Saturday, December 1, 2018

#LightTheWorld: One Small Act of Kindness at a Time

I love the Christmas season - don't you? Every year, I try to participate in the #LightTheWorld campaign with my church: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You may have heard of this via the famous "giving machines" (i.e., charity vending machines) that I hope stay an annual tradition. We got off to a great start this year with an activity organized in our area to collect donations for long-term patients at our local public hospital. We gathered items including diapers, toiletries, toys, blankets, and books for babies, children, and mothers.

We arrived at our chapel early to pack bags with our missionaries (who hail from the United States, DRC, South Africa, Togo, and more). The gift bags and tissue paper were lovingly decorated by our local Senior Missionary Couple. (When most people think of missionaries, they tend to think of very young single adults, but we have a lot of retired, older missionaries who serve as couples, too.) We learned that they are actually finishing their 18-month mission and leaving Kenya in just two weeks.

The effort was part of the Mormon Helping Hands initiative (which is simply the name we use for church-organized volunteer service), so we snagged a few nifty vests to help identify us with the group of volunteers. I had seen these signature yellow shirts or vests on the news before, but this was our first time wearing them.

The moment we had finished packing the gift bags, it began pouring rain. We had all planned on walking over originally, but we decided to be safe and ran the presents with those who had enough foresight to bring umbrellas to cars so they could be driven to the hospital. We waited for the shower to lighten up and then split into driving and walking groups.

Kenyatta National Hospital was just a short walk or drive from the chapel. Once we arrived, we split into groups - some donated blood while others delivered the gifts. More volunteers met us there, and we had so many we couldn't all fit in the children's small cancer ward and had to take turns visiting. It was awesome to have so many friends old and new joyfully catching up in the corridor and waiting to shower love and presents on the kids in the next room.

It was wonderful to gather together with volunteers from all over Nairobi to perform this small act of kindness together. There are so many ways to serve our fellow human beings - whether it's participating in effective altruism or sparing some time for community service or even taking a moment to share a smile or a kind word with someone who needs it. Of course, we should do all we can to help make one another's burdens light year-round, but the spirit of the holidays is always a helpful reminder.

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