Monday, December 20, 2010

FRIENDS & TESTIMONIES - Black Acorn Shells

Tough as Black Acorn Shells
More than 40 years ago my wonderful mission president taught me an unforgettable lesson on friendship in the kingdom.  At our first Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) Zone conference, then President Hal R. Johnson started our first missionary interview this way:  “Look out there in that chapel.  Those brethren are probably the closest friends you have in the world, right? You’ve worked with many of them building the kingdom. Friends are important in the gospel. Remember your friendship with these great missionaries . Such friendships protect your testimony.” That impressed me. Then to help me remember he used an object lesson. “Consider the black acorn--it has the toughest, protective shell known to man. You could hammer it, try to crush it, anything to try and break it. Nothing works. That’s what friendships will do for you as you continue growing in the Kingdom.”  He was right. My best friends have always been fellow laborers in the kingdom.  By the way, President Johnson was later called to be President of the Sao Paulo Temple before he passed away.

Harvesting OBJECT LESSONS -General Conference

One family makes General Conference even more meaningful by encouraging listening and writing skills, harvesting object lessons used by the General Authorities.  (This technique gives a fun structure to each individual’s notes.  For family members,  special “rewards” and privileges are awarded in family home evening for each completed  3x5” cards.   Over the years these cards have become a great resource for church talks and missionary letters “fillers”.  Scripture study takes on a new dimension when family members are spotting and rewriting object lessons for the family “Object Lesson Collection.”

Sharing your TESTIMONY - Two Candles

Primary teacher Pam Lareaux told our class about a time when her grandmother had taken her into a darkened room, lit a candle, and showed Pam how she could light other candles once her own was lit. Then the older woman taught Pam the importance of being an example and sharing her testimony with others. The lesson was so powerful that Pam begged her grandmother to teach it to her again each time she visited.

Object Lessons That Motivate  by Jon Robert Howe,   Ensign Magazine, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oct. 1997, Page 70

Vitamin TMB - The Evolution of Object Lessons

The concept of Teaching Moment Boosters was born in Holladay, Utah in 1996.  Rosie and I were just called to be the Ward Teacher Development Leaders.  We planned our first quarterly meeting and were inspired, I believe, to pass out little plastic file boxes with object lessons collected from our teachers and other quick teaching ideas arranged on 3x5”cards.  Jay Todd, then managing editor of the Ensign Magazine heard about the idea and encouraged an article which ran a year later.   (Object Lessons That Motivate  by Jon Robert Howe,  Ensign, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oct. 1997, Page 70.) We developed an ongoing  fireside-style  TMB Meaningful Pursuit “Game”, an e-mail harvesting campaign, the Vitamin TMB blog, and publication of  family “game” cards-- and on I-Pad, I-Phones and Data base software.   


Deacons quorum adviser David Baugh shared a story about a raw egg that had been wrapped in several layers of egg cartons and tape. The teacher invited the class to bounce the bundle off the wall or drop it on the floor. Then the teacher took the package, pulled it apart, and showed the students the sheltered, unbroken egg inside. He taught the students that the gospel was designed to protect each of them in the same way—by helping them build layers of testimony as they kept the commandments.
Fragile Protected

Object Lessons That Motivate  by Jon Robert Howe,   Ensign Magazine, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oct. 1997, Page 70


To help the teachers in our ward use object lessons more effectively, I called each of the teachers who would be attending teacher development meeting and asked them to recall the most memorable two or three object lessons that had stayed with them through the years. The responses were wonderful and sparked a deeper-than-usual interest in our upcoming meeting. From the responses, my wife, Rosie, and I listed nearly 30 object lessons on the chalkboard as we encouraged teachers to share their most memorable object lessons with the class.

Object Lessons That Motivate  by Jon Robert Howe,   Ensign Magazine, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oct. 1997, Page 70

TITHING First - Apples

Relief Society teacher Eunice Black, remembered a speaker who set out 10 apples on the podium to represent his monthly income. He “paid” one apple for food, two apples for rent, and so on until only one apple remained—a tithing apple. Then he asked the bishop to come and stand next to him. He explained that he hoped the Lord would understand that he still had many bills to pay and that he could pay only part of his tithing this month. Then the speaker took a big bite out of the apple and handed the bishop the partially eaten fruit. It made a powerful impression on Sister Black, who determined to pay tithing first, then budget the remainder of her money.

Object Lessons That Motivate  by Jon Robert Howe,   Ensign Magazine, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oct. 1997, Page 70


Jon Robert Howe is first last, and always a seeker of truth who is happy to share--an educator experienced in multimedia ways to make learning memorable.  He has been in turns a newspaper photographer,  radio news broadcaster, professional Santa Claus, actor, video producer, musical playwright, graphic and Internet designer,   marketing executive and innovative blogger.  In his computer classes, Jon loves to teach hungry students the presentation computer techniques that he is always polishing and using.  He really enjoys leading church classes using his multimedia skills to not only keep his students awake--but more, to help make the lessons “stick” in the minds and hearts of his fellow students.

Lifesaving PURITY

My own favorite object lesson came from a bishop’s counselor in Laramie, Wyoming, who more than 50 years ago, passed a clean, new Lifesaver around a circle of hungry deacons and then offered the dirty and somewhat sticky piece of candy to anyone who wanted to eat it. This wise teacher challenged us to remember the lesson when we were old enough to begin dating. We needed to keep ourselves morally clean and to respect our dates. It was a powerful lesson on chastity I never forgot.
Delicious Reminder

Object Lessons That Motivate  by Jon Robert Howe,   Ensign Magazine, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Oct. 1997, Page 70


As newly called Teacher Development Leaders in the Holladay, Utah First Ward in 1996, Rosie (my wife) and I developed a Sunday evening fireside “game” called TMB* Meaningful Pursuit.  (The popular game Trivial Pursuit was all the rage.) The evening was designed to promote fellowship among the teachers in our ward and build our collection of object lessons we soon came to call *Teaching Moment Boosters.  Invitations to the “party” challenged teachers to bring at least three 3x5” cards with favorite object lessons from their church experience.  The “game” was a free form sharing and edifying discussion as attendees shared their written TMBs and others that came to mind.   No points and everybody wins with testimony building and teaching technique sharing,  Refreshments, of course!  As hosts, we collected the cards and printed them for everyone who attended.  The cards also make great missionary letter fillers.