When I moved into my current, inner-city ward over ten years ago, I had an interesting experience on one of the first Sundays in church. The Elders Quorum bolted from Church to go help a member (let’s call him Bill) move his stuff out of his room in a low-rent home where he was being evicted. He’d been living there with some other guys who were similarly close to homelessness.
The Bishop was convinced to put this fellow up in a cheap, weekly rate motel in the ward boundaries. He agonized over the decision every week.
Meanwhile, a service missionary took Bill under his wing. He worked with him for two years to get him the veterans and social security benefits to which he was entitled.
There were times when the Bishop was ready to cut Bill off and force him into the homeless shelter, but he always decided to go ahead for one more week.
Other good members of the ward regularly invited him into their homes to eat with them, especially on holidays.
The service missionary, who served in the ward until he died of cancer last year, got him into a residential program at the Veterans Administration Hospital here in Salt Lake where Bill spent nearly a year being treated for a variety of physical and mental health issues.
Later, with help from the service missionaries in the VA Hospital branch, he found a permanent subsidized apartment within our stake boundaries.
He soon became the ward executive secretary in his new ward.
It took a number of people who saw Bill through God’s eyes in order for him to be restored to his full capacity, where he could love and serve and help others and no longer be a burden.
Sometimes, people need a lot more than just a smile. Sometimes we have to “bear one another’s burdens” for a long time (Mosiah 18:8). I’m grateful to all the people who loved Bill enough to help him experience his full potential.