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: