Primary lessons can sure stir things up! Last week Sister Pierson said that since we were all getting baptized this year, we should try to do what Jesus would want us to do and follow his example. “Melissa,” she asked me, “why did Jesus do things for other people?”
I said, “Because he loved them.”
So we talked about serving people out of love, not for thanks. Then Sister Pierson’s eyes started to sparkle, and Josey groaned because she knew that that meant that Sister Pierson had an assignment for us. “I would like each of you to do something for someone every single day this week,” she challenged us, “without their knowing. Small acts of service can make a big difference in peoples’ lives.”
Boy, would that be hard in my family. Mom and Dad notice everything we do, especially since they usually have to ask umpteen times before it gets done. They’d be really suspicious if things just started happening.
Monday after school, Mom said she had to take Jeanette, my big sister, to the doctor. As soon as she left, I peeked outside to see my brother, Billy, shooting baskets. I knew he wouldn’t be coming into the house for a while. I unloaded the dishwasher and put everything away exactly right. I even got the glasses up high without dropping one. It was really Billy’s turn to unload the dishwasher, but he waits until Mom’s practically yelling before he does it. This time Mom wouldn’t yell, and Billy would think she did it for him, and no one would guess that I’d done it.
It felt strange that evening—sort of peaceful. Billy did his homework without being told to, and Jeanette and Mom cheerfully cleared up after dinner. No one said anything about the dishes having been put away.
On Tuesday we made oatmeal-walnut-chocolate chip cookies. After we were finished, I took six out of the cookie jar, wrapped them in a napkin, and put them into a small paper bag. Mrs. Henderson next door is a widow and lives by herself. I know that she loves Mom’s cookies, so I put them on her doorstep, rang the bell, and ran behind some bushes to watch. She was really pleased when she found the cookies.
On Wednesday after school, I noticed Jeanette hadn’t made her bed, so I made it for her. It was hard because I had to get the bedspread tucked under the pillow just right so that there was still enough to pull over the top. I finally did it, but when I took one last look, there was a whole bunch of extra sheet hanging down on one side. I almost cried. I tucked it under the mattress, because I didn’t have the heart to start all over again, and I just hoped she wouldn’t guess that it was me who’d made the bed. When she came home that night, Jeanette didn’t say anything about it.
I got up the next morning, wondering if it was even worth doing anything, since nobody seemed to care. I mean, nobody had noticed anything enough to even ask who had done it! But I wanted to tell Sister Pierson that I had done the entire week, so I kept going.
Dad still had mud caked on his boots from last weekend, and I knew he’d need them again this Saturday, so when I got home from school, I found the old knife he uses as a scraper and spent a whole hour getting them clean again. Most of that time I was thinking that he’d better appreciate it.
Friday morning, my lunch was all fixed and ready to go when I got downstairs. I guess Mom did it—I even got cheese crackers! So I gave her an extra-big hug and felt good again. In the afternoon I quietly put all the clean clothes away while she was peeling carrots and potatoes for dinner, and I felt even better.
Saturday morning Billy and I got up early to watch cartoons. We get to do that until everybody’s up and it’s time to do chores. Dad came clomping in, in his boots, tickled Billy and me for a minute, then gave Mom a kiss. “Thanks for cleaning these off, Honey,” he said. “I’ve been putting it off all week.”
Mom looked surprised. “But I didn’t. I—”
But Dad had clumped out the door already. I just kept my eyes on the television and smiled inside, where Mom couldn’t see.
Mom let us watch TV an extra half-hour before she turned it off and said, “Get dressed—time for chores.” Her voice was happy, so we knew that it would be a fun workday instead of a drag.
I got all the way across my room to the dresser before I realized that someone had already made my bed—corners tucked up, sheets and blankets perfectly even, and my pillow all smoothed out. Downstairs, Mom was whistling. I smiled, inside and out. Little things do make a big difference. I’d have a lot to tell Sister Pierson on Sunday.