“Okay, here are the trash bags,” the bishop said. “Let’s get to work.”
This year for our yearly stake service project we were cleaning up a middle school by our stake center. When we arrived at the school, we saw that the fairly small campus was covered in trash. The wind had blown piles of garbage along a chain link fence. The grass was yellow and dying in patches. Flowers and plants had been planted in an obvious effort to beautify the school, but they had not been maintained, and a field of weeds grew as high as my elbows. The paint in the bathrooms was peeling away from the walls, and spitballs covered the ceiling. I held my nose in disgust as I looked around.
I started picking up garbage along the fence. “This is gross,” I thought. “Why should I pick up someone else’s mess?” I turned to a girl who was working next to me and said, “I have never seen so much trash before. Yuck!”
After a few minutes of filling my trash bag, I thought, “It’s so hot out here. My back hurts, and my hands are getting dirty. I’m sure there are germs all over them! Maybe I can paint the bathroom instead. That would be easier, and I could get out of picking up trash.”
But there were enough volunteers painting already. I walked as slowly as I could back to the hot asphalt near the fence.
Then, as I looked around, I thought, “If this were my school I would be so happy to know that people were cleaning it. I wonder if the students will be surprised on Monday? I bet they’ve never seen this chain link fence completely free of trash.”
I began working harder, making sure I picked up every piece of garbage around the fence and all the trash stuck in the links. My dad mowed the field of elbow-high weeds, and I helped trim bushes and paint an exterior wall.
When we were finished, I looked back at the school and the clean area along the fence and thought, “These students will be so happy!” Then I thought of what I had accomplished and how I had changed. Alma was right: “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ was a marvelous sacrifice. Christ not only atoned for the sins of the world, but He experienced the pains, sicknesses, and emotions we all have during this mortal life. Alma 7:11–12 has helped me understand that I am never alone in my trials. The Savior took upon Himself my pains, afflictions, and temptations—the ones I encounter every day. This knowledge assures me that He will always be there for me as long as I invite Him into my life. With Him, I know that I can endure my physical and spiritual trials.
“Let Your Hearts Be Comforted”
A few years ago my older brother was on a foreign exchange trip in Moscow, Russia. At that time, a prominent Russian political leader had been saying things against the Church. My mom and I were worried for my brother’s safety. He was staying with a family we didn’t know much about, and we worried what they would think. We didn’t know what the Russian people’s reactions toward the Church and toward my brother would be.
We decided to pray. In fact, we said many prayers that night. When it was time for me to go to bed, I said one more prayer for my brother. I had the feeling that I should read my scriptures. When I opened them, the first scripture that I saw was D&C 98:1–3. The verses read:
“Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
“Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.
“Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.”
This scripture was a definite answer to prayer. It seemed like Heavenly Father was talking directly to me—that the scripture was written just so that I could find it more than 150 years later. I went upstairs to show my mom. When she read it, tears welled up in her eyes. We both knew that everything would be okay. We knew that Heavenly Father had control over the situation.
Sure enough, the president of Russia defended the Church, and the Russian government leader apologized for what he had said. Soon afterwards, my brother returned home safe and sound.
I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for helping me find that scripture and for giving my mom and me comfort in our time of need.
I’ve Been Given Much
On my first day in the mission field, I was homesick, hot, and questioning if I had what it takes to serve for two years. Why was I here at all? At church that day, the opening hymn was “Because I Have Been Given Much” (Hymns, no. 219). After singing that hymn, I knew why I was here. That hymn was the answer to my prayer.