Sar Sein and his wife, Hser Eh Dah, never had seen those white flakes before -- and certainly hadn't prepared for the winter chill that would come with them. The temperatures had been decidedly tropical in the refugee camp along Thailand's border where they had spent almost a decade.
So with only 20 pounds of luggage and five of their now six children in tow, the refugees from Burma arrived in the Salt Lake Valley with next to nothing to keep out the frosty air.
And yet, the family found another refuge in Utah -- this time from within the LDS faith. The church provided food and clothes and helped the family find work in a strange new world that introduced them to electricity, running water and coin-operated washing machines.
They were Christians -- but not Mormons -- who found a place to worship and a congregation of helping hands.
The LDS Church now has become home to so many refugees like the Sein family that it organized its first Karen-speaking branch in Utah last summer. That branch is expected to be fully autonomous from other congregations this month with classes interpreted in Karen, Karenni and Burmese.