Generosity can take many forms. It can involve sharing something tangible like a dish of funeral potatoes.
And it can involve sharing something even more lasting and more spiritually nourishing such as a smile or a kind word of encouragement or an act of selfless service.
Alma admonishes us to bear one another's burdens that they may be light ... to mourn with those who mourn ... to comfort those who stand in need of comfort ... and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all place that we may be in. (Mosiah 18:8-9)
It was John Wesley who said: "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can."
Among the many people we've met on our mission, we've observed countless instances of Christlike, covenant-keeping generosity:
- Church members who invite the young missionaries into their homes for dinner. Not just occasionally, but every single week.
- Families who share the bounty of their gardens, in some instances inviting needy friends to come and "pick their own" at any time.
- Dentists who provide expensive services to patients who have little means. (We know one Latter-day Saint dentist whose goal is to donate $10,000 of free services every single month.)
- Physicians and other health care providers who donate their services to missionaries and others.
- People who provide free child care to young mothers while they run errands or attend classes.
- A sweet widow, herself struggling financially, who provides meals to people who have even less than she.
One of the countless practices that have been reinforced for us while serving a full-time mission is that we're now more adept at wearing our "Blessing Glasses."
Have you ever worn polarized glasses? With regular glasses you might look at a body of water and see nothing but the waves on top. But with polarized lenses, you can see beyond the surface and observe the fish and other things underneath. With our "Blessing Glasses" we see the Lord's tender mercies all around us. They've always been there and we have occasionally noticed them. But now we're on the look-out and see them every day.
Last week we enjoyed a wonderful evening in our apartment with Burt and Julie Burleson. Burt, as mentioned previously, is Baylor University's Chaplain and Dean of Student Spiritual Life. After a delicious dinner (Rean really can cook!), we visited for a couple of hours. Burt is about 15 years younger than I, but we still knew many of the same professors and administrators during our years at Baylor. He also earned one of his graduate degrees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, the same school that honors my distant grandfather James Calvin Price who was a prominent Baptist circuit rider in this part of Texas during the 1880s. And under the "it's really a small world" rubric, Burt and Julie's son graduated from William Jewell College in our hometown of Liberty, Missouri. They know our friend David Sallee, who's president of WJC.
We expect to see more of Burt and Julie, possibly even taking a trip together to the Texas Hill Country.
Meanwhile, Burt is checking on a possible date for me to speak at Baylor Chapel (similar to Forum and Devotional at BYU). I last spoke at Baylor Chapel in 1979, then in the early 1980s Rean and I brought our friend Lenore Romney (Mitt's mother) to Waco for her speech at Baylor. The chapel agenda is already full for the fall semester, but I assured Burt that even though we will be back in Missouri by December, I would gladly return to Waco next spring. We'll see what develops.
I also had a nice lunch meeting with Brian O'Grady, vice president of Baylor Scott & White Hospital. Brian accepted my offer to do a two-day Change-friendly Implementation workshop for his team of internal consultants who focus on leadership and organizational effectiveness. The Baylor Scott & White system includes 46 hospitals throughout the state of Texas. It's one of the world's foremost healthcare systems. I'm willing to provide pro bono services to the organization because it's non-profit and does a tremendous amount of good in its service to the poor and needy.