My number-one requirement for a great Saturday is sleeping in. Number two is spending some time playing video games. Then there’s hanging out with my younger brother, Nathan. A Saturday cannot be great unless we get to play intergalactic heroes together.
But last Saturday I had to get up early for a church service activity. We met at the local food bank at 8:00 a.m. to fill bags with food for senior citizens. Nathan couldn’t even come with us because he was too young.
I didn’t see any way that Saturday was going to turn out well.
Mom could tell I wasn’t happy, so she reminded me that when we serve other people, we also serve the Lord.
“All right,” I thought. “Heroes serve others. I’ll try to have a good attitude.”
As we walked into the big warehouse, I saw rows and rows of empty pallets. We had to fill brown paper bags with food and put them on the pallets.
“Put 20 bags on each pallet,” a man told us. “Fill every pallet.”
I was stunned. There had to be at least 80 pallets in the warehouse. That meant we had to fill more than 1,600 bags of groceries. This was going to take forever!
We started filling bags with food. I carried a case of applesauce from the back of the warehouse to the area where the pallets were. Then I put two cans of applesauce in each bag. When my case was empty, I went to get another case.
Then we moved on to beans, canned chicken, and mushroom soup.
Suddenly I noticed how tired I was. I went to get a drink and then sat down. We had been working for more than an hour, but we were only about halfway done.
Mom noticed me sitting down.
“Ryan, are you OK?”
“I want to go home,” I said. “I’m really tired.”
Mom nodded. “You’ve been working really hard, but we need to finish what we came to do,” she said.
I looked down but didn’t say anything.
“Most of the older people who will eat this food only get a small amount of money each month,” Mom explained. “When that runs out, they have to wait until the next month to buy more food. What you’re doing will help them have enough to eat.”
A warm feeling started to fill my body. I was doing something important. I was helping other people who were mothers or fathers or grandparents or friends. All of them were Heavenly Father’s children.
Mom gave me a hug. “Why don’t you rest for a minute and see how you feel?” I bowed my head and said a prayer. I asked Heavenly Father for the strength to be able to finish the job.
When I stood up, I knew that I could work some more. I added dried prunes to the bags. Luckily the prunes weren’t very heavy.
When we were finished I stood back and saw hundreds of bags ready to go to people who needed them. I thought about my old requirements for a great Saturday. I hadn’t slept in or played any video games, but I felt good about what I helped accomplish.
In a few months, Nathan will be old enough to help at the food bank. Maybe we can come back as a family. Then Nathan and I can pretend that we’re heroes who have to bag food to save the day. That will be another great Saturday, just like this one!
“My heart rejoices as I observe the Saints all over the Church doing everything they can to provide Christlike service wherever there is a need.”3
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“Stewardship—a Sacred Trust,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 93.
Illustration by Mark Robison