Hubby and I held hands as we walked into the church building. He was in the middle of a military training program on the East Coast, and I was there for the week visiting him.
Sitting down, it was clear we were in a military congregation. I counted four, maybe five men total. My own husband included. The whole ward was experiencing deployment. I was feeling extra lucky to have my Hubby next to me.
After Sacrament and Sunday school, I made my way to Relief Society. I sat down and was immediately swarmed by other women. I’ve been a member of this church all my life, I have lived in many, many wards, I had never experienced a welcome quite like this one.
“Oh. You’re new. Is your husband deployed too?”
“Where’s your husband?”
“What’s your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“Are you visiting, or do we get to keep you?”
They were so sweet, so sincere, so attentive. One, just assuming I was there to stay, began telling me who I could turn to for what: “Sister Speck over there can fix any plumbing problem you might have, she’s especially good at fixing toilets, Sister Reynolds, the one in the purple dress, she can fix fences and drywall. Sister Carter likes to mow lawns, and I can change burnt out light bulbs.”
It was obvious to me I was in a room full of women who sincerely loved and looked out for one another. They were each other’s support systems. They watched out for each other in very real, concrete, constant ways. Ways that it are difficult for women who are not in the stressful situation of not only living without their husbands, but not knowing for certain whether that husband will be making it home, can understand.
During the lesson the woman next to me noticed that the feet of the woman next to her were especially dry. She said, “Rachel, your poor feet. They look so dry.” More than likely “Rachel” was simply too busy trying to raise her kids, keep a house in order, and meals on the table -all on her own, to have time to bother with things like remembering to lotion her feet.
Then this woman did something I will never forget as long as I live. She reached into her purse, pulled out a small bottle of lotion, and began lotioning the feet of her friend.
I realize that to some people that sounds gross. I realize to some people that seems like an intrusion on personal space, and possibly even perverse. But I was there.
All I saw was simply one of the sweetest and most loving acts of service I have ever been witness to.
In that one single hour, surrounded by those women, those remarkable women,
Who fully and deeply understand exactly what it means to have “Hearts knit together in unity and love one towards another” I knew that I’d be fine -that the life I would be living as a military wife would be doable –that I’d always have friends –that I would have a support system wherever I went.
And I have.