Family: focus of open houses

Encouraging words and suggestions for families from Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve highlighted the latest of a series of satellite missionary open houses on Sunday, April 24.

The program supported the First Presidency's endorsement of the International Year of the Family.The first segment of the missionary open house, which featured Elder Nelson, his wife Dantzel, their children and grandchildren, was telecast over the Church's satellite network to the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the West Indies, and Jamaica.

The second segment consisted of local presentations of teaching stations that featured such subjects as keeping a journal, learning to do family history, holding a successful family home evening, and teaching children values.

Less-active members and non-members were invited to attend the open house.

The presentations at two of the teaching stations and the satellite broadcast were laced with some of the most memorable and touching of the Church's popular Homefront Series public service announcements.

In the telecast, Elder and Sister Nelson opened their home and discussed with their nine daughters and son and their grandchildren ways to strengthen families.

"Love and commitment are the glue that holds the family together," said Elder Nelson. "Love and commitment cannot be commanded. They can only be learned and earned. They are established as we teach correct principles based on divine doctrines declared by the Lord.

"Family relationships can be a great source of happiness and an enduring source of strength," he explained. "The intent of the Church is to encourage parents and children to do everything they can to strengthen their individual family. In this world of declining morality, we bear the weighty responsibility of teaching moral values to our children at Church and in our homes."

He suggested honoring the moral agency of children and "allowing them a little running room."

"It doesn't take long for a parent to learn that you just can't pour values into your children. You can't give them an injection of faith, or a transfusion of morality. And lectures aren't much better."

He said that parents who really love their children let them know where the line is that they shouldn't cross. "The Lord set firm standards and parents let them know there are rules. We don't step on the laws either of God or of man; we obey the law."

He emphasized teaching children correct principles through scripture study, holding family and personal prayers and worshiping together as a family.

"If children know the doctrine and understand the principles, they will govern their behavior more appropriately, with a little guidance from you along the way," he counseled.

Sister Nelson observed that some parents feel they have to accomplish these things by themselves. Rather, she said, parents have Heavenly Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit to help them.

"I've learned that the happier you are depends on how much service you give as a parent. We have learned that with the children, they are happier when they are giving service and loving each other."

Elder Nelson concluded, "Our experience is not exclusive; it can be yours, too. If you will love the Lord and apply His teachings in your lives, you will find the peace spoken of by our Master. And you will find great fulfillment and joy in your family relationships, now and forever more."

Typical of open houses throughout the Church was one held in the Vacaville California Stake. About 10 non-members and additional less-active members attended, said stake mission president Murr Brown.

"The broadcasts continue to be spiritual occasions where members are willing to invite their friends," he said. "They are confident that they will have a spiritual experience."

He said that the stake prepared spiritually for the October open house by fasting. Youth shared their testimonies and offered the prayers, and the event became a spiritual outpouring for those who attended. That effort had some benefit for this open house.

Invitations were distributed by members, including seminary students. Although the congregation was smaller at this open house than the one in October, more non-members attended.

He said this may have been because before the October open house, members were instructed on "how to make invitations, and about making commitments, resolving concerns and following up."

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