Sparwood, BC - Tragedy & Triumph Unites a Community
Contributed by Shauna Salmon, Cranbrook British Columbia Stake
The call for help came on a Wednesday morning in September. We were in the middle of a home school lesson when I asked my children if we should continue with our plans to go out on a field trip or should Mom go help look for the little three-year old boy who was missing. It was a unanimous decision...my children declared that it was more important for us to help in the search for the boy. I phoned around to women in the Ward to see if they would take my children so I could join the search. It didn’t take long to find a volunteer and soon I headed out.
Hours later, after standing around in a crowd of volunteers, we were sent out to start combing the woods around our hometown to look for anything that might indicate where the searchers should focus. We came back hot and tired with nothing to show for our efforts. We saw Bishop Roger Still of our Ward bike down to talk to the search and rescue team and felt a sense of pride when it was announced that the command centre would be moving to our LDS Church. We rushed over to help get things set up to accommodate and feed the huge influx of volunteers who would be arriving shortly.
Nothing could have prepared us for the number of people who arrived. At 7 pm the doors opened and it wasn’t very long before the line stretched right out outside the doors. People were coming in droves to help a family who was devastated by their son’s disappearance and possible abduction. The search that night lasted well after dark.
On Thursday morning, volunteers arrived again at the Church to help with the search. This time we were lined up fingertip to fingertip and then shoulder to shoulder, as we pushed and shoved our way through the brush and the pine trees that blocked our path. We took the hits from branches and thistles on our clothes without complaint because we knew that we were doing something that mattered. As we walked next to total strangers, we shared our stories; we listened to each other; we grew together. At the end of long hours of fruitless search, we would congregate at our church building to be physically fed and emotionally nourished by a community serving together.
As the days went on, morale dipped. Some lost hope. Some found it. Stories of long distances travelled to help in the search inspired us. We continued to walk. The terrain got steeper and rougher and still we climbed upward helping each other over the rough terrain. We realized that we were becoming friends. The differences that might have divided us disappeared; what mattered was the pain of a family now four days separated.
When the phone calls started early Sunday morning, announcing the boy’s safe return from his abductor, the searchers returned to the church to celebrate with new-found friends. It was a beautiful day...a miraculous Sabbath morning. We sent up more prayers - this time filled with gratitude for the blessings that the Lord that rained down on our community this week. As terrible as the situation was, we were grateful to have been a part of something so wonderful as seeing so many respond together to the need of one.