I have enjoyed helping you all understand some of the tools on LDS.org these last few months. This segment brings that series to a close as I help you see ways to use this knowledge in your day to day lives. For next month’s topic I need your input. I want to know what you want to talk, or learn about. Help me know how to help you. Please email me, or post a comment here. Thank you for your continued support!
During the last two months I have taught you how to access the Ward Directory, the Ward Calendar, the Ward Newsletter, as well as where to find all The Church publications in several formats. So now that you can find all that information how does that help you? In my previous two articles I tried to include a few examples, but I would like to discuss here some examples from my life where each of these things helped me.
Let’s start with the Ward Directory. This is a very handy tool that I use all the time. I mostly use it with the LDS Tools App on my phone, though I do use it on the computer as well. There have been several times when I’ve needed to know who the president of an organization is, so I pull that up on the Ward Directory. Just a few weeks ago my wife wanted to drop something by another member’s house, so on the way back from church we pulled up their address on the Directory and were able to get directions right to their door. Having the app installed on my phone is extremely convenient because if I get a call from a number not in my contacts it will automatically check it against the numbers in the Ward Directory and have a popup with the name if there is a match. When I first got this calling, I used the Ward Directory on LDS.org to generate mass emails.
Several people have asked me why there is no calendar section in the newsletters. The answer is the Ward Calendar on LDS.org, which can also be accessed with the LDS Tools mobile app. If I ever hear about an activity I make sure it is posted on that calendar. I used it not that long ago when the Bishop asked me to make a flyer for the Fall Social. While making it I forgot what time the event was, but after a quick look at the Ward Calendar I had all the information that I needed. If you ever have a question about a ward or stake event the first place to look is the Ward Calendar on LDS.org, it has the most up-to-date information. If you don’t see the event you are looking for use the Ward Directory to contact the president of the organization that is hosting it. Because there has been such interest you will see a new section in this month’s newsletter with highlighted events.
As you may guess one of my favorite sections of LDS.org is the Newsletter. I spend many enjoyable hours each month getting it together for you 🙂 I know that about 40 people visited each of the previous issues, and more visited October’s then September’s. I hope that those numbers continue to grow as you help your friends find their way here and read what I believe are inspiring messages. Since each newsletter has the same theme as Sacrament Meeting it is a great place to start if you are called on for a talk.
Last month I showed you how to access the online scriptures, and just about everything The Church has ever published. One thing that I didn’t mention is that most are available in several formats. Most are available in mp3, so no matter where you are or what you are doing you can listen to the scriptures, your Sunday School or Relief Society lesson, the Ensign, a General Conference talk, Preach My Gospel, and much much more. Many publications, such as the scriptures and lesson manuals, are in epub and pdf which helps you read them off-line or on certain devices – like Kindle. My favorite feature of the Android App Gospel Library is once you have downloaded the text for an item you can use Text to Speech to listen to it without downloading the mp3. This has helped me many times listen to a lesson before I either participate, or give it, on Sunday. I shared last month how online notebooks have eliminated my need to print out Sacrament talks. I also have found it very handy to use the highlighting features when I prepare a lesson. I also make sure that every phone I buy has HDMI capabilities so I can mirror my screen on a TV and let others in a class I am teaching read along with my highlights.
I have also found that having access to archived church magazines helps me prepare Family Home Evenings. I grew up in a house that had at least the last 20 years of all 3 church magazines on hand at all times. Now with a few clicks I have access to all that material, and more – without taking all the physical space or subscription fees. This makes it very easy for me to get coloring pages, cartoons, and stories to help my young kids understand Family Home Evening topics. Have you ever seen the five disk sets for the hymnal or the primary songs? Most of the songs are available, for free, in mp3 format on LDS.org (with and without vocals). This has helped me immensely preparing primary lessons, and also when a branch I lived in had no pianist. Something else that has helped me teach my family the gospel is the illustrated children’s version of the Standard Works (i.e. Book of Mormon Stories, etc.). You may have seen them, they look somewhat like comic books. The Church has narrated them and made them into video files, which can all be downloaded from LDS.org. These are great little “cartoons” for kids to watch on Sunday. When I was part of the Young Men’s Presidency in my last ward all the lessons included several options of Mormon Messages to accompany each section. I found these to be a great way to get people involved and thinking about the topic of the lesson.
These are just some of the ways I have used the tools on LDS.org in my life, and in my callings. I implore each one of you to think of how you can more fully utilize these amazing tools that The Church has provided to you for free. I look forward to hearing your suggestions for next month’s article!