Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Milestone for Family Enrichment Program 10/10/08

New Milestone for Family Enrichment Program 

Weather Report:Still Babushka Summer, but a lot of wind and dust in the air

When we asked ourselves why Russia and why here we had little idea of the future events that would recall us into the Family Enrichment Program, Family Night books. For the uninitiated, this is a manual of how to hold a weekly family activity called Family Night where family members get together and have fun, learn a moral lesson, play a game, and have a treat. It was written by Shirley Cox and Wendy Sheffield from BYU and is based on the LDS Family Home Evening activity, but without any LDS doctrine, just good values taught by stories from around the world.

Today, another milestone in the FEP saga, and Sister Cindy is pretty excited. We received the first 100 of the 6000 books we ordered a month ago. We were told that this is the largest single printing in a non-English language other than Spanish. As soon as the books were delivered, Sister Simmons got on her (my) cell phone and announced their arrival to everyone concerned.

I digress. As Mission Executive and Financial Secretary, I, let me repeat that, I, was given a cell phone. That was almost four months ago. I have to admit that it took longer to loose it than I expected, but it first became "our" cell phone about a month ago and now she is making and getting more calls on it than I am. Now it is HER cell phone that she lets me use sometimes in the office. In the background, Elder Worthen is stunned at her dexterity and strength on the phone.

I finally got Brat Pyotr to give me one of the old "cast-offs" in his drawer so I could make a call from time to time. Cell phones are endemic here and the costs to call a cell from a land line or vice-versa are dramatically greater than cell to cell. About half of our missionaries have cell phones so using one is much better for me than using my desk phone. The picture shows Sister Cindy with her favorite tool; MY cell phone.

To continue, these books will now go out to missionaries in two cities, Barnaul and Novosibirsk, as a pilot program until the next Zone Leader Conference the first of November. There we hope to start a full-court press. President Mickelsen has really caught the vision of this book's potential and is doing a great job preparing the missionaries.

The plan at this time is a three-pronged approach involving Family Strengthening classes as a service for the general public along the lines of the English Club program. (They use the English Club now as a community service, providing English speaking practice in a twice-a-week program at the Branch buildings.

The second prong would be Family-to-Family. Member families would get the FEP book, practice the program in their homes for a time, and invite a non-LDS family to join them and receive a book to use themselves.

The third prong would be missionaries directly offering books as a community service. They would offer the book to families they meet on the street or tracking on condition that they would accept instruction on how to hold Family Night. It is not a give-away.

This plan would do three things, (1) Serve the community by strengthening families, (2) Bring positive attention to the Church, (3) Provide opportunity to discuss the Gospel and the Church's emphasis on strong families. Here, Elder Watson sees his first FEP book in Russian and is duly impressed; Elder Worthen is still stunned.

A good portion of these books will also be used by Elder and Sister Bowden, Humanitarian Missionaries here, to introduce the concept of Family Night to social service agencies all over Siberia. One agency in Novo visited Sacramento this spring and we met Anna, a social worker here, who we have contacted recently and hope to connect with the Bowdens. If her agency sees the value of Family Night, it they could help promote the concept to other agencies.

We believe that Family Night, in whatever form it may take here, can be an important influence for good for Russian families. Getting families to redirect their attention back to one another can do a lot to foster love, nurturing, and mutual support within these families. Additionally, negative behaviors are more easily changed with the help of loving, supporting family members. Indonesia is promoting it nation-wide, and it has been hailed as a great blessing by many groups around the world. We hope to show its value in Siberia.

Here are the two books; one in Russian & one in English. Shirley & Wendy, did you every think? Did you every hope? Remember the bad Russian translation that no one wanted to have printed? Our Sister Olga and the printer cleaned up the Russian and here we are; your names as authors in Russian.

I feel that old familiar burning in my nose as I try not to cry on my keyboard, but did you every imagine? What a joy. What an inspiration. What a blessing.
What a country.


Shannon Simmons said...

Hip Hip Hooray! This is so fantastic! The Lords purposes are moving forward. And you are doing a great job of being His hands! I love you!

Trisha said...

How very cool. It brings back all the memories of our family nights riding the bikes to the park, going to Baskin Robins, having the lesson on Mom is going to be weird for awhile. Loving it.

Bryce & Joyce said...

What a blessing to the people of Russia/Siberia to have available to them. You are in the right place at the right time.