Through our church, we frequently have opportunities to perform service. The service may be putting together Thanksgiving dinner baskets for people in need or helping someone to move into or out of a new home, but sometimes we also have opportunities to serve at the church itself. The church does not employ professional custodians and gardeners for buildings and grounds, or at least not as many as are required; instead, it relies on the volunteer efforts from the members.
I performed two such service activities in the past week, and Elena was able to help with one of them. First, I helped with the landscaping at the nearby temple, which had issued a call for volunteers. The temple was closed for summer maintenance, and my assignment was to help spread mulch on the grounds. It was backbreaking work on a sweltering hot day, but we completed the assigned task, and I was happy with the work that we did.
Elena loves to talk about and visit the temple. She knows that sometimes when she has a sitter, it’s because we’re going to the temple. She doesn’t understand what goes on inside the temple–the idea of “sacred ordinances” is pretty abstract, but the next time we go to visit the grounds I can show her the part that I helped to beautify.
On Saturday morning, we were asked to help with regular cleaning at the local meetinghouse where we attend Sunday services. Since the assignment was for our family, I took Elena along. The young men are in charge of the cleaning operation, so when we arrived I asked for an assignment, and was asked to clean the chapel. He handed me a basket with the requisite supplies and a laminated card listing the sub-tasks.
Elena and I got to work: we picked up trash (like leftover programs from the previous week) and tidied the hymnals, then started to clean the surfaces. I found a duster for Elena, and showed her some of the woodwork that she could work on. She was happy to help while I sprayed and wiped the non-wood surfaces.
In one area, Elena decided that dusting was not enough. While I wasn’t looking, she found a pump bottle of hand sanitizer and squeezed some out onto the area she wanted to clean. Then she started to wipe it around with the duster. By that point, I had caught her. We cleaned the duster off, and I gave her a paper towel to wipe up the rest of the hand sanitizer.
At church this morning, Elena pointed up at the podium and said something to Jenny. She had to repeat herself once or twice before Jenny figured out that she was saying “I cleaned up there!” I was pretty proud to hear her recalling, unsolicited, our previous day’s service.