He needs feet to carry Him to the door of our neighbors, hands to bake His cookies, and mouths that speak words of comfort and love.
A few weeks ago, I read an article in the New York Times about Japan’s danchi, large apartment complexes built soon after World War 2 when the country’s economy was booming and housing was needed for thousands of young, blue-collar families near the cities.
The article explains that while these danchi were once hubs of activity, with swimming pools teeming with children and the lawns replete with families taking afternoon walks, the complexes are now mostly inhabited by elderly people—who live alone.
Many of these seniors hardly leave their apartments. They have no family to visit them, and their only interaction with their neighbors is the occasional greeting in the passageway. In one complex, 10 residents each year die a lonely death. Nobody is present when they pass away. One official said, “The way we die is a mirror of the way we live” (A Generation in Japan Faces a Lonely Death, 2017).
As I read this article, I thought about the need for the growth of good Christian saints in Japan. Surely, faithful disciples in these complexes would care for their neighbors. They would visit them, bring them treats, and take time to talk with them.
As I mulled over these thoughts, there suddenly appeared in my mind’s eye another apartment complex. There were fourteen tall, red-brick buildings, with sloped lawns and beautiful shrubs, and walkways cleanly shoveled from the snow. Through the walls of the apartments, I saw thousands of young people, each with busy college lives. I saw foyers with shoe racks and doormats, kitchens with mixers and saucepans, and living rooms with coffee tables and beanbag chairs.
I realized that this was the complex where I live.
But the thousands of souls who surround me, separated by only thin walls, are estranged from me by other invisible barriers. Paperwork keeps us bound to our laptops. TV shows keep us glued to the TV. And laziness, fueled by a false sense of virtual sociality, chain us to our cell phones. We no longer leave our homes. We negate the Spirit that inspires us to appear at the door of another, with a plate of cookies in hand and a smile and a hug that soothe all of the feelings of loneliness and despair.
My brothers and sisters, it is our time to act, to become anxiously engaged in the work of the Savior (D&C 58:27). He needs feet that can carry Him to the door of our neighbors, He needs hands to bake His cookies, and He needs mouths that open and speak words of comfort and love.
This new year, may we inventory our time, and then sacrifice a portion of it towards the service of God’s children. Friendships will be formed, faith will be strengthened, and the pure love of Christ will reach every home—and every heart!
I bear testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ, who loves all people, and who loves you. He lives. His gospel is true.
May His love and mine envelop you this Christmas season and throughout the new year!