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Finding joy in service amid the pandemic

Finding joy in service amid the pandemic

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Service looks different for everyone. Some volunteer at soup kitchens, others read to the blind. Some share a smile everywhere they go — even behind a mask — while others gladly lend a listening ear.

No matter the form of service, it’s indisputable that serving others can lift our spirits. And many have cashed in on that certainty during the uncertain times of 2020.

Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have found joy through service during an atypical time, where they can’t knock on doors or share messages about Jesus Christ in the traditional fashion. They’re young women and men from all over the world, typically 18 to 24 years old, who dedicate 18 or 24 months, at their own expense, to serving and teaching about Jesus Christ.

“We can divide the Savior’s ministry into two parts: teaching and serving,” explains President Jeremy Grisel, who serves as mission president of the Church’s Arizona Tucson Mission. “Serving others in the community is a wonderful way for missionaries to fulfill their purpose and come unto Christ. I can see it blessing both parties.”

This has certainly been true for Elder Tyson Parsons of Salem, Utah, who was a car mechanic prior to his mission in Tucson. When Parsons landed in the mission field, Grisel felt inspired to assign him to a certain area — not knowing the area had a lot of people who needed help with their cars.

“He’ll come to meetings with blisters all over his hands,” Grisel says of Parsons. “The people that he’s been helping just love him.”

“It has seriously been the coolest blessing,” says Parsons. “You don’t hear many stories about missionaries rebuilding transmissions or working on engines. I thought all my skills would just be there for when I got home. It was a huge testimony builder that Heavenly Father wanted my talents to share the gospel and to lend a helping hand to those in need.”

He’s learned that if we’re willing, God will always provide ways we can help those around us.

In a time when missionary work — among many other things — has been anything but normal, service has been a bright spot.

Parsons says service brings the people that they’re helping so much joy, and the joy is contagious. While he and his companions, Elders Nicholas Nelson and Travis Durrans, provide service of all kinds, working on cars is Parsons’ favorite. He especially loves trucks.

“Service has been pivotal in my mission because I’m able to use my talents and forget worrying about myself,” he says.

Their goal is a service project a day. And sometimes that service leads to chances to teach about the Savior.

Of course, missionaries aren’t the only ones volunteering their time and talents during the pandemic. You can visit JustServe.org for opportunities near you.

Service might look different for everyone, but to the Savior it’s all the same: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

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