“Of Good Report,” Ensign, June 1994, 78–79
Simple Sacrifice for the Homeless
The Franquelli family had no idea what they were getting into! It all began simply enough—a family council discussion on serving others. At the suggestion of eleven-year-old Anthony, the family packed up ten sack lunches and set out for downtown Baltimore to feed the homeless.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounded. Brother Anthony Franquelli, as father of the family, led the way by offering one of the lunches to a man slumped on a bench—but it turned out the man was a premed student on a break. By the time they’d handed out the lunches, they had gained valuable experience and an even greater desire to help people they met. A week later they returned to the city with fifteen lunches; this time the food disappeared within minutes. A Franquelli family tradition had begun.
But the family soon found they couldn’t do it alone. Friends and members of their ward, the Fort Meade Ward, Annapolis Maryland Stake, soon offered donations of food and clothes. The word spread and the donations climbed. Finally, with the help of an attorney in the ward, the family formed a nonprofit corporation, Simple Sacrifice for the Homeless, so that businesses and companies could contribute to the weekly service project.
Three years and almost 140,000 lunches later, the Franquellis are still weekly serving more than five hundred homeless with the help of missionaries (who help prepare the lunches each week) and others who donate time, food, and clothing. “They need our help,” notes Brother Franquelli. “And we’re happy to do what we can.”—Cindy Louise James, Odenton Ward, Annapolis Maryland Stake
Community Historical Concert
As our ward neared its fiftieth anniversary, we began planning an event that not only would commemorate our ward’s organization but would involve other churches in the community as well: we planned a historical community concert in which a variety of churches from our community would perform selections appropriate to the time period when they were organized.
I was serving as the ward music chairman at the time. With the bishopric’s enthusiastic approval and support, I shouldered the responsibility for organizing the event. What a thrill it was to be involved in a project that would unite people of many faiths, as well as educate them. Many of the people in our community were unaware that Latter-day Saints were Christians. We looked forward to this concert as a way of sharing with others our belief in Christ.
As we began planning, the program came together in a perfect way that no one could have foreseen; the historical significance of each church in our community seemed to mesh naturally. Thanks to the efforts of our ward public communications director, posters were visible throughout the community, and every newspaper in the area carried an article. One thousand invitations were distributed.
The night of the concert, I watched as people began to fill our meetinghouse. I recognized few of the people, and most did not seem to be with ward members. By the time the concert began, there were more than 350 people in attendance, and nearly 300 of them were members of other faiths.
As the program unfolded, the Spirit rested upon both the performers and the crowd; many eyes were moist as testimonies of Christ were expressed through musical praise.—Lisa Wasiura Harrison, Muskegon Ward, Grand Rapids Michigan Stake
Family Reunion Book of Mormon Project
While many families read the scriptures together, the Jensen and Hall families of Rexburg, Idaho, read the scriptures in preparation for a family reunion. The families, who are related by marriage, wanted each family member to prepare for the reunion by reading the Book of Mormon.
The project began in January. Progress was reported regularly, and at certain landmarks, homemade awards were given. Each family member participated in his or her own way: preschoolers listened to tapes or watched videos, those just learning to read pored over the Book of Mormon readers, and older family members read the book itself.
But the experience didn’t end with the reading. On the day of the reunion, the family assembled for an overnight camping experience. Younger children hiked for a half mile and during their journey met people who represented Lehi, Sariah, Nephi, and his brothers. The youngsters also obtained the brass plates, found a Liahona, hunted for wild game, and even built tiny ships. Finally, both children and adults used heavy rocks and sharp tools to engrave messages on plates made of tin.
Needless to say, the benefits of the experience are still being manifest.
We all now know more about the Book of Mormon than we did before, but the greatest benefit came in the testimonies gained or strengthened by this unforgettable reunion.—Mona Jensen, Rexburg Eleventh Ward, Rexburg Idaho Center Stake