“Called 2 Serve,” New Era, Aug. 2005, 21
From soup kitchens to libraries to hospitals, the missionaries of the Connecticut Hartford Mission help in a variety of situations.
Missionaries find great satisfaction in giving their time to the communities they live in. Not only is their service a break from their usual routine, it’s a chance to get to know their community members in a different setting. Some places where these missionaries volunteer have had various missionaries volunteering for years.
Elder Biehn, who volunteers with his companion, Elder Bohn, reshelving books at the Noah Webster Library in West Hartford, says, “It’s a great opportunity for us to meet people where they don’t feel threatened by us.”
The missionaries also say it’s great to feel needed and that they are really doing good. “It’s an opportunity to do something and see the effects of what you’re doing,” says Elder Whitney, who serves with his companion, Elder Campbell, at the Meriden Soup Kitchen, in the basement of a Baptist church.
Elders Campbell and Whitney say they learn about other religions there and about other things, like how to serve customers and cook for large numbers of people.
The Hartford missionaries agree that they not only get satisfaction from their weekly service, they also learn new skills. For instance, Elders Martinez, Finch, Baranowsky, and Farnsworth, who serve at the YMCA in New Britain, have learned how to clean. They spend most of their time there raking, mopping, sweeping, and dusting.
And the people they serve and serve with are very grateful for them. “Everybody loves these guys. They’re definitely role models,” says Cindy McCool, who works with volunteer services at the Bristol Hospital. Kelley Boothby, who manages volunteers at the Hartford Hospital, says the missionaries are “the favorites of the favorites. They are willing to do anything that anyone asks of them, and that’s a huge help.”
Whether they’re filing or wheeling patients to their cars, these missionaries are definitely examples when they volunteer. And their examples have prompted people to ask them to share the gospel with them and have encouraged less-active members to come back to church, even though the missionaries don’t actively proselyte when they are volunteering in the community.
Elder Nelson, who serves at the Bristol Hospital with his companion, Elder Biehl, admits, “It makes you feel good as well—not just those you are serving.”
Elder Carlson, who volunteers with five other elders at the Hartford Hospital, gets to the heart of why these missionaries really love to serve: “Serving your fellow men is the same as serving God. Serving is really the key to coming to know Jesus Christ. That’s why we serve people wherever we can.”
One elder in Alaska named some benefits of serving in the community: “As missionaries we not only learn skills that may be helpful later in life, we also learn the joy and blessings that come from giving to others’ temporal needs.” Whether full-time missionaries serve by teaching the gospel or by sorting clothing at a humanitarian center, they find joy in knowing that when they “are in the service of [their] fellow beings [they] are only in the service of [their] God” (Mosiah 2:17).
Missionaries in Africa often do service projects with investigators and new contacts. Elders Turnbull and Spencer, serving in Korforidua, Ghana, help their friend Benjamin Boateng cut down dead trees and harvest cocoa beans (left).
Missionaries help because they truly care about the people they serve and the communities they live in. Some full-time missionaries in Accra, Ghana, took time on their preparation day to help clean up litter along the public streets (left). The city’s mayor expressed appreciation for their assistance.
These missionaries, serving in Accra, Ghana, at Christmastime, brought donated food and toys to children in an orphanage.
Missionaries in this mission do a variety of service projects, like reading to the blind, doing yard work, helping at nursing homes, and working at a food bank.
Working with Habitat for Humanity, Elders Bailey and Cummings helped build a home and a shed (left). A few days before the elders started working on the home, they met an investigator at church and began teaching him. It turns out that he was the man whose home they were building. Before the house was completed, he joined the Church.
Elder Peterson and Elder Warren spend a few hours each week sorting food, clothing, and other items at a thrift store called Feed My People (left).
When a fire last year burned a housing complex, leaving 20 families homeless, LDS Charities stepped in to help. The families found homes to stay in temporarily in the community and at a chapel. And the Church donated canned and fresh food, stoves, lanterns, sheets, pillows, and mattresses. These supplies were dropped off at the Mini-Okoro chapel, where they were given to the families by full-time missionaries Elders Obadan and Abu and local Church leaders (below).
The parents of one family with 11 children shed tears of gratitude when they received their supplies. Another family said the whole community celebrated with them when the family returned with their supplies.
Some of the full-time missionaries in the Ilopango Zone—(from left to right) Elder Monterroso, Elder Payne, Elder Albino, Sister Rivera, and Elder Cammack—do a puppet show to teach children to eat healthy foods and to avoid tobacco, alcohol, drugs, and other addictive substances.
The missionaries gave the puppet show at a local hospital and in a parking lot of a large supermarket. Those who saw the show, including members of the hospital staff, enjoyed it and appreciated the missionaries’ efforts.
Missionaries volunteered to help build the town hall in Manoag, Philippines (below).
Eight missionaries from one zone helped teach students ages 6 to 12 about improving their health (below). They taught about hygiene, exercise, a proper diet, and avoiding harmful substances. Some of the students’ parents asked the missionaries questions, which gave them an opportunity to share some gospel principles.
In the cold Alaskan winters, people need wood to burn in their fireplaces. For their weekly service, Elders Fjelsted and Leha’uli went to a local sawmill that has extra wood. They chopped it, piled it into members’ trucks, and delivered the wood to single mothers, older couples, people with disabilities—anyone who needed a little extra help. Those people always mentioned how grateful they were.
These elders also volunteered at a food bank, where they packed food for the needy, and at an elementary school, where they read to the children.
“Our service is making a difference in the community,” Elder Fjelsted says. “People are recognizing us and the Church for the good we do. It is also leading to some teaching opportunities that we hope will help build the kingdom of God in Alaska.”
While the Anchorage Alaska Temple was being remodeled, local missionaries helped clean the temple for their service project (above). From left: Sister Lewis, Elder Evans, Sister Olsen, Elder Rasmussen, and Elder Olivare.
At the Iditarod dogsled race, missionaries helped stack bales of hay along the route and prepare pallets of supplies for the dogsled mushers (below).