only can repent and change, and the battle has to go forward with the flesh afterwards. It is much easier to overcome and serve the Lord when both flesh and spirit are combined as one. This is the time when men are more pliable and susceptible. When clay is pliable it is much easier to change than when it gets hard and sets.” Again, I come to the words of Alma, “Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you. And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” Adding to this, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland talks about the timing of repentance, which can seem overwhelming, “You can change anything you want to change and you can do it very fast. That’s another Satanic sucker-punch- that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say I’ll change and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to make. You may well spend- indeed you had better spend- the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, repentance can come for you as instantaneously as it did for Alma and the Sons of Mosiah.”

What needs to be fixed in our lives? What are we doing that is wrong? Or perhaps, it’s what more do we need to be doing?

We need to remember what has been sacrificed for our time here on this earth. We need to look around us and acknowledge Heavenly Father as our God. We need to know of the love of Jesus Christ, our Savior. And we need to repent and come unto Him, not tomorrow or the next day. But today.

I think that I could sufficiently end here but I had called brother Chapin and he said to be sure to include thoughts about my scripture study. I humbly bare testimony that I never knew the power of God until I feasted upon His word. Indeed, it is an iron rod, immovable and constant, leading to the fruit which is sweeter than any other.

The story is said of a donkey who fell into a well. The farmer knew there was no way to get him out and as the well needed to be filled anyways, he grabbed his shovel and started putting dirt in. The donkey was screaming, but scoop after scoop the noise resided. More and more dirt went in and then miraculously, the donkey walked out of the well. You see the donkey realized if he could just step up on and over the dirt he could slowly climb out of the well.

Life is going to throw lots of dirt at us. How will we rise above? How do we move and step up? May I suggest it’s by filling ourselves with the Holy Word and pressing onward and upward. I say filling, not reading, but filling. Not on some days of the week, but everyday. May I compare it to Dairy Queen. If you go to DQ every day and get a buster bar (chocolate fudge, ice cream, peanuts then covered in a delicious chocolate shell) you are going to be 500 lbs. And you are going to be happy. Blissfully happy. Our spirits need fattening up. Besides the scriptures, I love the Ensign, I love the Friend, Primary Teaching Manuals, books by the Apostles and Church Published Scripture helps. Study helps like Doctrines of The Gospel Student Manual (Religion 430) and all the student manuals for the different books of scripture are dilly bars, blizzards and frozen soft serve cakes. If you partake, you will be complete. On a more serious note, these are the words that will help us through each day no matter what happens. These are the books that will help us to see clearly through the mud and help cleanse our souls.

I think that as we study the scriptures it can be very overwhelming. There is so much to know, so much to understand- but I bear testimony that as we set and strive to reach our righteous goals, our Father in Heaven will pour out blessings we can scarce contain. For me, I found it easiest to go through the pronunciation guide and find out everything possible I could about each entry. Doing this led me to so many questions. As I searched for answers to my questions I realized quite a marvelous thing in my life. I felt peace, strength, quiet resolve. It led me to look for more service and missionary opportunities. I remember one time just touching my Bible and feeling an overpowering feeling that this book was true, but not just that, I felt a physical sensation of my heart being stronger and my blood flowing faster than if I were exercising. I bear testimony that truly searching the word of God will not lead at a dead end or empty hole. It will lead us back to our Father and Jesus Christ and give us happiness that cannot be described.

I repeat. What needs to be fixed in our lives? What are we doing that is wrong? Or perhaps, it’s what more do we need to be doing?

May I humbly suggest that happiness lies in knowing God. To know God is to know His words. Today is the day to find happiness. Of this I bear testimony, in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

February: Family Helps to Reinforce

Family Time! Things to do with your family to reinforce what was taught this week in Primary! (These ideas, this month, have been taken directly from the Friend Magazine)

1. Have your family sit on the floor in the middle of the room. Sing the first verse of “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” (Children’s Songbook, p. 281). Explain that the rock they are singing about is the Savior, His teachings, and His commandments, which we find in the scriptures (see Matt. 7:24–27). When the people in the scriptures followed the Savior and kept His commandments, they were blessed. When they sinned and would not repent or keep the commandments, they were not blessed and were often destroyed. Have your children stand. Say that if the people in the story you will tell them were blessed by the Lord, they should hold their hands high. If the people were wicked and were destroyed, the children should sit on the floor. Alternate singing the verses to the song “The Wise Man and the Foolish Man” with telling stories from the scriptures. Possible stories are: City of Enoch (Moses 7), Noah’s family (Gen. 6–8:16), Daniel (Dan. 1–6), Israel crosses the Red Sea (Ex. 14), Pharaoh’s army (Ex. 14), Ammonihah (Alma 14–16).
2. Explain that one of the joys of scripture study is coming to know the prophets who have lived on the earth. Prepare a set of cards, with names of prophets from the scriptures on paper of one color, and a description of something each prophet did on paper of another color. Mix the cards, then place them face down on the ground. By turning over one card each turn, of each color, try to match the name of prophet with the description of what he did. Some possible prophets: Nephi—returned to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from Laban (see 1 Ne. 3), Noah—built the ark (see Gen. 6), Moroni—hid the gold plates in the ground and delivered them to Joseph Smith (see JS—H 1:30–60), Samuel the Lamanite—stood on a wall to tell the people about the coming birth of the Savior (see Hel. 14:1–5), Daniel—spent an evening in a den of lions (see Dan. 6); Joseph Smith—in the Sacred Grove, saw God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ (see JS—H 1:15–17).
3. Color the picture of “Scripture-Study Sam” and the picture strips. Cut out along all the heavy black lines. Carefully cut out the windows above Sam’s shoulder. Then fold along the dotted line and glue or tape the edge to the back of Sam, forming a flattened tube. Glue or tape end to end the long picture strips containing the situations and the scripture references. Slip the resulting strip inside the tube. As you move the strip, a difficult situation will appear in the large window and a helpful scripture reference will appear in the small window. Be sure to look up the reference to see how the scripture can help Sam resolve each difficult situation he faces.
4. Show GAK 517 (Spencer W. Kimball), and explain that when President Kimball was called to be an Apostle he turned to the scriptures for comfort and support. Recount President Kimball’s experience from “Gospel Classics: The Breaking of the Day Has Found Me on My Knees” (Ensign, Feb. 2004, 50–53). In the section “Comfort in the Scriptures,” President Kimball says that 1 Nephi 3:7 gave him comfort. Have the children look up the scripture and read the words of Nephi. Sing “Nephi’s Courage” (pp. 120–21). Tell the children that you want them to find some of the other promises taught in the scriptures that give us comfort when we face hard things. Read the following scriptures: John 14:26 (the Holy Ghost), D&C 108:8 (the Lord will bless us and deliver us), and 1 John 2:25 (eternal life). What were the promises? Testify to the children that they can find comfort and courage in the scriptures just as President Kimball did.
5. Paula J. Lewis, “Scripture Puzzle Cards,” Friend, Nov. 2000, 35
· You will need a plain 3″ x 5″ (8 cm x 13 cm) card for each scripture you wish to learn. On the left half of the card, write a scripture you wish to remember from your daily scripture study. On the right side of the card, draw or paste a picture that helps you remember what that scripture is about.
· Draw a curvy or zigzag line down the middle of the card between the scripture and the picture. Cut the card in half along the line. The two halves now form a puzzle. Make several cards, then mix them up and match them to help you remember the scriptures you have chosen. Keep the cards in a resealable plastic bag. Add more cards as you find additional scriptures you want to remember.
· You may want to use different colors of cards for scriptures from each volume of scripture—Book of Mormon, Old Testament, New Testament, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. You could also create a separate set of cards for each book of scriptures.