For a combined Mutual activity one Wednesday night, our youth leaders had prepared a service project with a fun twist. They divided the youth into four teams of about eight people. They gave everyone a sheet of paper with a list of service ideas we could do for people in our ward boundaries. The game was to get points by doing service. For example, washing a person’s car was worth 20 points, vacuuming a living room was worth 15 points, and so on. Everybody needed to be back to the church at a certain time. If a team was late, they lost all of their points.
Being very competitive by nature, I figured my team could get four times as much accomplished if we worked in pairs. I told the other three pairs to make sure they got back to the church on time so we would not get penalized. I paired myself up with a deacon, and we headed off to his neighborhood.
We were efficient and really racking up the points. With 10 minutes left, we stopped at a widow’s house. She was not a member of the Church but was a neighbor of the young man I was teamed up with. She was in her backyard trying to pull weeds along a canal bank. When we asked her if she needed help, she gladly let us help. Pulling weeds just happened to be on our list and was worth quite a few points!
We tried to hurry because we were racing the clock. If we came back to the church late, we would forfeit all the points our team had earned.
I will never forget what took place that night in a widow’s backyard while engaged in a service activity for Mutual. The deacon and I looked at each other, and one of us said, “If we don’t leave now, we won’t make it back in time.”
He could see in my eyes that I wanted to stay, and I could see in his eyes that he wanted to stay. So we stayed and helped with the weeding. It took us about a half hour to finish the job.
As we walked back to the church, we talked about how good we felt inside. We also talked about how appreciative the woman was for our efforts.
When we entered the church, members of our team were mad at us because we didn’t come back on time. The team that had tallied up the most points was beginning to rub it in about their victory. Our leaders asked us why we were so late, and we told them what had happened. They gathered everybody around and told our story. Then they told us we were the real winners.
But we had already earned our prize in the widow’s backyard. That experience gave me a greater appreciation for serving others and still influences my life today. I am ever grateful for those Mutual leaders who helped two young men gain a testimony of serving others.