This past weekend Colby and I were involved with youth conference. It included all of the youth of the Hurricane Valley (tri-stake) and there were all kinds of activities from Thursday to Sunday. I think yesterday was such a fun day, the most fun... hands down! It was focused on providing service- which could never be a let down. The committee that planned it decided that each of the 36 wards in the valley would have a service project take place within it's boundaries. When Colby and I were asked to help be in charge of our ward, I knew, without a doubt what we would do. It took just a little convincing because it was such a huge task to undertake, but we were allowed to give it a shot and it totally worked out!
We wanted to do something that could help Sis. Hill. She lives down the street from us and is in a humbling situation. She is single and severely crippled from arthritis. She once had a nice yard, but since she is basically confined to a chair in her house she cannot care for it. It had become an immensely overgrown weed patch. After so much rain this past winter/spring, the weeds completely took over and were 2-3 feet high. One day I watched a man mow them down and as I remember, it took him a good 6 hours to mow that quarter acre lot. When we started, the weeds were not high, as you can see below. But it was just a matter of time before they all were back. So we helped eliminate the possibility.
We covered the entire surface with a weed barrier and covered it with at least two dump truck loads of gravel and rock. Half of it was done with shovels and wheelbarrows. By the end we were able to use some heavy equipment to quickly finish up. These are the kids from our group along with Sister Hill in the middle. She came out to see the work and meet the kids when we were all finished. The groups were made up of a combination of all the kids from the 36 wards, so we only had two kids that knew of her and her situation. I was so impressed by the youth and their willingness to get dirty and work so hard for someone they did not even know. I honestly was astounded by the lack of complaints and their drive and work ethic.
You can see a little better in this next photo the difference it made in the yard.
And here... another view. Maybe my favorite of all.
This is what many see as they drive up Main Street past her home.
I was brought to tears as I saw Sister Hill take it all in. She was so surprised and pleased with the outcome. She knew we were going to be cleaning up her yard, but she had no idea what it was going to look like in the end. In conversation, we learned that she hoped to someday replace the remains of a lawn with some zero maintenance rock and eventually add some native desert plants. We were unable to come up with a plan (or the time) for planting, but I'm sure the youth of our ward will be glad to show up sometime to put it in for her. She shared some thoughts with our bishop as the time for the project got closer. For a couple of weeks the load of rock sat across the street from her home and she could see it from where she sits in her chair inside. She told him, that when she saw the rock she prayed that she could one day afford rock like that to put in her yard. She had no idea it had been donated in her behalf.
I was touched as I listened to her talk about how yard work was one of her favorite things to do when she was younger and able because she grew up in a family where Mom and Dad both took great pride in their yard and taught the children to do the same. She was so sweet when she mentioned her joy of not needing to be embarrassed by her front yard any more. She was so excited for her kids to come visit because she hadn't told them about the project and couldn't wait to surprise them with the makeover. It was just so touching to help her get excited about her home again.
I know its been a long time since I've worked that hard and I heard some of the youth in our group mention how they've never worked like that in their whole lives. Yet I never heard them complain. It was amazing. The best day of all!!!