The Georgia sky was dark one afternoon in 1978 as I drove through rain along a winding road to the town of Lawrenceville. My neighbor had taken my two little boys to after-school Primary there, and I was going to retrieve them and then set up tables for our Relief Society homemaking meeting and luncheon scheduled for the next morning.

This is a lot of work, I thought as I drove along. I hope it’s worth it. I wondered how, in my pregnant condition, I would find the energy to stop at three members’ homes to pick up card tables for the luncheon and then decorate them at the church.

When my husband and I moved into the area north of Atlanta, we were delighted to find ourselves in a newly formed branch of the Church. There were a number of friendly families in the branch, and I was certain the branch would grow despite the less-than-elegant building we were renting for our meetings. Since there was no kitchen, on homemaking day we warmed our food in toaster ovens and in electric roasters and cooking pots. Decorations helped to liven up the place.

I arrived at the building just as a Primary activity ended and found my son Jared. There were children everywhere as I carried my tables through drizzling rain and into the building. None of my luncheon committee members could come to help that afternoon, and I was feeling sorry for myself. By the time I had cut white paper coverings for each table and had taped the edges securely, I was exhausted.

“What are these paper leaves for, Mommy?” asked Jared.

“Those are shamrocks, dear. They are to be pinned on the paper tablecloths for decoration,” I said, trying to sound cheerful as I pinned on the shamrocks.

The next morning our Relief Society activity was a success. Everyone liked the decorations, and I was glad I had spent time on them. The sister missionaries brought an investigator that morning, which made the day even more special.

It wasn’t until stake conference six months later that I learned how special that morning really had been. Our stake president had invited a newly baptized couple from our branch to tell the story of their conversion. The sister began: “It was my husband who was really interested in the Church at first. I didn’t want to have much to do with it. I couldn’t think of an excuse, though, when the sister missionaries asked me to attend a women’s meeting with them. I admit, I wasn’t too impressed with the building, but when we walked in, there were all these tables covered with white paper and decorated gaily with shamrocks. I thought, Well, if these people are willing to go to so much effort, I guess I can at least listen to their message.”

As a result of that morning’s activities, this sister opened her heart to the gospel message and was baptized a few weeks later. I understood then that doing our best in Church assignments, even under trying circumstances, can make a real difference in people’s lives. Now when I’m faced with a challenge in a Church calling, I remember the shamrocks and the often unseen rewards of magnifying our callings.

Illustrated by Robert McKay

Show References

  • Jeanne Nalder McInelly serves as librarian in the Olympia Third Ward, Olympia Washington Stake.