I heard a talk by an amazing woman last night. She is an elderly woman who grew up in Baltimore. She comes from a family of 17 children. She talked about how her parents taught them to serve others. She said that at dinner time it was quite a feat to feed everyone. But if there were children playing at their house at dinner time, her mother would never send those children home, but would fix up a plate for them too. She said it often was nothing more than lima beans and cornbread, but there always seemd to be enough to share with any children that were there. She said that as many as could would sit around the table. They also had thirteen steps leading up to their house. Whoever couldn't sit at the table would sit on one of those steps.
She also said that if some child were at their house and lacked some clothing item, she would give them one of her children's. For example, if they needed a sweater, she would give them one of her family's.
All of the women in that neighborhood had to travel in to the city once a week to buy groceries. The woman giving the talk said she was the oldest child in the neighborhood. It was understood that she, being the oldest, should babysit all the children in the neighborhood (remember her family alone had 17) while the mothers went to buy food. In addition, her mother expected the children to complete certain tasks while she was gone. First of all they had to do the washing in two tubs in the basement. One was a washing tub, and one was a rinse tub. Then they had to wring the clothes out and hang them on a line to dry. In addition, they had wood floors in their house, and her mother expected them to clean the floors and wax them. They used a brick with a piece of wool wrapped around it to polish the floors.
This woman learned from her mother's example and has gone on to do many great acts of service in the community. She crochets and has made shawls, sweaters, and socks for the homeless. I shudder to think about her driving around some of the dangerous communities near here, but she goes and hands out warm knitted clothing to the homeless along the streets. She also goes to bus stops in the area and teaches crochet to the homeless women there. She is a humble woman, so doesnt' dress fancy. For quite some time, most of the women she has taught crochet to thought she was homeless too! :)
Here are some other projects she has done. She is a latchkey Mom for Down syndrome children. If parents have adult children with down syndrome, she lets them bring those children to her home for the weekend so that the parents can get some time away. She also is an advocate for the senior citizens, especially to make sure that they are not taken advantage of by their children, or others. She has been a volunteer in our temple for 8 years and goes there weekly to help.
When I think about how much time we are given in our life to use as we see fit, I can't help but look at her example and wonder if we could be doing more to help others.