August 24, 2015

My Brother’s Keeper

As many of us strive in our lives to care for our brothers and sisters around us, there is always a mixed set of emotions. Sometimes our efforts are met with gratitude and love, other times we are scorned, questioned and spurned. It is these times we wonder if our efforts are even worth it. But they are. Because people matter. And people that matter need to know they are loved too.

Years ago (think high school) I remember coming home from work extremely frustrated with a coworker who was rude and at times, unbearable. Most of what they said and did I could ignore, but when it became personal attacks on me and others I struggled with it. Madre and Kell listened to my frustrations and gave me some advice that has stuck with me (one of the many morsels of wisdom I received from them, right up there with “act like to know what you are doing and work hard to figure it out along the way and nobody will question you”). They told me that often the people who are the hardest to love are the ones that need it the most.

This advice is so true. As we are striving to be our “brother’s keeper” and help ease their burdens, lift their hands that hang down, strengthen their feeble knees and heal their hearts, we must remember that at times those hardest to love need it the most. Often they are trying to cope with the struggles of life and the hurtful actions and words are the evidence of that coping mechanism. Love is the answer.

But giving love at times, at least for me, is not easy. It is easy to be bogged down with my own struggles to think I don’t have time to help others. Or be about my busy day and not have time to write that note or sit and listen for a while. What a shame. Because like this experience when I was in high school after some time of showing a little extra love I began to see where my coworker need a boost in life and soon we became fast friends.

Now, we all know someone who is so natural at loving and caring for others. I can think of many people like this whose examples I would love to emulate. Lady Hiva and I have many times been the beneficiaries of these loving examples. One of those is a family dear to our hearts. Both the husband, JQ and the wife, CW are amazing people. Although they have their own burdens and fears to carry, they are the first to jump at an opportunity to serve. (It is so natural to them that they will be embarrassed to know I wrote this).

We met JQ and CW through a program at church. Because the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has only lay ministry, that means the leaders of the congregations have other jobs and responsibilities. Their time  is valuable and limited and caring for all the families in the congregation is nearly impossible. So they enlist others to help. This program is called Home Teaching, not to be confused with Home Schooling. Home Teaching is a functional program when carried out correctly, all families will be assigned a pair of home teachers who will come visit at least once a month, share a spiritual message and be another pair of hands to care for the needs of the family. I have seen some miracles occur as great Home Teachers truly do become their Brother’s keeper. Yet, sadly that is not always the case. People become busy, burdened and do not see it as important. That means chances to serve are missed and lives go unchanged and untouched.

JQ is not one of those people. He was assigned to be our Home Teacher and at a critical time. Coming once a month was not enough for him and he truly became part of our family. As a result CW and their children became part of our family too. JQ was there when Lady Hiva had her high risk pregnancy, often driving an hour to come see us. JQ and CW were there celebrating for us when we adopted Alekia and with Tau’aho was born. It was JQ who left work and showed up on our doorstep minutes after Aleki went back to his birthmother (sad experience) he enveloped us both with hugs and cried with us. It was JQ that we called when we needed help.
Years later JQ and CW and their kids are very much a part of our lives. This last week they were in Utah and called to say hello. They found out we were busy working and even on their holiday and living thousands of miles apart, JQ showed up to be our keeper with words of encouragement and Slurpees to cool us off. He makes a difference in our lives. CW makes a difference in our lives.

We watch them carry their burdens and the strive to lift the burdens of so many around them at the same time. I hope that I can recommit to being a better home teacher, a better friend and most of all find opportunities to be my Brother or Sister’s keeper.

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