“There were Mormons, Catholics and people from other faith groups all lining up together to serve,” he said. “We filled up their truck again, then filled their storage unit. There was enough food for everybody. When we were done there was this spontaneous clapping. We all just felt so good that we were able to coalesce so quickly. We were one in purpose, and people were going to be able to leave there with nutritious food.”
The full-time missionaries have had similar experiences as they have reached out to all who are in need of help. One group of missionaries working in Staten Island helped a man remove a safe that was buried in his basement. The man said he didn’t know what was in the safe and the missionaries could just throw it away. The missionaries decided to open the safe and found more than $25,000 in cash that the man had been unaware was in his home.
“The man told the missionaries they should keep the money for themselves,” reported KSL.com’s Stephanie Grimes. “But they told the owner of the safe they weren’t there for the money; they were there to serve. Instead, he should use it to rebuild after the storm.”
One of the priorities for the missionaries has been to help those who are out helping others — firefighters, police officers, electrical technicians and others who have been so busy meeting community needs that they have been unable to take care of their own homes.
“We heard about one of these first responders whose own home was a mess,” Calderwood said. “We dispatched 10 missionaries to his home, and he came back and found that his basement was completely clean. He just put his head on my shoulder and wept.”
The Mormon missionaries and members were out in force during the past weekend, but the work will slow down this week.
“I had to make Monday a mandatory preparation day for our missionaries,” Calderwood said. “They want to be out there all day every day, but I told them, ‘You’ve got to wash those disgusting clothes.’ They will be going back to their normal proselyting activities Tuesday through Thursday, then they will be back for the last two days of full-time service next Friday and Saturday.”
Interestingly, Calderwood said the missionaries will not be returning to proselyte in the areas where most of the relief and recovery work has taken place — at least, not until those areas are "really back up on their feet again."
“We don’t want anyone to feel that we were serving there with an ulterior motive in mind, or that we have any expectations of anyone in return for our service,” he said. “There has been much good will generated, but we didn’t do this for good will. We did it because of genuine Christ-like love for our fellow man. We just want to help.”
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