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Natasha Dansie

October 18, 2012

It all started as a result of a prompting.  Not the warm fuzzy make-you-feel-good kind.  It was more of the shot-in-the-arm, you’ve-got-work-to-do kind.  I was studying in Moroni chapter 7, reading about charity when the Holy Ghost pointed out to me that I was not as charitable as I should be, and that in order to become more like my Savior, I needed to develop more of this Christ-like love.  So my journey began.

As Mormon instructs, I made my quest for more charity a central part of my prayers. I pray during my morning runs, and I began to explain to my Heavenly Father my sincere desire. I asked Him what specific things I could do to practice charity in my life. One morning just as the sun was dawning, I was running again and praying again and asking for guidance. That particular morning, my question became: What is one specific thing I can do to teach my children the principle of charity? Now, I already had a few ideas in mind. I was thinking of all sorts of small acts of service we could do together. Take cookies to the neighbor. Go visit the widow. These were the kind of simple things I knew my children could help me with.

“What would Thou have me do, Lord?” I asked that morning. 

The Holy Ghost prompted me in a different direction. “Go volunteer at the care center.” 

I immediately tried to push the prompting aside. I did not want to go to the care center. I had something a little more comfortable in mind. But because I could not deny that I had received a specific answer to my prayer, I decided to do my part, have some courage, and follow through. 

With forced enthusiasm I informed my children that we were going to go to the local care center to visit people who might be lonely and need a friend. As we drove there I was silently praying for courage, but I was secretly hoping that they would turn us away. We would likely need to complete an extensive background check, right?  Children were too germy to be around elderly people, right?

Turns out I was dead wrong. When I walked in and informed them that my children and I were interested in volunteering, they ushered us right in. “The residents just love children,” they exclaimed. “We are so happy to have you,” they gushed.  So I swallowed hard and tried to smile. Trusting my experience that when a prompting is followed, things work out.

That was three summers ago when the youngest of my three children was just a year old. And we're still there. We volunteer at the care center once a week each summer. This last summer, the directors asked if we would spend our time there in the lockdown unit of the facility. We had never even been over to that side of the care center. They explained that the residents there got very few visitors. One would think that by this time, I would be comfortable at the care center, but I am not. I look forward to going because of the feeling and insight I receive, but each time I still have to step out of my comfort zone. Being asked to spend our time in the lockdown unit took me to a whole new level of apprehension.

When we are asked to do things that are not easy for us, it causes us to dig a little deeper, reach a little higher, become more than we currently are. Each week we would plan songs to sing and activities to do with the residents. Each week as we went to volunteer, the words of Isaiah would echo in my mind, “and a little child shall lead” (Isaiah 11:6.)  My children, in their “submissive, meek, humble, patient, and full of love” state (Mosiah 3:19) saw things in the residents that I might have missed, and they simply did not see the things that may have been uncomfortable or divisive.  When they walked into the care center to spend time with the residents, their childlike eyes did not see the frailties of men. They only saw other children of God whom they sat with, sang with, talked with, and loved.

I set out to teach my children charity, but it turns out they are the ones who are teaching me.  I still have not arrived at this perfect charity-I think that's a lifelong process-but I have come to know some very important things along this sweet journey. I know that the Spirit will prompt me to become more like my Savior. I know that God hears and answers my prayers. I know He will provide a way for me to become the person He wants me to be. And I know that as we become as little children, we will be great in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:4.)