Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Joys of Missionary Service Projects

Missionaries are supposed to do 4 hours of community service per week. Often, the Elders are so busy keeping on top of teaching investigators and new members that the service projects fall through the cracks and simply weren’t happening. About 6 weeks ago, our Zone Leader Elder asked me to be in charge of planning the service projects.I had to put my thinking cap on. Normally we wouldn’t have a budget, and we aren’t supposed to give them our own money. However, I found a solution. Our special friend, Tom Roy, who has been Ed’s tile layer on all his jobs for about 15 years gave us some money to help out on our mission, even though he is not a member of the LDS Church. (Editorial note from Chuck: Most of us know him as "Tom the tile man" because whenever he would call and leave a message it was "Tell your dad that Tom the tile man called.")

Tom said he usually gives to some “cause” each year, so we were his “cause”. We wanted to use it for something special. Tom’s money has become our service project funding. We may run out, but it is great to have it while it lasts.

We decided with the elders to all be involved teaching weekly, structured English classes with lesson plans and activities. I became the coordinator and the elders became the instructors.
I had a copy of an English as a Second Language manual with 25 lessons. It had a workbook that goes with it. I am in charge of getting the copies made for the worksheets. We started with less than 10 people. We now have about 55 Africans in our English classes. I had to make 350 copies this week. This gives us 2 hours of service per week.

For our other projects, we have done a variety of things. One week, we painted the living room of a cute expectant mother. She is threatening miscarriage, and we were told that the doctor “stitched her up so the baby won’t fall out,” and he told her not to get off her bed or off the sofa until the delivery in about 3 months. We went to visit her in their humble home.

We asked if we could do anything and she said “Non, Merci.” I looked around noticed that the living room needed paint. I asked her if she would like new painted walls, to look at while she is lying down. She was thrilled and we had a great afternoon painting her living room.

Her husband is a counselor in the bishopric and this will be their 4th child. They have 1 bedroom and the living room (about 10' X 14'), which has a sofa and a chair, 2 burner gas cooktop and a little fridge and a table & chairs, in a corner. They are cute and happy and love the peace and happiness of the gospel.
Another week, we cleaned up the road leading into the church. The dirt roads (which is most of the roads) have deep ditches on both sides. People throw their trash everywhere, but the ditches fill up with the trash eventually. The “city” came by and dug the trash out of the ditches on the road into the church, and then scraped some of it off and hauled it away. However, the roads aren’t flat, so any of the recessed areas still had this yucky junk filling up the “holes” and “dips” in the road and people kept driving on the garbage. We decided to clean it up.
We bought 4 rakes and some gloves and garbage bags. It was a hot & sweaty job, but well worth the effort. This is one of the little Muslim girls who live right by the church, who decided to help us.

Yet another week, we painted the posts of the rooms of an outdoor school.
They owners were so grateful that they cooked us a great African dinner.The Elders loved it.

This week, the elder's helped us move from one home to another across town. We did it all with our Ford Ranger... with many trips back and forth.
Once the truck was so loaded, we had to get a Taxi (for $1.50 American) to transport the elders.

We have plans next week to clean up a maternity hospital. They asked us if we could possibly donate a generator, so they could have lights at night when the women deliver at night with only lanterns. We told them that we were sorry, but we couldn’t. If anyone wanted to have a Relief Society project and make and send us small receiving blankets, they would love and appreciate them!

I was a originally a little concerned about finding the projects, but I have learned to look for opportunities for us to help. The Elders are hard workers and it has been a joy to work with them.


  1. It just makes me smile reading your posts. I love it!

  2. I miss your posts! I know you are busy but I LOVE them! What a fun assignment from your Zone leader. So, after 15 years... Tom's last name is Roy huh? Wouldn't have known that in a million years! How cute is he!

  3. I had to think in my head, "Tom, the Tile Man" to make sure it was the right guy! Haha.

    Mom and dad, I was so filled with the spirit with this post. I love you guys so much.

  4. Also, if you see that little boy again with the Yellow Jersey on, you can tell him that you Son in Law has the same shirt/jersey! And that he wears it all the time and loves it! Viva Brazil!!

    Mom, please make sure dad is eating!!!! It looks like we need to send more fattening things. He looks like he is getting skinnier!

    And PLEASE bring back one of those cute African babies to be my niece or nephew!!!

  5. What a great post. I too have missed your posts. How cute is Tom w/ Contemporary Tile?!? Dad IS looking a bit skinny and why on earth is the pregnant lady who had to be sewn up standing up for a photo? So out of curiosity, how much do generators go for? And could you not give her one b/c of the money or was it b/c of the idea of not just giving handouts? Keep up the good work!

  6. Question: I was told we couldn't send you anything that it wouldn't get there. Is there a way to send baby receiving blankets? How and to what address. Maybe me and my girls will make some.