01 December 2009

Compassionate Service

In my congregation at church, I am on a committee called the Compassionate Service Committee. Essentially, we look for ways to serve other members in our congregation. Mostly we help with people who have new babies, people who are moving, people who have a serious illness in the family, and people who have a death in the family. We ourselves don't necessarily do the service, but we help organize other people to help with the service. In many congregations just one person acts as the Compassionate Service Leader, but our congregation is a little bit different. So, different, in fact, that within our committee we have sub-committees. The sub-committees are: babies, moving, funerals, and other. I am on the moving committee. We actually don't usually help with the moving. (We round up the men for that.) We help with light packing and cleaning, particularly for people who have cleaning inspections after they've vacated their homes.

I don't get a lot of action on this committee, to be truthful. It runs like a pretty well-oiled machine, and I'm only in charge of moving. Generally people move around the time of changing semesters, so my assignment in particular is very seasonal. Plus, most of the time when we ask people if they need help with cleaning, they decline the offer.

Tonight I got a call asking for people to help a woman clean her apartment tomorrow. I was pretty excited. An opportunity to help! Hooray! But it was also a little daunting. I got the call rather late, the volunteers are needed tomorrow, and the person needing the help has a very specific time frame.

I began calling. And calling. And calling. Mostly, I got voicemail. I did talk to a couple of people, though, and I was astounded by how willing they were to help.

One of them said she wouldn't be able to help because her husband wouldn't be home to handle the kids, and she would be taking care of friend's child. However, she did offer to watch any kids of any other woman who wanted to help clean but couldn't because of little ones at home. How awesome of her!

I hesitated before calling this other person. She has four children, all under the age of about 5. The youngest is a few months old. I felt like she, of all people, really didn't have the time to help and probably wouldn't be able to. But, I called her anyway. And I was amazed at her eagerness to help. There's really no other way to describe it. She asked where she needed to be and what time, and she said she'd be there. She even had a prior engagement that starts later in the evening, but was willing to help clean for the time before her other event.

When I was a kid my mom was the Compassionate Service Leader in our ward. I loved that she had that specific assignment, and I love it even more now. When I reflect on all the times she pulled meals together for the sick and care for those who needed it most, it never ceases to amaze me how truly compassionate people can be. I think often we assume that most people are not good. But really, I think people are good, and a lot of people are would be willing to do more good if they knew where to go and what to do. Sure, there is something to be said for being proactive, but I also think there's a great deal to be said for people who are willing and eager to serve when asked.

It makes me think a lot about living in a church community, and I don't just mean in Utah or in the LDS faith. I mean any sort of community, really - any community that consists of people who actually know one another and are concerned for one another. It's unfortunate that we don't tend to really know our neighbors or rely on them. It makes me wonder how people get by in hard times when they don't have some sort of community to fall back on, particularly people who don't have family members as support.

November is over, and I don't think I spent enough time pondering the literally countless blessings I have. Today, I am grateful that I am part of a community that can help me any time I really need it.


Jenny said...

So true.
I would be lost without my neighbors. I enjoy knowing that they will call me for help (or to borrow an egg), and that I can lean on them when I need to.
I'm in awe of your committee with sub-committees... wish it could be like that here--our geographical boundaries are so dauntingtly HUGE that sub-committees would be a relief.
And People ARE innately good. I belive that.
nice thoughts.

Packrat said...

Very nice and thoughtful post. Much of our society has "lost out" for not belonging to a church and/or organization such as Elks, Lions, Eagles, etc.

Alice said...

It was always the calling I liked the most. To see how great the sister in our Ward would come thru was just wonderful. A true testament to Christ and the Father.