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December 21, 2012
The Pink Coat: A Christmas Experience
by Jeff Lindsay

Years ago when I was serving as a bishop in the Appleton Second Ward, we had a Christmas party for the Hmong members of our ward. The Hmong people in the US came here as refugees after suffering horrific persecution in Laos at the end of the Vietnam War due to their valiant but unpublicized (at the time) support of the United States in the secret war that was being waged in their nation. (I discuss their history more on my page about the Hmong people in America.) Many of these brave, freedom-loving newcomers have struggled financially in this strange foreign land.

At our Christmas party in my home, several groups began to leave after having spent a few afternoon hours with us. The temperature outside was 1 degree Fahrenheit--bitter cold on any scale. One little non-LDS girl, about 9 years old, was getting ready to go out the door with her sisters. I noticed she wasn't wearing a coat, just a light sweatshirt. I asked about that and she said she didn't have one, and had been going to school everyday without one. I was worried for her.

What I didn't know until later was that my wife had already tried to deal with the problem earlier in the evening. My wife had retrieved an old coat from our closet that had belonged to one of my sons. It would have fit, I think, but the Hmong girl shook her head and refused to try it on. She was poor, but she was still a girl with basic human sensitivity about how she looked, and she wasn't going to wear an ugly coat. At that moment I recalled that a kind member of the ward had just given me two grocery bags filled with clothes in case they could help someone in need. I brought over a bag that had some coats in it. At the very top of the bag was a pink coat. I took it out and noticed that it seemed to be her size. I asked her if she would try it on, and her face lit up as it fit perfectly and looked beautiful on her. She was so happy! She looked great in that coat, and left warmer, but not nearly as warm as I felt at that moment, grateful to the sweet member who made the donation and so grateful to the Lord for such a small but memorable Christmas gift.

It was such a small thing, but one that reminds me of the kindness of the Lord expressed through simple acts from others. May we all find and share the pink coats or whatever other resources and talents we have sitting unused on our shelves.

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