“Go Help Jan,” Ensign, Feb. 1986, 41
“Go help Jan,” the Spirit prompted. There were three Jans in my ward, but I knew immediately which one needed my help.
Jan was a faithful sister who had broken her leg about a month before. Because the break was serious and the leg had to be kept immobile, Jan was bedfast. When I arrived at her home, I just knocked and walked in, knowing that she couldn’t come to the door. As I called out to Jan and made my way to her room, my eyes fell on her sewing machine stacked high with mending.
I found her in bed reading a book. We visited awhile, then I asked if there was something I could do for her. She assured me there wasn’t. Her teenage daughters were very capable of taking care of everything, she insisted. I offered to take her mending or her laundry home with me, but she was adamant that this was not necessary.
As I left her home I felt confused. I knew that the Holy Ghost had instructed me to help her, yet she refused my help. When I reached her gate, I paused a moment in prayer. Why was I sent to help her? It was obvious she didn’t want my help.
The answer came quickly and plainly: “Help Jan.”
I retraced my footsteps to her door. This time I didn’t knock, but just walked in. Again upon entering her home, my eyes fell on the sewing machine. When I got to her bedroom door, I found Jan in tears. Embarrassed, she said, “I’m sorry. I guess I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I feel so useless laying here day after day. I’m just a burden to everyone.”
I assured her that she was not a burden to anyone, and that it was a comfort just to be around her and enjoy her company. Then I told Jan that the Spirit had sent me to help her. “You might as well tell me what I can do, because I don’t intend to leave until I find out,” I said.
Again she insisted she didn’t need help, adding that she would be embarrassed to have me see how untidy her home had become during her illness. I joked that I wouldn’t tell a soul that she had dust under her bed, if she wouldn’t tell that I had dust under mine too. This helped to relax her, and she seemed to feel better.
I started in the kitchen, doing the breakfast dishes her daughters hadn’t had time to do before school. I put in a load of laundry, all the while very much aware of the sewing machine and that big pile of mending. I began to wonder if it was the mending that she needed help with.
As I sorted through the mending, I noticed that most of the items needed only a little hand stitching. The thought came to me that this was something Jan could do. She had a broken leg, but she also had two good arms. I assembled a small box of sewing equipment and took it to her, along with the items that could be repaired by hand.
“Why don’t you make yourself useful, Jan,” I said as I laid the mending on her bed.
Her eyes brightened. “Oh yes, yes,” she said. “I can do that.”
All day as I worked around her home I looked for things Jan could do from her bed. She sorted and folded the clothes as I took them from the dryer. She straightened her smaller children’s dresser drawers one at a time as I brought them to her. She peeled potatoes and diced vegetables for dinner. At the end of the day, she was tired, but happy because she had accomplished something productive.
And I understood how the Holy Ghost had wanted me to help Jan.