Thursday, October 30, 2008

Service on Paid Time Off: Adventures at the Bishop's Storehouse

I'll admit it: I love to take time off of work, get paid for it and do something fun. Who doesn't? And when you work the great company I do, for as long as I have, you get plenty of paid time off.

Today was different. Yes, I took a day off and it felt great. But the reason was more and activity were more fulfilling than I had imagined. Today I served in our church's storehouse and gave time to help others less fortunate than I.

Our church runs a great "work-fare" rather than welfare system. When hard times hit, individuals contact their local bishop (an unpaid minister) and receive help. The help can be in the form of monies to cover payments on utilities or mortgages, financial planning help, direct contributions of food and employment services. In return, the bishop requests the individual contribute in a meaningful way to supplement what is offered. No free ride is given, hence the title "work-fare."

Internally, the church has a systematic way of planning for hard times. Not only does it encourage the members of the church to set aside savings and food in the event hard times hit, the church also produces through large farms and packages through canneries goods for distribution.

If you'll recall, there is an example of storing up goods in advance of hard times. Joseph of Egypt, upon interpreting Pharaoh's dream of 7 fat cows/7 leans cows and 7 fat ears of corn/7 lean ears of corn, devised and implemented a plan to store in large graineries a portion of abundance gained during the years of plenty. The storing up of goods was to offset the years of drought and hard times that were foretold would come. Only through this provident action was he able to not only save Egypt but also help fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant by saving the House of Israel. Our church follows this temporal pattern by storing up to offset hard times.

Today I served in the storehouse by pulling food items based on family needs to be shipped to East Texas. The storehouse serves members all over North and North East Texas and these orders were being shipped out to Tyler, TX. I was able to fulfill orders in Spanish, a cool way to serve since my Espanol is pretty weak, and English.

As I worked, I became more and more grateful for inspired programs that enables individuals to survive, be uplifted and contribute in meaningful ways in their community without the dependency of government welfare. My work was trivial and just a few hours of service. To me it was an opportunity to show my love and devotion to God for all with which He has so richly blessed me. The labor was not overly difficult. Physically tasking? Sure. But definitely worth it.

On a deeper plain, what this experience teaches me spiritually is to be prepared for temptations and spiritual drought by saving experiences and spiritual power now. I should not wait for a drought of the spirit to begin laying up treasures in heaven in my personal storehouse. Now is the time. If I prepare, my storehouse will be full at the time of temptation and I can live on the Word obtained and rely on His spirit to sustain me.

Was it worth taking a day off? Definitely. Would I do it again and take a day off of work to do it despite not having that day to use for a personal and possibly more fun activity? Yup. That being said, I'm still looking forward to taking off an additional 17 days from now until the end of the year ;)
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