Iconic BYU Creamery ice cream and mint brownies welcomed attendees prior to the first ever off-campus BYU Summit held in January at the Mesa Arts Center. Attendees came for the brownies. They came for the ice cream. They came because they went to BYU. They came because they hope to go to BYU. They came to see a hero. They came to introduce their kids to their heroes. They came to hear Vocal Point. They came because they hope to be in Vocal Point. They came to hear something new. They came to feel some nostalgia, and connect to their BYU family.
Since the institution of Family Home Evening by President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors in 1915, gathering for instruction in spiritual and family enrichment has become so difficult and hectic, it’s become a go-to pulpit joke. Members are, however, promised incredible blessings for faithfully doing their best to hold weekly Family Home Evening. In February this year, a self-taught programmer on a mission to help his family make Family Home Evening more effective released an app that makes it possible for even young family members to plan and put on a spiritually enriching, multi-media lesson.
Search the Apple App Store for LDS Tools: Family Home Evening to find this app program that streamlines planning and instruction in FHE meetings. After entering a family “roster,” users plan by selecting from a list of 14 traditional, new, and practical roles. The list includes going over family rules, calendar planning, spotlight activities, etc. The app comes populated with topic-specific and searchable songs, scriptures, lessons and activities—simply select a subject and pick items from pre-populated lists.
Brother Rylan Evans, the creator of the app, says, “Over the last 2 years, I’ve been tinkering with ideas on how to make it easier to have our family stay involved. The scriptures can be complicated and time-consuming for kids to flip through and find what they need.”
Brother Evans programs as a hobby, one he took up without any prior training. “I’m self-taught,” he says, “So the number one resource for me was going to a boot camp for programming.”
DevMountain, a coding school run out of Phoenix, gave him his first serious experience in programming, but he followed up the eye-opening experience by getting in with others who shared his interest. “The nerd group, my wife calls it. A group of smart individuals who do this for a living, or that just love tinkering and understanding how things work. They meet weekly, and I asked questions.”
With this foundation and the support of more advanced programmers, Brother Evans set out with big ideas for his LDS Tools: Family Home Evening and other app projects.
Brother Mac Nelson helped test the app, holding joint lessons with Brother Evans’ family. “It’s incredibly easy to use,” says Brother Nelson, “and my kids seem to be more attentive using the app then before when we would plan our own FHE. We’re a very busy family so when we are in a real time crunch the app gets us going right away.”
LDS Tools: Family Home Evening is currently available for download only on Apple devices. Brother Evans anticipates adding updates in the coming months and is eager to learn how to prepare his app for use on Android devices.