It was my privilege to speak to a congregation of my religion on the topic of service and of doing good amongst our fellowmen. My so doing was an act of service. I would like to share part of what I spoke on –
“When I choose to do something for a fellow man I would rather that no one would know about it. I prefer that only the angels know what I am doing. To be honest, most times I feel that I do not do enough to serve. I begin each day with a prayer in which I ask to be guided in the things I do throughout the day. Often I pray that I might be an instrument for good in God’s hands. I feel totally inadequate most of the time and limited with my resources. In spite of feeling inadequate I often find ways to give. My sons have often heard me say that “its just as well that we don’t have any money for if I had it I would just give it away.”
I really care about my fellowman and a scripture that has always been dear to me goes like this:
“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”
I have known that scripture since I was a youth yet I feel that my desire to serve was born when I was born. I have always had a deep desire to serve God and serving Him is done best thru serving his children.
I was asked that I share some of what it was like serving and doing good in the world by having foreign exchange students in my home. To be honest with you, it was a challenge. I don’t have the nicest, newest home and life at my home can be a little difficult at times. Something is always breaking or not working and just keeping the plumbing going at my home is a full time job. So to have two youth from the other side of the world come stay at my home was indeed challenging. Last year my two sons and I hosted a student from Thailand and a student from Germany at the same time. It was great having the two of them and if I had to do it again I would do so again and having the two students at the same time was a good decision. Actually last November there was a boy from Hong Kong whose host family was unable to continue keeping him and when the gal over our area asked if anyone could give him a home no one else volunteered so I called her up and told her that I didn’t have a bed but I had a couch that made into a bed and he could stay at my home until she found someone. She was extremely grateful for my offer and so for three weeks we had three exchange students.
I am really glad that I listened to the spirit and offered my home. Our lives were so enriched by the young man that stayed those three weeks and have been even more enriched by the ten months that the other two were with us. I feel that the spirit guided us in deciding to be a host family and then as I and my sons made it a matter of prayer we were also guided in our choice of students. Then once the boys came it meant lots of prayers for guidance in how to make their experience a good one.
Host families are not allowed to try to convert exchange students to their religion, so we didn’t. What we did do though was to continue living our religion to the best that we could in order to be a good example. Though I made no effort to indoctrinate, I know that our young guest’s lives will always be influenced by the time they spent with us. Thru our example they learned what prayer is and how to pray, for we are a praying family. I know that one day they will be faced with a challenge and that they will remember how we prayed for assistance in our daily matters and a prayer will come to their minds.
The three young men that became part of our family are not the first people that I have opened my home to, nor will they be the last. A year earlier we as a family opened our home to a young woman who was homeless and for three months she and her dog were part of our family. Though she was a stranger she became as if my own daughter. It was very rewarding to watch her become able to make it on her own. Neither with her nor with the exchange students was there ever any monetary compensation. If a person is paid for serving then it is not serving.
The world is full of opportunities to serve. Last month my son Jared had to see the doctors in Chicago one last time and so we took the train this time. It is less expensive than flying. On the way to Chicago there was an older lady who sat in front of us who was traveling alone. She was going to our same destination. She was sick and we were able to help her with her luggage and other things. She really appreciated the assistance my sons and I gave her. Then on the way home there was a women who after boarding the train discovered that the meals onboard train could only be bought with cash. She had brought no cash with her and to her dismay would have to go without food or drink for close to forty hours. I told her not to worry that I had packed food for my sons and I to eat on the train and that we had enough to share. Though my supply was running low by the end of our journey I was able to meet her need of food and hydration for the duration of the trip. She was most grateful. I could not have not shared.
There are opportunities all around us to serve. When we say that we are Christians we are actually saying that we are followers of Christ and as so we are trying to be saints. If we live up to what a true Christian does then we are indeed saints. A saint would never allow someone else’s needs to not be met. A true saint would never not serve his fellowman. If I wait until I am on a train again to serve, then I would not serve very often. If I wait until I have the finances to serve others with, then I would pass up many opportunities. If I want to live the life of a true Christian then I won’t wait.
People who care about other people are a peculiar people and peculiar things happen to peculiar people. When I shared my resources with the exchange students even though I and my sons had little to share a peculiar thing happened — we were greatly blessed. When I shared our food with the lady on the train a peculiar thing happened, we didn’t run out of bottled drinks. Our choices of things to eat became small but we made the trip just fine.
Jared has been very blessed with a successful surgery and there were many people who helped us with the cost of travel. In all he has made five trips to Chicago to see the doctors for the surgery and follow-up visits. With each trip there were miraculous things that happened and experiences that will leave lasting impressions on me and my sons. There were times when we were down to our last dollar or our last tank of gas. Somehow in April coming home when we gassed up in the middle of Wyoming our tank of gas lasted twice the distance than it should have and we made it home. Scientifically it was impossible for the fuel to go as far as it did, but we went on faith and we didn’t run out in the middle of the night half way between Rock Springs and here. Then there were times that we were watched over, guided and protected from harm.
In return we as a family tried to live up to who we are as followers of Christ. When we stayed at the Ronald McDonald house in March we were privileged with an opportunity to donate a set of scriptures for their chapel. Last month as I was playing hymns on my piano I felt inspired that I should take a hymn book with me to Chicago and donate it to the Ronald McDonald House Chapel. I looked at the hymn book I was playing out of and it was like new. Some where in a box I have an old one. “I could give them this one,” I told myself as I looked over its unmarked pages. Our suitcases were open behind me so I turned and placed my best hymn book in them.
Then while at the Ronald McDonald house I wrote on the front page of the hymnbook, “Donated to the Ronald McDonald House in memory of Kason Adamson.” (Kason is my son who died 14 years ago.) Then I went to their chapel and placed the hymnbook on the piano. They haven’t had a hymnal of any kind. This donation was done quietly, though they might figure it out from Kason’s name as to who the donor was. After placing the hymn book I looked around their chapel, the scriptures that my sons and I had given to the house director in April was laying open on the podium. Someone had opened it to a page which spoke of Christ.
Just as it was a real challenge opening my home to have exchange students, it has been a real challenge making the many trips to Chicago. To keep expenses down we sometimes slept in our car and sometimes we camped at campgrounds during these trips. We were almost always safe and cared for. I say almost because there was one night on this last trip at a campground in Illinois when we were not safe. After getting to our destination by train I rented a car for a few days and we went on a search for our ancestors at a cemetery in southern Illinois. After leaving the cemetery we found a state park to spend the night in. We had set up our camp, had a meal of pork-n-beans and peaches and had laid down to sleep. We said our family prayer surrounded by darkness and a billion stars in a totally empty campground. I believed and felt we would be safe while we slept. I was awakened suddenly by a voice which said — “wake up, get up now.” It was a very commanding voice and it woke me from being sound asleep. To this day I do not know who the voice belonged to. I believe that there is such a thing as a guardian angel and that love ones when they die can become our guardian angels. So perhaps it was a deceased ancestor or other relative. However the voice sounded a lot like my deceased brother who died last year. I heeded the voice. My sons were both sound asleep. Coming into the campground was a truck. I woke my boys. The truck was then joined by another truck and the men were acting strange. I told my sons “get in the car now.” We hurried into the car and locked the doors and watched as the men messed around. Before they could notice us we hurried out and grabbed our sleeping bags grateful that we had not set up the tent. We then left and I drove thru the night until we reached Nauvoo the next morning where there is a safe state park. I know that God protected my sons and me.
I am grateful that the Lord has watched over me and my sons and has given us opportunities to serve. I know that my Heavenly Father loves me and that just as he cares about the sparrows in the field, He cares about me and all of his children even more than the sparrows. I know that as I serve Him He will bless me. I hope that I can always be an instrument in his hands for good.
My greatest blessing that has come to me from my serving my fellowman whenever an opportunity arises, is the influence for good that it has been on my four sons. From my example and from the example of their father they have learned to serve. Not only have they watched me do good in the world, but they have also watched their Dad do so as well. My late husband loved to help people. His favorite thing to do in life was to help someone who was stuck in the snow, or to stop and help a stranded motorist. My sons have learned this quality from him and it brings me great joy when I see them doing the same. I have watched my four sons volunteer their time and talents many times to the help of others. Their love and caring for their fellowman touches my heart.
It is not my intent to brag by sharing these things. My purpose is to do good in the world by encouraging others to be engaged in the same.”
From what my discourse contained it is apparent that I consider myself to be a Christian. I believe in Christ and therefore I am a Christian. The church which I belong to is ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ also known as the Mormon Church. I consider myself to be more than a ‘Mormon’ for I am making a conscious effort to live the life of a ‘Latter-Day Saint.’ As such, service then is an everyday aspect of my life.
When we look at the violence in the world, for example the riots in England, it is obvious that there is one thing at the root of it — selfishness. There would have been no riot in England if the participants had given any thought about doing good for their fellowman. What they lacked was brotherly love. Doing service for our fellowman is not limited to followers of Christ. All people of all walks of life and of all sects can get involved in the spirit of giving and doing good. May the world be a better place today because one person decided to help another.