Helping a homeless woman, a refuge.

“Go help that woman.”  It was a distinct impression as I drove to the temple.  I had turned right; she was holding a piece of cardboard with writing on it on the left hand side of the street, 3 lanes full of cars away.  She did not look like the typical homeless person; her hair was combed and clean and her clothing was not worn  But it was clear she was seeking help, likely looking for money. 

I was on a lunch break, and only had a short time to be in the temple before a business call a while later.  I don’t have time I reasoned.  What could I do?  But the impression came again, and then the thought that I had just been listening to the April 2016 General Women’s Meeting talks about assisting refugees.  “If that woman is recently homeless, she qualifies as a refugee, right here in my town,” I thought. 

I then realized that while in the temple, I would spend all my time thinking about this woman.  I then had this scripture come to mind: “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”  (Matthew 5:23 – 24)

Finally I made a U turn, found a parking space.  I paused for a moment, still not knowing what I would say.  I finally said, “Well, I can at least have a conversation with her,” and I walked across the street to her.

She explained that she had recently had to leave the home she had lived at, with her two children, and could not pay for the hotel for that night as she was figuring out where to go next and what to do.  I could tell from her tears she was not accustomed to doing this.  I gave her some money, and then asked what would happen the next day.  I explained that someone in my church called a bishop had the ability to help in these kinds of situations.  I called and left a message for my bishop, and then gave her his name and number as well as mine.

I then told her that I had been driving to the temple, and had been told very distinctly to come help her.  I bore my testimony that I could tell God was mindful of her and her needs.  Tears filled her eyes as I told her this.

As we finished, she followed me across the street to go back to the hotel.  There was a sense of friendship as I asked about the ages of her children, and how they were taking things.  I could tell in different circumstances we could easily have been friends.

As I drove to the temple, I felt a warmth, thinking of my daughters, my wife, or my sister, any of which could have easily ended up like this woman.  I was grateful for the impression to help.  The shortened time in the temple was that much more worshipful with a clear conscience and a sense I had been of real service to someone in need.

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