Shining Moments: Acts of charity

They can tie a quilt with the best of them, but on this occasion they were planting a shade tree which required getting their hands in the dirt and exerting some muscle.

"We dug a pretty deep hole, and we felt pretty satisfied about it," said Amy Page Christianson. "We're not afraid of power tools or getting a little dirty."

Nearly 20 sisters of the Lafayette 1st Ward, Lafayette Indiana Stake, rolled up their sleeves and spent three hours Aug. 14 helping spruce up a domestic violence women's shelter operated by the YWCA. The sisters ranged in ages from newly married and attending Purdue University to those more established and mature.

Muscles were sore the next day, said Carol Wilson, but the effort was worth the fatigue.

"It's a stressful time for women living in the shelter," said Sister Christianson, public affairs specialist. "They come needing refuge from their problems. We wanted to make it a more cheerful, cozy place."

So they dug a hole and planted a tree that will one day grow to provide shade for the children who play in the backyard. They also painted two playhouses, and assembled two park benches.

During the evening as they worked, several residents of the shelter came out to watch in the backyard. They struck up simple conversations and gradually became acquainted. In the process, the sisters in the Relief Society began to feel something of their plight. Women who were once faceless victims of abuse were now friends.

"Since the project I'm getting more calls from people in the ward willing to donate such items as furniture. We have a pipeline of goods," Sister Christianson said.

"We were able to extend our sisterhood beyond ourselves to feel the sisterhood of others. It's a great feeling to spend time in a cause that will help other women," she said.

Bishop Ron Ritchey said he has the "best seat in the house" when it comes to observing such an active Relief Society care for others. Such projects happen often, he said, and are the "quiet acts of service the sisters perform regularly." The Relief Society sisters, he continued, are always looking for opportunities, not waiting for assignments. Assisting with the shelter is representative of the many acts of charity they perform.

— Shaun Stahle