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Window washing at the Decker's

The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live. --Ethel Percy Andrus

Many years ago, when I was a single mom with six small children, I really wanted to teach them the value of service. We had a lot of people who did amazing things for us, but I wanted them to learn how wonderful it was to do service for others. So, I asked around the ward. Finally, one elderly couple called and asked if we would come and clean all the windows in their house.

I was thrilled! This was my opportunity to teach. However, the kids were not so thrilled. They felt like they had enough work to do in their own home and why would I be volunteering them anyway! Needless to say, I made them go and do it.

So, I had several grumpy kids going to clean windows. We had to pull over to the side of the road and have a "discussion" on my favorite saying, "If you are going to do it anyway, do it with class!" They were obviously going to do it anyway, so they needed to adjust their attitudes. They did and we went over to the Decker's small home. My children got right to work. Brother Decker gave them buckets and squeegees to do the outsides. Sister Decker gave the girls paper towels and buckets for the insides. They had a great time. The best part was that Sister Decker made them dessert for when they finished.

During the time we were there, Sister Decker talked about how bad they felt that they needed to ask for the help for such a simple thing. She talked about how hard it was to not be able to do everything themselves and to need the help. She talked about how wonderful it was to have six willing children come to their home and work so hard. She taught them that service isn't something we necessarily want, but it is something we need. Can you imagine what a blessing that was for my children? They remember it to this day. Sister Decker made them feel like they were amazing. And so, they rose to the occasion and became amazing.

For months after that, Brother and Sister Decker would bring oranges, grapefruit and lemons over to the house. Sometimes, they would ask the children for little favors of service that were always more than repaid in simple acts of kindness. They taught my children the value of serving others.
My children served the Deckers in our ward for several years, until they grew up and left home. But the lesson of service remains in their minds, even now.

President Monson has said, "The Savior taught His disciples, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.' I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives. Those who live only for themselves eventually shrivel up and figuratively lose their lives, while those who lose themselves in service to others grow and flourish—and in effect save their lives."

I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.

I am only one; but still am one. I cannot do everything, but I still can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do. --Helen Keller

May we each strive to do something today to touch the life of another.


guest post by Patty Ann Pitterle

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