Monday, September 28, 2015

General Conference FHE

General Conference is coming up this weekend and I'm pretty excited. I've been listening to conference talks in the morning while I pump and usually I can fill both bottles by the end of one talk. I'm used to this routine and Benjamin is used to this routine, which is nice because I feel like my life gets turned upside-down when a baby is born and it takes me awhile to get back into the swing of things like consistent scripture study.

Before Zoë was born I'd been reading/listening to the scriptures while I did my blood sugar biking. But then she was born and I wasn't about to hop on a bike. Plus there was the new baby to take care of. And then we went on vacation and our schedule got hammered further. So while I'd been reading things here and there, I didn't have a dedicated time to study anything. But now I do.

Sometimes I laugh at myself for listening to conference talks because it's something my Aunt Judy always did and I always thought, "Why does she submit herself to such torture?! Isn't it bad enough to have to sit through conference twice a year?"

And that just shows how immature I was when I was a teenager. But that's okay. I'll give myself license to be an immature teenager because who wasn't? I'm sure I'll look back in fifteen more years and think about how immature I was as a thirty year old. That's just the way life goes.

Anyway, conference is coming up and so I planned a little FHE lesson to review the apostles and we had so much fun with it. I made a little cards and hid them around the house as a scavenger hunt. We started with President Russell M. Nelson, which worked out great because I couldn't think of a clue for his name. He was the card we started with. After we talked about how he's the new president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I shared a few facts from the "Special Witness" cards that were in the September 2014 issue of The Friend and then read the clue for the next apostle on the back of the card.

"This apostle's name grows..." I read.

Everyone stared at me. Crickets chirped. I fretted my game was a bust.

"What grows?" I prompted.

"Ah," Andrew said (at least he got it).

"PLANTS!" Benjamin screamed.

"Yes!" I said.

"Elder Plants?" Rachel asked.

"No!" I said. "You have to look for something that grows to find the answer."

"Oh!" the girls said, leaping off the couch and running to our houseplants (they sit together to keep each other company).

"Elder Dallin H. Oaks!" Rachel read.

We found his picture and talked a bit about him before reading the next clue.

"This apostle's name might bounce..."

It took a while for them to remember where we keep balls in our house, which explains why they never quite make it where they're supposed to be.

"Guys. Where do we keep balls?"


"In the toy..."


Yeah, I was asking the hard questions this evening.

This card was inside some of our "stack and roll" cups (you can put two cups together to make a ball). It was Elder M. Russell Ballard, which of course is pronounced with an a-as-in-bad not a-as-in-ball...but whatever because it's spelled the same. I read the clue on the back of his card (or one of the girls did; we were kind of taking turns).

"This apostle shares a name with a famous female LDS author..." led them to a hunt through the bookshelf for Princess Academy and Princess in Black by Shannon Hale. Beside Princess Academy was a card for Elder Robert D. Hales. Somehow the girls already knew that he flew a fighter jet. Anyway, his clue was, "You walk down this apostle's name to get to the bathroom..."

So the girls ran down the hall and found a card for Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on the mirror in the hallway. We talked about getting to meet him in Egypt and then read his clue: "This apostle's name is a place you sleep..."

All three ambulatory children sprinted to their beds, but one by one came back empty handed. Benjamin was the first one back. His bed is the smallest, and he kind of cheated because he wet the bed and we had to wash his sheets so his bed was bare (there were no blankets or stuffed animals to rifle through). I told him to go look in Zoë's bed and there he found the card for Elder David A. Bednar, whose clue was, "We do this apostle's name in the kitchen..."

The kids immediately set off for the kitchen, but found no clue there. Originally I had hidden the clue in the oven, but then Rachel asked if she could make German pancakes for dinner, which involves the oven, so I had to move the clue. I put it in the toy kitchen, which is in Benjamin's room. They got there eventually and found the card for Elder Quentin L. Cook, whose clue was, "There's Anna, Elsa, Sven, and..."

The kids ran to Benjamin's room to dig through the stuffed animal bin. When we asked them why they were doing that Rachel said, "We've got to find Olaf!"

"Why?" we asked.

"Elder Olafson!" she said.

"Close," I said. "But no."

Besides which we don't even have a stuffed Olaf (or Olaf anything). I whispered to Benjamin to look in the freezer. He looked on the freezer and came back complaining, "Olaf's not on the freezer." So I told him to look in the freezer, emphasis on the in. Lo, and behold, they found the card for Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the freezer. Christoff. Frozen. Get it?

His clue was, "This apostle shares a name with Grandma. Where do we talk to her?"

The kids knew this would be at the computer (because Skype) and quickly found Elder Neil L. Anderson's card.

"And that's it," Andrew said. "There are only nine apostles. We'll get three new ones on Saturday."

But we weren't finished, as he soon learned, because the girls started chanting, "There's another clue! There's another clue!"

"This apostle's name makes music. Ting-a-ling!" Rachel read.

The girls dove for the music cabinet and pulled out the handbells. There was President Henry B. Eyring's card. Technically the first presidency now...but they're still apostles, so...

His clue was, "This apostle likes to fly..."

I was a little proud of this location; I taped the card to the ceiling fan and then turned the ceiling fan on so the card was flying around the room the whole time. We turned off the fan and pulled down President Dieter F. Uchdforf's card.

His clue was, "This apostle's name sounds like a very rainy season. Don't get wet!"

Eventually the kids found President Thomas S. Monson's card nestled inside Miriam's umbrella. I opened her umbrella and held it above my head while we discussed an incident that'd happened this morning.

The kids were on the back deck having a wizard's duel, as children do, and Miriam got angry because Rachel kept using expelliarmus on her. In a fit of rage she hurled her wand into the backyard (ironic, since that's what expelliarmus does in real fake-wizard-world life), an action she immediately regretted because our backyard is a veritable jungle right now. How was she supposed to find an ordinary stick her beloved magic wand in all the chaos of the backyard?! She rushed down the stairs, weeping with remorse, and started hunting through the grass.

"It's not there," Rachel called out from above.

"Yeah," their friend Diego called. "It went over the fence."

"You'll never find it there. You have to go into the neighbour's yard!" they called.

She never did find her wand. Rachel, who'd spotted it from above, came to her rescue and retrieved it for her. But the point was that sometimes we're a little lost in life, we don't know what to do, we're off course, chasing our tails, and we need someone with a higher perspective to guide us.

To the person in the grass, hunting for the lost wand seemed like a futile exercise, but the wand was there all along and the people on the deck could see it and helped her to find it, just like the prophet gives us counsel for our day that can help us find our way.

"Now why am I standing under this umbrella?" I asked.

"Give us a clue!" the girls said.

"We're all out of clues," I said. "There's nothing on the back of President Monson's card. But there's a clue in the printer!" (Because sometimes I'm a super-duper prepare-o-matic and print things out ten seconds before FHE starts (though, in my defence I did spend quite a bit of time preparing for this lesson)).

Miriam ran to the printer and fetched the quote I'd printed out and read it for us in her this-is-of-most-importance voice:
Though the storm clouds my gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Saviour will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.
My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith. 
President Thomas S. Monson, April 2009 
We talked about what kind of storm clouds and rains we might encounter (temptations and bullies and illness) and how the knowledge of the gospel acts as our umbrella. It doesn't take the storm away, but it makes it a little easier to bear. It keeps us a little drier, it gives us a little hope. And that's a wonderful gift in this crazy world.

We talked about how we obtain a knowledge of the gospel, and how we learn to keep the commandments—our umbrella that will sustain us and bring joy to our hearts—and the girls mentioned all the right things (going to church, reading the scriptures, General Conference)—the easy answers that everyone always says in Sunday School, but which are really the fundamentals to finding that peace.

Not all our family nights run as smoothly as this one, but, by golly, it's great when they do! And maybe years down the road when my little ones are feeling lost in the storm of teenage immaturity, they'll have a flashback of hunting down wizard wands in the backyard or of their crazy mother standing under an umbrella in the middle of the living room or finding Elder Christofferson in the freezer and Elder Uchtdorf taped to the fan and they'll remember that the future is as bright as their faith.