Open for Service
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“Open for Service,” Ensign, August 2009, 69

Open for Service

Shelley L. Nelson, Minnesota, USA

Do you want to give back to your community and find more purpose in your life? That was how I felt a few years ago after my husband passed away suddenly. Initially I had preconceived ideas about how and where I wanted to volunteer. But those opportunities didn’t materialize. I prayerfully considered other options and was blessed with two wonderful experiences.

I eventually contacted the local high school. Soon I was approached about helping a chemistry teacher who had multiple sclerosis. How could I, an English major, help with chemistry experiments and labs? I wasn’t sure it could work, but I agreed to meet with him. During that same visit, the school principal, who was obviously delighted to have a volunteer, asked if I could also help a special education teacher. I soon agreed to both volunteer opportunities because I also have disabilities and know what it is like to try to lead a fulfilling life despite the setbacks and limitations.

Through these opportunities I gained tremendous insight. As I helped the teens in special education and helped the teachers, the Lord helped me through some trying times with my own young adult children. As I helped the chemistry teacher with tasks that sapped his energy, I felt so needed. Because of me, he could continue to do what he loves. His example inspired me to persevere in my own life despite my challenges.

I testify that Heavenly Father knows the righteous desires of our hearts. Opportunities to serve open our heart to lessons of love. As we reach out to others, He will help us in ways that we can’t imagine.