Our Good Neighbor
April 2023

“Our Good Neighbor,” Liahona, Apr. 2023.

Latter-day Saint Voices

Our Good Neighbor

The day I needed help, Elder Russell M. Nelson answered a prompting and came to my aid.

Russell M. Nelson mowing a lawn as a neighbor looks on

Illustration by Dilleen Marsh

When my family and I moved in with my widowed mother-in-law, Effie Dean Rich, one of our next-door neighbors was Elder Russell M. Nelson, who had been called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles a few years earlier.

During the time we were neighbors, we enjoyed helping Elder Nelson and his first wife, Dantzel, with their projects, and they were happy to help us with ours. That included turning a gully in our backyard into an attractive area with retaining walls, intersecting walkways, stairs, and vegetation. When Elder Nelson was away on a Church assignment, we would help Sister Nelson with whatever she needed.

After we had finished the gully project, my nephew and his bride asked to have their wedding reception in the gully and garden. They planned to come and help with the final tidying up before the event.

But time slipped away. They were busy and unable to come. The day of the open house, I awoke at 6:00 a.m. feeling grumpy. I got up, grabbed my bucket and clippers, and walked to the bottom of the gully’s 58 stairs. As I worked my way up the stairs trimming the English ivy, my feelings calmed. At about 8:00 a.m., I heard a lawnmower in the front yard. I took a break to see what was happening.

When I reached the front yard, Elder Nelson had finished mowing his lawn and was now mowing my lawn.

“You don’t need to do that,” I said.

“Yes, Grant,” he replied, “I need to do this for you today.”

Elder Nelson knew how to hear Heavenly Father. That day, God knew I needed some help.

That experience changed me. Afterward, when my wife and I prayed each day, we began asking to be made aware of those around us who needed our help.

Years earlier, during a different season, my father-in-law, John P. Rich, went out to shovel snow from his sidewalk. Elder Nelson, however, had beaten him to it. John went back inside and wrote this poem:

I’ve seen sermons in stone

And sermons in flowers

Sermons that take minutes

Sermons that take hours

But I’ve just seen a sermon

Delivered in labor

That showed me perfectly

How to be a good neighbor

To this day, we remain grateful for our good neighbor.