Last Christmas my sister-in-law and I made ‘Manna Bags’ for the homeless. We got the idea from Pinterest. (Love that place!) Basically they are gallon-size ziplock storage bags filled with little things that will help someone left in the cold. We included granola bars, emergency Mylar blankets, toiletry items, tissues, and an uplifting scripture.
It was such a great, heartwarming activity. She took half of the two dozen we made and distributed them downtown with her teenage daughter.
It was a great way to help teach her child to be grateful and remember those less fortunate. My son and I really enjoyed giving them out to strangers. I loved having something real to hand them instead of small change.
It was such a hit that I made them again this year. I’m not sure why, but there were many more homeless people this year than last. There were couples, elderly people, and even a woman without legs.
I started thinking about what kind of help these people get when it’s not the holidays. Why have I been forgetting to serve the other eleven months of the year?
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf (a Mormon high-ranking leader) gave a talk in April 2010 in which he told of a town in Europe. He said:
A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was—a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”
There is a profound lesson in this story. When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.
That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart.”
For the whole text, feel free to check out https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/04/you-are-my-hands?lang=eng
When I Needed Service
Elder Uchtdorf always inspires me. He has a gift for phrasing things perfectly. I remember a time when I really needed help. We had just moved to a new home. I had a toddler and 2,000 boxes to unpack, and my husband was always on the road. I missed my friends and felt terribly alone. So I prayed for strength, for help, for sanity. And before we had been in our new house a week, every one of our new neighbors had come by to welcome us.
A sweet girl from my church volunteered to be a mother’s helper. And another mother, seeing my struggle, took my toddler for the day so I could find my kitchen again. Their service still brings a warm feeling to my heart as I remember how quickly my prayers were answered.
They have been answered many more times and in even bigger ways. But never had it been more apparent that my personal miracle was being answered through people. President Spencer W. Kimball (an LDS prophet) said, “The Lord answers our prayers, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”
I am so grateful for the many good people of all faiths who have been there for me when I needed them. May we all remember each other and seek to be those heavenly hands in the lives of others. Christmas is over, but that spirit of love and joy can be ours all year long as we keep looking for chances to be His hands.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.