My oldest son is currently serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Carolina. He is a happy, friendly kid who loves people. You can see it in these pictures.
Missionaries spend many hours each week serving others. They volunteer at libraries, soup kitchens, thrift stores, local churches – of other faiths, nursing homes, and so many other places. They rake leaves, shovel snow, help people move – mostly for strangers. They spend two years of their life seeking opportunities to serve.
When I read my son’s weekly emails and hear about the different people he meets, the different acts of service he provides, and the lives he brightens through his love and kindness, the word proud barely begins to describe how I feel.
I have never been a missionary. But I also seek to serve when I can. So I love the invitation the LDS Church has issued to the world to Light the World this holiday season by serving others.
This short video introduces the Light the World campaign:
One of my favorite videos from the whole initiative is this one:
People are good.
When given the chance, we like to help others. And while there are a few vending machines in the world that will allow you to purchase something to help a stranger improve their quality of life, most of the time we have to look for ways to serve and lift.
During this year’s Light the World campaign, there have been two small things that have been particularly meaningful for me. The first came on Day 2. I woke up and decided to watch the video for that day while I was still in bed. Here it is:
One of the suggestions for Day 2 is “Consider donating to a cause that helps provide safe water to individuals or communities.” From the comfort of my own bed, I searched for an organization that does just that. I found that my own church has a cool clean water initiative I hadn’t previously known about. I was able to donate right from my phone before I even got out of bed!
That simple act of service for people I will never meet, brightened my day – all day.
The second experience that has really touched me came last Saturday. My middle son had a basketball game in the morning. When we got home, my 5-year-old and I could hear a bird crying. It took us a while to locate the bird. It was a very young robin sitting in one of our trees. Sitting on a branch near it was an adult robin. We were worried they were hungry. We used Google to learn what we should feed it and found some appropriate seeds to scatter on our driveway. We didn’t have a lot, so we headed to the grocery store and found some bird seed in the shape of a bell to hang from the tree. My little 5-year-old and his dad got some yarn and hung it up right away.
Every time I come and go from my home I can see that bell. I know it’s such a simple act of service, but it feels especially meaningful to me. It can be easy to miss suffering around us, but on that day, my little one and I noticed cries for help and found a way to help a small bird.
I am grateful for the Light the World initiative. It has helped bring greater focus to my month.
And of course, I have found ways to help Light the genealogy World too!
So this is my invitation to you, for the rest of December, find one simple act of service that will help brighten someone’s day – near or far – and help join others in an effort to Light the World!
Here is my sweet missionary and other missionaries he serves with. They created this video to invite their loved ones to join in and help Light the World:
13 thoughts on “Lighting the World”
Beautiful idea, Amberly! I should have done this with each of the eight days of Hanukkah, which also is about light and about justice. I will try and do this even though Hanukkah ends tomorrow!
Thank you, Amy. It was really lovely to have this as a focus in December. I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA the last several months. I’m not doing nearly as well juggling everything lately. It seems like every time I get close to catching up, someone throws another ball at me that I have to work into my circus.
Hang in there—you will figure it out one way or another. I’ve been on a break myself the last few weeks. I am trying to keep up with other blogs, but am only now starting to publish new posts myself.
Thank you, Amy. 🙂
Lovely post Amberly. I do like the idea of vending machines — they make it so easy to give. I agree that people are good-hearted and usually want to help. They just don’t always know how.
There are so many groups here cooking food for Refuge and the Mission, etc as a way of not only providing tangible sustenance, but showing love too. I’m glad to be part of that, and glad too that as a family we have largely stopped buying stuff for each other and give to the Mission instead.
Thank you, Su. I think the vending machines are a cool idea too. One thing about them that I find interesting is the variety of things they represent. For instance, I would never think to buy someone a goat – but for many people, owning a goat is life-changing.
I love that you and your family are focusing on others. That is wonderful. <3
We used to joke about “buying a goat” for the in-laws — who have pretty much all they need and are really difficult to get gifts for. Eventually we actually did it, and then discovered that we could gift another goat via T’s airline loyalty programme Xmas gift list. Suddenly we felt like major donors in the goat market. 🙂
Major donors in the goat market! Love it. 😂
I volunteer at a Senior Center in Wilsonville, Oregon serving lunch about an once a month. The group of missionaries that have been coming to help are all a great bunch of guys. We enjoy asking them about their homes and families. Thank you for giving up your son for this service, you should be very proud of him.
Thank you, Elaine! I am very proud of him. How wonderful that you volunteer at a Senior Center. I bet that is a fulfilling service. Probably sad at times too. <3
So lovely. And what a fabulous opportunity to your son. It will serve him well for the rest of his life, I’m sure. If everyone served others, what a better world this would be!
Thank you, Luanne. It’s so true! Even the small every day service makes such a big difference. I was at Costco on Saturday and noticed a woman in another line who let a different woman jump to the front because she only had two items. It really made the second woman’s day. There are so many opportunities to be kind and help others. I need to be better at looking for them and acting on them.
I love the days where I can do something like to help someone or where I notice someone being helped or someone else being a helper! They are the best!