WEST JORDAN — It has been almost two years since the abduction and death of 6-year-old Sierra Newbold caught the attention of local and national audiences. But the story many people are less familiar with is how Brad and Kathy Newbold's faith has strengthened them as the cope with the loss of their daughter Sierra.
"Without the gospel, I don't know how anyone can go through what we've been through and come out OK," Kathy Newbold, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, told Deseret News. " She's been taken from us just for a temporary moment — a very small portion of time. We still don't get to experience this life with her, which we're trying to deal with, but knowing that she's ours for all eternity, that gives so much assurance to us and knowing that we'll see her again."
Instead of allowing the tragedy to drive her away from her faith, Kathy said it has increased her commitment to living her religion so she can be reunited with her daughter after this life.
"It definitely strengthens my resolve," she said. "Of course I've always wanted to be there. Personally, I want to return to my Savior. But now knowing that my daughter is with him, that's even more. It strengthened it. I've always had it, but now there's just that little bit more of a push."
In addition to the family's faith, the neighborhood has also provided a support system Brad and Kathy can turn to.
Kathy acknowledged that while both her family and her husband's family live in Utah, family members cannot be there all the time. At certain moments, when things are especially difficult, Kathy said she knows neighbors will be there to do something as simple as give a smile or ask how she's doing.
"They've given us our space when we've needed it, and they've always been there," she said. "It's just almost like family, extended family, that are just outside your front door. It makes a huge difference, when you're just reminded, you know, there is a lot of love and support."
And it's this blessing that persuaded the Newbolds to stay in their neighborhood and house — the same house that has many terrible reminders of Sierra's abduction.
"From day one, that first week, (we've seen) a totally different outcome," Kathy said. "I wouldn't say it's been easy, but ... I know that the burden of losing a child has been lifted to an extent because of my neighbors and the ward that we live in. There's just something unique about the area we live, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Any kind of trials you go through in life, we're there for each other. It doesn't matter what it is."
Because the Newbolds feel so much support from their neighbors and want to stay in their house, the community is rallying behind the family to remodel their home to minimize reminders of the bad memories and foster the good memories.
The project, titled New Home for Newbolds, was created to raise funds for the renovation.
"Help us turn their house back into a home. We are working to replace horrific memories and make their home a sanctuary of love and comfort," the Facebook page New Home for Newbolds says.
NewHomeForNewbolds.com outlines donation opportunities and fundraisers, including a bake sale and boutique, and a yard sale happening Saturday, May 3.
Now, Kathy feels that Sierra's legacy lives on not only through memorials like the Sierra Newbold Playground in West Jordan, set to open in May, but also through the way Sierra continues to inspire others to change for the better.
"A lot of people dwell on evil, (but) out of this one horrific act of evil, there's been so much love and support and strength from other people, and hopefully others have felt that strength and have felt Sierra's, you know, her love for everyone," Kathy said. "She was an incredible little girl who could make friends within, you know, standing next to someone for less than a minute and they're best friends. And I think more people are reaching out and following her example of being a friend and being there for each other. Her legacy lives on as we serve each other and help each other and befriend each other."
Alison Moore is a writer for the Faith and Family sections at DeseretNews.com. She is studying journalism and editing at Brigham Young University.
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @alison_kathleen