“The Good Samaritans in Coutts,” Ensign, Apr. 2004, 69–70
My wife and I are retired senior citizens from Portsmouth, England. We’ve been married for 48 years and are Anglican Christians. Before a memorable trip to Canada, we had the impression that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were a bit pushy, overly religious, and determined to convert everyone not of their faith. However, a snowstorm in Canada began changing our impressions.
We were in a group of mainly older British tourists traveling through Banff, Canada; Yellowstone National Park; and the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, the weather was not very kind to our group. After staying in Lethbridge, Canada, we awoke to find it had snowed in the night. Later that morning as we traveled toward the U.S. border, the rain turned to snow, and at the border we discovered the road was closed on the American side. There was nothing we could do but turn back. Five miles (8 km) down the road we encountered a jackknifed truck and trailer blocking the highway. We were unable to go forward and unable to go backward.
Stranded in our bus, we settled down to guessing games, a sing-along, and general fun, confident that help would arrive and that we would be safe in the bus until then. More than five hours later, help finally did arrive.
A Royal Canadian Police Mountie on a snowmobile found us, and a fire truck managed to carve a track in the snow, allowing the bus to turn around. Weary and hungry, we made our way to the nearest community and found ourselves pulling up to the church that several of the firefighters attended—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints meetinghouse in Coutts, Alberta, Canada.
The Anglican church we attend is 150 years old, with a small communal hall and limited facilities, so the thought of a church congregation taking in 40 strangers stranded in the snow didn’t seem feasible. But within an hour of our arrival, the women and young people of the ward had served up a full meal of jacket potatoes and chili.
We were particularly impressed when we discovered that our rescuers had pressing problems of their own. A young mum had had the power cut off to her home, but she left her younger children with a kind friend and came with her older children to help us. A counselor to the bishop gave us a tour of the building and took time to ensure that we were cared for before going to work that evening.
Before we went to bed, the youth of the Coutts Ward treated us to an impromptu performance of a play they had been rehearsing. And finally the central heating was turned up, and we were made comfortable for the night.
The next morning the roads had improved sufficiently for us to continue our journey. After the ward members prepared breakfast, we set out again on our enjoyable trip. But we remained overwhelmed by the hospitality shown by the Latter-day Saints. They willingly opened up their church and provided food, bedding, and, above all, friendship to stranded strangers.
Although we had believed Latter-day Saints to be somewhat pushy, we saw instead kind, caring people who demonstrate their beliefs in their day-to-day lives. Back in England, we keep our holiday fresh in our minds, and we thank God for our Latter-day Saint friends and Samaritans.