What a waste of time, I thought angrily as I turned my bike around.
We were already late to an appointment with a golden family. We were missionaries in the Taiwan Taipei Mission, and my new companion, Elder Loo, always seemed to be lagging behind.
As I neared my companion, I noticed that the woman he was talking to was holding a thick stick in her hand. With her other hand she clenched the arm of a small, whimpering boy. I stopped behind my companion and listened as he tried to talk her out of beating the boy. She left without the stick.
Doesn’t he realize he’s ruining an appointment with the best family I’ve ever taught? my mind screamed. I peddled even faster.
We arrived at our appointment, sweaty and winded. At least I was. As I caught my breath and wiped the perspiration from my forehead, my companion began teaching about the “first and great commandment,” to love the Lord. “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:38–39), he read.
I flinched. Although I had taught this discussion a thousand times, it was as if I were hearing the scripture for the first time. I would have been glad to help that little boy if we hadn’t been on our way to an appointment, I rationalized.
But I couldn’t even convince myself.
We taught a beautiful discussion on sacrifice and service. On the way to our next appointment, I was planning their baptismal service in my mind. Suddenly, I realized that I was riding alone again. I looked up just in time to see my companion dart out into a busy intersection. A moment later I realized why.
A drunk had wrecked his motorcycle. He was bleeding profusely and seemed disoriented. I jumped off my bike and ran to help. The man cussed and pushed us away, but we managed to get him and his motorcycle to the side of the road. Despite our pleas that he get medical assistance, the man brushed himself off, got on his bike, and rode away.
I was amazed—not at the shock of the accident, but at my companion. He seemed to have a built-in radar system that detected people’s needs. How did he do it?
We were peddling slowly through the crowded night market when my companion stopped again. I watched as he knelt down near a child who appeared to be lost. The child’s eyes were red and puffy, and his face was streaked with tears. People milled around him, seeming not to notice his terrified screams.
At the sight of the large Hawaiian, the crowd suddenly took notice of the frightened child. People crowded around, offering to help locate the child’s parents. Assured that the child would be fine, my companion got back on his bike and rode off.
I followed in silence, my mind racing faster than my bicycle. Why hadn’t I noticed the crying child? Or the motorcyclist? Why did he see things that I missed?
Then it dawned on me. He saw things because he looked for them. That explained why he trailed behind. He wasn’t just enjoying the scenery; he was looking for people in need.
I wondered what I would see if I really looked.
The next morning I didn’t race ahead of my companion. We rode side by side, looking, listening, and seeking someone to serve. Soon, it seemed like there were more needs than we could possibly meet. Had they been there before?
Since then, whenever I think that no one needs my help, I slow down and take another look. It’s amazing what I see.