Viewpoint: Be Prepared
Contributed By From the Church News
When early Latter-day Saints settled the Salt Lake Valley, they were given direct counsel from President Brigham Young. “Learn to sustain yourselves; lay up grain and flour, and save it against a day of scarcity,” he directed them.
Church leaders placed Emmeline B. Wells, who later became the fifth Relief Society general president, in charge of the central wheat committee. Sister Wells and other women, “motivated by their desire to protect their families from hunger,” met to discuss ways to “procure and store the grain.”
“I feel it is a privilege the Lord has given us, and we will try and be united in it,” said Sarah Howard, a Relief Society president in Salt Lake City who represented the sentiments of many in the group. “For my part I will try and do all I can, and I feel that the Lord will open a way whereby we can obtain grain.”
The diligence, work, and personal sacrifice of the early Latter-day Saint women made all the difference. In the following years, they were able to provide food for their own families and others across the globe. “The Church sent Relief Society wheat to American Indians in Utah; to survivors of a terrible earthquake and fire in San Francisco, California, in 1906; and to people in China who were suffering from a famine in 1907. The wheat also provided nourishment for thousands during World War I, when the Relief Society sold 200,000 bushels to the United States government” (see Daughters in My Kingdom: The Work and History of Relief Society , chapter 4).
The Lord has also counseled us to sustain ourselves and store extra for a time of need or adversity. This preparedness will help us to be self-reliant during times of personal or widespread emergency.
“Self-reliance is a product of our work and undergirds all other welfare practices,” said President Thomas S. Monson. “It is an essential element in our spiritual as well as our temporal well-being” (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/food-storage).
This pattern was also preached in biblical times when Paul told Timothy, “If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8). After the Church of Jesus Christ was restored, Church members were instructed to “organize [themselves]; prepare every needful thing” (D&C 109:8).
Today, Church leaders continue to encourage members to prepare. Items to consider might include:
Three-month supply of food that is part of your normal daily diet, drinking water, financial reserves, longer-term supply of basic food items, medication and first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, important documents, and ways to communicate with family following a disaster (http://www.lds.org/topics/emergency-preparedness). Our leaders have made it easier than ever before for us to be prepared.
The Church operates more than 100 home storage centers across the United States and Canada where members can obtain food items for personal and family use.
The home storage centers are part of the Church’s massive welfare program that includes canneries, meat-packing facilities, thrift stores, farms, ranches, and storage facilities for food. They assist Latter-day Saints who are following the encouragement of Church leaders to store a three-month supply of food.
The work of Church members who have followed the counsel to be prepared has not gone unnoticed by others. “The Church has created a strong culture of preparedness among its members,” said Gail McGovern, president and CEO of the American Red Cross. “I believe it can be a model for others throughout the country” (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/food-storage).
President Ezra Taft Benson counseled members that “from the standpoint of food production, storage, handling, and the Lord’s counsel, wheat should have high priority. … Water, of course, is essential. Other basics could include honey or sugar, legumes, milk products or substitutes, and salt or its equivalent,“ he said. ”The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfare today as boarding the ark was to the people in the days of Noah” (“Prepare for the Days of Tribulation,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 33).
President Monson said faithful compliance with these revealed welfare principles and practices has preserved lives in times of crises. “An example is found in the response of Church members to the 1985 earthquake that devastated parts of Mexico City,“ he said. ”Church members and leaders rose to the occasion, drawing on their own preparedness efforts to help themselves and others around them.
“Another example occurred at the time of the Idaho Teton Dam disaster in the summer of 1976, when thousands of Latter-day Saints gave of their own reserves to those whose every belonging was swept away in the floodwaters. We remember also the massive effort of Church members following World War II when our own prophet-leader, President Benson, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, administered the distribution of more than seventy-five train-carloads of commodities to needy members in war-ravaged Europe.”
The “outpourings of humanitarian service were made possible by the faithful adherence of Church members” who were following the direction to store food and prepare for a time of crisis (“Guiding Principles of Personal and Family Welfare,” Ensign, Sept. 1986, 5).
We too will be blessed as we follow the prophetic direction to be prepared.
Early Church members stored wheat and other necessities when they had little to spare for their families. Yet Sister Emmeline B. Wells promised that their diligence in this effort would be “the temporal salvation of this people in case of emergency.”
When the Relief Society sold wheat to the U.S. government in 1918, Sister Wells observed, “In all these years we have not had much need to use the grain stored away for the purpose it was designed, but with the dark cloud hovering over the world as it now does, we can see the prophetic wisdom of President Young in calling upon the sisters to save grain against a time of need.”