Second to time spent with and for our own families, serving others is something we feel very strongly about. Service is a way to make the world a better place, to lift burdens, and to get to know our neighbors a bit better.
Living on the road has changed the way we serve as we have adapted to the difficulties and advantages of constantly changing location. In the LDS Church, there are no paid clergy. All positions in the church, including the Bishop (think Pastor), Sunday School Teachers, and even Missionaries are filled by volunteers from the local congregation. No position is paid, and we usually support our service with our own money in addition to our own time. Holding a position of service in the LDS Church is called holding a ‘calling.’ (Callings are not-permanent, and length of time served varies: a Bishop may serve as a Sunday School Teacher in his next calling.)
LDS Callings are a great way for Service to Find You.
When you hold a calling, opportunities to serve find you. Often they are obvious, such as a Sunday School teacher preparing a lesson. Jess served for a few years in the Young Women, with girls ages 12-18. She taught lessons, helped plan weekly activities, and we both helped plan the overnight backpacking trip last summer. (See above picture…) I have served with the primary (younger kids), with the adult men, and various other callings as well. Special opportunities to serve also show up as you are engaged in your calling. A teacher may notice a student having a tough time, and be able to reach out to support them.
Living on the road requires us to actively find our own service.
Callings are based on service within a local congregation, and as we tend to visit a new congregation for sunday services every week holding a calling in a particular ward is not practical. We are then responsible for finding our own service.
We have served in a variety of ways since traveling. We frequently engage in gospel conversations with other travelers and with friends we visit. We spend regular time with the Billion Graves project, indexing gravestones to aid in family history work. I’ve even participated in a roofing service project, where I shuttled half a pallet of roofing tiles up a ladder. We are always on the lookout for people that we can help, and we pray that the Lord will send us where he can use us.
Another way to serve in the LDS Church is through what is called Home or Visiting Teaching. You are assigned (usually with a partner) to visit monthly another member of the congregation. This allows members to look after the needs of each other, and even engage the help of others if some additional help is needed. We have requested both to have Home and Visiting teachers as well as to be one if possible. There are many member that prefer or request non face-to-face visits and are more comfortable with a phone call or an email to check up on them. We feel like we could help serve in that capacity as well.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons, LDS) recently posted an article on their website that mentioned 10 different ways for members to serve in an online capacity. The article is a great read, but a few of the activities mentioned that caught our eye were: Indexing, Organizing images, and sharing creative talents. Jess has often mentioned she would love to use her photography talents to contribute to the LDS Vineyard project as well.
Service is a measure of a true disciple of Christ. It is important to us, as parents, that our children learn to serve others as well. The Savior taught, “And whosever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:44-45). Eventually we will settle down and share and help in congregation somewhere, but for now, we joke at times that we are founding members of the Internet First Ward of the LDS Church. In any case, we are grateful for the congregations we visit, and for the opportunities we find along the way.