Carrying our brooms, buckets, rakes, and gloves, and sporting bright yellow “Helping Hands” T-shirts to identify us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we walked through the neighborhoods of my hometown as part of youth conference. Two by two, we went to assigned homes, knocked on doors, introduced ourselves as members of the Church, and asked if there was any service we could perform.
It was scary at first to simply walk up to a house and knock on a door, not knowing whether we would be greeted with an invitation to rake the yard or a door slammed in our faces. With nervous anticipation, I approached the first house and knocked on the front door, only to find no one home. Persevering, my companion and I canvassed the neighborhood in search of a service opportunity. Knock, knock. No answer. Try again. Knock, knock. “No thanks.” Try again. I was beginning to feel discouraged as knock after knock, door after door, our offers to provide service were met with surprise, dismay, and ultimately, rejection.
As my companion and I made our way down the quiet street, we noticed a home in need of some attention. The grass had been mowed, but piles of trimmings and yard waste were everywhere. The flower beds were overgrown with weeds, moss had crept up the sidewalk and front steps, and the porch was thickly covered with dust. If there were ever a house in need of “helping hands,” this was it. With a silent prayer in my heart that we could be of service, I summoned courage and headed toward the house with my companion.
An older woman in a wheelchair was wheeling up the porch and into the home, but seeing us come closer, she turned and came toward us. As we approached her, I could sense her apprehension and reluctance to allow us to speak with her. My companion and I both smiled, introduced ourselves, and explained to her that we were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and were looking for opportunities to serve in the neighborhood. We asked her if there was anything we could do to help her. Instantly, the woman’s face lit up, and she began listing things we could do to help: weeding, raking grass, sweeping the porch, stacking wood, scraping moss, and washing the driveway. As her list of tasks grew longer and longer, I flagged the other members of our youth group to come join. Members from our group arrived, assignments were made, and we quickly set to work.
Performing this service put a smile on my face and made me want to do my very best. While we worked, we enjoyed getting to know this woman and listening to her stories. We learned that our offer to help came as a timely answer to prayer. She explained that she was not the homeowner but was caring for the house for her brother, who was scheduled to have open-heart surgery the next day. The woman knew how much her brother cared for his yard and enjoyed working in his garden, but because he was ill and she was unable to bend down and work, the yard was neglected and had become overgrown. Together, the brother and sister had prayed for someone to help with the upkeep of the yard. I felt the warmth of the Spirit fill my heart as I realized that through our service we were able to be the answer to another’s prayer.
Her brother called on the phone and, with tender emotion in his voice, thanked us for our labors. I was overcome with love for the man whom we had served and also for my Heavenly Father, who is ever mindful of the needs and prayers of His children.
When I set out that morning to perform service, I expected to use my rake, broom, and shovel to serve others, but I had no idea that the Lord would use me as His instrument to fill the needs of another. I am grateful for this experience that taught me the truth of the scripture, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17).
I have a testimony of the power of service and how it not only changes our lives but the lives of those around us. Each day I strive to provide service for at least one person; whether I’m offering a simple smile or a good deed, my Heavenly Father knows what I can do to help other people. I have a testimony of the power of service and the strength it can bring as we put forth our best effort and ask for no reward in return.