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Thursday, December 25, 2014

O ye that embark in the service of God (D&C 4:2)

O ye that embark in the service of God (D&C 4:2)

This is a lot harder than I anticipated.  I apologize that it has taken me quite some time to organize my thoughts and feelings about this awesome family tradition.  Tiffany introduced me to the family service tradition last year.  I’ve read several past-year posts and have been amazed at the creativity, effort, and love that is poured into these experiences.  I’ll admit that I am a little nervous for my first time participating and feel somewhat at a loss for words to relate my experience.  I hope that my efforts are worthy of the recipient I have this year.  So with that, here we go…..

The recipient of my meager service efforts this year is Bill.

Last year at this time Tiffany and I were dating.  Tiffany, Brooklyn and Zelda flew out to North Carolina to spend Christmas and New Years.  Mike and Mitzi and family were so gracious to let me come stay at their home and visit for a few days following Christmas and into the New Year.  What an incredible time I had with Tiffany and her siblings!  From the first moment I met Michael and Lani, Mike and Mitzi, and Bill and Charise I felt that I was in the company of dear friends and I was made to feel warmly welcomed in their family.  I first met Bill at the McBride New Years Eve party.  I found it very easy to talk and laugh with Bill. 

I don’t know Bill very well.  I have been able to get to know him a little more each family gathering I have attended (McBride New Years Eve party; Williamsburg, VA; Bodell reunion in Utah; Disney World; and a brief visit here in OC where we had a BBQ at the beach).  Tiffany has helped me to get to know Bill a little better.  Tiffany has explained to me that Bill exemplifies the words serve and service.  As she explained, Bill would be the first to help a family move in or out of the ward.  Tiffany said he is mindful of the single mothers and widows in the ward.  He is ready and available to help anyone in need.

When Tiffany explained this to me, I began to actively seek out service opportunities that Bill would engage in without second thought or hesitation.

The first opportunity I had was to assist a friend of Tiffany’s in our ward.  She is a single mother and has 4 children.  She called Tiffany and mentioned that she had bought a bunk bed for two of her children but was struggling to assemble the beds.  Without hesitation I took Brooklyn with me and we headed over to assemble a bunk bed.  It didn’t take long.  It was not complicated to assemble the bed.  It was just awkward and definitely a juggling act for a single individual.  With an extra set of hands the assembly was completed in short order.  She was very appreciative for the help and her kids were excited for the bed. 

The second opportunity I had to serve on behalf of Bill was to help a family in our ward move out of their home.  This family was moving out of a two-story house with a narrow spiral staircase and a very old upright piano!  Does it make sense that the piano is upstairs?  Needless to say, Elders Quorum Inc. moved the piano from the second to the first floor and into the U-Haul truck.  Luckily I was positioned uphill and not downhill while moving this stringed behemoth.  Several other furnishings that were awkward were moved down from the second floor (hide-a-bed couch, antique executive desk, billiard table, ping pong table).  While we were all sweating and grunting and grumbling under the strain of moving these large awkward items, I was able to realize how grateful I was to serve.  I was grateful to be able to help this brother and sister who could not have moved these items on their own.  They were an older couple.  It took 6 strapping Elders to move the piano, and even then we were lucky that we didn’t kill someone!  I am grateful to be able to help someone when they are not physically able to do something by themselves.  We are all in the same situation.  We cannot [physically] by ourselves overcome the Law of Justice and return to our heavenly home and family.  It is the atonement of the Savior and resurrection that enables us to come home.  Only because of Him the Law of Mercy fulfills the Law of Justice.  What a great opportunity this was for me to serve on behalf of Bill and help someone else in their time of need.

The third opportunity that I had to serve was during our stake’s production of Follow the Star, the annual live nativity put on every Christmas season.  I did not participate in the live presentation, but had an opportunity to help set up the many decorations in the building foyers.  This was my first time to experience Follow the Star.  Tiffany had explained it to me but I did not understand the full magnitude of the production.  It was almost overwhelming at first to see how much time, energy, decorations, sets, and materials that are involved.  My task was to set up all of the Christmas trees in the foyer and to light them up!  This included untangling the many strands of lights that had been haphazardly thrown in totes the year before.  I believe I counted over 20 trees.  It was amazing! 

The Christmas tree is a special symbol to me.  Not only is the harvesting of the Christmas tree a special family tradition that I grew up with (in Idaho you can buy a $5 permit from the Forest Service and head up into the mountains and harvest your own tree.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving we would load up the suburban and head to the mountains and the snow and hunt for the tree.  My family has kept this tradition for many many years) but I have also spent countless nights in the mountains backpacking and camping with my father and brothers and as a scout and a scouter developing a love of pine trees.  To me they represent simplicity, loneliness, solidarity, and humility.  The savior was born in simple and humble circumstances.  At Christmas time they help me to remember the humility and loneliness of the Savior’s birth.  All of these thoughts and feelings came to me as I was setting up these trees and putting up lights in the foyers.  I hoped that my efforts to serve on behalf of Bill setting up these decorations would invoke thoughts and feelings of the Savior in someone else who would be coming through the building during the presentation of Follow the Star.  I know Bill has a big heart and a strong testimony of the Gospel and the Savior.  He has shared them with me.  I hope that the lights and trees inspired others, even those not of our faith who visited during the Follow the Star presentation this season to feel of the Spirit and be reminded of the Savior.  He is the gift.   

A few months ago I was called to be the secretary in our ward’s YM organization.  Last month I was promoted to 2nd counselor and called to be Scoutmaster.  Two Sundays ago I attended our annual YM/YW training and planning meeting where the 2015 YM/YW theme was introduced.  I was asked to give the introduction to the coming year’s theme.  The 2015 YM/YW theme for the Church is “embark in the service of God” and is found in Doctrine and Covenants 4:2.  I was first introduced to this scripture in the MTC and for the following 2 years I recited it everyday in Portuguese.  It still rolls off my tongue.  This is my favorite scripture regarding service and the work of the Lord.  I asked our Priest Quorum First Assistant to recite the first 2 verses of the section.  I then commented how many times the words “serve” and “service” are referenced in the scriptures: New Testament – 49 times; the Book of Mormon – 32 times; the Doctrine and Covenants – 30 times; and the Old Testament – 181 times.  I pointed out that the cannon of scripture that would have been available to the Savior during his lifetime and ministry were the books and writings contained in the Old Testament and that the Old Testament has more references to the words “serve” and “service” than all of the other standard works combined!

When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.  (Mosiah 2:17)  The Lord knows this better than any of us.  He is the perfect example to all of us.  I am grateful for these opportunities I had this year to serve others on behalf of Bill.  It has helped me to focus more on others and draw closer to my Savior.  I am grateful that seeking for these opportunities also focused my thoughts on Bill and what he would do to serve others.  By doing so I have been able to learn a little more about him.  I am excited to get to know him even better in the years to come.  Merry Christmas, brother!


  1. Great job Garrett! Great job :) I wanted to tell you that my daughter Maegann REALLY enjoyed getting to know your Madison last summer at the reunion. She asks about her all the time and looks forward to seeing her again. We are glad to have you in the family!

  2. Way to go G-mon! This was wonderful. I could totally see Bill "owning" the assignment of setting up the trees and diligently unraveling the lights and perfectly positioning them. So glad to have you as part of this tradition!

  3. I am sure you were nervous about your first post, but you did awesome. We are so grateful to have you as a part of the family.

  4. Wow...way to be awesome and knock your first gift out of the park!