Tuesday, November 11, 2008


One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read:

'Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.'

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

In the book of Luke, chapter 10 we can read the parable of the good Samaritan. For most of us this is just a story of a man who had compassion on another who was in serious need of medical assistance. Most of us don't have these kinds opportunities. And many of us are afraid to help those who are in need (the begger on the street).

I propose that there is more to this parable. It teaches about being a good neighbor. It addresses the desireable attributes of compassion; kindness; charity and the welfare of others. As a member of the church we have opportunities all the time to practice these Christ-like attributes. We also have daily opportunities within our homes to show Christ-like love for one another.

Several years ago I had a conversation with Dad after expressing my concern for those who are less fortunate and I asked the specific question: "Am I wrong in not providing for those who beg on the street?" These are some things that I gleaned from our converation:

1) Pay a generous fast offering.

This is a simple way to help those in our ward family who may not be able to provide for themselves temporarily. I know that each one of us has had such times and has sought for help from the Bishop. What a blessing.

2) Participate in the Humanitarian efforts/opportunities that are found in each stake.

There are so many things that we can do. They don't have to be huge, like making a quilt. They can be small - like assembling hygiene kits at a stake relief society service project.

3) Serve.

Be willing to service. Do whatever is asked of you. President Dieter F Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk: "Lift where You Stand". Read it.

4) If you forget how to be a good neighbor; or how to be a good sister or brother; or don't know what you should do - turn to the scriptures.

My favorite scripture that reminds me of what I should do is found in Mosiah, when King Benjamin is speaking to the people of Zarahemla. An Ancient General Conference. I would read this too...

5) When moved by the spirit we should act as the spirit directs.

This past year, we had a sister move into the area who lives out of her motor home. She is a humble woman with little or no means. One evening the Bishop called and spoke to Victor and asked if he would get some gas and take it to her so that she could drive to the church to meet with him. He also asked if we could provide something for her to eat.

Victor asked me to join him in his tasks. We bought the gas and drove to where she was parked. Prior to this trip I knew nothing of her circumstances; all I knew was that she was new in the ward. As Victor poured the gas into her tank I was overwhelmed with such compassion that I can not describe. It took every ounce of energy to contain the emotions that continued to push to the surface.

After visiting with her for a short time we returned home and began preparing for mutual. At one point I just stood in my kitchen and wept. I offered a short prayer asking Heavenly Father what I should do. I stood there in the silence of my kitchen and waited for an answer. 10 minutes before I had to leave to meet the young women at the church, I had filled a wicker basket to capacity with food; toiletries and a warm blanket. Placed a plastic container with warm shepard's pie on top and a note to the Bishop itemizing the items in the basket.

I do not believe that this sister is aware that the items given to her that night by the Bishop had been provided by me. What I know for a certainty is that I see this sister in a completely different way and I truly love her as one of my sisters.

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." - Mosiah 2:17


DebbieLou said...

I know what you mean. Thanks for sharing those things.

Trillium said...

Most of the time we are so wrapped up in our own details that we fail to even notice those who merely need a warm smile or word of encouragement. Too often we "pass them by and notice them not." Thus, we need to stop being so focused on our own discouragements and discomforts, and look for someone to help. By doing so, our own burdens will seem much lighter.

Zaphod said...

Always listen to the Spirit and then do what the Spirit whispers. I could not be the Bishop any other way.