17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Promoting Relief in Relief Society

My dh thinks that Gospel Doctrine teacher is the best calling to have in the church. To fulfill your calling, you have to study the scriptures. Studying the scriptures is something you should be doing anyway, so you are in effect, able to kill two birds with one stone (plus there are no meetings to attend).

I do NOT think Gospel Doctrine teacher is the best calling in the church. But I do think MY new calling is the best for much the same reason. I am the Relief Society "Service and Humanitarian Aid Specialist". My calling is to help the members of the Relief Society to focus on service in the community and the world. I know I should be performing more service (in and out of the church). And more than that, I really want to be giving more of my time and resources to service (especially outside of the church). This calling has forced/allowed me to make it a priority in my life. I love that! I have to say it's better than being the committee member in charge of dessert for the HFPE Garden Party--so much harder to find meaning there. This calling gives me the opportunity to be anxiously engaged in a purpose that IS Relief Society at it's very core and for that I am truly grateful.

My first act as SHAS (Service and Humanitarian Aid Specialist) was organizing what turned out to be a pretty successful school supply drive for a local charity. My second act as SHAS is to give a lesson on service in Relief Society. Everyone's comments were so helpful as I prepared my Modesty lesson for the Young Women, I am hoping to benefit from your thoughts once again.


Leave every woman feeling energized, uplifted, and inspired to make service beyond their family and church a larger part of their lives.


-leaving the sisters feeling overwhelmed, over-stressed and guilty
-overlooking the large amounts of service that women perform within their family and the ward.
-coming across as a hypocrite: I am totally pumped about service right now but before my calling, service outside the church was admittedly low on my radar.

while talking about:

-the purpose of the Relief Society
-the example we have in Christ
-giving beyond tithing and fast offerings
-balancing ward, community and world service
-finding our motivation for performing service
-premeditated charity
-involving the family
-our ward's service project plans for the coming months

All that in 25 minutes. Good luck, huh?

I also want to leave each woman with a list of ideas to "make the world a better place". Caroline at Exponent II actually has the same calling and started a similar list here. I have used her ideas, added some from my own experience, used other resources, and started my list here.

I would love to hear any thoughts you might have on the subject and how you think I could best accomplish my goal. What would you like to hear in a lesson on service? What would you not want to hear? What would inspire you? Or would you just want to scream after having one more "good" thing added to your "to do" list?


  • I will think about this if you think up a good 5 minute portion of my upcoming talk on the Articles of Faith....deal?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/27/2006 06:35:00 PM  

  • You don't need to spend a lot of time thinking about it. I just want your immediate reaction to a lesson about service beyond your home and ward.

    I know a lot of lessons on service I have heard can give moms with young children a break because their family is their service.

    I don't really plan on taking that approach, but I want to be sensitive to those overwhelmed feelings.

    I'll stew a little on the articles of faith stuff :)
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/27/2006 06:44:00 PM  

  • 1st of all - cool calling. I remember people in my Los Angeles ward doing that, but not since. Also, as a former teacher whose students were beneficiaries of the school supply drives, thank you. Very much.

    Don't know what this is what you were looking for, but it's an idea I saw in Real Simple magazine a month or two or three ago and plan on doing soon. The idea was to throw a pot-luck dinner party, and invite guests to donate money toward a cause. I'm planning on inviting a bunch of women in my quest to make new friends in my new town, and choosing Heifer International, an organization I love and believe in. (Again, not sure if that works, but thought it was similar to the 5K idea where $ goes towards a cause.)
    posted by Blogger Julie at 8/27/2006 08:53:00 PM  

  • My immediate reactions are--
    --Wow--those are a lot of grand goals and great ideas for 25 minutes! You've got some superb 3-day seminar material! :)
    --I'd want ideas that don't involve writing a senator. I know, that's probably a bad attitude.
    --I love the ideas like carrying a snack/drink in the car for someone in need. Simple things that give immediate help.
    --If you're going to recommend calling the food bank and seeing what they need, buying, and delivering it, (a fantastic idea you listed)then include the address/phone number of the local food bank in a handout. Retreiving numbers and addresses often stops me from doing things. I sometimes just can't get past that first small hurdle. Pathetic, I know.

    Best of luck, Carrie. You will do great. Just don't stress about it being the perfect, life-altering lesson for every person.

    Good luck with your talk too, Kage. Will you just go up and sing all the primary songs? Different style for each one. The kids would love it.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 8/27/2006 09:01:00 PM  

  • Katie, yes I think it might really invite the spirit if I sang #1 opera style, #2 bob marley style #3 country western style #4 Elvis style etc. Don't think I haven't thought about it.

    Carrie, I personally would respond to your lesson and not feel overwhelmed if I was suckered into believing that doing more service would really benefit my children,
    and if you had some ideas that would resonate with my children. For eg. It seemed like Princess understood about all those school supplies in your spare room (yes she has a spare room and yes I got to visit it!).

    I have thought about going back to Mt. Sinai to be a story lady there on their closed circuit tv childrens programming, and that is something I could bring my kids too, and I think they would understand that servie...and if I did it consistently, they could probably be involved with telling the story some day. I have thought about being a storylady at a local women's shelter, but it seems really difficult to get through the red tape sometimes, and then I give up.

    The ward I grew up in had a set up where once a month on their mutual night, they all prepared a meal for the soup kitchen. It was always a spaghetti dinner. Families knew that when it was their time to donate it was always either pasta, bread or noodles, and two of the three items they usually already had in their pantry. The youth would go down and actually cook and serve the meal, I am sure ANYONE could have gone with them. Now, this seems extremely easy and a no brainer, so though I am sure a lot of homeless people who needed a meal benefitted, I am not sure how much leaving a jar of pasta on your front stoop to be picked up by whoever was collecting the food that month, benefited the giver.

    But, if you could do some leg work with making the phone calls, setting up a regular activity that everyone is capable of doing, and providing them with this opportunity, they might just sign up.

    I also think it might be nice if your Thursday night refashioning club spent one Thursday a month making items as part of a humanitarian effort, and maybe those that cannot sew, could come for company and donate fabric and cut.

    And my final thought is just some of the my most favorite service projects that I have participated in:
    Singing/Caroling for nursing homes and the community at large.
    Painting a house for Habitat for Humanity.
    Cleaning the Temple.
    Mt. Sinai Idol. (see link above)
    Collecting Books for bro's Eagle Scout project.

    I like the idea of donating time and my hands to something. I do donate money every once in a while, but I feel more rewarded when my person is actually involved.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 8/28/2006 05:48:00 AM  

  • For some poeple it might help to paint service as an opportunity to learn and do stuff they want to do, anyway. For example: you want to learn how to crochet or knit? Great--learn how by making those leper bandages. You learn, others benefit.

    Also, it would be great to present service opportunities that can be done WITH family in tow, not taking familes apart. For example, I tutor a child a few hours a week and take my daughter with me--she plays with the child's siblings (also a service?). I hope this will serve as an example to her. I certainly look back on service my mother performed with us and marvel at it.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 8/28/2006 08:41:00 AM  

  • You sort-of mentioned this...but I like the angle of presenting service ideas that can combine church and community service (i.e. visiting a nursing home w. your primary class, etc).

    I think most of us LDS folks sincerely do want to be out in the community making a difference, but we do our church service first because it is easier, there are more social benefits (and opportunities for guilt), not to mention the crunch for time we all feel.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 8/28/2006 09:56:00 AM  

  • I think that's an awesome calling as well. And you're right, it totally gives you an "excuse" to start serving outside the home and church.

    I would definitely agree with what Kage and A Spectator said about getting families/kids involved. Families are busy and we have tons of stuff to do for church/work, etc. It would be nice if there were humanitarian projects that families could participate in together, especially if they fall in the evenings or saturdays. Plus, it would really help those families feel close, feel the spirit, teach their kids about service, etc.

    The woman who has this calling in my ward always does a lot of leg work and I think that really helps. We, too, did a school supplies drive and she told everyone where the supplies were on sale. Same thing with kits that we sent to Katrina victims. It was really helpful.

    I think your lesson will be great. Especially since you seem so inspired in this calling. Good luck.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 8/28/2006 03:56:00 PM  

  • Thanks for your ideas so far (I hope I get a few more!).

    I might start the lessons just talking about roadblocks to giving service. I think there are different reasons for different people. And then what we can talk about what to do to overcome them.

    To help with one of the roadblocks Katie mentiones, I will definitely do more research in compiling volunteer info for the area. Names, phone numbers, etc. I will also go through the list I compiled and place a * next to each activity that is child-friendly because that is something that many people stated was important.

    a spectator-we are totally on the same page. For Sept and Oct, we are going to be knitting/crocheting leper bandages, scarves and hats. To help accomplish our goal, I am going to be teaching crocheting at my home to whoever would like to learn (YW and YM included!)

    I really want to encourage the idea of integrating community service as a part of who you are and who you want your children to become. This doesn't mean taking part in huge service projects all the time, it is more about improving our state of mind. It's about allowing more time to look beyond yourself, your family, and your friends and teaching your children how to do the same.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 8/28/2006 05:09:00 PM  

  • In a previous ward I lived in the service activities truly united women. There were women who would come just for the community service projects that were not LDS and the neat thing about it was that they had been doing this for more than thirty years. The friendships were amazing because they crossed all the barriers for age, religion, and race.

    The ward would plan an annual service project and encourage community members to help out as well.

    You calling can truly inspire a legacy. Good Luck.
    posted by Blogger trimama at 8/28/2006 05:20:00 PM  

  • Service not involving money is a big one in our ward. Some women I know have offered to help me can plum from a friends tree so that said friend can have fruit for her family. I try to be patient and kind to any checkers or service staff, especially at peak hours. They get treated less than human all day and can really use someone who appreciates their work. That is service, just of a different type. Make eye contact with random people and smile. Humor that old guy as he tells you his long winded story about when he was in the service. Find bottled water on sale and hand it out to someone who looks like they need it when it's hot. The same could be said for disposable hand warmers when it's cold. Open the door for someone when you go in the store. Let someone in line ahead of you. Tell your friend/neighbor/co-worker that the color they are wearing looks lovely on them.
    Okay, this isn't life changing stuff, and maybe I'm just rationalizing because I can't SAVE THE WORLD. But I think that sometimes the little thing you do are left behind in search of the 'big service project', even though their worth is beyond measure. To you AND to others.
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 8/31/2006 10:09:00 PM  

  • Okay, I can't even BEGIN to count the number of grammatical and spelling errors in that post. Work brain....
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 8/31/2006 10:12:00 PM  

  • Mo Mommy-

    I couldn't agree with you more. I think service should be a part of our everyday dealing with those around us and not just a project to add to our list of "to-do's". Thanks for your comment. It reminds me to add some REALLY simple ideas to my list.

    And is it bad that I didn't notice any of your grammatical errors?
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 9/01/2006 05:17:00 PM  

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