“Just the Help I Needed,” Ensign, Aug. 2004, 70–71
An act of service on the part of my neighbors taught me a memorable lesson on the importance of identifying others’ needs and helping to meet them.
As a single mother of three children, I had learned to be rather self-reliant in caring for my family. However, in the spring of 1989, changes in my circumstances brought new challenges. My older son, a returned missionary, was married and serving far away as a United States Navy officer. My daughter and younger son were preparing to leave within two weeks of each other for missionary service. For the first time, I would be alone.
Well, I would not be completely alone—there was Mischa, our large, beautiful Samoyed dog. One of the children took her for a walk every day, but now that they would all be gone, this task would become mine. The problem was, I was scheduled to undergo surgery for bone spurs in my heel, and walking would be extremely painful for at least several weeks.
During one of the last walks my younger son took with Mischa before leaving for the Missionary Training Center, he was stopped by our neighbor. The man said he would walk our dog every day until one of the children returned home.
The first evening our neighbor came to walk Mischa, she would not go with him because he was a stranger. So he stayed and just played with her for about 15 minutes. He came the next night to play with her and make friends, but she still refused to go for a walk. Finally on the third night, she was willing to go, and soon she was waiting impatiently for her new friend each night.
Long after my foot had healed from the surgery and I could have taken over the responsibility, my neighbor continued to walk Mischa. When a night job kept him busy three nights a week, his wife took over. For a year and a half until my daughter returned, these wonderful neighbors walked my dog for at least one hour every night except for three nights when they apologetically took a brief vacation out of town. That totaled more than 547 hours of service!
I am convinced my neighbors were in touch with the Spirit, and I am grateful they identified my need and responded to it. It was not something I would have asked them to do. But given my responsibilities at that time, no other service would have been of greater help to me. Following Alma’s admonition “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” (Mosiah 18:8), these neighbors set an example of loving service that will always remain with me.