Dear Friends,

As I sit to write a quick message of gratitude, I’m bombarded with so many things I am thankful for.  I don’t think one can spend time in a 3rd world country, among so many incredible people, who struggle day in and day out to provide just the bare minimum of shelter, clothing, food and water for their families, and not come home changed.  One of the emotions I intentionally strive to live from is gratitude, and I don’t remember a time in my life where I’ve felt such intense, overwhelming and all-consuming gratitude.

One of the humanitarians on my Peru trip asked me, “Do you think everything happens for a purpose?” I replied, “Yes, we always have our free agency, but I don’t believe in consequences— I feel strongly that a higher power is always at work in our lives.”  She then followed up with, “Why did we get placed in ‘the lap of luxery’ while these people got placed in the most destitute of circumstances? How could a loving God be so unfair with His children?” She went on to express her atheistic religious affiliation based on her inability to reconcile this question.  

My friend is very acquainted with the suffering, injustices and horrors found around the world based primarily on where one is born.  She has witnessed much of it first hand in her humamitarian work.  As I prayed for inspiration to say the right words to her, the parable of the father with the 12 sons came to my mind:

“For what man among you having twelve sons, and is no respecter of them, and they serve him obediently, and he saith unto the one: Be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here; and to the other: Be thou cloted in rags and sit thou there— and looketh upon his sons and saith I am just? Behold, this I have given unto you as a parable, and it is even as I am.  I say unto you, be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine.” (D&C[38:26]-27)

It hit me hard while in Peru, and through this discussion with my incredible friend, that it is up to us to “even the playing field”, to become one with our brothers and sisters. I’m overcome with a humbling gratitude that I was one of the ones to be “clothed in robes” and told to “sit here”.  I’m more determined than ever to do all in my power to help my brothers and sisters who are “clothed in rags” and told to “sit there”.  I believe we can do more than give a handout, we can give a hand up.  As the saying goes, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach the man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.  

While in Peru, I was the head of a business committee where we did a “Shark Tank” competition.  We taught the people of the villiage about business and then had them pitch to us their business ideas.  We had them present what they anticipated start up costs would be to create a successful, self-sustaining business.  We then gave out small business grants to get these business started.  It was powerful to see hope begin to flicker in their eyes.  I witnessed these amazing people allow themselves to have a vision of a better future. It was a powerful and transformative experience.

I’m thankful beyond words on this beautiful Thursday.  My dear friends, we are so incredibly blessed.  Truly— each and every one of us is designed for greatness, despite where we sit or what we are clothed in at the moment.  May we step in to our divinity and step up to our purposes to this world that we might more fully “be one”.

With love and light,

Candice Noss