Sunday, April 28, 2013

Dinner Dreams

A few weeks ago Joy and I counseled about what was wrong with our dinner time. It was completely unpredictable whether either child would be done in 5 minutes or not for over an hour. If one decided to be done quickly and the other to dawdle, making mealtime family time became very difficult.

We counseled; we prayed; we studied Church materials on what the Point of mealtime was beyond nutrition and how to get there. We came up with a plan, which oddly enough focused on what I had to do differently:

I would make sure to give the kids smaller portions of each food and ensure they ate something on their plate before they got something else - that would keep them moving.
And I needed to prepare some conversation. Get a story or a few Ungame questions or a gospel topic or a book, something. That way if Superstar had wound down in talking about Mario, there was still something interesting going on at the table so they would be slightly more likely to stay.

Both parts have worked supremely well. The dawdling dropped immensely. One kid is still often done before the other, but it's not nearly so long.

It hasn't taken much time to plan dinner conversations/material. It's always hit and miss, of course, but I've gotten some pretty good hits lately:

  • Superstar is extremely interested when I retell stories from Lucy Mack Smith's history of Joseph Smith's life. This week I told them about Martin Harris losing the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, and he asked me to tell it to him again another time.
  • Everyone loves Shel Silverstein poems, as you may have gathered over the few posts we've put up over last two months.
  • Sundays I'm translating from my German/missionary copy of The Little Prince
  • I told them the Southern Nigeria version of the Just So Stories for why the elephant has small eyes and why worms live underground.
  • We talked about what makes a good friend and how to communicate with others.
  • We spend a lot of time planning together what will happen over the summer so Superstar in particular is prepared. That will make everything ever so much easier.
It had never occurred to me that mealtime takes planning (beyond the food part). This reminds me of Boyd K. Packer's instruction that pricked my heart as a newly returned missionary and I continually relearning:
Give careful, prayerful, conscious thought and consideration to your family. ... Many men play the role of fatherhood just by ear. They only react to what is, rather than to strive with conscious, prayerful effort for what ought to be. (a link from 1963).
As a result, dinner has been happier, we've been closer together as a family, we rarely spend so long at the table we run out of Family Fun Time after, and life has just been better.

LDS Growth in Africa

The LDS Church Growth blog (not an official LDS website) recently posted the 20 countries with the fastest growth rates and the 10 with the higher total growth in members of the church. As in each of the last five years, I was very impressed with the growth in African countries:

  1. Benin - 59.9% - 1,081
  2. Rwanda - 34.4% - 121
  3. Solomon Islands - 31.5% - 509
  4. Botswana - 27.1% - 2,152 
  5. Malawi - 22.9% - 1,421
  6. Angola - 20.9% - 1,257
  7. Togo - 19.7% - 1,861
  8. Jersey - 16.7% - 349
  9. Cape Verde - 16.2% - 9,326
  10. Ethiopia - 15.7% - 1,678
  11. Sierra Leone - 15.7% - 11,664
  12. Tuvalu - 14.9% - 200
  13. Madagascar - 14.6% - 9,190
  14. Cote d'Ivoire - 14.5% - 18,602
  15. Liberia - 14.4% - 6,709
  16. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 13.5% - 34,547
  17. Namibia - 13.2% - 763
  18. Malaysia - 13.1% - 8,967
  19. Vanuatu - 12.9% - 5,491
  20. Cameroon - 12.4% - 12.4%
Several of our West African neighbors rated here. Rwanda has nearly tripled in three years. Nigeria is in the happy middle area: young enough to have lots of growth but large enough that the percentage is not as amazing. The table also explains why there's a temple going up in Kinshasa, DRC - one third the membership of Nigeria and a growth rate that shows them catching up eventually.

On the other hand, for large numbers of new converts, the focus is on the western hemisphere and the Philippines, where 73% of growth occurred.. 

Other blog posts about the Mormons in Nigeria and Africa are here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Princess tells her first joke

We enjoy reading Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books together as a family. One of our favorites is "Can I Play Too?" which includes this choice conversation:
Snake: You do not want to play with me?
Gerald (Elephant): No! We do want to play with you. But ... But...
Piggie: We are playing catch.
Gerald: With our arms.
Snake: So?
Piggie: You do not have arms?
Snake: I do not have arms!?! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!Snake: Hee-hee! Ha-ha! Hee-hee! I know I do not have arms! I am a snake.
Piggie: You are a funny snake.

Today we had a conversation during lunch. Of all the times we reminded Superstar to not correct his parents and his sister, this was one of them.

Joy: You are not the mommy.
Superstar: I am not the mommy.
Princess: I am not the mommy!?! Aaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!! 

We stared at her for a moment ... and remembered.

All: Hee-hee! Ha-ha!
Derrill: You are a funny snake.

Princess smiled with great pleasure.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Words of General Conference

This week we joined with fellow members and friends around the world to listen to a living prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The talks are already online and available for download. I downloaded them, put them all in a Word file, and played with them a little bit.

This wordle shows you the relative frequency of the words said at General Conference. I'm going to very briefly talk about the top 99 words, grouping them in a way that makes sense to me. I cut off around 100 not only because that's normal, but because with 33 speakers, we have 33 Amens. Anything with more than 33 uses was mentioned at least once every talk on average - and there happen to be 99 words said that often.
Clearly, we were taught a great deal about God (330 mentions) and our Lord (257) Jesus Christ (276). The Holy Ghost (78) testifies that He is our Savior (155), the Son (71) of our Heavenly Father (113) in whose name (61) we pray, testify (33), and worship.