... is light-up snowboots.
Let me explain. Every other Christmas, our family does a service Christmas. This year we learned about families from Bhutan who have recently arrived in Utah as refugees -- before this they were refugees in Nepal for 17 years, living in bamboo and plastic huts on 150 grams of rice per day and occasionally a few vegetables. They came here with nothing. This last Friday we took three little families out to dinner and then to Wal-Mart to help with necessities. Their clothes were ragged and ill-fitting, and most of them had only sandals. One young mom was wearing a pair of flip-flops, carrying her daughter who had no shoes at all.
Another little family had two boys who were 5 and 3, just like Sammy and Josh. When we got to dinner, Sammy eyed the boy his age nervously. He wanted to make friends but was feeling very shy, especially because the other boy didn't speak very much English. I could see that the other boy was curious about Sammy, too, but was probably even more scared than Sammy. Throughout dinner he waffled back and forth about whether to go meet the other boy. Then Amy found out that what the other boy wanted more than anything else was snow boats. This was something Sammy could understand. Just that morning I had dug out the snowboots for the boys (thank goodness last year's boots still fit Sammy and Sammy's boots from two years ago fit Josh now), and they were so very excited to wear them out in the snow. Soon Sammy was running over to the other boy, showing him how his boots lit up when he stomped his foot and promising to help him find light up boots, too. He found out the other boy's name was Tila, and they were suddenly best buddies. Josh quickly followed his lead and made friend's with Tila's little brother with a hearty "Let's hold hands!"
When we got to Walmart, the boys wanted to get right back to the shoe department to search for light up boots. To all of our disappointment, Walmart didn't have any light up boots this year. As I helped Tila try on the different styles of boots, he kept asking "No lights?" We did find him some nice warm boots that had cool reflectors, but he was obviously disappointed about the no lights situation. Sammy reassured him that it was okay, because they both still had really cool boots, and they got back to happily chasing each other around the shoe department. When we had to go home, Sammy was sad to leave his new friend and would only do it because I promised we'd get to see Tila and his family again.
Which brings me to why snowboots are the secret to world peace. Sammy and Tila were a little shy and afraid to meet one another until they discovered one really cool thing that they had in common. Once they took that first step, they found that they also both liked to run around and be crazy and laugh. It didn't matter so much that they didn't have a common language or that they'd never met. Joshy and Tila's little brother didn't even need that -- they just needed someone to point them both in each other's direction. So many of the world's problems are caused by an "us vs. them" mentality -- we look at people who are different from us, no matter what the difference is -- and sometimes we're a little scared to go out on a limb. We don't know how they'll receive our efforts. We don't know them or their motivations. It might be someone from across the world or across the street. But when we find something that unites us, it opens up a whole world of possibility. We are all truly our Heavenly Father's children and He loves each of us. Those of us who have been blessed with so much can do more than we even know to bless the lives of our brothers and sisters, if we're willing to open our hearts to them, if we give them the benefit of the doubt and realize that they are more like us than we realize.
Today as the snow swirls around our comfy, cozy house, I am so grateful for the incredible blessings we've been given. And I'm thankful to know that Tila and his little brother and his mom and dad have warm boots and coats today. But there are still so many that lack even these basic necessities. Please don't forget them. My sister Amy has just started a charity called "Neighbors Against Hunger" to help the many Bhutanese families who have just come into our community, and others like them. If you'd like more information about how you can help, please check out the information on the Neighbors Against Hunger Facebook group. Every little bit helps!