Contemplating sublime theology is only part of what it means to be a Mormon. Much of the other part involves moving people in and out of the ward.
One of the top reasons for converting to the Church may well be the free moving service offered by priesthood quorums. I think there are much better reasons, like eternal joy and all that, but who can argue with free service?
“Mighty Mormon Movers” can be found in almost every ward and branch of the Church, men and women who freely give of their Saturdays or other times to help others move in our out of apartments and homes. The men tend to take on the heavy lifting, while the women (based on my experience) often apply genius-level Tetris-like skills in finding how to make a semitruck load of junk fit into a tiny trailer, sometimes apparently violating the laws of physics. The women and sometimes the men also often play an especially difficult role in helping to pack or even to clean – sometimes the cleaning is the real nightmare (we usually shouldn’t and typically don’t do that, thankfully). Moving events can be great ways to show our care for others and can even be good social events as brethren work together. I have some very positive memories of Mormon moving projects – though I still need psychotherapy for a few nightmares.
For many people in the Church, moving day is their primary contact with the Church. While we wish they would come to Church more often, we’re usually happy to help, whether it’s moving them in or out. And we’ve often helped people who were not members of the Church who were in need – hoping, perhaps, that it might be a good experience for them. Whether the people moving are active or less active in the Church, or even non-members, we want their moving experience to be positive, and we want those who sacrifice their time in helping to have a positive, productive, safe and efficient experience as well.
With that in mind, here are my Maxims to Minimize Mormon Moving Madness. This list is a work in progress, and will be edited over time as I get your suggestions.
Maxims to Minimize Mormon Moving Madness
- Preparation is the key. The people moving need to start packing and cleaning at least a week before the move. If 10 people show up and you don’t have a lot of things ready to put on a truck, you’re wasting their time. Please don’t expect people to pack a significant portion of your items on the day of the move, and especially don’t expect people to help you sort out what’s garbage and what you wish to keep. Church leaders, please coach the people moving so they can know how to prepare and what you expect.
- Remember that the move is your responsibility, not the Church’s. Do as much as you can on your own – obtaining boxes, packing, cleaning, arranging for friends and relatives to help, renting a truck, etc. Your responsibility does not end when you call the Elders Quorum President.
- Arrange for transportation and supplies ahead of time. In most cases, you should rent a truck, even if you are just moving across town. If you can’t afford to rent a suitable truck from U-Haul or another rental service, make sure you arrange with a friend or relative to borrow a truck. And if you’ve done all you can but still don’t know how to get a truck, let the leaders at the Church know a couple weeks in advance so that they can try to find some people with trucks who can be there. Don’t wait until the day of the move to ask if anyone has a truck you can borrow. Also have other supplies ready ahead of time: a dolly for moving heavy items, tools, boxes, tape, etc.
- Don’t expect professional results. Be willing to accept some property damage. You’re going to have people moving your stuff that aren’t trained, perhaps aren’t all that strong or graceful, and sometimes not all that bright. I fit all those categories. If you aren’t careful and watchful, your fragile picture frames might be packed beneath a bowling ball. And even if you are watchful, someone might drop something or scratch furniture or knock a hole in the wall or even break a window. Don’t get mad and expect the ward or, worse yet, the missionaries to pay.
- Mark boxes with their contents and where they should go. For example, “John’s clothing – upstairs bedroom.” This will help movers know where to put things, and help you in finding things later.
- Simplify! Get rid of junk – and preferably do it before the move. If you have three old refrigerators in your basement (true story), do you really need to keep and move all of them? Especially if they are almost as heavy as a piano and need to go up a rickety narrow staircase with multiple turns?
- Feed the movers. Consider pizza, drinks, snacks, nuts and definitely some healthy fruits and veggies (yes, I am from a different planet). A little food can make a difficult move more much more fun.
- Keep it safe. Don’t let people move objects that could cut them or injure them. If you’ve got a piano, for example, have it moved by professionals – there have been nasty injuries when pianos or other heavy objects were moved by inadequate amateur crews. Also watch out for tripping hazards and other things that could put people at risk.
- Be grateful! Don’t complain about the poor work or accidents that occurred. If even one person shows up, be grateful – even if it’s only me. People have plenty of other things to do, and many of those serving you might not even know you or have any obligation or reason to help other than trying to follow the Savior in serving others.