Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Sister Missionary Night!

For our joint (all-girls) activity this week we had a special Sister Missionary night! We had heard from several recently returned Elders (and a newly called Elder on his way to the MTC) within the past few months, but nothing specifically for the girls. Since there are so many more girls going on missions now, I thought it would be good to have a special night focusing on full-time missions for women.

Since we always seem to have at least half of the girls showing up after opening exercises, I started out by (stalling) teaching the young women 2 principles that I feel are important for missionaries (and just anyone, really): #1- How to shake hands properly (no limp fish, no breaking bones) and #2- What to do if you are given food you just don't like (such as at a dinner appointment)? (be polite and just eat it). I kept this part of the presentation short, like 5 minutes - and by then most of the girls had arrived.

I had asked one of the young single adult sisters in our Stake (not in our ward) who has received her mission call to come and speak to the young women for the main part of our activity. I asked to her answer questions about preparing for a mission, talk a little bit about what kind of clothes Sister Missionaries wear (and why), and whatever else she wanted to talk about. 

I had also planned an elaborate mission-theme relay race and a game of scripture-mastery tic-tac-toe if we had extra time, but our speaker was very animated and fun - she kept the girls attention for the entire activity, so we never even got around to the games!

Here is the display area that I set up for the young women to look at:

(I had contacted some of the ladies in our ward who are returned-missionaries and got photos from some of them to display on the wall - this was nice because it showed women that they know in the ward serving missions)

I used pictures that I printed out from (the section on sister missionaries, here) to show that Sisters dress modestly and conservatively, but also are now more modern and cute than in days past (ie, the jumpers and long skirts of my mission days).

Some of the topics that were covered/questions that were asked:
  • Do women have to go on missions? (No, it is not required, up to you and God whether you go!)
  • Sister missionaries don't have the priesthood, so who does the baptizing? (nearby Elders, local Bishop or other Priesthood holder)
  • How did you (the soon-to-be-missionary) that you wanted to go on a mission? (prayer)
  • Do you get to pick where you go? (no - assigned by the General Authorities)
  • How is a Sister's mission different than an Elder's? (one is 18 months, one is 24 months; Elders have the priesthood authority to baptize/other ordinances; other than that they are the same - both are called by God with authority to preach & teach. Sisters are "real" missionaries - despite what a small minority of people still seem to think)

PS- To make the cake, I used a square cake pan and frosted it with light purple buttercream. I added "skin" color for the neck and then buttercream piping & other decorations. I printed out the "future missionary" nametag and covered it (front and back) with clear contact paper (like lamenating, but cheaper) to keep it from getting soggy & weird when it touched the frosting. I just stuck the nametag to the cake with more light purple frosting. I got the clipart for the nametag here (free) and I used it for a non-commercial purpose, of course.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What to SEND to full-time missionaries

This is a follow-up to a previous post, entitled "What to WRITE to full-time missionaries" (CLICK HERE to see that post, or look in the "missionary" section on the right side of the blog page)

Sending a care package to full-time missionaries serving from your ward is a good activity for the youth because it helps them think about those who are serving (and hopefully appreciate them a little more). It can be difficult to figure out what to send full-time missionaries, though - especially if you are restricted by diet limitations or restrictions on what you can send to a specific mission... What do they want? What do they need? What would they really like?

Our friend Alex is currently serving in Brazil (Manaus), so I am somewhat restricted by what I can send there (and by the package size - its $24.00 for me to send a small flat-rate box that is only slightly larger than a VHS tape), but any size larger of box is over $50!!!!! So I keep it small  and send only candy/food that I think won't melt in transit (because it is HOT there!). Check with parents (or the post office) to see what kind of price and box size options you have if you are sending anywhere foreign. Its more expensive than you probably think!

Think "small" and "useful" and/or "fun"

Here are some of things I have sent Alex:
post-it notes, pencils, stickers (to give to kids), scripture markers, silly putty, card games (like Uno), gum with a hard coating (just because I think it won't melt as easy), pop rocks candy, hand sanitizer (he requested this), sample-size shampoo, sample-size toothpaste, sample-size soap, stain-remover stick (small size, like in travel-size section of grocery store), small lint-roller, PICTURES (pictures of the family, etc), a tie, etc 
Check with parents to see if something like socks (or nylons) might be needed and what size they would want. For sisters, if they wear makeup, things like lip gloss and mascara would probably be very welcome (and one less thing they would have to buy themselves!)

Personalized items are always great, too. Our YW sent missionaries care packages a few months ago and along with treats they put in the box, they also made homemade cards, origami neckties, and pillowcases with their handprints (done with fabric paint). 

Even if there are no diet or mail issues, please ask the parents of the missionary if there are any mission-specific rules (for example, they are usually not allowed to read books other than scriptures, though some missions have made certain exceptions..... some missionaries are allowed to listen to certain types of music, others aren't, etc). 

Food is almost always the best thing to receive because it is usually in short supply (because of spending money on other things like bike repairs!) and it always nice to get treats. One of my companions got a giant box of mini peppermint patties and we thought that was the best thing EVER! It was a whole display box like you'd see in a mini-mart. It was so cool!

Here are a few more things you want to consider:

Anything non-edible that you send will end up in one of these places:
  • In their suitcase that they carry from area to area (very limited space - they have to carry all of their clothes & belongings in their luggage)
  • Staying in their apartment after they get transferred - a great 'bonus' for the next Elder transferring in! 
  • Given to a local member (because they don't have room to take it with them)
  • In the trash
  • Or, worst of all, they will end up using their (food) money to ship it home (because they don't have room)
That may sound harsh, but its just reality. My parents sent me a singing Christmas tree one year and my companions and I got a big kick out of it, but it got left in the apartment when I was transferred, because in order to pack it in my suitcase I would have had to left my clothes behind! They didn't expect me to keep it with me and bring it home after my mission, but a lot of times people send things to missionaries and sort of expect them to keep it. Missionaries live a sort of transient lifestyle - they are asked to move without much notice and what they can't take with them gets left behind. So if they have just bought a new broom or 80-load jug of laundry detergent and they get a transfer call, its probably going to be left behind for their companion (or their replacement). Its just not practical (or possible) for them to lug extra belongings around.
It wasn't exactly this same one, but you get the idea!
So no matter how much they might like items that you send them, please be aware that unless you are replacing items of clothing that they need, they probably won't be able to take things with them after their upcoming transfer.
Its okay to send fun things like this, but just don't let it hurt your feelings if they can't keep it!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"Moroni" Night

Recently, I was surprised to learn that many of the girls didn't realize that Captain Moroni (famous military leader who raised the Title of Liberty) and Moroni (the last righteous Nephite, last of the Nephite Prophets, who completed hid the plates and 1,400 years later appeared to Joseph Smith to teach him and later show him the location of the plates) are not the same person.

Captain Moroni was a great guy, too, but since Moroni (the Prophet) is such an iconic figure in our church (and to the world), I mean, he's on almost all of our temples, right?  I thought it would be help the girls to learn about Moroni and why he is such an important person to us (anciently and in the latter-days)

#1- Learn all about Moroni’s role in ancient times and latter-days (from the scriptures and referencing General Conference talks and Ensign articles). We also talked about Captain Moroni and his part in the Book of Mormon. I showed many examples of church artwork (like that is displayed in our buildings and in our manuals) and helped them identify which Moroni was which, based on clues in the pictures (ie, Captain Moroni is almost always shown with the Title of Liberty)

 There are some Mormon Channel resources here 

I printed out worksheets that I had made by copying and pasting pictures of both of the Moroni's that we discussed (that I had found online) onto a word document. I gave everyone a worksheet and had the girls try to guess which person (Captain Moroni or Moroni) was being portrayed in the picture.

Here are some photos I took of the worksheets I made to give you an idea of what I did, but it is easy to make your own by searching for "Moroni" images on Google. Be ready to defend your answers, because even though this might seem pretty cut and dry, there might be some disagreement

Here is the picture that caused the controversy with some of our girls - it is a painting of Moroni (and Mormon), but about half of them were sure that this was Captain Moroni because it appears to be a war scene. I reminded them that Moroni (son of Mormon) was also heavily involved in the military, and that there is no Title of Liberty in the photo (a big giveaway)...and that the man seems be especially disturbed by the death of an older (gray haired) man:

"Mormon and Moroni" by Walter Rane

#2- Learn what being an “angel” means, in a gospel context (there are multiple meanings):
  • Bible Dictionary definition of "angel": here
  • Some additional information from an "I have a question" Ensign article (2nd half of the article - scroll down to the 2nd question...) here

#3- Find out why the Moroni statue is used on temples. I emphasized why Moroni was selected to be on the spire, and why (see resources below for info). I encouraged them to remember this whenever they go to the temple or see a picture of the Moroni statue

  • New Era article here
  •  Moroni statue photos from the Media Library here
  •  Ensign article here

#4- Have a Moroni statue making contest (tin foil & gold spray paint) (YW can take home their statues) 
I don't have a photo for this yet, but I will post after we've done the activity. I was picturing making the Moroni statues out of tin foil, restaurant doggie-bag style... 
and since I don't have easy access to gold foil, I will attempt to spray-paint the regular aluminum foil  "statues" with gold spray paint when they are done. I would try this out at home before trying it at Mutual - not 100% sure about the effectiveness of spray-paint on foil :)

UPDATE: I found some gold-foil paper (that is normally used to wrap cake-decorating boards) to use instead of regular silver foil and spray paint.  It is made by Wilton and is available online and at larger stores that carry cake supplies (like maybe Michaels? JoAnns? Our local Walmart carries Wilton brand cake supplies, but only has the silver fanci-foil). Here is an online source: I also gave the girls regular silver foil to use as a base and give it more form.

Here are some of the statues that the girls made:

PURPOSE: Help the YW develop a greater appreciation for the scriptures and understanding of the temple. 

COST: @$7.00 ($3.00 for a roll of foil, and $4.00 for spray-paint)