Service — Pass it forward

Many moons ago, when we were young married college students, and our ward was all of three blocks big (seriously, it really was only three small city blocks!!), I was thinking about one of the other families in our ward.  They had one small daughter.  The wife had just started working because things were tight financially for their family.  I just was feeling bad for them and wondering if there wasn’t some way that we could show them how much we loved and appreciated them.

I started talking to a few of the women in my ward who were also friends with this family.  We did a little brainstorming.  I don’t remember whose idea it was, but we decided that one night, we would go into their apartment at the appointed time, clean it and leave dinner on the table.  We also baked bread in their oven so the house smelled like homemade bread.  I’m sure it is only in Utah that we could do something like that.  Here in California we would probably have been put in jail for breaking and entering and/or the apartment manager who was also in our ward would have lost her job.  But one of their friends knew they didn’t ever lock the sliding glass door, so we didn’t have to ask the apartment manager for keys.

On the appointed day and time, we (the four or six of us) showed up and cleaned their two bedroom apartment and left dinner.  Because the wife had just started a full time job and they were adjusting, the house was a mess.  She was not a messy housekeeper.  She was usually pretty on top of it.  But we did our good deed and left dinner with a note as planned.

Not only did our friend break down and cry, but that particular day had been horrible for them.  Their daughter fell at day care and broke her arm.  Our friend had to leave work early to take her to the hospital, where they had spent the majority of the afternoon.  When they arrived home, tired and exhausted, they came into a clean home, with dinner and homemade bread and a little note that just said, “We love you and we are thinking about you today!”

We didn’t leave our names.  It was a secret service!  Because she thought she knew who had done it, our friend gave a similar service for the person she thought had given her service.  That person wasn’t involved in our service.  But that family then went out and paid a similar service to someone else.  We actually started a service wave in our ward.  It was very cool and really sweet to watch the benefits and the joy of those who received the service and then to hear about their secret service.

Can you imagine the good will and feelings of love and support our ward felt about each other as various members here and there received a non-solicited service, an expression of love, and friendship?  It was amazing!

I have not been able to figure out how to do something similar with our children.  But I have been able to reach out and serve the one.  Ocassionally I have been able to bring someone bread, or take a dinner, or watch their children, or talk with someone having a difficult day, or just smile.

Our world is a little out of the service loop.  We try to help others by giving them money or maybe donating to charities or giving of our time to organizations.  None of those things are bad or wrong and they help many people, I am sure.  But what about a teeny, tiny service to your neighbor?  What if you just mowed their lawn sometime?  How about if you brought them dinner or had them over, just because!

Here in California, in my neighborhood, my boys have helped our neighbor put together a bar-b-que grill.  She needed some help.  My neighbor next door, always kills the weeds that are next to his property.  I know he is probably doing it just so they don’t blow onto his property, but I need to take him some bread and just tell him ‘Thank you! I notice you do that and I appreciate it!’  I wish I was more on top of our yard work, but there is only so much work one woman can manage, even when she is also directing several other people to help her.  I need to reach out to my neighbors a little bit more, especially because they don’t go to church with me.  But just to build some good will and positive happy feelings in my neighborhood.

What about you?  Could your neighbors use a little loving service?

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