Last night I had the opportunity to meet with the sister missionaries and experience a taste of what their work is all about. I went with a beautiful young woman from Japan to a waiting appointment. Right out of the gate I was struck with the desire to go home ... this just didn't feel productive. We drove up into the cove; parked the car and approached our family that the sisters have been working with. On the lawn on a warm summer night was a 30ish woman, a little overweight wearing a tank top and sporting a tattoo on her back and ankle. She was chopping at beautiful blonde hair from her six year old daughter. This was to be her back to school haircut. The scissors were sawing away as she randomly lifted wafts of silky hair which fell to the grass. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the cut. The mother's left arm was badly damaged having elongated hunks of skin missing from her forearm as well as above the elbow. A daughter about twelve years old was tumbling around on the grass revealing a badly scarred back as her shirt would slip up. This little family of five children and a mother are living with relatives that have six children and two parents. Members of the church are opening up their homes for the children to be taught in a calm, organized environment. We gathered up four of the children and walked about four doors down the hill.
My heart was so heavy for this little family. "How do these kids have a chance,?" kept going through my head. They had resilient smiles on their faces, but the weight of their challenges pressed on me. "Where much is given, much is required," Luke 12:48. So, how can I help...really help? As we drove away I looked into the beautiful face of that Japanese missionary woman and told her of my heavy heart. She smiled and asked why. "Because these children do not come from the same kind of homes we were raised in." She nodded and said nothing.
As I related this story to my returned missionary son today he said that it was commonplace to see downtrodden souls and he promised himself that he would never take for granted his fortunate state. But the question I ask myself has to do with being a wise steward as well as a positive influence.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said in Nov. 1974 "This is His church. In it you will not stand approved of all men. Many, perhaps most, will consider you strange. Some of the doctrines are not easy to understand or to accept. The commandments are not easy to live. The standards, I repeat, are high, but you can start where you are.
"Many of you are burdened with unhappiness and worry and with guilt. Many of you struggle under the bondage of degrading habits or wrestle with loneliness or disappointment and failure. Some of you suffer from broken homes, broken marriages, broken hearts.
"We are not offended at all of these things. All of these things may be set aside—overcome. Whoever you are and whatever you are, we reach out to extend to you the hand of fellowship so that we can lift one another and lift others.
"This is His church. I have that witness. Jesus is the Christ; he lives. It’s commonly taught that he is but an influence in the world. I know him to be Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father. I testify that he has a body of flesh and bones. This is his church. Of that I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
These lines restore possibility and faith to what I watched, heard and felt. I need to have the Heart of Christ so that I can see the possibilities and not get buried by past sorrows. I want to carry faith, hope and charity to His children. This seemingly random act of service on my part once again testified to me "to lose your life for my sake" is the only way to find a life worth living.