Olivia Christy shared stories about giving and receiving service to show how to be better prepared to serve at the BYU–Hawaii devotional on Nov. 27 in the Cannon Activities Center.
Christy, Mail Center supervisor and art special instructor, shared, “Regardless of our experience, age, or level of learning, our Heavenly Father will give us opportunities to serve, or place someone in our path to serve us.”
She said, “Sometimes service is not about the whole. Sometimes it is about just one step at a time. Perhaps, even our ability to serve should be seen in these small increment steps, rather than the daunting overall task before us. By tending to serve one step at a time, we start a journey of love and learning. The Savior has promised He will guide our steps, but we do actually have to be walking.”
According to her husband, Angus Christy, “My eldest daughter, Raia, says of her mom, ‘Mom is always a cup half full person.’ I agree. You know the type. They find the positive in everything, and they find it first.”
Olivia Christy demonstrated this characteristic in her life when she shared her experience on a BYU tour throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East. She explained how before the trip she began to feel pain in her side. She said she ignored it, but as she went on the trip, the pain became increasingly more unbearable.
One morning, while they were in Turkey, Christy remembered, “That morning I was very nauseous, dizzy, and buckled over with pain. I was unable to stand, let alone walk. I reluctantly told the group I was not able to participate in the tour that day. It was a terrible day of tossing, turning, breaking out in a terrible sweat, and vomiting. I took several baths to try to feel better.”
She explained how, “Later that day, the fever was gone. I actually felt quite a bit better. There was a family doctor on the trip with us, and he came to my room to see if he could help. He soon figured out when my fever broke, and when I started feeling better was probably the moment my appendix had ruptured. I was informed there was not enough time to get me back to the United States.”
Christy said she was in the hospital for ten days while the tour continued. She became emotional as she recounted, “I remember looking up at the ceiling in my room, and saying, ‘Okay Heavenly Father, it’s just you and me.’ But I felt safe, fine, cared for, and comforted.
“Soon, I found out the tour director had made contact with a Turkish student who had attended, and graduated from, BYU in Provo. He was so kind. He visited me every day, and we just chatted. He kept me company. Later, I found out he had to travel by bus and train one way to get to the hospital. He was a member of the Church tending and caring for another member of the Church very far from home.”
Christy said after returning home and reflecting on the experience, she began to marvel at what had actually happened to her. “At the time, I felt so comforted, safe, and loved I didn’t experience any fear. I had no worries or concerns about anything. The Holy Ghost was with me every step of the way. In this experience there were so many perfectly placed individuals, even ministering angels, just for me to help me with my every need.”
She asked, “Were these individuals a coincidence? I know they were not. How can we prepare ourselves to be ready to serve when such opportunities arise?
“When the need to teach or serve is before us, the time for preparation is over. As we strive to be better individuals and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by keeping the commandments and following him, we are preparing ourselves and making ourselves available for service. Many opportunities to serve will come in informal circumstances.”
Allison Wall, a freshman from Utah majoring in social work, said this story especially touched her. She explained, “I loved her story about when she was sick on the trip and she realized how each of those people around her were specifically put in her path for a reason – to help and strengthen her. And then she talked about how she wants to be worthy and ready to be there for others in the same way.”
Christy told of another experience she had while on a trip to Central America with her parents when she was 17. She explained how at one of their destinations, “We arrived at the pyramid. We stood at the base and marveled at the grand structure before us … In his excitement, my dad soon outpaced us in his ascension. We were about an eighth of the way up when my mom suddenly froze. Grabbing on to the step right in front of her so tight she exclaimed, ‘I can’t do this. I’m stuck. I can’t go up. I can’t go down. I’ll just have to stay right here.’”
She explained how, “Until this point, our life roles had been reversed, with her helping me, gently guiding me through life’s big problems, big pyramids which seemed insurmountable. She was gentle, soft, and soothing. This time, however, she needed me.”
Christy remembered thinking, “Was I ready? Certainly, her example through my life had provided me with sufficient preparation. Initially, I needed to get my mom’s focus away from her predicament. So, very tenderly, I coaxed her to turn around and sit down. Then, I suggested to her, ‘Just think of one step at a time.’ This seemed to be something she could do. Gingerly at first, we ventured down one simple step. At first, I actually had to move and place her foot on the next downward step.
“Our progress was slow, but it was steady. We made our way down. We went down that pyramid together, scooting on our rear ends one step at a time. We made it safely to solid ground.”
She said, “Each of these stories illustrate opportunities of service. They illustrate how the Lord places us with our uniqueness in the path of someone who needs us, or how He places someone with unique abilities in our path during a time of need. He does this because He loves us, and He desires for us to succeed. The effectiveness of our service will largely depend on our ability to love. Indeed, service is directly connected to the pure love of Christ.”
She challenged the audience to remember those who have served them, and be like them by finding opportunities to serve others.