This morning I spent a few hours working at the local church farm.  I thought I would share a few observations here regarding the experience.

We were clearing a corner of pasture where russian olive plants (at least that’s what they called them) had begun to grow.  Apparently the cattle do not like these particular plants and generally avoid them.  I had worked in the same pasture last year, and the russian olives were much larger then.  Some had grown unchecked for years, and these were large enough that they required chainsaws to be cut down.  By contrast, this year, the tallest plants were still shorter than me, and children easily cut them down with pruners.  This was a reminder to me that problems, sins, concerns, and issues in our lives are best handled quickly, before they have grown out of control.  When we ignore such things that separate us from God or from others, they only grow and become more difficult and painful to resolve at some later time.  Such pasture clearing in our lives may require a more frequent and honest self-evaluation and a greater, more sincere desire for unity and righteousness.

Although I know very little of the Church’s entire welfare system, from the little I do know, it is a vast organization.  In California, where I lived while in high school, the local farm was a vineyard, and the grapes produced were used to make raisins.  Here in the part of Utah where I live, the local farm growns corn, hay, and wheat (if I understand correctly).  I know there is a also a huge dairy farm not too far from here.

These are not small operations.  They are huge commercial farms.  I know the Church operates a large bakery as well.  So, if I understand correctly, these farms produce food that ultimately is distributed to storehouses throughout the country.  Those in financial need visit with their bishop and are able to get food from the storehouse, and in this way, the Church becomes a great blessing to those that face hardship.

I’m sure this is a gross oversimplification of the church’s amazing welfare program.  It is very comforting to me that the church goes to such great lengths to take care of not only the spiritual but also the physical needs of its members.

Whenever I participate in some type of service project such as today, I am always reminded that “many hands make light work.”  It is amazing how much work can be accomplished in a short amount of time when sufficient people are working together.  It is also amazing how much more enjoyable work is when there are others to lighten the load.  It also strikes me that when we fail to do our part, someone else generally has to pick up the slack for us.

Another thought that occurred to me is that we can do more to become self sufficient.  We can plant a garden and provide some of our own food.  We can get out of debt and have savings for emergencies and future needs.  We can educate ourselves and our children.  As we become self sufficient,  we are more free to serve and bless others.