I’m still digging through letters from people who have strong opinions about the Priesthood Moving Company. There are so many people who have had horror stories that I want to begin today’s column with two letters from women who really needed help moving, and who were grateful for the help they received. It’s always nice to start off on a happy note.
Before we get to today’s letters, I want to remind you that due to the 176 letters we received last week, this topic is closed. Please, please do not send any more letters on this subject. (Thank you very much!)
Now, let’s see what our readers had to say:
I was moved about five years ago, by our local members of the priesthood. I wasn’t even aware of the problem (if there was one) of movers being abused, or even that there were even movers to expect. I was a new member at the time, and the man who brought me into the Church headed up the moving team. He and I drove up to our local trucking place, and he drove the truck back to where I lived. (I paid for the truck.)
I am so grateful for the help of those men, and the missionaries, who helped that day. The article in Meridian about moving shocked me. I didn’t even know that the priesthood would do that upon demand (almost an order) — wow! I was especially shocked about that one fellow who said his sons shouldn’t be bothered. Sheesh!
Again, I am so grateful for the help I received, as I would not have been able to move to this wonderful senior living facility I am in now. I am very thankful, indeed.
Thanks for telling us your experience, B. It’s really neat to see men just getting together and moving someone to perform a service rather than having people stand there and demand it. It makes all the difference to the person performing the service to know that the service was given freely and received in gratitude.
I am one of those people who have had the elders quorum move us more than a few times. Gosh, now I feel guilty. I have lived in wards that brag about how many men and young men show up to help someone move. I don’t think it is a right because I am a member, but as a single parent I couldn’t afford to pay movers.
My last move was move us out and into the new home in two hours. So many guys showed up they were sometimes in each other’s way. I couldn’t tell them thank you enough.
In many wards, moving is something that is just done. I don’t think the older men need to be lifting boxes and furniture. Where are the younger people? Teenage boys have all this energy, and getting it pointed in the right direction makes it go faster.
What a great letter, Just! I’m so glad you’ve had such a positive experience, and that you stopped to tell us about it. Don’t feel guilty for a minute. Your experience shoes that sometimes the help really is needed, and that the people who really need the help often do not take that service for granted. I think we often focus on how people have been abused, rather than the success stories. Your letter and B’s were just what the doctor ordered.
Get rid of the EQ moving company? No-o-o! Sure there may be abuses, which exist anytime good people want to help their fellowman, neighbors and family.
Our family has used those services a time or two and we all have served in that capacity many times over the years. We joke about truck purchases, ‘cuz then you’ll always have a role in a service project on the weekend!
I’ve always been part of a fabulous follow-up service known as the Relief Society cleaning crew. I have fond memories of the fellowship. Serving together is so bonding. It’s the LDS version of team-building! Go, Mormons!
“Users” love the LDS people, because we are so willing to share our resources and we do it happily. There has to be limits and only you (and the Lord) know what yours are. When people don’t pitch in to help themselves, bishops withhold further assistance. Maybe the rank and file membership need to develop those skills?
Maybe we need to learn to say, “Hey, we’re helping you move. Don’t be a spectator, PLEASE” (in the kindest possible way, of course). Why get irritated and gripe privately later? Say something!
Where ever there are good people wanting to help their fellowman, neighbors and family, there must be an ability to set limits and speak to those pesky problems of lazy grazing cows who absorb resources!
Furthermore, I’m going to stop thinking I’m to old to pitch in, which I did last weekend. Thinking about it makes me nostalgic for those fun experiences — of pitching in.
Leah in Washington State
Thanks for an upbeat letter, Leah. And if you’re looking for a way that wards can gently tell people who are being moved not to be spectators, read the next letter. There’s never a problem that Meridian readers can’t answer!
I love that loading or unloading trucks with the belongings of long beloved or soon-to-be ward members is part of our culture. It’s kind of like barn-raisings and quilting bees. That said, we once had an elders quorum president that had grown weary of arriving to help load a truck and finding items not packed or organized and nothing in readiness.
He prepared a moving check list for families that would be moving out of the ward and gave it to them well ahead of time. Then he would phone prior to the pre-arranged date and time and check if the list was completed. If it was not complete he would tell them the assistance of the quorum would have to be rescheduled for a time when the family had completed the list and would be ready for help.
Seems like an inspired idea to me.
Sandee, I really like the plan that your elders quorum president used — to pass out a checklist beforehand and then to wait for the family to complete the checklist before the move was undertaken. That’s the sort of idea that allows the movers to provide efficient service, without causing the resentment that sometimes occurs when the homeowners don’t do their part. Thanks so much for the suggestion — and people, if you need a checklist, there was a great one in last week’s column for you to adapt.
Often church members expect the priesthood to move them. Aside from the risk of injury to priesthood holders repeatedly being expected to move people, the attitude that members are entitled to a free move is very disturbing.
An attitude of entitlement is dangerous and a far cry from a “gratitude attitude.” If as members we feel that we are entitled to a move, what other welfare services might we be inclined to expect?
The question might be, do we go the Lord feeling entitled for blessings, or do we do all that we can do and then know that he eases our path in life? An attitude of entitlement would better be replaced with an attitude of self-reliance.
You make a great point, Anonymous. If we feel entitled to moving services, what else do we feel entitled to? I can tell you stories that would curl your hair (assuming your hair isn’t curled already), but the incidents might be recognizable so I’m backing my fingers away from the keyboard. Trust me — an attitude of entitlement on the part of one family can sour a whole ward on the act of giving service.
Personally I believe it is scandalous that members would abuse the privilege of service that is offered in good faith by the priesthood. Soon after I joined the Church I moved; however, I (with the help of family members who are not church members) loaded up a rented U-Haul. I moved into a different ward, and several members of the elders quorum came by to help me unload. This was great because the apartment was on the second floor of a house and I couldn’t have done it myself.
Then I moved to another state, but the company I was getting a job with provided the moving service and I never considered requesting any help. At the time I was a single parent, and when I finally decided to buy a house I then asked for help. However, I packed everything in advance and marked every box with a clear destination (Bedroom 1, Living Room, and so on), so when it arrived at the new home there’d be no question as to where it would go. I also created a diagram of the house, labeling the bedrooms and even including where I wanted the furniture to be placed.
I rented a truck, and the ward members helped load it. I drove the truck to the new house, and the ward members helped unload it. With the clearly labeled boxes and diagram they were done very quickly and all my stuff was exactly where I needed it to be!
Members who seek this type of assistance absolutely must do as much work themselves as possible, including having their sons (and daughters) help. This is not a moving service and should never be viewed as such. I think the bishops need to have a fifth Sunday joint meeting to make that clear to members and tell them their obligations. Those priesthood holders with disabilities or health issues should never be expected to perform this type of service. If need be, they could coordinate others efforts.
Thanks for some good ideas, Gratefully. By the way, for people who want to organize their moves, there is some packing tape that will really help you do the job. It’s called “smart move” tape, and can be found on eBay. The tape is color-coordinated and labeled with the name of the room. If you have more rooms than there are rolls of packing tape, you can buy solid packing tape in a variety of colors and (patterns!) so that every room has a distinct labeling system.
If your boxes are all properly labeled and the movers have a diagram of what color tape goes in what room, the move is a breeze. I know — Clark and I did that on our last move. Ain’t technology grand?
I was recently released from a long-term stake position and put back into the ward. Because my stake calling often had me attending other wards, I was only able to attend my home ward about half the time. Quite often I found myself disconnected with much of the hands-on ministering that took place. I didn’t really fully know what I was missing until I was released from my stake calling and called to serve in the ward.
With this new calling, I was placed in a position of being directly involved in nearly every service opportunity and every welfare need in the ward. We have a number of singles, elderly and those with special needs. Finding a sufficient number of appropriate service needs is never a problem. I have been so humbled to watch as so many of our elders and high priests eagerly jump at the opportunity to serve. Our quorums are involved in regular temple and missionary work, wood cutting projects, fence building, constructing ramps or rails for those in our ward with special needs, re-roofing homes on a couple of occasions and yes — the dreaded moving projects.
Many people in our ward simply cannot afford professional roofing, fencing or moving services. And frankly, I am grateful they cannot. It has been such a blessing to serve them. Saturday we had another move. It was for a single, rather elderly sister who recently lost her husband. She has some other major challenges in her life right now, but suffice it to say that when she asked for help, we had 15-20 brethren show up. They were eager and happy to help. We even had two brethren show up who were not physically able to do anything. One of them was in a wheelchair. The other is in his eighties. They wanted to be there. When we were done, we discovered she was going to need to have a couple of projects done on her new home. We had volunteers on the spot. I didn’t even have to make an assignment.
My point is not to brag, although it may seem that I am. I am just very grateful to be able to associate with so many incredible and willing priesthood holders. Since one of three things a priesthood quorum is (according to Elder Stephen L Richards and D. Todd Christofferson) is “a service organization,” I believe that these brethren have the correct vision of what the Lord wants them to do. I’m not unaware that there are those in the ward who will take advantage or those who ask for more help than others. But it doesn’t matter. We have fun. We enjoy each other’s company. We love being with one another. And it really “feels” right to us.
Clearly, there are situations where brethren cannot be involved in moving or other physical kinds of service. We just do what we can. Most elders, of course, are more physically capable than most many high priests. But we do what we can. And I am confident that the Lord is pleased with each of them as they do.
DL in Oregon
DL, I really like your attitude. It seems that in your ward the men use service opportunities as opportunities to bond with one another as well as to do the specific task at hand. It sounds as though your ward is composed of Zion people. All of us should strive for this sort of unity.
I have been moved by the priesthood, and my experiences are varied. I moved from one city to another and the elders quorum packed my stuff in a moving van and my home teacher drove it for me. That was a good experience and very appreciated.
After I got to my new home, I needed to move to a place I bought. Once again the priesthood helped, and a lot of my things disappeared in the move. My son had told a friend that the Mormon Moving Mafia was so efficient when moving to this new city.
He found several of my items that had disappeared, and the person who liberated them from me told my son that he didn’t think I would really need the tools.
Now I have bought a new home in a new city and I have made several trips with boxes and one with furniture. I had fixing up to do at the new home, so I am still in my old home. I have not requested help from the priesthood, but they are planning to help me move. I am not ready, but they are pushing me to hurry. I feel that when I am ready I will go.
My branch president and the priesthood leader are coming today to assess what size moving truck I will need. I have already figured it out, found out the cost, and talked to my son about driving the truck and how I will get him back across the state to his home. I am trying to be self-sufficient, but I am being treated like a problem that has to be solved.
I have paid for the repairs at my new home and have paid for the trips to take what I have, and I have not asked for help. When some sisters have helped me because they volunteered, these same priesthood holders told them that they stole blessings from the priesthood. Aren’t the sisters allowed blessings also? I know the Lord wants all of us to help each other, but sometimes I would rather do it myself.
Not a Charity Case
What an eye-opener, Not! It never occurred to me, for example, that movers would walk off with things that didn’t belong to them. What was even more galling, however, was that a thief would brazenly tell your son that he needed the tools more than you did. It takes all kinds, doesn’t it?
You’re also the first person I’ve heard about who has been “treated” to a moving service she didn’t want. This experience is so bizarre that you may have only two choices — to get really upset about it or to laugh it off. I hope for your sake that you’re able to do the latter.
There is a very simple two-letter word in the English language that suffices when an individual needs to back away from strenuous physical demands on time, body or spirit. This word is no.
What you are speaking about in this topic is the sense of entitlement that people have. Do we serve one another? Yes. Are we supposed to run faster than we are able? No, the scriptures plainly teach that.
The expectation that someone is going to move a family is one that needs to be approached from a different direction. The needs of each family are different. Individual judgment comes into play for such service projects. To be called at the last minute to participate is simply rude. For people to expect such service is far from humility. Somewhere there has to be a middle ground.
And if a man is of the age where such physical effort is not good for health, the decision is individual and needed; to simply say no. One does not need to give an explanation; a simple answer suffices.
Charlene Calvert Pinkowski
Thanks for a wake-up call, Charlene. Most of us are afraid to use the word “no,” but sometimes that’s the only word that will do.
This goes to the topic of “compassionate” service beyond just the moving. (Our ward has a calling, “Ward Moving Coordinator!”) I’ve delivered tuna casseroles to multi-million dollar mansions. I’ve cleaned filthy apartments so the resident could get back a pittance of a security deposit. I’ve cleaned huge houses because the old owners waited to vacate until hours before the new owners took possession. I’ve cooked three-course meals for new mothers, only to arrive and find the house full of grandparents and other adults, waiting to be fed. I once left work to deliver a meal to a family with a child in the hospital, only to have to wait on the doorstep until the parents came home from shopping at garage sale. And each time, I return home to find that my own house is still as dirty as I left it, and there’s nothing planned for dinner. Such abuses of our people only make it harder to get help when the need is real.
As for those folks who come to the church for help so they won’t have to “bother” their family: As a Relief Society president, I found it was easier for people to treat me as a social worker whose job it was to help them, than it was for them to humble themselves and ask for help directly from the people who would be doing the labor. So the first question I asked when someone needed help was, “Who have you called on from among your family and friends? Let me know what you have arranged on your own, and then we’ll try to fill in the gaps.”
And as for moving, don’t get me started! Why do otherwise able and well-employed people feel like the Church should subsidize their move when they would never ask the Church to re-carpet their house or remodel their kitchen? Once our family was making an in-town move and needed to hire some laborers. Instead we made a generous donation to the ward fast offering fund in trade for the help from the ward. And while I’m steamed up on this topic, let’s stop referring to the laborers as “the priesthood” when we just mean “men.” (ie. “The priesthood will set up the tables,” or “The priesthood will be spreading mulch around the chapel.”) It cheapens the real meaning of the word when we use it so casually.
Touched a Nerve in Texas
Loved your letter, Touched! I’ve never heard of a ward having a “Ward Moving Coordinator.” I guess people in Texas must do a lot of moving.
As for providing service for people who expect it but don’t need it, I have a story of my own. I once took a dinner to a woman I visit-taught, who had had a hysterectomy. It was hard for me to make the dinner because I have an autoimmune disease and even in those days felt pretty crappy all the time, but she was adamant. After all, I was her visiting teacher. Never mind that she had three teenage children who were perfectly capable of cooking, or that the family was affluent enough that she could have ordered in if the teenagers were too lazy to cook. I was the visiting teacher, and that was my job.
So I arrived at her home with the food and asked to see her, only to learn that she was out playing tennis. I’ve laughed about that one ever since (having long ago learned that sometimes you either have to laugh or cry).
Consistent with welfare principles, the extended family is the first group of people that should be called if moving assistance is required. I do not believe that it is a “right” that members should have the quorums of the Church moving them. This is a privilege that should be reserved for those who cannot accomplish it through their own resources and only in times of significant need.
And high priests of retirement age should not be expected, under any circumstances, to be there risking serious injury. If they choose to help their own home teaching families then that is their choice but there should be no undue pressure. That’s what we have elders for!
For those who expect this service on a regular basis I would have a priesthood leader sit down with them to review the principles and, in all cases, when someone requires moving assistance they should be given a list of expectations regarding the help they are to receive. This list should include specific requirements that they supply an adequate moving truck and have everything boxed, labeled and ready to go when the men arrive. If not, I would suggest that they turn around and come back when the expectations are complete. Lessons must be learned the hard way sometimes.
We have always moved ourselves, using our own resources and those of our family. However, on one occasion I ended up in the hospital with a serious illness and the brethren joined my family and assisted for which we were all grateful.
Thanks for a great letter, Rob. I especially liked the sentence about high priests of retirement age not needing to help with moves because, “That’s what we have elders for!” If my husband were still high priests group leader, I’d be tempted to make a t-shirt for him that said, “Moving ward members is what we have elders for!” I think he’d wear it, even as he helped with the moving.
I think there are several topics in the letter that need to be addressed. No one has to help move someone. They can say no. No one has lost a temple recommend because they were unavailable to help move. Service in the Church is always voluntary.
We do not help people so they will be grateful. We do it because they need the help.
If the family is able-bodied, they should help all they can. There are many families in the Church who do not have the means to pay a moving service. I am happy for the writer’s family that this option was available to them. They are not the norm in any ward I have lived in.
My current ward is next to both a university and a military post. This makes us very transient. We spend a lot of time helping each other move. Sometimes the moving family is not as prepared or helpful as they could be, but no one is perfect.
I would suggest if you don’t want to help or it would be a hardship, don’t. If you do help, do it cheerfully and don’t judge.
Thanks for a great letter, Practical. I especially liked your observation, “We do not help people so they will be grateful. We do it because they need the help.” Well said. This is something we all need to remember.
I am a 20-year-old member of the Church, and I have helped many families move in my area. I’m happy to help, and I’m grateful for the service opportunity.
As far as a “Priesthood Moving Service” goes, I think it should be left to the individual’s free agency. After all, isn’t that what the whole Plan is about?
Expecting a senior citizen with back ailments to do the heavy lifting while the younger men don’t, makes no sense to me.
If you’re going to expect the priesthood of your ward to help with your moving day, then you’ve got to make it simple for them.
They are taking time out of their lives and are using their energy to help you. It is their choice to help you.
I have some ideas that I have seen will make your moving day a lot easier on them and you:
- Have the boxes packed, labeled, and ready to go.
- Don’t stand idly by and watch; work alongside the volunteers.
- Order pizza when it’s all said and done (that will really help in getting the younger men to help)!
There you have it, readers. Get young people. Feed them pizza. Problem solved!
I am the high priests group leader in my ward. I will keep this missive rather short. Priesthood leaders in our stake have cautioned us that we are not a moving company and that the members who are moving should be looking for family members or professional movers to help them with their move. It is not up to the quorum to take over as the moving company.
Now that I have said this, quorum leaders can ask for volunteers to help, but as far as I can see there is no set rule that says we have to help with the move. I think most members do it because we want to give service to our brothers and sisters.
I am on holidays right now, I don’t have the new Church Leaders Handbook with me, but if I remember correctly there is a section in that handbook instructing quorum leaders about moving members.
Thanks for interrupting your vacation to remind us that the handbook points out that priesthood quorums are under no obligation to move members, Burt. Service should be offered with a willing heart — not as a command performance, and certainly not under threats if the person dares to say no.
I can understand “Fed up in Fresno”’s feelings. Our family helped several families move in and out of our ward. Most of the time it was a very positive experience, but once in a while it was a nightmare.
Our bishop was moving to another house in the ward, and when we got there nothing had been touched. The men started moving the big items, while we sisters cleared the counter tops and cupboards into laundry baskets. We moved more garbage that day than good stuff. What a mess.
I don’t think that service from others should ever be expected. Service is a gift. As members of the Church we are taught to give service and love our neighbors, but there are limits. Let us help when we can, especially the Young Men and elders. But recognize that the high priests have given many years of service and it isn’t as easy for them anymore. There’s a reason they are retired gentlemen — they’ve earned it.
Thanks for reminding us, Sister, that service is a gift. We should give that gift even at some personal sacrifice, but there are indeed limits. Read on for sentiments from another senior sister:
I am a senior sister with various health issues. I also live in a metropolitan area where folks are moving in and out of the ward on a frequent basis. If I am asked to help a family with packing and/or moving and I find that the spirit is willing but the body just can’t keep up, I ask for assistance from younger ward members. I then offer my service in other areas such as meals, watching the children or other needed services.
I think the solution to the problems described in your article is a communication problem. Home teachers should ask the member moving exactly what service they need — packing, moving, and cleaning are three areas that come to mind.
If the family needs help packing, arrange for that help prior to moving day, utilizing the various auxiliaries (including the Young Women and Young Men). Have a clear understanding that when the day the priesthood arrives to move the family’s belongings that all packing should be done prior to that time. Arrange for enough help. Many hands make light work.
We may never completely understand a person’s need or expectation; we should just respond with a loving, Christlike heart.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. (John 13:8-9)
Born to Serve
You make an excellent point, Born, that sometimes the problem is a communication issue. If ward members take your advice and ask ahead of time what services will be needed, there will be no nasty surprises on moving day.
So I was reading your article and laughing — not at the husband’s pain or people’s complete lack of gratitude. I was laughing because in our 13 years of marriage we have moved four or five times and not once has anyone from the Church helped, despite our sometimes pleading for help!
My mother claims it’s just dumb bad luck, because everyone else in the ward has always had tons of people show up. I guess I’m not in the right clique.
Two months ago our house sold and I had to put everything we owned into storage and keep only essentials out that will fit in a suitcase. This is not easy when you have six children, ages 5-11 years. My husband didn’t even ask for help, knowing we wouldn’t get it.
Now I’m not telling this story to get pity, though we still have no home and it’s been horrible to say the least. But my husband goes to numerous times to help people and always takes my oldest son with him but informs everyone they can only stay about 1 1/2 hours, which is a sufficient amount of time to help someone. (And please have things packed or don’t ask for help. Service is wonderful, but its just plain bad manners to expect someone else to pack you, especially if you have children and family members to help.)
And lastly, priesthood members, service is great but grow a backbone! (This is lovingly said.) When someone asks for help, set ground rules. Make sure they will have everything packed. Tell them you will have a set amount of people there to help and a set amount of time. And if you have ailments, learn to say no! Don’t think you have to serve! Defer to the elders quorum president and tell them you are unable to help personally but that this family needs help.
Unlucky, I have a suggestion for you. Instead of thinking you’re not in the right clique, think that you’re so popular that nobody wants to see you move. That should make you feel better!
Thanks for having the good humor to laugh about the situation, and also to be able to offer moving advice for those who are lucky enough to receive the help. You’re a good sport, and I appreciate it.
I have heard a move happening in my own ward this last winter. The tone I heard was what I call rude. It was a tone that said the person expected results: “I’m moving. Show up.” I know how it made me feel when I overheard it, and I imagine the priesthood holder felt the same way.
I should give you a bit of background before telling my own priesthood movers story. I am a returning member. I left at 12, and I was 40 when I returned. I’m beyond thankful to be back in the Church now too!
I also moved recently. It was two days before Christmas. The oldest priesthood members moved me. As these men came walking up my driveway, I was out standing on my porch. What I saw from where I stood was amazing to me. I saw these two men approaching with the hugest smiles on their faces, and arms waving gigantic waves ay me. My first thought was, who in their right mind would want to be moving me on a freezing December day so close to Christmas? My next thought was, I wonder if this is what it is like when we cross over to the other side? How wonderful to see people smiling so big, and waving to us. These two men were so happy to be helping me, and every ounce of their being showed it.
I found myself telling them how sorry I was that they were helping on such a cold day. One of the men replied, “Hey, at least it’s not raining! See, that’s a blessing!” Both men were so positive. They refused to let me feel bad, and even pointed out blessings.
Those men set an example for me that day. They showed me how to give service, and enjoy doing it.
I think the key here is that the priesthood men do not have to do anything, really. It is out of love and a willingness to serve others that they help. Maybe it is all taken for granted at times. We should all ask for the help we need with a thankful spirit, not a demanding spirit.
I’m so grateful for the priesthood men that helped me move that day. I could not have done it without them. Last time I checked, I can’t move a hide-a-bed on my own.
I’m also grateful for the spirit that they arrived with too. As a returning member, I saw Heavenly Father working through His Priesthood men that day.
Back in the Fold
What a great story, Back! The key, I think, is to learn how to enjoy performing acts of service. If it’s done grudgingly, you might as well not do it — at least, not as far as your own welfare is concerned. Of course, the people who receive the service will benefit from it in any case.
Having been a high priest, group leader and otherwise, for some years and living in a Utah ward with a number of rental homes in it, I have had my share and some of the fair share of others at moving members from house to house. Sometimes it has happened within the ward, sometimes without. It is a young man’s game.
For those of you out in what we incorrectly refer to as “the mission field” (as if we are not), a Utah ward in a smallish community like mine (Pleasant Grove, Utah) is a pretty limited area. One could almost certainly shoot a marble across the ward with a decent wrist rocket. We have to walk all the way around the corner to home teach. But still, we have several rentals and lots of moving in and out.
You know, the word goes out that sister so-and-so is moving on Saturday, or maybe Wednesday, and we’d like to have some brethren with pickups or larger or sometimes just to fill a rented truck. Is this a priesthood duty? Well, it’s a neighbor’s duty.
It is a duty to help one another. Is it a right that one can expect and call upon, as if it were a duty to respond? No. Should the movee actually prepare things, box things, get some strapping young fellows in the family to help? Possibly actually help themselves? That would be good.
I had occasion not many weeks ago to get a phone call from a sister who used to live in the ward. She has had quite a chaotic life and has moved thither and yon and back again numerous times. She is now in Salt Lake. A recent marriage has failed and she had her things in storage and needed to move them back to Pleasant Grove to store at her daughter’s home and needed help unloading at that location.
I used to be her home teacher and she called my wife, because they keep in touch from time to time. Wife was in Wisconsin seeing Mom. So, the sister in question called me as the only Pleasant Grove contact she had. Could we help? She only had “a couple of large items” and the rest smaller. She had some help of her own. A neighbor and I went. I had called the bishop in her daughter’s ward and he was going to get a couple of guys. He didn’t.
Anyway, beware the woman who says she only has a couple of big items. I was exhausted and it took longer than estimated, but I’m glad we went. She needed that support from members that she knows are her friends, despite her lack of activity or commitment.
Helping people move close by or some distance is a pain in the neck. Service usually is. We get taken advantage of. People sometimes do little to help themselves. They expect you to move pianos, major appliances, to box up their cupboards for them. They often do it repeatedly. Often the same elders and high priests show up to do all the heavy lifting. It is never convenient, easy, or enjoyable.
So, is it a duty? Yes and no. It’s one of those things that people could arrange for themselves and often should, but sometimes they can’t, sometimes they just don’t. But, I’ll say this about some experiences here: because we are the small Utah ward area we are, we sometimes get a move-in who is not a member, who might even be a stranger to Utah who has come here for work, wondering what to expect from these strange Mormons.
And they come to the new home, the truck pulls up — a U-Haul or a Ryder designating a truck rented and often driven by the new resident — and eight guys appear out of nowhere and start unloading. The wife stands in the hall pointing to this room and that room, and someone brings punch or lemonade or bottled water and a package of TP that the new folks have packed somewhere in a box that is not handy.
Not to put too fine a point on it, lives are sometimes changed, perceptions of changed, friends are made. You can get taken advantage of helping people who always milk you for help, but you can’t really lose by helping.
Pleasant Grove, Utah
What an uplifting letter, Steve! It made me want to go out and move somebody in. Lives can indeed be changed by a simple act of service.
I just tried to dredge up a story that was written for the Meridian column compiled by President Mark Albright of the Washington D.C. South Mission. It is hands down the best story I’ve ever read about the ripple effects of service, but when I looked for it in his archive, it apparently hasn’t been published yet. Fortunately, I was able to find it on his mission blog . If you can get around some very distracting graphics, this is the kind of story you’ll want to pass around to everyone you know. In fact, once you cut and paste it, the graphics disappear.
Okay, people, that’s it for this week. Once again, I implore you — do not send any more letters on this topic. I already have many, many more than I can use.
Until next time — Kathy
Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing this service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only our own happiness, but that of the world at large.