A Circle of Service
July 2002

“A Circle of Service,” Ensign, July 2002, 64–65

A Circle of Service

Several months after serving in the Air Force, my husband and I moved with our three children away from family and friends to Phoenix, Arizona. It was a leap of faith because we were without means and had no employment waiting for us there.

My husband eventually found employment, but at times we ran out of money and food before the month ended. Each time, just when we needed help and before we could speak to anyone about it, my Relief Society president would deliver a box of food from an anonymous person in the ward. It was a great blessing and a wonderful demonstration to us that the Lord was aware of our needs.

We finally reached a point where our income was sufficient for the needs of our growing family. I gave a note to the Relief Society president and asked her to deliver it to the kind ward member who had always seemed to know when we needed help. In the note, I thanked the person for his or her help and said that now we were able to take care of our needs.

Several weeks later our entire family felt an overwhelming prompting to be of service to others. We wanted to demonstrate our gratitude to the Lord. We pondered several ideas, but the one that stuck with me was the idea to “adopt a grandparent.” With both sets of grandparents living in Utah, we wanted our children to have this kind of relationship where we lived in Arizona. We also wanted to teach them kindness and service by making time for an elderly person who was also away from family.

I called a few retirement and nursing home facilities, only to find that they had no “adopt a grandparent” program. Discouraged, I asked Heavenly Father to open the way if this was the right thing to do. The next Sunday, I walked into the chapel and saw an elderly woman seated on the back row in a corner. It was as if a spotlight were shining on her. I knew that the Lord had provided a grandmother for us to adopt.

After church I excitedly told my family what had happened. We invited this woman to our home the next Sunday for dinner and during the dinner asked if we could “adopt” her. She accepted our invitation, and our children began calling her “Grandma.”

Only after Sunday dinner did we discover some startling truths about Heavenly Father’s handiwork. Ruth had never had any children of her own. In addition, this dear sister who had agreed to be a grandmother to our children was the same person who had donated the boxes of food to us when we were struggling to make ends meet! She had not known who was receiving her gifts until the Relief Society president delivered my thank-you note to her.

It has now been years since we adopted Grandma Ruth. She has been an important part of our family and a great source of joy. She rides to church with us, attends family home evening each week, participated in the excitement of the birth and blessing of our fifth child, and often has one or two of the children spend time in her home. Many of her friends, not knowing the whole story, do not realize we are not blood-related. They only see the love we share and assume we are truly her children and grandchildren.

Heavenly Father used all of us to bring many blessings full circle. This wonderful experience strengthened us as a family and helped us learn to rely on the Lord.

  • Colette M. Lunceford is a member of the Shaw Butte Ward, Phoenix Arizona North Stake.

Illustrated by Brian Call