Talk on Elder Uchtdorf’s General Conference Talk “You are His Hands”
October 17, 2010
Brother Heacock called me last week and asked me to give a talk. I knew I had two choices, one to accept the task or two, to say no. I knew that if I said yes I’d have to spend a lot of time, work and effort writing a talk, and time has been something that I haven’t had much of lately lately. So I've decided to go the other route and decided not to give my talk today...(calmly sit down).
wait a minute...(Stand back up) Ok just kidding,
I was asked to speak on Elder Uchtdorf’s talk from last general conference “You are my Hands.” In his talk he told a lot about us and how we need to be more like our Savior. Elder Uchtdorf said,
“When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless and love. He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation” “that is what he did during His mortal life, it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
After re-reading that part of his talk I thought to myself, am I like that? Do I talk kindly with people? Do I lift others up when they are around me? Am I a comfort or a blessing in their lives? I know I have things I can work on but would hope that I help others feel that they belong and are loved.
I come from a very giving home. Since I was 10 years old, my parents took in foster children. They continued to do so up until my second year in college. I have over 40 brothers and sisters that I consider family. They stayed with us anywhere from 2 days to 2 years. I learned a lot from my parents and their willingness to bring children into their home. It didn’t matter what the reason was, how long they’d be staying, or how difficult the situations the children came from were; they were ALWAYS welcome and were immediately part of the family. Growing up with it I got used to it pretty quick, and loved having more brothers and sisters around. It took a day or two to adjust but after that, it was normal, it was life. They were my brothers and sisters, and I loved them as such.
Being part of a foster family was very trying at times. I saw a lot of heartache, abuse, violence, drugs, horrible things that children were put through. It was going to be a lot of effort to turn things around, but my parents still did it. It took a lot of time, a lot of work, a lot of effort, and a lot…of love. But it’s amazing what a little love can do.Elder Uchtdorf said,
“True love requires action. We can speak of love all day long – but until we manifest that love in action, our words are nothing but “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” “Christ did not just speak about love; he showed it each day of his life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. He not only taught but also showed us how to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees. Christ knows how to minister to others perfectly.”
“When the Savior stretches out His hands, those He touches are uplifted and become greater, stronger, and better people as a result.
My parents taught me a lot. They could have said, “Someone else will care for those kids, we’ve done enough.” Or “We have our own family to worry about.” But they didn’t. Instead they took those kids in, gave them a home, gave them the things we take for granted, they showed them love.
The first foster child who came to our house was about 10 years old, a little younger than I. His name was Michael. He came with only the clothes on his back, 1 can of tuna, and a package of crackers that he carried in an old backpack. When he was getting settled into his new room my mom asked him if he wanted to put his tuna and crackers in the pantry for later. He refused. About 4 months later my mom was cooking in the kitchen when Michael came in. In his hand he held his can of tuna and crackers. He handed them to her and said, “You can put these away now, I know that I won’t be hungry now.”
Another time we had a set of 4 siblings come. They had been living and sleeping on the floor in their car. It was not a good situation. They came in and were shown where they’d be staying. We took them to show them their bedrooms and one of the brothers said, “You mean we get beds?” He was so amazed. We all said of course thinking nothing of it. The things we take for granted…
I can remember one little girl who stayed in our home. One morning my mom was doing what she always did for her girls in the morning before school. She was just doing our hair. We each got a turn. My sister and I were done and it was now her turn. Just procedure. Nothing special. That girl looked at my mom, so surprised and said “you’re going to do my hair for me?” She had never had her own hairbrush let alone someone who cared enough to something as simple as brushing her hair. I know she felt love from my mother that day. And that simple act changed her that day.
Growing up my mom had hung some of the Mormon ads in poster frames around the house. I think one of them that hung in one of the bedrooms was a picture of a jar with a bunch of hearts in it and said “Love One Another” or something like that. We had a little girl who came to live with us. She had been severely beaten and abused. I can’t remember how long she was with us but she did stay for Christmas that year. When my mom asked everyone what they wanted for Christmas she said she wanted a jar of love like in the picture that hung in her room. And you can bet that is exactly what Santa brought her that year. All she wanted was love.
A few times we had 4 extra family members. I have two biological brothers and one biological sister. So with 4 extras it made for 8 kids and two adults. It was FULL house. Because there were times when we had a very large family, my parents decided to build a house that could provide for everyone. It would also provide for whoever would go there in the future. That house is now very empty but I will forever remember the lessons I learned there.
If I could leave you with anything it would be a challenge to just look around you. You don’t have to do something huge. It can be something as simple as a smile. Just having one person know that you noticed them that day can be enough. Lift up those around you and make them feel welcome and loved. And as Elder Uchtdorf said, “Let us commit to become His hands, that others through us may feel His loving embrace.” And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I'd now like to sing a song for you...