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Stories We Tell: Life-Saving Hope
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By Dan Martella  
      
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In the chaotic days following the Second World War, an immigrant family living in New York began to write letters to their surviving relatives back in Hungary. After what seemed like an eternity, they received a reply from Uncle Lazlo who lived just outside Budapest. He told them about the devastation and deprivation the family had suffered.
 
The family in New York made up their minds to send care packages to the family in Hungary — Meat and vegetables and chocolates. Toilet paper and band aids. And into all the empty spaces of the box they packed candies and handkerchiefs, writing paper and bandages. They shipped the boxes off one-by-one and waited to hear back from their loved ones in the mother land.
 
The day came when they finally got a letter from Uncle Lazlo: My Dearest Cousin, We are in receipt of three packages. We are forever in your debt for these good things. You cannot know how timely was their arrival. Food is so scarce here and Anna was sick all the time with fevers. This food has meant everything to us. I must confess that we sold some of the things you sent us on the black market in order to get money for our rent.
 
The letter went on to talk about almost every item in the boxes and what they had done with them — We also cannot ever thank you enough for the medicine you sent. It is so difficult to get any medicine at all and often it is of poor potency and doesn't work at all. Cousin Gesher has been in continuous pain for several years and your medicine has miraculously cured him! He was walking only with the help of a cane. His knees were so swollen. These medicines make him almost normal again. My back pain is completely gone as are Lizabeta's headaches. America is great and science is great. You must send more of that medicine as it is nearly used up. Again, thank you. We love you all and pray for when we might see you once more.
 
The letter drove the family in New York crazy — What was the medicine they had sent their loved ones in Hungary? They just had to know so they could send more.
 
So they wrote another letter. Two months later they heard back from Uncle Lazlo — My Dearest Cousins, Uncle Lazlo wrote. We are grateful to have heard from you again. Since the first three packages, another two have arrived, and then your letter. Again, you sent that wonderful medicine. It did not come with instructions for use but we are guessing on the dosage. And translating  from English to Hungarian is very difficult for us since only young Sandor has studied it in school. Lucky for us he could translate the name of the medicine. It is "Life Savers." Please send more as soon as you can. Love, Lazlo
 
Imagine that — the filler in those care packages had been rolls of Life Saver candy! A literal translation of the name had turned America’s favorite candy into a source of great hope.
 
We all need hope — Hope beyond the devastation and deprivation of our lives. You can live without food for a month or more. You can live without water for a few days. But life without hope will take you down in no time flat. Hope is essential to every area of life — Hope brings meaning to your life and strength for the journey as you lean into the future.
 
Adapted from Hanoch McCarty’s To Save a Life, in A Fourth Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul