“Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Sept. 2004, 63
I am so busy with family, Church, and other activities that I don’t often reach out to my neighbors who are not Latter-day Saints. What specific ideas can help me develop better relationships with my neighbors?
Our family tries to plan one night every month or every other month when we invite an individual or family to dinner. We have never yet been turned down; after all, everyone likes an invitation to enjoy a dinner he or she hasn’t had to cook. These dinner get-togethers have been our favorite way to get to know neighbors individually. They bring hearts closer and increase neighborhood unity.
In addition, when the weather permits, we try to take walks as a family through our neighborhood. It is amazing how often this simple activity allows us the chance to meet or visit with neighbors. Many good associations have been formed and strengthened by just this one effort.
Lorraine Richardson, Springfield Fifth Ward, Eugene Oregon Stake
When our family moved into a new home, I knew I would have to make an extra effort to reach out to our new neighbors. Within a couple of months of moving in, I made plates of cookies with cards that introduced our family and included our telephone number. Then I delivered the plates to each neighbor when I knew they were home.
I continue to deliver plates as new people move onto our street. After I meet them, I write down their names and telephone numbers (if they shared them) on a street map I made. I can glance at this map to recall people’s names and use the phone numbers in case of an emergency. The “name map” of our street is indispensable as we meet new faces over time. Through this, I can share treats, holiday or otherwise, with neighbors by name, since I have them written down at home.
Jennifer Mast, Dodge Center Branch, Rochester Minnesota Stake
I have found that when families in our neighborhood need service, it is a good idea to include members of our Church and those of other faiths. When one of our neighbors had a new baby, the Relief Society asked me to organize meals for the family. I asked a neighbor who is not of our faith to help, and she was delighted to be included. We have done the same when providing a meal after a funeral or at other times when a family may need a little help. Including our neighbors in this way increases neighborhood unity.
Loretta Evans, Boulevard Ward, Idaho Falls Idaho Taylor Mountain Stake
When there is even a slight lull in the schedule, we or one of our neighbors will often invite families on our street for an impromptu Saturday afternoon potluck dinner or pizza night. The adults bring out the lawn chairs and watch the children play while we eat and chat. Sometimes we haven’t seen each other for weeks, so there is a lot to catch up on. Our children consider our neighbors an appendage to the family and look forward to each time we all get together.
Robyn Ellis, Fredericksburg Ward, Fredericksburg Virginia Stake
In the apartment complex where I live, tenants move in and out fairly frequently. Still, I try to remember names and to greet people by name when I see them. Also, if a two-for-one or buy-in-bulk bargain gives me more groceries than I can use, I often will offer the surplus to a neighbor.
Anton Rytting, University First Ward, Columbus Ohio Stake
I try to be involved with my neighbors through community service. As a volunteer for a couple of local annual events, I offer my neighbors the opportunity to take part in whatever event I am working on at the time. I am usually equipped with flyers that tell about the event, and then I handwrite a note requesting their help in one of two or three areas. Whether it is a music concert or county fair time, there are many opportunities to serve. My neighbors smile when they see me coming now. They wonder what I’m up to next, and some even ask, “How can we help?”
B. Sparks Chowhan, Manzanita Ward, Kingman Arizona Stake
Our family hosted a children’s activity day in our home around Valentine’s Day. We made invitations for several families on our street and planned different crafts, games, and other fun activities. It turned out to be an easy way to have people in our home, and our neighbors were pleased to bring their children to an event organized just for them.
Laura Erasmus, McKenzie Ward, Calgary Alberta South Stake
If I have a need, at times I will ask a neighbor if I can borrow a cup of sugar or a rake. Sometimes I exchange house keys with neighbors in case of emergencies. My neighbors usually reciprocate quickly, and friendships develop naturally and easily.
We should not seek friendships with our neighbors for the sole purpose of converting them. Love, respect, sharing, caring, and serving should be the basis for our friendships. And somewhere in that special relationship, often friends of another faith will show an interest in our faith. It is usually easy and comfortable to discuss our beliefs with good friends.
Elizabeth McCash, Millard Ward, Omaha Nebraska Stake
I am 81 years of age, and I live in a seven-story apartment building. I bake cookies and have taken some to several neighbors who live in my building. I also try to send get-well cards to people who are sick. Little things like this can make friends pretty fast.
Edith Glassburner, Emporia Ward, Derby Kansas Stake
Two years ago my mother-in-law, who lives nearby, and I hosted a neighborhood Christmas party for the 20 or so families who live along our rural road. After dinner, each family was given the opportunity to tell about themselves so we could become better acquainted. We felt a warmth in our hearts knowing we had helped strengthen the bonds of friendship among our neighbors.
Last Christmas we hosted the get-together again. As we delivered the invitations, we also left a Joy to the World video as a gift for each family.
Tamra Flake Kriser, Geneva Branch, Dothan Alabama Stake
Some years ago our stake mission presidency popularized the phrase “The Anyway Principle”—the idea being that if you are doing things anyway, why not invite someone to participate with you. For busy Church members trying to find ways of reaching out to neighbors who are not Latter-day Saints, that could translate into simple things like “We’re having family home evening anyway, so why not invite the neighbors?” or “Suzy is going to Primary, so why not invite little Janie too?”
This could also be extended to everyday activities such as “I have to do yard work anyway, so why not find a time when Mr. Jones is outside working on his yard?” or “I’m making cookies for families in the ward, so why not take some to the neighbors?” and so on. To reach out to our neighbors, we do not always have to plan elaborate activities. Rather, we can include our friends and neighbors in activities and plans already scheduled in our lives.
Anna Hammari, Tully Park Ward, Meridian Idaho West Stake