Request from a Missionary Friend


Hey guys! I have a friend who is volunteering in Russia where they just changed the law about proselytizing. She sent a quick note hoping for feedback about how to fill the hours with service when she can’t teach! I asked for her permission to share the request here. This is what she wrote:

Hello everybody! I hope all is well. As many of you know there has been a lot of changes in Russia regarding the work. We are no longer able to Preach the Gospel. We are trying to do a lot more service. I know many of you served missions or are currently serving a mission or maybe never served a mission but have done service in the past. I wanted to ask you all for suggestions of what you would do for service or what you did on your missions that worked well. If you could let me know that would be awesome. We have run out of ideas. Also if you have friends or family that you know that have served or are serving in Russia or any other place like Russia that it is a little bit tricky with the law maybe you could talk to them and see what they have done in the past or are doing? Thanks for all your help. If you have any suggestions let me know and I would greatly appreciate it! 

– Cecтра Jeanette Bierman 

I love this cute sister! If you have any ideas or suggestions, please leave a comment here (I approve all comments so don’t be alarmed if you don’t see it appear right away) or send me an email at


Just for more context, here is the letter from Sister Bierman’s mission president:

Dear Parents/Family-

As you know, laws signed by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, July 7, include a section of regulations and restrictions affecting our customary proselyting efforts in Russia. The new law goes into effect beginning July 20, 2016.

In correspondence, including any of your postings on social media, we kindly ask that you refer to you son or daughter serving in the Russia Samara Mission as a “volunteer” in keeping with the spirit of the new law. We also request that your communications refrain from any negative commentary about the Russian government. Beginning on Tuesday, July 20, the manner in which our young volunteers in Russia Samara perform service will change fundamentally. Instead of proselyting, they will now engage in activities aimed at developing the Church and supporting Church members. They will all serve in Church callings and will build closer bonds with members than in the past. For our part, we will need to strive together to ensure that their service is productive and spiritually fulfilling.

We feel nothing but joy and peace in this effort. We are confident that the Lord will continue to pour forth his blessings on his Saints and upon the Church in Russia. We will see miracles take place and the hand of the Lord made manifest in prospering His Church in this beautiful land. “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail” (D&C 6:34.)

President and Sister Ottesen
Russia Samara Mission

Doctrinal Mastery Scriptures for New Testament 2016

Doctrinal Mastery for 2016 LDS SeminaryAs per tradition, I put together an easy-to-print set scriptures for seminary. In 2016 the church is moving towards a “Doctrinal Mastery” program. I am sure there will be some changes, but the seminary teachers I spoke to are planing to emphasize these doctrinal mastery verses in ways that are similar to the scripture mastery verses. They are hoping to display the verses and work on memorizing them with their seminary classes. I formatted each verse in a way that is clean and simple, along with an icon that I hope captures an important doctrinal element of the verse itself. They are black and white so they should be easy to photocopy.

I have a freshman in early morning seminary this year (hello again, 5:50 am) so I am happy to have a set of these printables around the house. I really like to have the whole set ready to print at the beginning of the year and then we can easily incorporate them into FHE or scripture study as a family without much prep.

The full set of 25 are available in a PDF below. Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll reformat these into quarter page sizes. Check out the past three sets (for Old Testament, D&C and Book of Mormon) in the “Scripture Study” tab of this website.

I like to keep editing and adding to this specific post with New Testament Doctrinal Mastery helps. I think it makes it simpler for all Pinterest links to lead here and for readers and teachers to find everything in one place. The first edit is an update on John 3:5! I think the imagery is easy to interpret. But just in case you’re sensitive to confusion with the infant baptism doctrine, there’s another version available below!

John 3 and 5 alternate

Next up is the quarter page size of all 25 (plus the alternate image) New Testament doctrinal mastery verses. I really like this size a lot: very portable. There are two variations. First is what I call the individual set: it’s 7 pages with all 26 (plus 1) scriptures formatted to fit four-per-page. You can see what I mean below.

New Testament Individual quarter page

The next one I call the classroom version. It’s the same size (quarter page, four-per-page) but there are four of the same verse on each page. So it’s more like what you’d copy for a classroom. There are 26 total pages (25 plus the edit).

NT Printables classroom set

Ok, here’s a set of the doctrinal mastery scriptures all on one page.Doctrinal Mastery One Page

This one has the girl being baptized image rather than the “baby” for John 3:5.

The flashcards are available! Click here for a post explaining how they are designed, or click below for the PDF document with the two sided flashcards.


Here’s a copy of all the images on one page with the simplified doctrinal explanation below. I think it’s great for a study guide.

Generic 2016 Primary Program

Microsoft Word - Generic Primary Program 2016.docx
Our Primary Program is really early this year–at the end of September. I’ve been working on a draft for our Primary and thought I’d share it here! It will go through some tweaks and changes. It also still needs approval from our bishop. But I love to read what others are putting together so I thought I’d share ours as well.

It’s available as a Word document and a PDF below.

Last year I put together a post about how to write your own Primary program! Check it out if you’re wondering where to start.

Scriptures are True bulletin copy

I also put together a super simple program cover. It would be easy to adapt for the ward bulletin that Sunday.

We Cereal-sly Love the Scriptures

We Cereal-sly Love the ScripturesLast summer our Primary planned a “Summer of Service” challenge, where we encouraged the kids to find ways to serve others around them. This summer I wanted to maintain our scripture reading momentum, so I thought it would be great to have a scripture oriented challenge. The challenge we settled on is to learn the names and order of the books of scripture!

I’m hoping that the reward for this challenge will help motivate the kids: we’re planning a cereal party at the end of the summer! The plan is to have a dozen different sugar cereals (Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Trix) and the kids can mix and match and eat their fill. We’ll have strawberry and chocolate milk, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and more. Our event will be at 11 am, so it will be a kind of cereal brunch. I’m hoping we can have some crafts (Fruit Loop necklaces?) and games. Check out my Pinterest board for more ideas.

Everyone in our Primary is invited to our cereal party, but we’ll also award a special prize to the kids who have learned all the books of scripture (to be determined)! I think it should be lots of fun.

There are lots of songs and games that can help with this task. Check out some links below.

Books of the Book of Mormon (to 10 Little Indians)

Books of the New Testament (to Praise to the Man)

Books of the Old Testament (to Do What is Right)

Books of Mormon Hand Clapping game on YouTube:

Book of Mormon song on YouTube:

I also created some worksheets and a bookshelf that I hope will help. Type in “bookshelf” in the search box on the right hand column to get the full set.

This cereal pun just keeps giving and giving 🙂


Feast Upon the Words Scripture Study Program Refresh

At the beginning of the year, our Primary kicked off a program to Feast Upon the Words designed to help encourage the kids and their families to read the scriptures every day! You can find the business card sized printables here, and a quarter page printable here. We continue to reward the kids with 1-inch buttons, but we also added the option of choosing one of these fun squeezable fruit stress toys. The kids love this new prize.

Tomorrow I’ll share our ward Summer Scripture Challenge–it’s cereal-sly cool. Stay tuned.

For our fifth Sunday lesson in May I decided that I wanted to re-emphasize this program, so we discussed how to improve scripture study.  I sent the kids home with a new bookmark. The front has the same food imagery that you find on the Feast Upon the Words cards.

Feast Upon the WordsObviously, the kids are meant to color in the images above. I made this bookmark in two parts: I printed the food images on white card stock and cut them out. Then I printed the back (below) with ways to study the scriptures better on green card stock, cut them out and glued the front and back together.

The reverse side of the bookmarks included a list of ways to make scripture study better, found on I taught a slightly different lesson to the Junior Primary and the Senior Primary, so there are two versions. The more complex version is for the older kids.

Feast JUNIORvBookmarks Backside

Feast Bookmarks Backside


The Tiny Seed

The Tiny SeedThis Sunday is the “faith is like a seed” Sharing Time. I think this lesson is one of the first object lessons out there! It’s a great way to connect a concrete process (growing a plant) to a more abstract, spiritual idea (faith). I’m going to be emphasizing how some things help seeds grow and some things prevent seeds from growing: just like our faith. Things that help our faith grow might include prayer, scripture study, attending church, taking the sacrament, FHE, serving a mission, preparing to attend the temple, serving others, choosing good friends, or keeping the commandments. Things that might prevent our faith from growing: forgetting to pray, thinking you’re too busy to read scriptures, being mean to others at school, starting fights with your brothers or sisters, skipping church meetings, or using bad language.

For Junior Primary I started looking for a simple science worksheet about how seeds grow. I found a lot of dead leads and old images online, so I decided to put one together myself. It’s designed to be printed two per page and cut in half and it’s available for you below. I titled it The Tiny Seed because I may be sharing Eric Carle’s book by the same name. Depending on how much time we have.

Just for clarity, the images that are good for the seed are wind (to blow the seed to a good spot), sun, rain, and soil. The bad images are a bird, mouse, weed, and a boot or foot.

I also enlarged all ten images on the worksheet so they are about the size of a quarter page. I’ll use them to talk about the worksheet on the chalkboard while the littles are working on the worksheet in their laps. There are three pages in the following PDF to fit all ten images.

With our Senior Primary I am going to introduce the same metaphor (plants, seeds, faith) but we’ll round it out by reading Alma 32:27-43 together. If we have time we’ll get the kids to memorize Alma 32:21.

This would make a great Family Home Evening too…

Summer Screen Rules

Summer Screen RulesTrying to figure out what to do about screens (TV, iPhones, xbox and all that jazz) this summer? Me too. I don’t think this checklist will work for my sullen teenage boys, but I’m thinking it’s a great fit for my 10 year old! Grab your printable copy below.

You could laminate this and use a dry erase marker every day, or slip it into a sheet protector for the same affect.

Pioneer Trek Completion Certificate

Pioneer Trek printable certificate 2016

Two of my boys are going on a Pioneer Trek in the next two weeks! Our stake has done an amazing job of putting together families and organizing our event in California. It seems like just about every stake we’ve ever lived in has a Pioneer Trek on the schedule for youth conference every few years. Meanwhile, a friend of mine is helping organize the Trek in her stake! She asked if I could put together a Completion Certificate that they can award at a stake fireside which will follow their journey. I thought I’d share the certificate here in case any of you are in the same boat.

It’s crisp and clean in black and white so you can make hundreds of photocopies and they’ll all look sharp! The blank spaces are meant to be filled in with the name of the youth and their ward. The bottom line is supposed to be the date (1oth or 28th, etc).

Pioneer Trek program cover

And just for kicks I used the same design to make a program cover. It’s exactly what you’d need for the testimony meeting following Trek. Or the fireside you might hold before you take off. I was thinking you’d photocopy the program inside. It is a full page and it’s meant to be folded in half.

Actually, you could also use it as a booklet cover for a journal on Trek as well!

Baptism Talk

A few weeks ago we were the host ward for our stake baptisms. I gave the “baptism” talk that afternoon and I thought I would share it below: I think sometimes it helps to read what others are writing and saying, especially if you are writing your own baptism talk! I wrote mine with our Primary friends in mind, as well as their invited guests and family.


My young friends in the gospel. I am so grateful to be here on such an important day. A special spirit is always present at these moments when sacred ordinances are taking place.

Today is the first important covenant of your life—your baptism.

I believe you are well prepared for your baptism. I think you know what to expect—your parents or Primary leaders and teachers or maybe even the missionaries have spent time teaching you all about this ordinance. Soon you’ll walk across the hall to the room where you’ll be baptized by immersion by a member of our church who has the priesthood. There will be two witnesses. I think you already know that the special promises of the baptismal prayer and the confirmation that follows will bless you, protect you, and strengthen you as you live righteously. Being baptized today is the beginning of what I hope will be a lifelong journey of faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There are blessings that come to all who join a community of faith—where the pure in heart strive to grow closer to Christ.

One of our leaders, Elder Charles Didier explained it this way: At church we develop caring relationships with others—relationships that can help sustain us during times of crisis. As we serve in callings, participate in sacred ordinances, and sacrifice, we feel needed and of worth, and we grow in charity. And as we gain knowledge about sacred things essential for our salvation, we learn what and how to worship, and we are able to have hope in the Resurrection and in the Atonement.

Your baptism today signals that you are choosing to join the church. The blessing of joining this community of faith is something we all share, no matter how young or old, as we become brothers and sisters in the gospel.

Is it weird to think of someone like me as your sister? Maybe it seems like I am way too old! But at church, we call each other Sister Davis or Brother Jones or Sister Hall. It is one of my favorite Mormon traditions! When I am in Primary, the kids don’t call me Coach Davis, or Mrs. Davis, or Professor Davis! They call me Sister Davis. It reminds me that we are a kind of family, and that we are all children of Heavenly Father. It reminds me that we are like brothers and sisters, helping each other out on the journey of life.

Many of you have been going to church all of your life. But your baptism today shows you are making a formal promise, or covenant, that you want to be part of the family too! It means you are willing to accept the blessing and the responsibilities of being part of this family. There is no better scripture to describe these joyful responsibilities than in Mosiah, chapter 18, starting on verses 8. After Alma baptizes a group of believers, he explains that:

[if] ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, [ye should be]… willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

“Yea, and… willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things….

Alma explains that besides the blessings you receive from baptism, you also accept some responsibility to help the saints around you, comfort each other, and to stand as a witness.

As a full member of the church, it also means that I have those responsibilities to you. I think that means I should always show love and support to you. I will try to help you when things seem difficult or hard. It also I have things to learn from you, because you are now my brothers and my sisters. I will be paying attention when you share your testimony in sacrament meeting. I think you have important things to share! I will listen when you tell me you are feeling the Spirit. I will do whatever I can to help you learn more about Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation. That’s what brothers and sisters do! I look forward with joy to carrying out my responsibilities toward you.

I know that as you continue faithful as part of the great worldwide community of Saints, you will be able to see many of these responsibilities change you for the better. Others will know you’re a believer because of the way you show love. We read about this in the Bible, John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

It won’t be very long before showing love for your brothers and sisters in Christ will extend to everyone you meet. Because isn’t everyone you meet a child of God, even if we don’t call them Brother or Sister? You can share your testimony of Christ simply by behaving with love, courtesy, and respect to all those who surround you. You can serve, support, and comfort all those you meet during a lifetime of striving to become more Christlike.

The beginning of this journey to be like Him will start with your baptism in just a few minutes. I am so happy you will be joining our community of faith today. It is my testimony that the covenants, priesthood, and service you take part in here in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can bring you great peace and happiness. Living a faithful life will help you become the person Heavenly Father wants you to become. He is looking forward to welcoming all of His children back home again some day.

I say these things…