In Praise of the Elders Quorum Moving Service

June 23, 2008 | 78 comments
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Unless I’m carrying boxes, I’m probably not actually helping anybody. There may be a few other possibilities—I’ve done a bit of one-off paleography and amateur locksmithing as service a few times, and I seem to be a reasonably talented wallpaper remover, but apart from that, there’s not a whole lot I can do to help people with their problems.

As an elders quorum president, occasionally I’ll hear that Brother X hasn’t been to church in a while, or that Sister Y is having personal difficulties. People want to know what ideas I have for helping them.

The truth is that I can’t help them. I can assign home teachers to Brother X and make him feel welcome when he comes and look for a chance for him to serve, but if Brother X doesn’t want to come to church, and if he doesn’t want to pick up the phone when I call, there’s not a lot I can do about it. He’s an adult, and he has enough experience to know what he should be doing. If he still doesn’t want to come to church, my options are limited.

Likewise, I can assign home teachers to Sister Y and welcome her to church and encourage her to attend regularly, but I’m not all that good at repairing the effects of disastrous choices made over the space of decades. Sister Y needs to keep receiving the help of competent professionals, and I’m not one. Talking to me doesn’t help her in the way she needs.

But the Zs, though, are a different matter. Sometimes the Zs are moving to a new town, far from friends and family members. Sometimes they just need to move into a new apartment in town, and the decades spent in their old home have led them to underestimate how much work goes into moving.

I can help the Zs. I only have to get a bunch of healthy adults together for a few hours, carry heavy boxes and furniture, and then I’m done. If the Zs are really in over their heads, after a few hours I’ll look for a way to send them off, maybe to pick up snacks and drinks. Then the elders can start ripping the full cupboards off the walls and carrying them and their contents to the moving truck wholesale. By the time the Zs get back, the apartment is bare, one way or another. The Zs had a problem, we helped them, and now the problem is solved. The End.

There are good and bad ways to help people move. Advance preparation and organization are important, and you can expect most people to take responsibility for a lot of things on their own. It hasn’t come up so far, but I won’t let anyone fuss at the elders. If people aren’t satisfied with the job the elders quorum movers are doing, that can best be expressed by saying, “Thank you for your help, but I’ll finish the rest on my own.” It’s OK if some quorum members can’t make it. I’ve recently missed a couple moves myself. More than a few times when we’ve moved in the past, having just one extra guy there to help carry a few thing too heavy for one person was all that we really needed.

But the elders quorum is supposed to help people every so often. Unless the elders are sharing their professional expertise—which, for most of us, isn’t needed all that frequently—or, alternatively, carrying heavy objects, I don’t know how much service we’re actually providing. So please, let me know if you’re moving into my ward, ideally before the Sunday preceding the move. We’ll work something out.

78 Responses to In Praise of the Elders Quorum Moving Service

  1. Adam Greenwood on June 23, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Amen.

  2. Mark IV on June 23, 2008 at 11:16 am

    Excellent, Jonathan.

    Last month I did some quick back-of-the-envelope calculations. There are approximately 13,000 wards and branches, just in the U.S. and Canada. If each ward has a move once a month and 6 six people show up to help, that means that on any Saturday, about 19,000 men are hauling pianos down staircases and barrels of wheat and powdered milk out of basements. No wonder I have a bad back and a trick knee.

    The priesthood quorum moving company could very well be the biggest moving company in the country, and it is definitely the biggest one without a payroll. There is something about it that is very good, maybe even sacred.

  3. Bull Moose on June 23, 2008 at 11:29 am

    What better way to say “Welcome to the ward!” or “We loved having you in our ward! Best of luck in your new home.”

    The common joke about getting things done in the church is to assign the Relief Society. While there is some truth behind that, I think many members take the Elders Quorum moving services for granted. Sure, you’ll have to paint over the scratch in the door as the sofa is brought in; yes, you may have a few more scratches on the dining table and chairs. But, it’s done, it was free, and you didn\’t have to do it all by yourself.

    Great post, Jonathan (and personally timely to boot!).

  4. Kevin Barney on June 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Thanks for this, Jonathan.

  5. Sarah on June 23, 2008 at 11:58 am

    So what does it say about me that I’d rather take ten consecutive weekends to move my stuff a car’s worth of boxes at a time than ask for help from people I’m absolutely certain are way too busy already?

  6. jessawhy on June 23, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    My husband will love this!
    He is EQP right now and says that moving and setting up (taking down) chairs is all they do.
    I like what Mark IV said about this kind of service being sacred. Yep, it is. Along that line, when I was compassionate service leader in the ward, I found several instances where I was needing an EQ counterpart. Why isn’t there a service leader in the EQ or HP group? It would make things so much easier.

  7. Julie M. Smith on June 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    I like the “moving is important service” vibe that I’m getting from the post and the comments. I’m less comfortable with the “that’s all the EQ can do” vibe that I’m getting from the post and comments. I realize that Sister Y’s emotional problems are a lot harder to solve than figuring out how to get a piano into a second story apartment, but we’re still going to try, aren’t we? Or at least be a shoulder for her to cry on if/when we can’t do anything about her problems? Or at least be sure that she knows she has access to priesthood blessings and reassurances that the ward leadership loves her and is praying for her?

  8. Bob Stocks on June 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    To those that think they can’t help Brother X or Sister Y, remember that 19 year olds can’t teach the gospel either. But when they and the Spirit come together into the equation, amazing things happen.

  9. Jessie T on June 23, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    We\’ve had 25 families move out of our ward in the last 6 weeks. Perks of living near BYU at the end of a school year, I guess. Needless to say the Elder\’s Quorum Moving Company has been super busy. Having the Saints \”bearing one another\’s burdens\” has a whole new meaning when it comes to pianos and sofa sleepers.

  10. Dave on June 23, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Greater love hath no man than helping move a piano into or out of a home with stairs.

  11. Ardis Parshall on June 23, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    And may those of us who benefit from EQM Co. service (like those who benefit from RS casseroles) never take it for granted, or worse, expect it as being owed to us as a right. It’s a gift, not an entitlement.

    Julie’s right, though. The Elders’ Quorum can be/usually is so much more than mere muscle.

  12. Edje on June 23, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Jessawhy (6): “Why isn’t there a service leader in the EQ or HP group?” The chair of the Perfect the Saints Committee in both the HPG and EQ could/should play that role, with explicit coordination with the RS compassionate service leader. I’ve only seen it work that way in two wards and then for only relatively short periods.

  13. CS Eric on June 23, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    I have helped move and had help moving. One of my personal rules which I wish were more universally followed is that I always hire professionals to move my piano. I almost disappointed the crew last year when the only thing left on the truck was my mother’s baby grand. Several years ago, we loaded a family up, including their piano. One sharp turn on a New Mexico mountain road, and the piano shifted, taking it and most of the rest of the stuff in the truck out the back. I love the brethren dearly, but if something happens to my piano, I want it to be done by somebody who is bonded and insured.

    I think there is a point where the EQ can be more than just a moving service. For example, I have always made it a point to do whatever I can to help give a blessing, even if it is in the middle of the night. Sometimes, just being a friendly face can go a long way to helping people.

  14. JM on June 23, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Yes, it’s a wonderful form of service.

    I actually enjoy helping others move because it is something I can do when my schedule and physical condition allow.

    I have a few problems with the Elders Quorum Moving Company

    1. It’s not a right to every church member. Don’t assume that the quourum is going to do it for you.

    2. Pack your belongings before we arrive. During one move, they had done “zero” packing. To move a clothes dresser from the master bedroom, we had to take out each drawer individually, full of clothes. No kidding, I was handed a drawer full of ladies underwear… not the white kind. These were more… intimate. How embaressing was that!

    3. Give us some notice! You’ve probably been planning this move for months. Yet, you feel the need to let the EQP know about it the day before?!?!?!?! “Brethren, tomorrow the Z’s are moving so if you could be there at 9:00 am…” Don’t be surprised when nobody shows up!

    4. Consider the time. If you expect people to take time off of work / school, or skip out on FHE, good luck! Plan a time when you know people are more likely to be able to show up.

    5. Help!!!! Unless you are completely unable to assist, get in there and help out. Even if you can’t lift, you should be organizing and directing traffic, I mean, it’s your stuff. Once had a young father say “The keys to the truck are on the counter, please lock up when you’re done” and then left to go golfing!!!! After he left, I told the quorum members to leave, I locked the door and we left.

    6. Ask family for help. Really, this is a huge responsibility of the family doing the moving. They should be asking their own family or close friends for help before the church gets involved. Smart quorum presidents will ask the family if they have done this. It’s all part of this strange principle of self reliance that we teach so often. I got to the point where I wouldn’t petition the quorum for help until they had exhausted all of their own resources, which leads me to the next point…

    7. Hire a moving company. If you can’t afford it, ask your family for some funds. Don’t just use the quorum because your cheap! If you are using quorum members vehicles, at least offer to pay for gas. We once helped a doctor move all his fancy expensive stuff into his new fancy expensive mansion because he wanted to “save a few bucks”. Give me a break!

    Moving someone can be a good service experience, but nobody likes to feel that they are being taken advantage of.

  15. Rusty on June 23, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    The timing of this post is funny. Just this last weekend I helped two different friends move. I’ll let you guess which one used the EQ Moving Company and which one paid for a moving company:

    1) Family of four moving from our ward to Connecticut into their $2M home.
    2) Family of four moving within the ward into #1’s former apartment (the husband is a student)

  16. Matt Evans on June 23, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Great post, Jonathan. Helping people move is a fairly satisfying service project — the scope is well defined and the tangible results are only a couple hours away. Helping people with longstanding psychological or emotional issues is frustrating and, usually, apparently fruitless. The frustration enters when one realizes their problems are chronic, not acute, and that there’s no cure, just pain management.

    I’ve born testimony of the ward moving company several times. I didn’t realize how remarkable it is until I was graduating from law school and talking to a group of non-LDS friends about our moving arrangements. (Many of us working in DC were taking the bar in another state, so even though our firms were paying for our moves, they would only move us once. Those of us who would be out of state had the movers put our stuff in storage since we weren’t there, meaning that we’d still have to move everything from the storage unit to our houses.) My friends were stunned when I said that I would just call the church near where we were moving, and even though we didn’t know anyone there, they’d send a crew to our house to help unload the truck. It happened that way, too, and the crew who showed up became some of our best friends. (Including Jared* from LDS Science Review, and his wife.)

    The Mormon social network is awesome — especially for solving acute problems.

  17. Nitsav on June 23, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Well, this is good to hear, as Mr. and Mrs. Nitsav begin packing to move :)

  18. Raymond Takashi Swenson on June 23, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    When my son-in-law got out of the Air Force in Colorado and moved to Boise two years ago, he and our daughter loaded most of the stuff themselves into a rental truck and a small trailer towed behind their Suburban (they had 4 kids). Because of the low speed at which they could pull the trailer, it took three full days. I had helped arrange the rental of a house over the internet, and we caravened into Boise just in time to do the paperwork and pick up the keys before their office closed, then drove up to the house, where the bishop and Elders Quorum, whom we had contacted using Mormon.org’s meetinghouse locator, were waiting to unload their truck in 90 minutes. They were tremendously grateful, after a long exhausting two weeks of getting checked out of the Air Force (including cleaning their house at the Air Force Academy), packed, loaded, and traveling with small kids.

    Between the time I graduated from college and went on active duty in the Air Force, I spent a week working for a moving company that had contracts with the Defense Department ot move military families. In my 20 years in the Air Force we moved about 15 times, and we have moved three times since then. Almost all of these moves were at government expense, with paid contractors. There were many times that things were lost or broken. Often this happened while our stuff was in storage while we looked for a permanent home. In warehouses, your tables and bookcases can get inermingled mercilessly at the margins with another housholder’s stuff. And moving stuff in and out of a warehouse is even more hazardous to your goods because you are not supervising them and the emphasis is on speed of loading and unloading.

    When we are casting aspersions on the good hearted elders and high priests who do moving for free, we should remember that the bulk of the bodies handling your stuff when you are moved by a commercial outfit are idiots like my own young self, lacking in substantial experience and having little knowledge of how to safely handle certain types of valuable furnishings. Usually there will be one or two career movers in a crew who know how to manhandle a piano down the stairs without breaking either instrument or people, and who can pack a houseful of furniture into a moving van. The rest of the crew are day laborers who bring their normal intelligence and care to the assignment (ha ha!). At least you know that the guys in the ward are going to have to look you in the face every Sunday if they break an heirloom.

    Moving a piano or other heavy item needs to be done by someone with expertise, not necessarily a professional. There are tools for transporting such heavy items, not the least including ramps. On one move, the design of our brand new house was such that the front door was offest from the stairs going up half a flight to the main floor, making entry of the piano via that route almost impossible. We ended up having the “professional” movers load it onto a four wheel drive pickup and taking it across the muddy, not yet planted yard to our back deck and directly in through the kitchen. The one time our piano was damaged was en route to Japan. The moving company had to pay for a Japanese cabinet maker to spend the day making new legs by hand for the piano and attaching them with non-power tools. On a truck, a piano should be tied down with heavy ropes or straps so it can’t shift, and centered as close to the front of the truck as possible.

    The secret to rational moving is to have all personal items in appropriate size boxes, so that no box weighs more than 50 pounds, and taped closed and marked specifically as to the contents and which room they go in. Use hand trucks and use proper lifting techniques (legs not backs). Since we do so much moving in church, we should do some basic training on this issue (there will be some members who have gotten that trainign at work and can pass it along).

    As far as helping out: The most important thing for the people moving to do is prepack all their stuff in sealed boxes, and then oversee the movement to ensure it is packed in a rational way (heavy stuff on the bottom, etc.). It’s good to use a driveway or (if it’s raining) a garage to stage the stuff instead of loading it willey-nilley onto the truck.

    Since the Church does so much of this, it might be a good idea to have some basic guidance provided in the form of booklets about safe moving for both the people who need to pack and arrange their stuff, and for the quorum leaders who need to supervise. I know this may seem odd, but this is really a major activity of the church, so we ought to teach people how to do it safely.

  19. maria on June 23, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    When my husband and I lived in CT, a woman in the ward abused the EQ movers. She was a realtor and would purchase homes, live in them for a few months with her nice furniture, sell them, and move into another home. After four moves in one year, the EQ president (my husband) said the quorum was no longer available to her and she would need to hire professional movers in the future. She was not happy.

    When we went to graduate school in MI, the EQ email list was address to the movingcrew@(emailserver).com. We all recognized and appreciated the men who came to help us move into our graduate school barracks, and my husband in turn was frequently busy helping other families to move in during our tenure there. This ward had amazing leadership (Sister Ulrich, a recent guest blogger here, was our Bishop’s wife), and it permeated all of the auxiliaries. The EQ of this ward was not just the manual labor crew… it was a quorum of gospel learning, friendship, service, respect, and love. Our favorite home teacher, whom we still maintain contact with, came from this EQ. In great EQs such as this, the moving crew simply becomes the visible front for a spiritually motivated group of men. I am grateful for organizations like this.

  20. Peter LLC on June 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I’m so concerned about my co-religionists feeling entitled and dropping responsibility like a hot potato that I tell ‘em to take a hike and do it themselves. I have built much character that way.

  21. Velikiye Kniaz on June 23, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    RE: #20
    Aah, spoken like a true “LLC”!

  22. Christian F. on June 23, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    I\’m currently an EQP for the second time and both times I\’ve had this calling it has been in wards that had a lot of moving to do. We also do a lot of setting up chairs and tables. To be honest, there have been times when I have resented being responsible for moves and times when I have wondered why we, as a quorum, can\’t do more than set up and take down chairs. But as I was trying to organize some quorum labor, I remembered the story of Elisha and Naaman and realized that we\’ve been asked to do something simple and we don\’t need to look for something hard. Sometimes what is needed most is chairs for Sunday School and other times what is needed most is help loading a moving truck. Rather than looking for \”some great thing\” I should realize that sometimes what is needed is \”extraordinarily simple and easy to do\” (Elder Faust, http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=d9918d00422fe010VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1).

    I believe that the work we do when a quorum moves a neighbor is sacred and at the same time, like Julie (#7) I also believe that there is something we can do to help Bro. X and Sis. Y even if it is as simple as spending time with them, getting to know them, or maybe just remembering them in our prayers. The same principle applies to Bro. X and Sis. Y: maybe assigning home teachers and welcoming them to church and making them feel comfortable are the simple things that are overlooked because we are too busy looking for some great thing.

  23. Amy S on June 23, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I concur completely with JM’s post. I get frustrated at people who take advantage of the EQ and/or have a total lack of common sense. My children and I basically have ONE day to do things together as a family with my husband (Saturday) as Sunday is given so much to his EQ president responsibilities, and during the week he is working or doing someone else’s home teaching they didn’t get done, or there is some crisis with a member. My point…if I am giving him up one of our precious, you damn well better have your boxes packed ahead of time and no complaining about scrapes are allowed. I also get frustrated when someone wants to have the EQ crew paint their house or something and it’s not because they in a bad position or in need, it’s simply because they are lazy or cheap.

  24. Earl B on June 23, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    We used to tell them that we’d help move them in, but not out………….

    Of course there were some we’d help move out…………

  25. Kim Siever on June 23, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    If someone’s moving in, I say “Sure, just give me the tiem and place.” If they’re moving out, I say, “Here’s a ward directory.”

  26. Kim Siever on June 23, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    If someone’s moving in, I say “Sure, just give me the time and place.” If they’re moving out, I say, “Here’s a ward directory.”

    Our quorum is not a free moving service, and we expect the adults in our ward to take responsibility for their needs and duties.

  27. Bookslinger on June 24, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Jonathan: Thinking back to when I went inactive, here are a few things I’d suggest you could do for the less-active, especially those who are on the fringe, or starting to wander out to the fringe of activity:

    1. Have a printed (and/or email) newsletter that goes to all quorum members who show up, and everyone takes extra copies to the less-active people whom they home teach. These should have announcements, but especially include non-sunday activities, ward picnics, ward dinners, ward parties, etc. People who recently stop attending have a possibility of showing up at non-sunday activities. Ask the less-active folk if you can email them the newsletter. Both wards that I’ve recently been in have “Non-sunday regulars”, folks who show up for ward dinners/parties/picnics.

    2. Have the bulletin person print extra copies of the ward bulletin, and have home teachers take it along too, especially if there are announcements about non-sunday activities.

    3. Make sure singles, active and less-active, know about ward or stake singles events.

    4. Contact people as soon as they miss two sundays in a row, if you don’t know why (travelling, work, family needs, etc).

    a) Let them know that YOU miss them, not the generic “we”.

    b) Try not to use the standard “is there anything I can do for you?” line. Be more specific, but feel them out for having been offended, such as “Has anyone been making you feel uncomfortable at church?” “Would you like me to intercede with anyone who might be making things uncomfortable for you?” “Has anyone been demanding or imposing too much on you?”

    c) Pay attention to those who are in transition: going through divorce, recently divorced, newlyweds, widows/widowers, first child being born, last kid moving out, getting ready to go on a mission,
    just got back from a mission, recent converts, recent move-ins.

    d) Pay attention to those who are “odd man out”, such as youngest in the quorum, oldest in the quorum, singles, those who haven’t made friends in the ward yet.

    5) If you just don’t have the man-power to home-teach everyone in person (ie, every home teaching companionship would have 10 families/individuals to visit), then make sure everyone on the roster who has not requested “do not contact” (or is not on the “bishop only” list) at least gets a _phone call_ once a month. It’s not as good as a face-to-face visit, and it doesn’t “count” as home-teaching, but it still means something to a lot of people, and is still much better than no contact at all. The fact that phone calls are not reported and tallied doesn’t mean phone calls should be written off as not worth it.

    What many in the church fail to comprehend is that consistent invitations to, or merely informing about, ward dinners/parties/picnics to the less-actives conveys a good message, even when the less active person consistently turns down the invitations. To not inform a ward member about something, even when you know they aren’t going to accept anyway, is to admit you’re giving up on them. “They never come to these events” is never an excuse for failure to inform/invite about the event/dinner/etc. The only time to stop calling (once a month) is when they ask/tell you to stop calling.

  28. Jonathan Green on June 24, 2008 at 7:27 am

    Thanks for the excellent comments. I’ll try to respond to a few of them.

    Yes, the help of others can be exploited. But if it can’t be exploited, it isn’t something that actually helps anybody. Wards that have a lot of people moving in and out probably will need to prioritize their resources. As I said above, one extra guy for a couple hours can be a huge help.

    Bookslinger’s suggestions are excellent, and I understand what Ardis and Julie are getting at. But it really is the case that the people in most need of help often need things that I can’t help them with, usually because I can’t force people to accept the obvious solution to their problems. Breaking commandments is bad. Destroying your marriage is bad. If someone recognizes that, we’re in business. But the marginal utility of time spent listening to someone who hasn’t reached that stage is pretty limited. If I were a certified therapist, things would look different, but until someone needs the services of a certified medievalist, I can accomplish more in an hour by carrying boxes.

  29. Jim T on June 24, 2008 at 7:36 am

    I once lived in a transient ward with a lot of Elders. We charged for our moves and used the money to pay for quorum activities and also support a full-time missionary. We would, however, move a truly needy person for free.

    I have never complained about moving someone who needed help. But my time with my family is so precious, I deeply resented being asked to move someone who could easily afford to hire movers. We often talk of self sufficiency in the church. Abusing the priesthood to get free moves is either the best or worst example of that I can think of.

  30. Jessica on June 24, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I have used the EQ moving company before and it\’s great. Usually it ends up being our friends that help out, rather than making some kind of announcement in church. This last time we moved, I felt like it wouldn\’t be appropriate to ask the EQ, because my husband\’s employer was paying for the move anyways, and would pay for \”professional\” movers. We sent those \”professional\” movers away after just 2 hours. They were morons! I never realized how great it is to have help from people that actually care about me as a person. When they care about me, they will be more careful with my stuff too. Whenever I did use the EQ, I always made sure EVERYTHING was packed! I get upset when my husband is gone all day, instead of 2 hours, because the people didn\’t do any of the work themselves. So take care of your own duties, and realize how great the EQ moving company is. No matter how many scratches you get from the EQ, there would have been more if you hired \”Professionals\”.

  31. ed42 on June 24, 2008 at 9:54 am

    PACK! PACK! PACK! PACK! (and clean up the tripping hazard crap off the floor) and did I mention PACK?

  32. Tammy on June 24, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Be careful before you accuse someone of exploiting these acts of services. You don’t always know the whole story. About three years ago, my Dad was selling his house in California and needed some help making some basic repairs and with moving. He wasn’t going to ask for help, but my Mom was worried about his health so she asked the ward. The Bishop told the ward council not to help Bro ** because he was just trying to make more money, and he was certainly going to have plenty.

    My Dad is disabled and can’t do his profession (carpet cleaning and janitorial work) anymore. The money he got off the sale of the house was money he needed to live off for the rest of his life. Fortunately, his home teacher refused to follow the Bishop’s counsel and helped my Dad immensely. However, my Dad really hurt his health trying to to many of the things himself that would have taken a few healthy men a few hours to do.

  33. bjk on June 24, 2008 at 11:27 am

    I think there is more to giving service, whether it be helping someone move or providing a meal after a baby is born, than just the service. It shows that you love and care about that person or family. Most middle-class families can afford to get take-out or order some pizzas after having a baby and don\’t technically need a meal, but I don\’t think that is the point.
    Also, with the costs of moving (realtor fees, legal fees, packing expenses, temporary accomodations, storage fees, additional meal expenses) and the fact that you are likely to put all that money from the old house (if you sold it) into the new house, it sure is nice to be able to save a few bucks by renting a truck and having a few buddies help you load up the heavy stuff on a Saturday morning.
    I have also never understood the \”we\’ll help a family move in the ward, but won\’t help a family move out of the ward\” mentality.

  34. Bro. Jones on June 24, 2008 at 11:30 am

    #14 said: “Pack your belongings before we arrive. During one move, they had done “zero” packing. To move a clothes dresser from the master bedroom, we had to take out each drawer individually, full of clothes. No kidding, I was handed a drawer full of ladies underwear… not the white kind. These were more… intimate.”

    After 10 years of doing the laundry in my family, and seeing (and cleaning) the filthy horrors that young children, my wife, and other good human beings can produce just by wearing clothes, I’m confident that I could handle my bishop’s wife’s lingerie during a move and not blink an eye.

    I’m actually helping a friend to move soon whose sister lives with him. She’ll be out town for a family event during the move (how convenient), and he was a little bashful about having to pack up her room. I was like, “Pfff, whatever. I’ve lived through menstruation, diarrhea, and other assorted biological horrors. A drawer full of clean women’s undies is nothing to fear.”

  35. JM on June 24, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    “It shows that you love and care about that person or family.”

    Perhaps that’s my problem. I could really care less about most people in my ward.

    “A drawer full of clean women’s undies is nothing to fear”

    Not really the point.

  36. Jonathan Green on June 24, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    “Perhaps that’s my problem. I could really care less about most people in my ward.”

    Yes, that’s definitely a problem. I can’t really help you with it. Fortunately, you’re not in my quorum, so I don’t have to.

  37. Bro. Jones on June 24, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    #35 Hey, if they didn’t pack it before the EQ came, it all gets tipped into a box. Lingerie, family heirlooms, small children, sheet music. They can unpack it when they get to their new home. :)

  38. Ryan on June 24, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    Who else can you get to break your possessions and scratch your furniture at such a great price? Only my mother-in-law\’s moving assistance has rivaled the destructive force wrought by the typical Elders Quorum move.

  39. quandmeme on June 24, 2008 at 3:58 pm

    I know there are Elder’s quorum moving policy sheets that some have mentioned in the past. We keep meaning to put one together. If anyone is still reading comments this far down, do you mind sending me a copy of the policy sheet you use.
    arrowhead.elders AT gmail (united order doesn’t extend beyond your stewardship, but thanks for letting me steal your ideas)

  40. JM on June 24, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    #36:

    Maybe you are!

  41. aloysiusmiller on June 25, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Moving assistance should be given on two bases: 1) the people needing assistance ask their friends for help and they organize the effort with no direct effort by the EQP et. al. The first people they call are all the folks they helped move in. The first thing they say is remember when I helped you move in? If they didn’t help anyone move in then hmmm… 2) the Bishop applies welfare principles (worthy poor etc.) and asks the EQP or HPGL to organize assistance. This includes giving back service.

    If you receive moving assistance count the number of people who show up at your home and then add 4. This is (at least ) the number of times you should feel obliged (excuse me OBLIGED) to go help someone move. If this obligation seems onerous to you then go hire some folks to help you move in but still recognize that you are obliged to help some.

    I am a veteran of many many moves and have never one asked for assistance from the church in one of my moves.

  42. CS Eric on June 25, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I forgot the other rule I have when I ask the EQ to help me move: I always feed them and provide a varitety of (non-alcoholic) beverages. If it’s a morning move, donuts and juice. An evening move, pizza.

  43. Sue on June 25, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    We just moved into our ward three months ago and we’re already moving back. To our old house. In our old ward. My family can help a little on one side of the move, but not at all on the other. And we have no money for movers.

    So we get to call upon both sets of elder’s quorum elders TWICE in three months. I feel extremely sheepish about it. I never really wanted to be THAT family, but I think if we keep it up, we’re going to get that rep.

    Of course, if DH and I have anything to say about it, we’ll never move again. Ever.

  44. Ardis Parshall on June 25, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with the specific policies aloysiusmiller spells out — but there’s something about the legalistic formulation of it all, the tone that implies that the first begrudging consideration is that, by heck, nobody’s going to get a microgram of service on MY watch that they haven’t already paid for six times over, that is antithetical to the gospel and compassionate service. No matter how needy I was or how much previous service I had rendered, I believe I would walk 60 miles on a broken leg and a blood blister, pulling my things in a little red wagon, before I would ask for help under such a cold and mean-spirited regime.

  45. Razorfish on June 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    It is an interesting cultural phenomenon how the Elders’ Quorum has often been renamed the EQ Moving Service. In the spirit of the gospel, rendering service and helping out your neighbor seems a natural fit that we should help one another when families move in and out of our wards. This is a solid principle that seems reasonable.

    My only concern rests with the “burnout” of the EQP or EQ presidency who bear the burden of this assignment (when others shirk their responsbility and the EQP must make up the difference). After a few years of service in a transient ward, this is a real burden if the quorum doesn’t fulfill its responsibility.

    Many times we don’t count the cost and burden that wears out some of our ward leadership because we abuse this priviledge or take for granted the kindness and generosity of others. Helping someone move is a simple expression of another in need and consistent with a Christ like demenor; I just worry about the leaders who sometimes have to bear this heavy weight because either some abuse this priviledge or others shirk this responsibility to serve.

  46. Jami on June 25, 2008 at 9:38 pm

    Well spoken, Ardis.

    My husband and I are getting to that age where we’re getting too old and wrecked to do any lifting. I have gone and helped with moves, but my back goes out within the week, every time. My man has scoliosis so his back is even more likely to implode. So even though we’ve had the EQ move us every time we’ve moved, we’ve not always been able to reciprocate. Like most people we do what we can, when we can. If we lived in a ward where we had to pay or provide proof of poverty, I think we’d just limp along as best we could.

  47. aloysiusmiller on June 25, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Oh the very righteousness of some people. I am so humbled and in awe. I am so very sorry to express my mortality in the divine halo of the righteous.

    I think I have earned my stripes in observing and participating in many more moves than I can count and have never taken any moving assistance. My shoulders are chronically stiff and the only really heavy labor I have done in my life is help people move. Helping people move is a good thing. Taking advantage of people who help people move is an evil thing.

    Rule 1: Arrange your own move. That means calling in your chits. That means making some chits to call in.
    Rule 2: Give in advance of your need. Goodwill is a precious asset.
    Rule 3: Always do everything you can do for yourself. Pack your own boxes, do your own cleaning.
    Rule 4: When the bishop determines that there is a need, then do what he asks you to do. If things are not “right” about what you wind up doing let him know. Bishops need feedback too. They grow from constructive observations.
    Rule 5: Don’t enable the chronically lazy. Don’t go on their guilt trips. You aren’t building any credits in heaven by being taken advantage of by people who won’t and don’t try to do all that they can for themselves.
    Rule 5: Beware of the “righteous”. They live to create guilt trips that they rarely take.

  48. Bookslinger on June 26, 2008 at 12:15 am

    I used to get bent out of shape when people hadn’t boxed their things.

    I got over it when I realized that I was going to budget a certain amount of hours helping them. I’ve already agreed to give them “X” hours, and why should I care if they use my gift of X hours to have me box up stuff, or carry stuff, or a combination of box-and-move?

    Another suggestion for those who can well afford professional movers. I did a variation on this once. Offer to pay the helpers X dollars/hour. Those who need the money (unemployed, underemployed, students, or just need the money) get to be of service and earn a buck. Those who don’t need the money can donate it in their name (in their own name, the helper, that is) as a fast offering to the church.

    Everybody gets an envelope of money at the end of the move (or when they have to leave), no one has to know who keeps the money and who donates it to the church. The person moving isn’t considered mooching off the generosity of others, some helpers get to earn money, and those who don’t need the money essentially donated their time into the fast offering fund. Fair?

  49. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 12:38 am

    “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,

    “And went to him, and inquired whether he had bound up the wounds of four injured travelers, pouring in oil and wine to their wounds, and setting them upon his own beast, and bringing them to an inn, and taking care of them.

    “But when he found that the man had done none of these things, because he had no oil, and no wine, and no beast,

    “Yea, although he had done his home teaching, and had dried the tears of a crying child, and had held the chapel door for the widow and orphan, and had written to missionaries, yea, faithfully written with encouragement and love and the occasional $20 bill,

    “And though he had attended funerals, and delivered Christmas gifts anonymously to the destitute, and had accepted and faithfully performed every assignment of his bishop, and had not been lax in good works of his own design,

    “Yet although he had never had occasion to rescue four injured travelers, his good works availed him nothing.

    “For the Samaritan leaned over him where he lay, and whispered,

    “I am commanded not to enable the lazy, nor to allow myself to be taken advantage of. Verily, thou shouldest have built up thy store of wine, oil, and beast chits, for then thou couldest have called them in during thine hour of need.

    “And he departed, and left the traveler to ponder the words of the righteous.”

  50. Jonathan Green on June 26, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Aloysius, your first three rules are fine. About rule #4, the bishop has better things to be doing with his time. Let the EQP worry about it. If problems are expected or possible in a move, I’ll send a home teacher over several days before to find out the status of preparations and get people started on organizing their material.

    I’m not sure what your point is about being wary of the righteous. A discussion for another thread, perhaps?

    I’ll have to agree with Ardis that we’ll be accountable for our service rendered, although we certainly can make wise choices about how to prioritize our time.

  51. Mormon Paleo on June 26, 2008 at 8:01 am

    I agree with JM #7 and Bob Stocks #8. At least we can listen. At least we can care. The faithless perspective admitted by others is disappointing. I thought it was sarcastic at first, but obviously it is not. Have we not covenanted to bear one another’s burdens? Does this only apply if I feel you are ready for me to help you based on some arbitrary standard I set myself?

    Regarding moving, I recall my father talking about how the Aaronic Priesthood, ministering over temporal needs (i.e. collecting fast offerings) would ideally take a leading role in moving. Not sure if he was serious or if that was an idealistic, pie-in-the-sky dream.

    But since there has been reference to the chairman of the Perfect the Saints committee not only being called but actually doing something constructive (Edje #12), I thought at least it worth a mention. (For me, I barely recall any sort of committees, much less their function and utility. For a minute there I thought Edje must be talking about some other church.)

  52. Eric Boysen on June 26, 2008 at 8:32 am

    The Young Men in our ward are often participants in moves, but there are not enough of them to do the whole thing.

  53. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 9:55 am

    Ardis,

    How righteous of you. I am so humbled to be at your feet. My guilt burns in me. But you, good soul, put words in my mouth or is it my keyboard? Everyone in the world knows that chits are not necessarily “like kind” as the lawyers may say. People who faithfully accept callings, clean up after activities, babysit others’ children etc. are truly casting their bread upon the waters. I said nothing against such people. They usually have plenty of goodwill in the bank.

    ps Why did the bridegroom lock the door on the straggling virgins? Might it have been that they had no chits in their lamp? How uncharitable!

  54. Mark IV on June 26, 2008 at 9:59 am

    I agree, YM will often help if they are invited. I have seen cases where the family being moved will make a $20.00 donation to a young man’s mission savings account.

    While I agree that freeloading can be a problem, I think it is much more likely that a lack of charity is an impediment to Zion. I think it is likely that hell is the place where we measure out our love and care for one another by the teaspoon in the fear that somebody might be getting more than his fair share.

  55. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 10:03 am

    50. Yes when the Bishop and the EQP are aligned it makes no difference. EQP’s need to exert a real discernment. The ward I now live in once had total inactives calling for moving assistance. They refused the home teachers entry and never came to church. There was a misguided effort to respond to these people with moving assistance but the Bishop put an end to that. He established a worthy poor standard. He took the responsibility of discerning their need and their worthiness. Lots of moving still goes on (much more than once a month) and much of it for people who don’t have the physical or financial capacity to help themselves but the Bishop has deemed them worthy of assistance and help we do.

    One other thought: One aspect of bearing each other’s burdens is socializing each other so that we become a better burden bearing organization. Burden bearing breaks down when the unsocialized don’t do their share of burden bearing. When an EQP is talking to a family that his moving within or out this questions should be: Who have you helped on a move? Have you asked them for assistance in your move? What are your resources for making this move?. For inbound moves he should have a budget of paybacks to offer the family moving in. His statement should be: We’ll have 6 men to help you for 4-6 hours on Saturday morning. Please understand that you may be called upon for up to 50 hours of moving assistance in the coming weeks and months. Are you willing and able? If you are not able what other kind of assistance can you offer?

  56. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 10:40 am

    aloysiusmiller, again I can’t really argue with your motives, but the implementation is faulty, as I tried to explain with my parable parody. Service need not — usually cannot and should not — be a tit-for-tat program, whereby people can only be paid back for identical service they have already rendered. If a blind member needs a ride to the temple, you would find it a little ridiculous to say he could not ask for that service untill he had driven a carpool of other members to the temple. If a single mother needs an adult male to accompany her son on some outing, it would be foolish to require her to be the adult male role model to some other boy before she could ask for that assistance. It is likewise unreasonable to require that ward members call only on those whom they have previously helped during moves — many of those helps have been for people moving *out* of the area who are not available to assist. Yet that is what you are demanding for help with moving, in your imperious, condemnatory way.

    My whole point has been that there are single mothers, and other women alone, and elderly of both sexes, and the physically handicapped (visibly or not) who may very well be in need of assistance at moving time who cannot do much heavy lifting but who are NOT lazy, and NOT abusing their brethren, and worthy of receiving service although NOT desperately poor.

    When ward members have been fulfilling their duties and rendering other kinds of cheerful service within their capacity — even if in your estimation their casseroles, temple attendance, and hours spent cleaning the chapel are not as valuable as your own gold-plated moving muscle — service should not be withheld because of a member’s not having previously performed precisely the same type of service for others. The emphasis should be on helping each other with the right spirit, not on suspiciously tallying every movement to be absolutely certain that nobody gets ahead in the “services received” account.

  57. Jami on June 26, 2008 at 11:34 am

    aloysiusmiller- Justice vs. Mercy. A classic dilemma. My kids are all on the side of justice when we’re talking about their siblings and all on the side of mercy when we are talking about them. I can lean that way myself, though I try to fight it. How human of us.

    I love being called righteous. It makes my little self-righteous spirit soar with pride. Now in the spirit of righteousness, I share with you a mangled scripture: Perhaps thou shalt say: The man [and his slacking family] has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand and will not give unto him [the lazy bum] of my [help]..nor impart unto him of my substan[tial moving assistance].for his punishments are just..Oh man…repent…For, behold are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substan[tial strength and health] which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold[-plated moving muscle].

  58. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    57. I am with you. I think that this Bishop’s storehouse thing is a crock. They ought to open the doors to anyone who knocks. No questions asked. You want it you got it. It is sooooo humiliating to have to do a needs analysis with the Bishop…. it is sooooo humiliating and judgmental of him to ask why I haven’t been in Church and damn him for asking why I am not a full tithepayer…. or why he smells tobacco.

    Now seriously, a discerning reader (as opposed to the “righteous”) can see that I never wrote anything that says they should be judgmental about the service they are asked to render. Rather they can see that my admonishments were to

    1. individuals who ask for service.; Don’t be asking for what you are unwilling to give in return. “Like kind” is not a necessity.
    2. EQP’s and other leaders (including RS compassionate service leaders, RS president’s, Bishops etc.) on how service should be extended and their leadership obligation (excuse me OBLIGATION) to have people understand that the burden bearing mechanism of the kingdom works best when everyone is bearing a share of the burdens.

    Finally we must all avoid the tendency to make the church or the EQ or the RS an entity or some sort of other that does something. The Elder’s Quorum has no time, no money and no hands to make anything move. Only its members do. Don’t make the modern comparison that an Elder’s Quorum or a Relief Society is like the “government”. They are organizations of like-covenanted people. They only work when everyone is working.

  59. Researcher on June 26, 2008 at 12:13 pm

    We’ll have 6 men to help you for 4-6 hours on Saturday morning. Please understand that you may be called upon for up to 50 hours of moving assistance in the coming weeks and months. Are you willing and able? If you are not able what other kind of assistance can you offer?

    At the risk of sounding like a frequent commenter on the blogs: Wow. Simply wow.

  60. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    heh, heh — alley wishes is ignoring me, but Jami and Researcher, while incapable of discernment, aren’t letting him get away with it.

  61. Jami on June 26, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Yeah, discernment isn’t my forte, today. Nor is punctuation, apparently.

  62. Researcher on June 26, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    (#60 What am I missing here? Is miller a troll?)

    (#59 I meant Ray :-) )

    Let me share two stories.

    In our last ward, there were a lot of graduate students (not us at that point), hence a lot of babies. The RS had a “policy” to bring in only two meals. When our fourth child was about to come, someone asked us if they could bring in a couple of meals. I said, “No thanks.” If it’s not going to be done out a sense of love and celebration, let’s just skip it. I can open a can of something. I’m not sure how that ward handled moves; we arranged our own.

    Last year we had an extended family crisis. We managed to deal with it by drawing upon extended family (they flew in from across the country), community resources (such as Ronald McDonald House), relying upon neighbors of other faiths, just plain hard work, and relying on our other kids to take up lots of slack. We only needed to ask our small ward for help in one regard and when they were simply not able to pull through after repeated requests over a period of months, let me tell you, it became a test of my faith.

    I’m not much of a logician, but let’s take the inverse of miller’s argument: if you want to draw something out of the system, you’d better have put something in or be able to immediately put something in. Flip that over, and you have something like this: if you’ve put something into the system, you should be able to expect to draw something out. It didn’t work for me. At one point, my connection to the “system” (church) was feeling very tenuous and the single thing that was keeping me connected to the ward was a sister in the ward who had dropped everything to drive 20 minutes to our house to treat my daughter’s hair so she could go back to school (she caught a certain type of vermin at church) when my husband was out of town and I couldn’t leave my medically fragile child for the length of time it would take to do that.

    What is the meaning of a single act of service? If given at the right time, it can be life-saving or soul-saving or at least sanity-saving.

    How can you manage those kinds of experiences if you have quotas? (Two meals.) (Fifty hours of service.)

    I don’t have a solution for over-programmed wards. I just know that every request for service should be treated seriously and if it’s not possible for a ward to come through, the leadership in question should let the person know why.

  63. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Dear Researcher,

    You obviously stumbled on to a broken ward. Was it broken because they were hard hearted or was it broken because they had exhausted themselves on the hard hearted who never put anything back in but were always on the withdrawal side. The economy of God has some limits. There is no redemption for the unrepentant. Ain’t that a bite!? How stingy is He?

    But wasn’t it wonderful that you could call upon family to help you? Where have I heard that before?

    Time for the righteous to take over and twist what I just wrote. In in torment and guilty agony.

  64. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Responding to cue: Ohhhhhh, the paaaaaainnn!

  65. Adam Greenwood on June 26, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Fighting over nothing is so 90s, people. Get with the times. SSM is the new nothing.

  66. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Responding to cue: Ohhhhhh, the gaaaaaayys!

  67. CS Eric on June 26, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    My best moving story is from when we moved from a ward that helped on their schedule, not the moving family’s. Our lease was up at the end of the month, and we had to be out of the apartment by then. We told the EQP when we needed to move, and were told it wasn’t convenient for them at that day, but they could probably get some help at another time. We were living next to my in-laws, so my my mother- and father-in-law helped me and my wife (who was pregnant at the time) load up the truck by ourselves. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I got donuts, juice and milk for the help that never came. A one-or two hour project with the EQ was an all-day project for the four of us. It wasn’t pleasant in the hot St George summer sun, but we got it done.

    The next Saturday, 8 or 9 guys from the ward showed up ready to help, and were a bit surprised when they knocked on my in-laws’ door to find we were already gone.

  68. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    Ardis your response is exactly as I would expect from one so righteous. Thank you for the teaspoon of water you have poured on my burning pit in hell. My gratitude is eternal.

  69. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    CS Eric All day with the family? Good on ya. You understand the spirit of self reliance. My lesson from many many moves is don’t ask for hat you can do yourself. I have never called the Elders quorum president or any other church leader for help with a move because I could do it myself. I have been an EQP and I have insisted that families with teenage sons work all day moving and have asked the Elders to come over in the end of the move to help with the piano and a few heavy items. I never once lost the respect of the families that I insisted do what they could for themselves. I have insisted that the boxes be packed before we arrived and I have insisted that adequate equipment be made available all suited to the circumstances of the families that sought assistance.

    Up until Ardis’ righteous reproof I felt good in what I had done but now I am burning in torment for having asked people to help themselves. Ardis have mercy on my guilty soul!

  70. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Ya got it, al. I’ll be by to pick you up for that temple trip on Saturday. You’ll recognize me. I’m the one with the dark glasses and the white cane.

  71. CS Eric on June 26, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    #69

    Yep, when you have a pregnant woman and two diabetic people in their 70’s, no reason to ask able-bodied men to help.

  72. Jami on June 26, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    65. Adam, I am only arguing about nothing. Arguing about something can be very disconcerting. Didn’t you read my post?

    aloysiusmiller, Sometime when I’ve got time, I will list the real-life stories I’ve got about self-righteous, self-reliant prigs who get knocked on their butt by fate and are forced to eat a bakery full of humble pie. But not today. Do everyone you know a favor and stop showing up if you resent it so much.

  73. Researcher on June 26, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    I’m evidently missing the joke. Someone put me out of my suffering, please.

  74. aloysiusmiller on June 26, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Ardis, Woe is me. I have sunk to the depths in the face of the absolute moral authority of your white cane. Why or why did I try to bring logic to such a conversation?? I am doomed…. Oh woe oh woe…heartless beast, ingrate….

    I am no longer worthy of Times and Seasons. I accept my excommunication from your holy presences with pain and bitterness….

  75. Adam Greenwood on June 26, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    Good grief, all.

  76. Ardis Parshall on June 26, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve accomplished my purposes, Adam, and am through. Thanks for your patience.

  77. Jami on June 26, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    And it was such a nice OP.

  78. Jonathan Green on June 26, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Researcher: Your wish is granted.