As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have many opportunities to serve others. I am able to serve the people I attend church with, as well as others in my community from many different walks of life. This service takes many forms...bringing a meal to someone who is ill or has just had a baby, visiting with someone who is lonely, giving a ride to someone who doesn't have their own transportation, holding a fussy child when a mother is overwhelmed, clearing weeds from a grave of a woman who played an important part in making my city a wonderful one. Basically, just keeping my eyes open and looking for those who might need me. Of course, these are things that I should do, not because of my membership in any church, but because I just strive to be a nice person. I do appreciate, however, the reminders that I can and should reach out.
One of the things that I truly love about my church are the formal "calls to serve." I have held many callings throughout my life, and have been abundantly blessed as I accepted and tried to magnify those callings. I have learned new skills. I have become closer to God as I have relied on Him for inspiration on how to best serve those in my stewardship. I have come to understand the infinite and beautiful love of the Savior for all mankind. I have been taken care of in my own life and family. I have associated with people who I will forever call my friends. Each experience has been precious to me.
For most of my adult life, I have served with the youth of the church. Oh, I adore teenagers! I love that stage of life, when wings are being spread, when parents are being questioned, when a child becomes her very own person. I love that this is a time of discovery, of finding out for one's self. And I loved being part of this time of life for many young men and women.
I have served in many capacities in the Young Women's organization. I've camped, I've counciled, I've presided. I've bonded with many of the most extraordinary girls you will ever meet. They are all part of my story. Some of the most sacred experiences of my life happened when I served with the Young Women, and came to know the incredible love that Heavenly Father has for his daughters.
I have spent many years as a youth Sunday School teacher, sharing the scriptures with young men and women both. I have seen, several times over, "a mighty change of heart." I have experienced young people being touched deeply by the scriptures and resolving to live their lives as faithful servants of God. I have been with them as they attended the temple, I have watched them go on full-time missions, I have seen some of them happily marry and start lovely families. All of these people own a piece of my heart.
The ward in which I now reside is a small one, and the need to serve is great. For the past year, I have held three callings, one of them being youth Sunday School teacher. I also serve as the meal coordinator for the four full-time missionaries who serve in our ward boundaries. These missionaries are young adults who give two years of their lives to serve the Lord with no distractions. They put aside education, family and friends, and all worldly influences. They pay for these missions themselves. As members of the church, we are asked to provide one meal a day for them, and I facilitate that, inviting people to feed them each day.
For the past couple weeks, some of the guidelines for feeding the missionaries have been changed. It has become evident that these two callings are colliding a little bit. So today, I was released as a Sunday School teacher so I could focus my efforts on caring for our missionaries. This was not easy for me. My two students, Emily and Ann, are so dear to me...we have learned and grown together, and have such thoughtful discussions about the Old Testament that we've been studying. It is hard to step away from them. But an awesome new teacher has been called and I know they are in good hands.
How much I love our missionaries!!! Can you think of a better place for me to serve right now?! Corbin and I have them in our home often, at least twice a month, to share our dinner with them. We invite them to bring people with them who are investigating our church, and have had such uplifting, spiritual discussions in our home. One of those investigators lately has become one of my dear friends, and another one is one of Iver and Shakira's best friends. I feel such joy in these experiences and in taking care of the missionaries, and hope to better inspire others to do the same.
This calling helps me feel very close to Iver, my own son who is on his mission in Mexico City. I know that as I fulfill it to the best of my ability, with my heart and soul poured into this service, that my Iver will be fed and loved and cared for. Ultimately tonight, that is why I am crazy-thankful.