My brother, who had been staying with us, accepted our invitation to attend our church meeting. He was surprised to hear an announcement that a sister in the congregation needed help moving and a request for volunteers to help. After church, the snow began, and he was a little grumpy that I wanted to help carry things in the snow. To his astonishment, everyone who was helping was smiling as they happily packed and carried. We laugh now as we remember that day. But I am grateful that this is what we do as true followers of Christ. On that day and many others, my family and I have been blessed with opportunities to participate in our culture of service.
Living With Storm Threats
I have the blessing of living in Florida, well known for its beaches and hurricanes. Along with beach time, we have experienced many powerful, terrifying storms. This year we’ve had two forceful, destructive hurricanes.
Those who suffer the greatest destruction and loss need help: physical strength in addition to mental and emotional support. No one is required to help; many find their own homes leaking dirty water and their own yards filled with fallen trees (and tree parts). They may or may not have power.
But we come.
We are a neighborhood, a region, and a church of service.
Focusing on Faith
Our faith includes a need of service to fulfill our personal nature. Henry B. Eyring explained,
You have seen [serious trials] in the lives of good people you love. You have felt a desire to help them. There is a reason for your feeling of compassion for them.
You are a covenant member of the Church of Jesus Christ. A great change began in your heart when you came into the Church. You made a covenant, and you received a promise that began changing your very nature.1
As this year’s storms have devastated the state of Florida2, they have also given us an opportunity to refocus, taking an inventory of our faith. We have had opportunities to lift one another and bear one another’s burdens—to be of service in the community.
We are instructed, “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness” (D & C 58:27).
Coming With Love
My family and many friends, joined by members of our faith and other volunteers from several states, went out after the storm to help families clean up.3 Our eyes were opened as we saw heartbreaking damage and were impressed with the importance of showing love in service we could give.
We met many people whose homes were destroyed. Some of them were left in despair; others were depending on God to help them through. Some people feared what it would take to get back to normal, but were full of faith that with God’s help they could get there.
Reason for Hope
My family had opportunities to serve families in desperate need. At home after home, grateful people saw our small acts of service as miracles for hope.
One woman had lost everything she owned to the flooding. Her entire house was piled in the driveway for garbage disposal to pick up. The drywall all over her house had been stripped out four feet up on every wall.
The small efforts of a few of us renewed her faith that God would help her through. Before we left, we sang “I Am a Child of God” to her. With tears in her eyes she called us her angels.
Restoration and Preservation
One of the families we were blessed to serve had recently moved into their home. We helped them by cutting up massive fallen trees and moving the wood to a different location on the property. As we were cutting and carrying, the homeowner came to me to express gratitude for all our help.
She and her husband were alone; they could not have accomplished the work that we were able to do in a few hours. A small group of people coming together in service allowed them to see transformation and regain hope. Their disaster area became a yard.
I’ll never forget the homeowners’ story of how the Lord had protected them and their new home. Chaos was swirling about their small, simple house, and huge, majestic trees began to fall.
During the storm, the wind blew from north to south, so every tree fell in a north-to-south direction—except one. One tree fell east to west. If this one tree had fallen like the others, it would have fallen directly on their home. This grateful couple had no doubt that God was responsible for where that tree fell—neither do I.
Our privilege as Christians is to be God’s helping hands, lifting up those in need, whether from hurricanes or helplessness.
When the Lord praised the service given Him by righteous persons, they asked,
When saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
He said to them,
Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:37- 40)