By Anne Maxson
In Mid-March I had the opportunity to participate in sealings at the temple. At one point during the session, the sealer stopped and said, “My heart is with the people of Ukraine.” Immediately, there was a shift in the spirit in the room. He talked of his mission to Ukraine and Russia, of the kindness of the people he met, and of the heartache he felt thinking of families being separated during the crisis there.
I started to feel the significance of the work that we were doing in that room. I wondered about the circumstances of the people for whom we were doing work, wondering if those whose names were on the cards had been separated by war or disease or anything else. It added to the urgency of the sealings that day. I am not in a position to be able to help those Ukrainian families directly but I am able to help some other families be able to be united for eternity.
This past week, our family decided to make some mints to sell. We wanted to donate all the proceeds to a charity helping on the frontlines of the refugee crisis in Europe. It was something to keep my kids occupied for a few of the days of Spring Break and had a purpose. Our contribution was not large, but we remembered that every little bit helps.
In the talk from 2017, The Needs Before Us by Sister Bonnie Oscarson, she states, “For those of us who have watched news of recent events and have felt helpless to know what to do, the answer might actually be right before us…sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities. We are touched when we see the suffering and great needs of those halfway around the world, but we may fail to see there is a person who needs our friendship sitting right next to us in class.”
This lesson became more apparent as we went about delivering the mints. One of the women that had ordered mints, hadn’t seen my kids in about 7 years. (My kids were 2 and 4 the last time she saw them so there has been quite the change in 7 years.) We had mostly been doing doorstep deliveries but she invited us in. As we entered her home, I was grateful for the opportunity to visit with her. And I believe she was grateful for the visit and the chance to gush about how much the kids have grown. As the kids and I recited our day to my husband later, the kids talked of how they felt a bit embarrassed being talked about so much but also that they felt that visit was an important one to show love to someone else.
Service comes in many forms. Some serve on the front lines, providing immediate aid in a time of crisis. Some serve through providing donations. Some serve by being extra kind to the cashier at the store. Some serve through magnifying their callings. Some serve in the temple, performing sacred ordinances for those that are unable to do so. Some serve while sitting in a chair across from a friend and just spending time with them. You may not think that your service matters but, to those whose stress or heartache it relieves, it holds much value.
Sister Oscarson goes on to say, “I can guarantee that there will always be someone at every Church meeting you attend who is lonely, who is going through challenges and needs a friend, or who feels like he or she doesn’t belong. You have something important to contribute to every meeting or activity, and the Lord desires for you to look around at your peers and then minister as He would.
“What good does it do to save the world if we neglect the needs of those closest to us and those whom we love the most? How much value is there in fixing the world if the people around us are falling apart and we don’t notice? Heavenly Father may have placed those who need us closest to us, knowing that we are best suited to meet their needs.” (emphasis added)
I invited you to take time to reflect on the service you’ve received - whether that’s a friend checking in while walking down the hall at church, a family member taking care of one of your chores, a ministering brother or sister reaching out. Then, take time to think about who all is within your reach - family, friends, ward members, and community members. Consider what small things you can do to serve and recognize the value that you can provide to those around you.