“Thanks Given during Holiday Season,” Ensign, Jan. 1977, 94
REXBURG, Idaho—Though the struggle to recover from the Teton Dam flood last June is by no means over, the Saints and their neighbors are taking time to savor the joy of the Christmas season.
Even those who lost homes, businesses, and irreplaceable personal possessions still find much to be joyful about.
Perhaps that is because in their great mutual need, they discovered last summer the spirit of giving, sharing, and serving that Christmas is all about.
Though some evidence of the flood is still around, most has been cleaned up. Buildings that were unsafe to use have been razed (see photo story) and are being replaced, and downtown Rexburg sports brand new buildings where Christmas shopping was on schedule.
The Saints in the flood-stricken cities have found much to be thankful for in the holiday season. For example, Sister LaRie Howard of Rexburg spoke to Utah state official Jack S. Bailey of how the Lord had taught her family a lesson in priorities:
“At the time of the flood our son, Cody, had been gathering things he needed for his mission. We aren’t rich, and so we have been planning for a long time.
“In his bedroom, he had a box with five white shirts and some socks. He also had some books that had been given him for his mission.
“The last thing he did before the flood hit was to put those books on his bed thinking that they would be safe and above any water that might get into the house. When he went back down to find them—and he had to wade in water up to his waist—he found that the mattress had floated and the books were safe.
“Later, when we started to clean up the house, he rummaged around in his room to see if there was anything that we could save. There was hardly anything—all of it was either wet and muddy or carried off by the flood.
“Then he came out of his bedroom carrying the shirt box. It had been covered with mud and was literally falling to pieces.
“He had a strange look on his face and he said, ‘Mother, do you believe this?’ Inside that ruined box were those five white shirts, completely dry. The water and the mud hadn’t touched them.
“I’ve heard people talk about miracles in their lives, and I guess I’ve usually been skeptical myself. But when he came out of his room with those shirts you could feel the Spirit saying to us, ‘He needs to be on a mission.’”
Sister Howard told about a man whose attitude has undergone a profound change since the flood. “He says that his eyes fill with tears when he looks at his older children. He realizes that had the flood come at night he wouldn’t have those children—they all sleep in the basement, and the flood came so fast they wouldn’t have been able to get out. He feels like it was the hand of the Lord that blessed us in this area.”
Blessing? A flood? Sister Howard says, “I don’t feel that the Lord said, ‘The people in this valley need a lesson.’ I feel the lessons and the blessings have come since the flood in the way people have felt towards each other. It’s made everybody so close.”
Perhaps it is a blessing. Wouldn’t it be good to be able to look at all your neighbors and know that they are your friends, that they can be depended on, that when the times are rough they have the stamina to build back? If courage and kindness are contagious, in flood-stricken Idaho they’re a pleasant epidemic.