By Stephanie Huang Porter
After the election, I was stuck in a very aimless funk. I’m a naturally upbeat and high-spirited person, and I could see that I was in a dark place emotionally. As I struggled to get out of it, I was having a very difficult time on my own. It wasn’t until my friend messaged me on Facebook and asked if I would be interested in this group of Mormon women who were worried about the state of our country that I began to feel hope. I read through the pinned post and could feel my heart beat faster in anticipation.
When I joined the group, it was still a manageable size. In the early stages, I could feel the excitement and the group frustration towards what was happening to our nation, but I also felt this surge of hope. Hope that I wasn’t alone, that there were other intelligent, empathetic women who vehemently disagreed with the status quo and wanted to do actionable good for the world. The focus on action drew me in immediately. I like to feel useful and I’m more a doer than a sit-around-and-gripe kind of girl.
Then the group started forming committees. On one of the refugee committee posts, Amanda Rawson Hill mentioned she had a refugee family in the Sacramento area that needed help and I was so happy to raise my hand and say, sign me up.
The Safi family from Afghanistan includes the wife, who was an obstetric surgeon, the husband who was a general practitioner doctor, and two little boys under the age of 6. Mrs. Safi happened to be pregnant and due in March.
The biggest needs, Amanda let me know, were to find a doctor, find jobs, and find friends. I don’t consider myself talented, in the traditional Mormon sense of the word. I’m no piano player, for one, nor do I sew, or can foods, or grind my own wheat. I am talented at making friends, which is kind of like being a court jester, in the days of yore.
So I started with a phone call to Mrs. Safi and got to know her a bit. I told her I would work to find her a doctor. I asked if we could meet up that week, and she agreed. I took the information on the Safi family to my ward council. The three things I needed to help the Safi family became my mantra: Doctor, Job, Friends. My ward wasn’t able to help with any of that. They might be more helpful if I gave them a list to shop for. So I decided to use my other talent, my ability to talk and ask questions.
I posted the requests on social media, hoping for help there as well. It wasn’t as fruitful as I’d hoped. I happened to have an orthodontist appointment for my youngest daughter that week, and while we were there I was talking to our ortho, who is a friend and also a member of the church. He offered ideas and suggestions, but didn’t know any obstetric doctors. His assistant, Mr. Miles, overheard us and asked me where the Safi family lived. He then told me he knew exactly where that was, and that his wife had seen the same doctor and that they took Medicaid, which we needed for Mrs. Safi.
Then Mr. Miles asked me how I connected with the Safi family. I mentioned MWEG, and that I was also a Mormon. He asked me how that could be, because to this day white people are associated with Mormonism. So I shared my story and Mr. Miles asked me where my Church was. I told him, and then I asked him where he went to Church. He said he and his wife didn’t go and that they were looking. So I just leaped in (likely with a nice poke from an angel or two) to ask him if he’d be interested in our Church. He said yes. So I quickly got on my phone and found out where his ward would be, and told him I’d call the bishop for him. We exchanged numbers and that was that.
Since that day, Mrs. Safi has seen a doctor, and I have contacted the ward in her area, in hopes of them also helping to befriend and aide in the job search for her husband. As for Mr. Miles, I want to say it was seamless. However, it did take a follow-up call, and a call to the missionaries to make sure that the ward didn’t let Mr. Miles and his family fall through the cracks. I should say, another of my unconventional talents is follow-through, some like to call it nagging, and it probably is, but it has proven to be effective at times. Long story short, Mr. Miles and his wife have taken two discussions and been to church. The missionaries regularly text me about their progress (see, nagging works). The Miles family baptism is scheduled for March.
That all happened in a little over a week. I have never felt so guided in my steps and in my words than at that time. This experience has shown me, in vivid colors, what it means to be about my Father’s work. It has made me so grateful to be a simple tool to be used in service to my brothers an sisters and my Father. In the midst of this, I had an insane at-home schedule with my own family and my callings and volunteering in the community. Somehow, He helped me get all that done, and I felt only peace and joy while doing those things.
This all happened because Jennifer asked me to join MWEG. I firmly believe what Amanda said to me when we had a conversation about the Safi family, that this is holy work. What we do for each other is the Lord’s work. When we come together, assume the best in each other, and put forth our best effort with faith, wherever HE needs us, we will accomplish all the things He needs and wants us to do. I believe that 100%. I’m watching miracles happen, and I know it’s not because of me, but I do know that through me, He can do many great and important things.
I’m here to serve. I’m here to do. I’m here to use what I’ve been given, all of me, to bloom wherever I’m planted. Just as my favorite scripture promises: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” (Phil 4:13) #RISEUP #FIGHTON #PERSIST