It’s been a “beautiful day in the neighborhood”! Bountiful residents were out in force on Sunday helping their neighbors clean up from Thursday’s big windstorm. We were also gearing up and “battening down the hatches” in preparation for a second storm predicted to hit tonight with 70+ mph winds. All sabbath services of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Northern Utah were shortened to a one-hour sacrament meeting. Then members were sent home to change into their “working duds” and meet back at the church building to be organized into groups that would canvass the neighborhood, assess needs, and do “whatever it takes” to clean up, clear debris and help each other out.
Less than a half hour later, people had turned out in droves bringing their trucks, trailers, chainsaws, rakes, shovels, willing hands and happy smiles ready to work. I’ve simply never seen anything quite like it here, and certainly never taking place on a Sunday! But, the event became a sacred one. There was so much joy and laughter as we were raking up branches and hauling broken pieces of fencing side-by-side with fellow friends, neighbors and complete strangers. I cannot imagine we would have felt God’s spirit any stronger sitting in our church meetings today. In fact, it was almost like our entire neighborhood had been transformed into a giant out-door chapel of sorts. We were experiencing the Gospel of Christ in action. It was a chance to put into “practice what we preach” each week.
Everyone really got excited about the project. In fact, everyone got so excited and eager about helping they didn’t want to quit! After clearing up all the branches and debris from our large pine tree that fell in our front yard, they headed into our back yard and started hauling out all of the broken fencing and other debris that didn’t have anything to do with the recent storm! I caught folks raking up my fall leaves I hadn’t gotten to, taking out my trash and sweeping my driveway and sidewalk! More and more people just kept showing up and finding additional things they could do to improve things. In fact, I have to say my yard definitely looks better now than it ever did before the storm! Several women and families in the area made things even more festive by going to work in their kitchens and then driving around serving home-made cookies, hot-chocolate, soup and bread to all the workers from the back of their mini-vans! It was a veritable holiday party. . . and on the Sabbath day no less! After taking a tour of our ward neighborhood, and many adjoining streets and neighborhoods I saw that the same kind of facelift that had happened to my yard held true for home after home after home. Our entire area had received a marvelous makeover in less than 10 hours. Tonight I attended the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional. The warm spirit that I felt during that meeting was the same warm feeling I had been feeling all afternoon working with the neighbors. I recognized it as the loving embrace of the Spirit of Christ. I couldn’t help smiling all the way home. Today I feel an overwhelming sense of love and peace and gratitude. Our streets are empty of debris, and our hearts are full of the true spirit of Christmas!
Here are a few photos I captured during today’s Sabbath Service in Action in the Bountiful Mueller Park area:
This post was chosen as the Deseret News Power Pick on 12/6/2011