Missionaries are providing community members with household help – from raking leaves to cleaning garages –at no expense.
About 30 missionaries have helped over 130 people since they first started offering free service to Whatcom County in mid-October, said Keaton Steck, a church member with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Steck said the young missionaries’ main purpose is to spread the word of Christ but the pandemic has limited their ability to interact with people so they began posting in local Facebook groups, such as buy/sell/trade pages, every week to offer service.
“We found, through service, we can share some light in these hard times,” he said. “We understand that Covid-19 has hit everyone in different ways. If we offer some free help to people, it can truly lighten their burdens and help them to be a little happier during these hard times.”
Over 250 missionaries in this region of the Pacific Northwest are doing similar tasks, Steck said.
The missionaries are not doing indoor work at this time, but Steck said their service could extend indoors if pandemic restrictions ease. The group also can’t use power tools or climb ladders for safety, but he said any other outdoor task is fair game.
The missionaries won’t force their teachings upon people, Steck said, and are still grateful to help relieve burden from community members with differing religious beliefs.
For Steck, moments with community members stand out the most, like the time when an elderly woman texted him that she cried after several missionaries helped her rake leaves.
“It’s truly a remarkable thing that is happening,” he said. “When you do the service in person for those people and see the joy on their faces, it’s a really great experience.”
Kerry Heaps learned about the missionaries’ work through Facebook in November and thought the offer was too good to be true. But after a quick phone call, Heaps scheduled the missionaries to rake his leaves, which he was unable to do after having a double knee replacement.
Raking leaves took two missionaries five hours, Heaps said, after he provided rakes, shovels and leaf bags for them.
“They got the job completely done,” he said. “There wasn’t a leaf on the ground.”
Heaps said he had impeccable experience with the missionaries.
“It was nothing short of a miracle to have them come out,” he said. “Especially for seniors and people with disabilities, they were great.”
Service projects will continue as pandemic restrictions are reduced, but Steck said the missionaries will focus more on sharing their religious message.
“You learn to love these people,” he said. “You hear their stories. It’s incredible the friendships you build.”