Summer of Service 2015
I thank you three very much for that beautiful musical number. As I contemplate all that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, have done for me, I too exclaim, “How great Thou art!” And as I carefully consider all that They have done for me, truly we have—each of us—been given very much. I suppose that it is requisite that when much is given, much is required (see D&C 82:3). But because I contemplate the things that we have been given, I want to be able to give. And I think that has something to do with why we gather together today to talk a little bit about service.
I’ve been asked—hi Carolina; it’s good to see you and your sweet baby—we’re going to be like a family today. This is not normal. It’s okay. But it’s very normal Adrian, right? I’ve been asked to help you understand a little about this Summer of Service thing a little better. Let me give you just a little bit of context. We started a tradition here at the College where each semester we invite you to accept a challenge, an invitation related to discipleship, a particular aspect of discipleship. We invite you to accomplish that challenge. We invite you to share that challenge. That pattern comes from the Brethren; last semester, Elder Andersen did that with respect to family history work. Last semester, we did that with respect to the Atonement.
This semester, we have issued an invitation for you with respect to service. This summer we invite you to accomplish that invitation and to share that invitation. So, there are four questions that we’re going to get answered today that I hope you will leave with. The first one is, so what exactly is the invitation?
Simply put, it’s answered by our opening hymn: “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?” (Hymns, no. 223.) So, for those of you who are checkbox people, if you can go to bed and say, “I have done something good for somebody else or in this world today”—check. And if you can say that every day throughout the rest of this semester and hopefully throughout your lives, you’ll have successfully completed the challenge. Except you and I both know that we don’t believe in a checkbox gospel, as great as that would be. And you can do something good every day, and you should do that.
Let me help round out that invitation just a little more—three simple words. I’ll give you a little bit of texture. First word—ask. I’d write that down if I were you. I know that you’ll remember it, but I’d still like for you to write it down. Ask—listen—act.
So, what if the invitation sounded something like this: what if every morning when you woke, a part of your daily prayer—not your vain repetition—went something like this: “Heavenly Father, wilt thou help to open my eyes, open my ears, and tune my heart that I might become an instrument in Thy hands this day in doing good in the world?” Ask Heavenly Father for His help and His guidance to know what good you can do for whom, how, when, etc. Ask Him for strength to accomplish His will. And once you have asked, then listen. And He probably won’t tell you in the very moment that you ask. You need to listen throughout the day. And maybe asking throughout the day is not a bad thing, too. But listen, and when those promptings come—and I promise you that if you want them to come they will—then act on those promptings. That’s the invitation. Ask—listen—act. Got it? Are there any questions about what we are inviting you to do this summer with respect to our focus on discipleship? You can ask any questions.
Next question that we need to answer: why are we doing this? I’d like you to turn to your neighbor and take just a moment—maybe 30 seconds—we’ll have each of you share, why is the College doing something like this? Why do we focus on an aspect of discipleship as a campus community? Why are we specifically focusing on service? Ready, set, share. That includes you here on the stand too.
[Audience members discuss.]
Okay, finish your thoughts, and now we’ll share our thoughts. But before you share your thoughts, I want to share just one thought that I saw. Did anybody else see it? There was somebody sitting by themselves, and someone else saw that, and so he went to sit by her so she wouldn’t be alone for that activity. I know that God saw that, and I know that He was happy.
Okay, what did you learn? Why do you think we’re doing this? What do you have to share with us? Anyone on the stand? They’re shy. Why don’t you show them what the truth is and then maybe they’ll have something to say.
Latter-day Saint is 15 letters, business is 8, college is 7. That should help us understand who we are. Good. I like that. What other thoughts do you have?
[Comment from the audience.]
In case you didn’t hear, let me clarify what he said; this was very important. We teach fairly regularly here at the College that Heavenly Father has brought you here for a reason. We also teach that God has commissioned each of you with a mission to accomplish while here in mortality and that your experience here at the College has something to do with helping you understand and fulfill that mission and that purpose. While each of you has a unique purpose in being here at the College, there are some aspects of your purpose for being here that are in common. One aspect that you share in common is that God has brought you here to learn how to be more serviceable—to Him, and to His children. May I testify to you that sacred tithing funds pay for more than half of your experience here at the College, not just for you to go fatten your wallets, but so you can become more serviceable to God and His children. And if you and I do not make good on that charge, we are poor stewards of those sacred funds. Thank you very much.
I saw a hand right back there. Go ahead.
[Comment from the audience.]
I love that. So, I heard that it helps us become better people, and it helps us have the Spirit more in our lives, and we’re happier. We feel better. I love this very much. I think that you are like me, and you and I are trying to be more like the Savior—the master, exemplar Servant. Remember that one of the fundamental messages that He left us before that great moment in Gethsemane was how important it is for us to serve, even as He has served. And when we do that, it’s a happy thing. We’re better people; we’re happy people.
Holden, you have our last thought. [Comment from the audience.]
Good, thank you very much, Holden. I’ll just—there’s tons and tons of thoughts. We simply don’t have time for all of them. Here’s one more for your consideration. So, this is going to be—I can’t remember the year, President, help me—I can’t remember the year; it doesn’t matter. President Eyring talking—1992. I found it. I knew it was there. President Eyring was teaching about the purpose of the College, right? He repeated this phrase here in 2008—let me do that 2008 one really quick, but he says, “You are not here to get degrees. You are not just here to learn skills. You are here to learn to be endowed with power from on high.” And so back in 1992, he talked about that idea at length, and he talked about the vision of this institution and the kinds of outcomes that the Brethren have hoped would happen here. And he said something to this effect: he said if we were to depart from that vision, we would lose our reason for existence.
While it’s true that we exist to help you learn practical skills and to learn to become more self-reliant, job number one is to deepen discipleship here, is to become more like the Savior, is to draw closer to Him, is to serve others as He would have us serve them. Please join with me in following that job number one that we have.
Okay, any questions about why we are doing this? There are lots more for you to explore there, but are you sufficiently answered on why we are doing this? Questions? I hope you are thinking, “How do I help other people understand the why?” I hope you’re thinking that, each of you.
Okay third question that we need to ask goes something like this: how can I accomplish the invitation? What can I do in all of this? And maybe you’re like me. Maybe you think, it’s a really good idea, but it’s just not for me. I’m too busy. I’m not capable of helping in this way. And I say, hogwash! I hope you are thinking of what you can do to accomplish this invitation.
To help you think about that, I’ve invited a former student, a current employee, to come and share some of her thoughts about what you and I can do to accomplish this invitation. Marisol Fernandez Sanchez.
Well, I was asked to share a particular story on service that I call the Sock Project. It started sometime last year at our Foundations for Success Conference that we had. How many of you attended last year’s Foundations for Success Conference? [Audience members raise their hands.] Okay. It’s great to see a number of hands. And how many are planning on attending this year? [Audience members raise their hands.] I’m not promoting it, but a good experience nonetheless.
During part of that conference, we were asked to come to a devotional here at the Assembly Hall, and underneath the seats were planted some gift vouchers. I just happened to be sitting in one of the places where a gift voucher was stuck underneath my seat. So, we were all asked to look underneath, and hey, I had that gift voucher. We were then told that with that gift voucher, we had to do something for somebody else and do some service in some way or another.
So, I guess actually I should go back a little bit further than last year to 2012 when I moved over here. I used to commute in from Hooper up north on the FrontRunner, and then I’d get the Trax to the College, and I was amazed to see so many people in the streets that had no home to go to. There may be discrepancies with that, but there were a number of people that I saw homeless, and that shocked me. And the days and weeks and months went by, and I began to feel like I want to do something about this, even though it may be just a little drop in the ocean. I found a passion in that, and since then I’ve been able to join a couple of groups that assist in different ways and do different projects.
I’ve met with several people that work very earnestly helping in one way or another with this endeavor here in Salt Lake City. So, going back to my gift voucher: I thought, well, okay, I have a hundred dollar gift voucher for Walmart; what can we do about this? And I decided, well, my passion is helping homeless people, and why not employ that my gift voucher into helping them?. So, I gathered my little crew together, and we set off to Walmart. It was during the wintertime, so we decided that we would buy lots and lots of socks. So we packed our shopping trolleys with socks, and we had a little adventure. We bought socks, we bought ribbon, we bought cards to make little notes, and we wrapped up these socks in ribbons and cards. And the next day we went out along the streets, and we handed out these socks.
Now, I have a little slide show video to show you of this experience. We had a lot of fun. I’m a little hesitant to share, but I will anyway.
You can see that we had lots of fun. We know that when we are in the service of our fellow beings, we are in the service of our God (see Mosiah 2:17). I have a couple of quotes that I’d like to share with you from a talk given by Russell C. Taylor. His talk was entitled “The Joy of Service” (Oct. 1984 General Conference) Adrian, do you know the year? All right, I’ll tell you—1984. Anyway, he said about service:
It has been wisely said, “Service is the rent we pay for our own room on earth.” We should know that the rent is due on a daily basis and know that the receipt is never stamped “paid in full,” because . . . service in God’s kingdom is again due today and due tomorrow.
Some mistakenly think that a commitment to service comes after a great spiritual experience. This is like the man who is cold, standing before the stove, and saying, “Give me heat, and then I will put in some wood.” The joy and blessings of service follow the rendering of service.
And lastly he says, “Until a man learns to think, he is not an educated man, no matter how many degrees he has.” I would also add that a thinking man will want to serve. The greater your service, the closer your access to God.
Now, just a few thoughts on service and understanding why we are asked to serve. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants—you returned missionaries will know this—it says in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength.” And I would add the word cheer. It’s important to serve with cheer. It’s important to get together with loved ones and friends and family and go out and do something exciting. Make it an adventure. That’s what we did with this little project that we had.
And it was fun to interact and exchange. We found as we were giving out socks, they were giving out candy and other things. So that was a fun time for us. Service is a two-way thing—never, ever a one-way thing. It’s always a two-way thing. So yes, make it fun; make it an adventure. I’m not advocating you all run around Walmart with shopping trolleys or with shopping carts, but have fun with it.
Today, you will be given resources to go out and serve. I’m excited about this, and I hope you are too. And I hope you take the time to ponder and look at what is in this little packet of resources and do something about it. You may be asking yourselves, “How can I participate in this?” Which I believe is the question that Adrian just posed to the congregation.
How can I participate in this? I would say that you might want to do first of all is to find something that you’re really passionate about. What do you enjoy doing? For me, it is spending time with and helping those that find themselves in a more unfortunate place in this particular time in their lives. For you, it can be something entirely different. It could be the well-being of this earth that we’re living on and making it fruitful and a clean and tidy place. Will you share that story, of the man who cleaned and tidied up the train? I will then, if that’s okay.
Once, I witnessed a particular man—I know that Brother Juchau has seen him several times—who travels eastbound on the FrontRunner and back at the end of the day. He gathers litter—any rubbish that he sees on the floor he’ll just pick up and gather and then move hastily on his way. So he likes to keep this place nice and tidy for the rest of us.
It could be sharing the gospel on social media and sharing other good quotes and uplifting things. Lending a helping hand. Lifting others around you with a happy smile or a happy demeanor. It doesn’t have to be anything grand and big, but something we can all do every single day. Genuine and sincere compliments—they are really great to receive, and they feel great to give, too, especially when they are genuine and sincere. So take some time to ponder on it, and then go and do something about it.
I testify that our hearts are softened when we are serving others. I testify that when we are closer to heaven and we understand our own journey through this life a lot better when we are serving others, because we are patterned in a fashion that the Savior gave us through His example here on earth.
So how can you participate in this Summer of Service? You will know. You’ll know what to do. Heaven will bless you to find the time and to find the opportunity to go out and serve other people. For this is the great commandment—the first and great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Matthew 22:37). And our Heavenly Father wants us to be successful. He wants us to be happy during this journey here on earth. So He will help us find those opportunities to keep that commandment.
I leave with you a question: why do you think we are really asked to serve one another? The obvious answer is the obvious, and the not-so-obvious answer comes in the form of personal revelation. The obvious answer is first to receive and then to go and do something about. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Marisol is exactly right. You’ll know what to do as you ask, as you listen, and as you act. I hope, I hope that you’ve been asking already. I hope that you’ve been listening, and I know that you will act. Marisol talked about a little toolkit you’re about to get, a “Summer of Service” toolkit. This is kind of fun. It’s like we’re in Relief Society or something, right? But there’s no doily. It’s okay.
Let me just tell you what’s in here, what you’re going to get. Here’s a little announcement about the next college service activity—it happens to be tomorrow. You get two service memes in your toolkit. By the way, our fourth question that we should be asking is, how can I share the invitation? You will know as you ask, and as you listen, and as you act.
You could take one of these memes and give it to a friend and share the invitation. You could put the meme in your car and share it with the people that you’re driving around. What a great act of service. You could put it by your bed so you see it every morning when you wake up and when you go to bed. You could put it on your bathroom mirror. Whatever you would like. Here are some service memes for you.
Here’s some instructions on what to do with your little kit. This is fun—here’s some little “pay it forward” coupons—like a week’s supply! It’s great! You go and you do some sort of service—it could be secret; it could be not secret. It could be holding the door open for somebody; it could be baking a pie—I don’t care. You ask, you listen, you act.
But what if you pass this along with that? I do this all the time in the grocery store. I let someone go ahead of me, and if they say “thank you” or something like that, I say, “Just go do something for somebody else.” And they love it. Nine times out of ten, they’ll say something like, “I will!” And it’s great.
We included on here the LDSBC Service Facebook page for you to be able to go to the Facebook page and post a picture of what you’re doing and of what’s been done to you, to talk about what’s been going on, to encourage people that are being served by you, and to get this card to share it. Wouldn’t it be fun if we get stories from Canada and California? I think it would be great. You get a little “Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?” calendar to help you ask, am I doing good each day? This is a little thank you card; you can give a thank you card to someone who has served you, or you can write a thank you note as an act of service.
Here’s a little suggestions sheet for you. This section is for if you have no time at all, you still have time to serve. That’s this section. This section is for if you have a little bit of time; this section is for if you have a little bit more time. Write your own list. Ask, listen, and act. This sheet is just to get you going.
And here’s a fun one. This is for you to figure out how you can go serve somebody. Maybe you buy more thank you notes. Maybe you buy a pair of socks and give it to a homeless person. Maybe you buy somebody lunch. Maybe you join it with your own money to do something else. Maybe you join up with your friends, and you go do something. I don’t know! I don’t know what it is; ask, listen, act. Go do something good. We’d love to hear your stories. We’d love to feel of the goodness that you’re spreading around, and we hope that you’ll share that with us.
We don’t have time to do some of the activities that I hoped to do, but I hope that you’ve been asking. I hope that you’ve been listening. I know that you’ll go act . . . not just for yourselves, but that you’ll find ways to share the invitation with others. God will direct you as you follow that simple formula (ask, listen, act).
I think I shall conclude with a very personal story to help you understand what it is that we’re really trying to do. So, I want you to know that I tried to practice what I preach, lest I am a hypocrite. I am not a perfect person. I am grateful to know that you can teach truth and not be perfect. Otherwise, none of us would be teaching, right? So as true to form, I have been asking, I have been listening, and I try to act.
Yesterday, I had an impression to serve somebody that made me very uncomfortable. I was afraid. It was someone I didn’t know, and it was something I was uncomfortable with. Like the Levite and the priest, I found myself walking on the other side, hoping that someone else would do what I had been prompted to do (see Luke 10:25–37). It was not a big deal. I had time to do it. I simply didn’t want to. I wish that I could tell you that I went and did what I was supposed to do, but instead I had a prayer in my heart, “Heavenly Father, in my moment of weakness wilt Thou please send someone else?” And He did. And I was grateful that He heard that prayer, but I felt terrible. And so I spent the time in my car on the way home repenting. I’m so grateful for the Atonement. It works for all of us. And I committed to Him, “Next time You tell me to do something, I’ll do it. I promise.”
And I thought how it was Family Home Evening and I was going to be home with my family, and it would probably be that I would have to give the lesson that my daughter didn’t prepare, that I’d have to do the dishes that my wife didn’t want to do, or something like that. And I thought, “I can do that. I can do that.”
Imagine what happened—when I had pulled into my driveway, I saw a man who has not been kind to me and my family, and who has been the source of much angst in our lives for over a year. And the thought came, “Take him water.” And I didn’t want to do it. He’s taken so much from me and from my family, and now Heaven wanted me to take him water. But I remembered my commitment, and I understood better in that moment that we’re not asking people to do acts of service each day; we’re striving to be servants—to become even as He is.
I knew in my heart that this man would reject my offer, but the service wasn’t for him. It was for me. And as difficult as it was, I did what I needed to do. And I’m grateful I did it when I did because moments later he would have been leaving and I would have missed the opportunity.
Imagine my surprise when I walked back into my house and my children evidently had been staring out the window. They said, “Dad, are you okay? Why were you talking to the mean man?” And I explained to them what had happened. I’m grateful for that little lesson and that little tender mercy that Heaven sent to me that day.
My friends, I testify to you that if you will ask and listen and act, you can do whatever He asks you to do, big or small, hard or easy, stranger or friend, whatever it may be. And you too will have the joy of hearing and feeling, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21, 23). I pray the Lord’s blessings upon each of us as we strive to do good in the world each day, and I pray that He will strengthen us to become more like Him, even as He is. This I do in the name of the Master Servant, even our Exemplar in all things, Jesus Christ, amen.
Link to the Summer of Service kit - https://www.facebook.com/ldsbcservice