Saturday, September 18, 2010

Want to be part of a miracle?

(Okay, some of my readers may need a glossary of terms. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (nicknamed the Mormons). A ward is a local congregation. A bishop is the unpaid leader of a congregation. The Relief Society is my church's organization for women.)

I once had the chance to be an angel. Sort of an accessory, tag-along angel, but still, I was able to take part in a miracle. Oh, and I promised to keep some details and identities secret, so please excuse me for being a little vague here and there.

Back in college, I lived in a section of town affectionately called the "student slums," which was just off the south edge of campus and consisted of older apartments and even older houses. Most of us in our student ward were scraping by on grants and scholarships and part-time jobs, which is why we lived in some of the cheapest student housing to be found.

One Sunday morning, a friend of mine pulled me into a top-secret meeting with the Relief Society presidency of our ward. She had discovered that another young woman in our ward, who was far away from home with no family support, had just encountered a financial disaster, through no fault of her own. It was only in the range of a few hundred dollars, but it might as well have been thousands. She was determined to deal with it herself, and trying to save all she could from her part-time job. But, unless she dropped out of school to work more hours, it would be months before she could save up what she needed.

My friend had an idea of how we could help this girl. She told the Relief Society president her plan. The Relief Society president ran it past the bishop, who thought it was a wonderful idea, and told her to go for it. The plan was for those few of us who knew the plan to pair up and visit all the members of our ward. Our script was something like this: "There is a member of our ward with a financial need. If everyone in the ward could contribute just one dollar, it would be enough to take care of it."

We began with a prayer, then went on our errand. The response we got from everyone was amazing in its consistency. In the women's apartments, each one ran to get her purse. In the men's apartments, each one immediately reached back and pulled out his wallet. No one told us no. A few people weren't home, but others managed to sneak in a larger donation, so in the end we had just a little more than what was needed.

After we finished the collection, the next stop was the recipient's apartment. We explained what we had done and that only those few of us in the room with her knew who the money was for. As we handed her the very fat envelope of dollar bills, she burst into tears and thanked us profusely. She had prayed desperately for help with this problem, and this was how God answered her prayers. Our little group was humbled and thrilled that we had been God's hands in giving one young woman a miracle.

Again, I can take no credit for what happened, other than walking from apartment to apartment and giving that little speech. God touched the heart of my friend when she saw the need of someone else and gave her the idea of how all of us could help. My friend followed through on that inspiration, and dragged me along to help.

Why am I telling this story so many years later? Another friend of mine is now trying to help her sister and brother-in-law, who have a financial need. This family has had one disaster after another, and were in danger of losing their home. They are doing everything they can think of to earn extra money, but they need help. You can follow THIS LINK to read all about it. If enough people can give just a little, one family's prayers will be answered.

That's how God works most of the time, you know. He whispers to us, "Look, here is someone who needs your help." Then it's up to us to follow through. So here's your chance to be part of a miracle.

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