The young men drew the assignment to clean the church building, and immediately, a cog slipped sideways in the ward machinery. A collective gasp escaped from the delicate weaving of respectful sisters in the Relief Society room. Though the foundation of the church grounds quaffed at the unruly prospect of boys attempting to disinfect from undisinfected hands, church authority allowed the assignment to be handed down.
A wise Young Men President, Brother Thompson, stood forth in the gloom and shed a ray of light in the darkness of transferred duty—he asked the young women to help. Of course, this relieved the pressure from the stripling warriors, taking on the impossible duty alone.
Brother Thompson stood up bravely. “We, ah-uhm, well. . . you guys, have the assignment to, ahhh-uhm—Cody, will you stop hitting Dawson with the fast offering bag? Now, what was I saying? Oh yeah, ahhuhm, we have the assignment to clean the, uhm, church.
Coulda heard a spitwad drop, and one did.
Brother Thompson took a deep breath and picked up a page of crumpled loose leaf. “Do I have any volunteers?”
Of course not. Are you crazy Brother Thompson?
No hands. All heads stared down at the fine threads of classroom carpet. The YM President sweetened the deal. “Those who show up will get something good to eat.”
All eyes shot from the floor like after the last ‘amen’ of a long meeting. All hands went up and just like that, the church had their strength of youth doubling as cleaning crew.
The Cleaning Day
Saturday morning, assorted doughnuts were locked up tight in the backseat of the car. Those little soldiers stood at attention with vast capacity to make short work of them, but the mandate posted by Brother Thompson was clear and terrible at the same time. Clean the church. Then eat the doughnuts.
The Young Women were resplendent, showing up shining that morning with a positive gleam in their eyes and delectate hands ready to work mighty miracles. Their beauty was largely ignored by the Young Men heathens, for they, well, let’s just say that the boys could have easily passed for squished slugs. These young men tried to expand their minds past a grumbled fog of nocturnal rest, as they stretched and scratched and gaped from the groggy set-back of getting up.
The Young Women went right to work, busy little bees flying from spot to spot with cleaning magic.
The Young Men slumped against the wall, waiting for instruction or motivation or both.
The Young Women worked together in har-mon-y.
The Young Men argued for first dibs on “Big Bertha,” the massive vacuum that could suck up Rhode Island.
After a little bit, Brother T to got out the big guns. “Okay guys. Who wants doughnuts?”
“Okay guys. Let me hear you! Who. Wants. Doughnuts?!”
“We do!” the call of Zion went up. And with might the young men came forward and conquered dust bunnies and swirly hand prints. They picked up paper, straightened the primary chairs, and squeegeed windows.
“Shall the youth of Zion falter?” I thought. Nay. Especially if the right kind of food is offered.
The Last Frontier
Only one more thing remained, almost a stone wall between success and failure, between hunger and fulfillment. Only one deterrent faced those courageous boys, and it glowered before them like the fires of Digimon’s fury.
The men’s bathroom.
Girls the same age as the boys already tackled their charge long ago, but the boys—whoa Nelly—stood, fearing and trembling before something that should be used, but never cleaned.
Wasn’t that for the church custodians? Wasn’t there some brother with blue fingers to take on this. . . this woesome march? The answer came clear—No.
Once again, Brother Thompson came forward and asked for volunteers. The priests volunteered the deacons, and the deal was done so fast that it broke all church records for quick, church-cleaning thinking. To a twelve-year-old, there is absolutely no rejecting the menace of a sixteen-year-old.
The deacons held their collective breaths and dove in, cleaning every crevice that offered serious contribution to the deterioration of the ozone, busy hands worked in a blur as they did the work before another bathroom breath could be taken.
I was proud of the little scamps.
Everyone received an earned reward, and the Young Men ate with cavernous delight. No words were spoken as work gave way to quality doughnut time. And then one boy said, “Hey, where did all the girls come from?”
The next Sunday, Brother Thompson accepted the assignment for the Young Men to set up chairs for stake conference. Good thing we’re way down on the list for visitors from Salt Lake City.