It was Saturday, and there was work to do at my law office. But as stake president, I had committed to attend a service project with our stake Relief Society sisters. The sisters would be visiting sick children and expectant mothers in the Sergio Bernales de Collique-Comas Hospital in Lima, Peru. They would lend spiritual support, as well as deliver quilts and toys they had made during the year.
As I left behind everything else I had to do and headed for the hospital, the words of the first of many scriptures I thought of that day came to me: “When saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:39–40).
A warm, peaceful feeling flooded my heart, and I knew this would be a special experience. The Spirit also whispered to me that the Lord had called me as stake president to love and help others—especially the sick and afflicted. Throughout the day, thoughts of our Savior and His compassionate ministrations were never far from my mind. In our small way, we labored to be like Him.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was greeted by the 60 warmest hearts and the 60 warmest smiles I had ever seen. And as the Relief Society sisters entered the hospital, I watched this sad and gloomy place begin to be filled with light and joy.
“It came to pass that Jesus blessed them … , and the light of his countenance did shine upon them” (3 Ne. 19:25).
Our first visit was to a very small boy who had pneumonia and who was connected to a respirator. The boy’s mother sat at the foot of his bed. “Have faith,” the sisters encouraged her. I could see the hope and happiness she felt as she listened to the comforting words of these good sisters.
“Jesus … saith unto them, Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22).
Next we met a father whose young son was ill. He placed his son in a wheelchair so he could have his picture taken with us. One of the sisters gave the boy a pair of blue jeans that seemed to have been made just for him. “When I get out, I will put them on immediately,” the little boy told me very excitedly.
“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none” (Luke 3:11).
We visited teenage mothers who had just given birth. One was a young girl of just 14 whose baby had been born dead. The sisters put their hands on her shoulders, comforted her, and gave her much wise advice. My eyes filled with tears as I watched these wonderful women of Zion who had laid aside their own problems, which were many, to give of what they had.
“Ye are … willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8).
In one room a woman sat alone at the bed of her daughter, who was brain dead. For many days the mother had been living and sleeping at the hospital because she wasn’t from the city and she had nowhere else to stay. I felt inspired to say, “I am a priesthood holder in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Would you like me to give your daughter a blessing?” Her eyes filled with tears, and she answered, “I would.” Never before had I had such a feeling as on this occasion, and I thanked Heavenly Father for the opportunity to hold His holy priesthood and bless that little girl.
“He … put his hands upon them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).
The sisters gave this afflicted mother an issue of the Liahona and promised to come back again on another day.
“Jesus answered and said unto her, … whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13–14).
When our visit was over, I felt that each of those who had visited the hospital that day was a new person. As I saw the beautiful smiles on the sisters’ faces, I realized that when we give care and service to our fellow beings, we feel the true joy that comes from serving God.
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (John 13:17).