Service Project – Fall Semester 2023

November 23, 2023  •  Author: marketing

When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. – Mosiah 2:17

The Importance of Service

A Swedish proverb states, ‘Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.’ What does that mean? Sharing what happens to you is one of the most basic human traits, and your story may have a deep impact on others. It is the power of words. If we can touch others by simply sharing our story, what else can we do with our deeds? At the beginning of each semester, students are to choose an act of service called the ‘Outreach Project.’ Students are divided into groups at the beginning of the semester. The names are based on Scripture heroes: Moroni, Nephi, Esther, Isaiah, and Ruth. Each group plans a project to give support to people on or off campus. The Esther group, led by Yohana from Brazil, decided to expand our vision of whom we decided to serve.

Serving the Deceased and Living

‘We were looking for a way to serve the people of Nacerade,’ says Yohana. ‘As a group, we were discussing what is the best way to serve the Czech community around us. We collectively came up with the idea of cleaning and supporting a cemetery nearby campus.’ Cumorah Academy is located at an uncommon spot in the Czech Republic, filled with rural animals and fairy-tale houses. The beautiful shire was the stage for an act of kindness and support. With the help of Kelly Shepherd, Yohana and her group went to a cemetery and started cleaning the tombstones. ‘We asked permission from the authorities, and they gladly accepted our help.’ 

By deciding to help the community, Yohana and her group were spreading the word about Cumorah Academy and its values. We want to serve all sorts of communities, wherever we find ourselves. With the help of Kelly Shepherd, who was with his wife Stacey as an Advisory Couple at the time, the group started working hard on the cleaning process. They were cutting the grass, polishing the tombstones, and providing support to the inhabitants.

Spiritual Promptings and a Small Miracle

The environment of the cemetery per se induces self-reflection and the shortness of life. This sets the stage for spiritual promptings and pondering our choices. Yohana shared that the whole group felt a strong feeling of love and peace throughout the project. Even on the tombstones, they could see religious symbols. ‘Kelly would share with us all the symbols stamped on the graves.

Some of them had a representation of the Tree of Life and the prophet Moses of old.’ Some members of the group were not religious but felt this sense of love and spirituality. Yohana even shared a small miracle – yes, a miracle – that occurred after they concluded.

‘Shortly after we arrived, one member of our group had lost one piece of her earrings. We prayed as a group and went off searching for it. After hours of unsuccessful attempts, we gave up and went to the van. Then, out of the blue, another person yelled from the other side, ‘I have found it! I have found it!’ All of us knew that was undoubtedly the Lord’s taking care of us.

They will carry this for the rest of their lives. “Service knows no religion, face, background, or status. All you need is a willing heart and a desire to do good for someone else,” concludes Yohana after her group is greeted and thanked by locals who appreciate the service.

Service as a way of living

 In the book of Luke in the New Testament, Jesus teaches, ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it’ (Luke 9:24). About this Scripture, President Thomas S. Monson said, ‘I believe the Savior is telling us that unless we lose ourselves in service to others, there is little purpose to our own lives.’ We at Cumorah love seeing those stories. This is just one of many stories that happen every semester.

Written by Fernando Ferreira Jr.

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