Bringing Vision In Darkness

Before BYU center Chris Miles was knocking down shots and helping his Cougars climb in the national polls, he was knocking on doors in Portland, Oregon as a missionary.

Chris Miles played in 28 games as a Cougar freshman during the 2004-05 season. Then, like many BYU athletes, he traded in his uniform for the title of elder and headed out to teach the restored gospel.

"I remember my companion and I were knocking on doors one day," said Miles. "A lady by the name of Caroline Coverdale opened the door and spoke to us. She was a lady that wanted to find faith in her life, but the problem was she couldn't read. She couldn't read from the Bible and obviously we would want her to read from The Book of Mormon. But that's something she just couldn't do."

The issue wasn't that Caroline was illiterate, but that she couldn't see.

"She went blind due to a health issue and she never learned to read brail because she was a couple of years into being blind," Miles said. "At the point when we found her, she was absent of any religion in her life. She had never read the Bible before going blind, although she did attend a Christian church growing up."

Caroline relied upon someone else to help her with her daily struggles.

"She lived with another lady who was her roommate and they both kind of relied upon each other because Caroline couldn't see and work," said Miles. "Her roommate also had some health issues as well, but the two kind of lost a lot of hope in life due to their situation. It was very hard on them."

Despite not being able to see their faces, Caroline listened to the elders as they introduced themselves. As it turned out, she was familiar with the Church.

"She had some friends that were members of the Church and were great examples to her," said Miles. "So when we told her who we were she listened to us. I think that trust grew because there were certain things she couldn't do like mow her lawn, so we would come over and mow her lawn for her and do little things to help her.

"Then one day she asked us if she could have a Book of Mormon," continued Miles. "She knew she couldn't read it, but that didn't matter to her. She said she wanted to hold it while praying to see if it was really true or not. All she wanted was to have it while praying about it, so we gave her one."

Not long after, Elder Miles and his companion met with Caroline, they found that her life had brightened.

"One night she prayed about it and received an answer," Miles said. "She told us that whatever it is that we stood for, she knew that it was right for her. It was like someone who was blind saw the light. It was incredible to see someone who relied on natural human strength and physical ability trust in a way that not many have to, and that led her to seeing and understanding something that can't really be shown. It was like things just lit up for her, and she thought this was good for her and for her friends."

With a new view on life, Caroline made an effort to become a source of inspiration and light for her friends, many of which had difficult struggles of their own.

"It was neat to see how she responded to the challenge of being blind," Miles said. "She embraced the gospel and led her friend, who was her roommate, to church and live a positive life while being an example to others.

"She became a leader of her friends and helped many of them change their lives. She had one friend that had an alcohol issue change her life and another friend that had some health issues. They all came together and fought through life's battles to find meaning in life. She became a very influential person to many and was able to do a lot of great things by changing others' lives. She was a great inspiration to me seeing her bring the light of the gospel to the lives of others even though she couldn't see."

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