“Home Evening Missions,” Ensign, Sept. 1989, 70–71
“Every member a missionary.” “Every young man should serve a mission.” For years we’d heard this counsel, and we were always looking for ways to instill it in our five children. One method that proved to be both fun and educational was our family home evening missions.
We chose five countries to which we could “call” our children, then scheduled five family home evenings to carry out our plan—one to focus on each child’s “mission.” Before each mission evening, Dad typed up a letter calling the child to a particular country. We then presented the child with the letter as we sat down to dinner. For our meal, Mom prepared authentic dishes from that country (you can find recipes in international cookbooks that you borrow from the library or purchase), and we talked about the kinds of foods people in that country eat and how those foods are prepared.
After dinner we adjourned to the family room, where Mom and Dad talked about the people in the country—what they look like, how they dress, how they make a living, their traditions and customs. We gathered the information from encyclopedias, books from the library, travel and geographic magazines, the Cultural Refinement lessons in old Relief Society manuals, and family members and friends who had traveled to or served missions in that country. The children also shared things they had learned in school about the country.
Sometimes we played sports or games of that country. When our oldest was “called” to Mexico, for example, we broke a piñata and talked about the holidays Mexicans celebrate.
We ended each evening with Dad talking about Church activity, missionary work, and stories about members in that country. Ensign articles, the Church News, and Relief Society manuals were good sources of information. Throughout the lesson, we bore testimony of the importance of missionary work and talked about how we can prepare for missions.
During these home evenings, we remembered to focus on the “missionary” child. We asked him what he thought about the food and if he would enjoy eating it regularly. We encouraged him to discuss how he felt about the clothes the people wore or the type of home he might live in.
Where did our children go on their home evening missions? We chose places our family had some special interest in. For instance, one child “served” in the country our ancestors came from, and we included their pictures and stories in our discussion. Another child was “called” to the country where Dad had served his mission. We showed slides he had taken and displayed items he had brought back from the country. Another child, who is interested in animals, was “called” to a country rich in wild and exotic animals.
These home evenings took time to research and prepare, but they were worth it. We learned a lot and felt the Spirit strongly as we talked about Heavenly Father’s children in other lands and his love for all of us. Each child waited eagerly for his or her turn to go on a “mission.” And we drew closer as a family as we looked forward to the day when our children would be able to serve the Lord on full-time missions.—Rex and Linda Brown, San Jose, California