“Warmed and Fed,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 56–57
Some years ago our family was living in Banff, a resort town that lies within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. The Christmas season brought to our area many tourists, mostly skiers. Because of our location and because my husband was the branch president, we realized we might have unscheduled guests drop in at any time. With that in mind, we made a trip to the nearby store to pick up a few extra groceries. I just had a feeling that something was going to happen.
While we were in the store, a sudden and terrible blizzard swept into our mountains. Although we lived only a block from the store, we had great difficulty getting our car back to the house.
Strangers greeted us at the door. In the short time the storm had been raging, all exits from the park had been closed. Hotels and motels were instantly filled, and the overflow of people trying to find what accommodations they could was large. We invited the strangers, all Church members, into our home, and I carved a freshly cooked, seven-pound turkey that a neighbor had given our family. I also prepared a few other dishes to help feed our hungry guests.
During the next few hours, strangers continued to stream into our home looking for shelter and a place to spend the night. We fed them all. As the evening wore on, all the available bed and floor space was occupied, and finally even the bathtub was pressed into use as a bed. With Christmas lights glowing and Christmas music softly playing in the background, a beautiful spirit of security seemed to fill our home.
With so many people in the area left with nowhere to go, the space in our branch building was also made available. My son Toby and I drove up and down the streets late into the night looking for those who were still stranded in their cars, inviting them to our home or to the branch for warm shelter and something to eat. Everyone ate as much as they wanted, and we soon lost track of the number of people we tried to assist.
The next morning I fixed a hot breakfast for everyone who wished to eat, and with the roads open again we said our good-byes to all our newfound brothers and sisters.
Later in the day, as I was preparing lunch for my family, I opened the refrigerator and to my surprise found the turkey plate still piled high with meat. I fell to my knees and wept. I had been able to feed a multitude on a small seven-pound turkey, the only meat in the house. Truly we had been blessed in our hour of need.
Yet another blessing was to come from that stormy night. About a year later, a young man visiting our branch spoke and related the following:
“Something happened to me one night that has changed my life forever. At the time of this event I was inactive and had hard feelings toward the Church. On a cold, blizzardy night here in Banff, with the roads in and out of the park closed, I was stranded. I was also penniless. In desperation I searched for the local branch president’s home—President Bohnet’s. Arriving in the yard, I met Sister Bohnet and her son Toby, who were leaving for somewhere. They told me to go into their home where it was warm and have something to eat, then to stay and sleep. When I got to the door there were snow boots everywhere, and as I looked in the window, all I could see were people everywhere.
“I did eat and sleep there, but I was so impressed by their willingness to take in a total stranger and by the Christlike love they showed me on that cold winter’s night, that all feelings I had against the Church melted away. I stand here today active in the Church because of their willingness to put gospel principles into action.”
I did not remember this young man, but again I wept as the Spirit reaffirmed that simple but profound scriptural message: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt. 25:40).