Jonathon grumbled as he climbed into the car next to his brother, Mike. He wanted to stay home and play the new game he had been given for his birthday last week. But his mother insisted they all go to the meetinghouse and help with the ward’s cleanup day.
“Why do we have to go?” Jonathon had asked his mother as he helped her load their vacuum into the car.
“It will be fun,” she said, smiling. “Besides, all of us use the meetinghouse. It’s only right that we help clean it from time to time.”
Jonathon stared out the window and watched the houses and trees pass by as they drove to the church. As his mother pulled the car into the church’s parking lot, Jonathon was surprised to see Brother Lawson park his car next to theirs.
“What is Brother Lawson doing here?” Jonathon wondered.
Brother Lawson had been very sick lately with a type of cancer called leukemia. He had been in the hospital for a long time. Jonathon remembered his parents encouraging Mike and him to pray for Brother Lawson during their personal and family prayers. Brother Lawson hadn’t been home from the hospital for very long.
Jonathon had always liked Brother Lawson. He was older than Jonathon’s grandfathers, but he went out of his way to talk to Jonathon and ask him about school and his sports team. One time he even came to one of Jonathon’s games.
As Jonathon climbed out of the car, Brother Lawson waved and said, “Hi, Jonathon.” Brother Lawson walked around to the back of his car and took a vacuum out of the trunk. Walking slowly, he pushed the vacuum into the church.
“Jonathon,” his mother called, “can you give me a hand with this?” She was struggling to pull their vacuum from the back of the car.
“Sure, Mom,” Jonathon said. He helped her pull the vacuum out and quickly pushed it across the parking lot.
All that evening Jonathon and Mike worked beside Brother Lawson. Several times Jonathon became tired and stopped to rest, but he noticed that Brother Lawson continued to work. And he was smiling! “It’s nice to be able to help, isn’t it?” Brother Lawson asked.
Jonathon felt something change inside him. “If Brother Lawson can be happy while he’s helping, so can I,” he thought. He started working even harder.
“Thank you for coming with me,” his mother said later as they were heading home.
“You’re welcome,” Jonathon said. “I’m sorry I complained about coming. I didn’t know you could learn so much from vacuuming.”
“Because we are needed and encouraged and enabled to serve, we are much happier.” 1
Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy
“How to Be Happy,” New Era, Aug. 1999, 6.
Illustrations by Matt Smith