Viewpoint: Process of Preparedness

  • 16 November 2012

“The prepared and converted Church member becomes a strength to others, both temporally and spiritually. A prepared family is able to serve others.”

As Superstorm Sandy targeted the United States’ East Coast, an amateur radio operator reported winds were increasing in intensity, rainfall was heavy, and the commercial power was becoming intermittent. Another operator, further inland, asked if he was prepared for the overnight impact as the full storm came ashore.

His report: “We are prepared. We have food for several months and water for several weeks.” He was closing his station so he and his family could be together as the storm intensified.  

Just before he shut down, another operator asked if he would need any help in the morning. He simply said, “My family is prepared, and tomorrow we will help others.”

A week after the storm hit, news photos showed blocks-long lines of people holding fuel containers and hoping a service station would not run out before their turn came to purchase gasoline. Hundreds of thousands remained without power.

One observer noted that Superstorm Sandy transformed an advanced area of the world, at least temporarily, to conditions faced daily in many Third World countries.

Many areas of the East Coast had no power, no fuel, no water, limited refuse collection, and no public transportation—all changing a lifestyle of plenty to one of need and dependency on government and other groups.

In 2006, a Time magazine article explored reasons why people do not prepare for disasters. A year after the 2005 Katrina storm, the article stated that “people are even less likely to plan ahead.” A poll done in connection with the article found about half of those surveyed had personally experienced a natural disaster but only “16 percent said they were very well prepared for the next one” (Time, “Why We Don’t Prepare for Disaster,” Aug. 20, 2006).

The article found that 91 percent of Americans live in places “at a moderate-to-high” risk of natural disaster, yet many polled explained their lack of emergency preparation saying they believed they were not at risk. Reasons given for lack of preparation included “it won’t happen to me” and “if it happens to me, it won’t be that bad.”

Members of the Church have been counseled for many years to be prepared for temporal and spiritual adversity. Preparation, both spiritual and temporal, can dispel fear and allow us to serve others. Following guidance of Church leaders, individual members and families should prepare to be self-reliant in times of personal or widespread emergency. (See www.lds.org/topics/emergency-preparedness.)

We are encouraged to plan and prepare and consider having a three-month supply of food, drinking water, financial reserves, medical and first aid supplies, and clothing and bedding.

In October 1987, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke to fathers, saying: “Fathers, another vital aspect of providing for the material needs of your family is the provision you should be making for your family in case of an emergency. Family preparedness has been a long-established welfare principle. It is even more urgent today.” He said, “As fathers in Israel you have a great responsibility to provide for the material needs of your family and to have the necessary provisions in case of emergency.” And then he added, “Second, you have a sacred responsibility to provide spiritual leadership in your family” (“To the Fathers in Israel,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 49).

Common sense tells us that when we are prepared, we are able to then help others. If we are not prepared, we are often dependent on others for help.  

During a priesthood group discussion, one member said his preparation, both temporally and spiritually, improved once he pondered the admonition in Isaiah that learning comes “precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). Feeling overwhelmed with a seemingly endless list of things to do to prepare his family, he then moved at a pace he could both accomplish and afford. The result? He and his family are making progress in a manageable manner.

Temporal and spiritual preparation is a process. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the process in the Sunday afternoon session of the October 2012 general conference. While he spoke of spiritual conversion, the process applies to many of our endeavors. The preparation process of “seeking for and obtaining a testimony of spiritual truth requires asking, seeking, and knocking.” Elder Bednar said that “true conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God.”

Further, Elder Bednar said, “Most often conversion is an ongoing process and not a one-time event.” Likening conversion to the parable of the ten virgins, Elder Bednar said the “wise took oil [of conversion] in their vessels with their lamps [of testimony].” In essence, testimony was not enough, but the oil of conversion came through personal effort, and each of us must “buy for ourselves” that critical oil of salvation, which is obtained “one drop at a time.”

The prepared and converted Church member becomes a strength to others, both temporally and spiritually. A prepared family is able to serve others. A spiritually prepared Church member can share testimony in times of grief and in times of suffering.  

There is a Primary song about the wise man who built his house upon the rock. From a solid footing, temporally and spiritually, we are able to reach out and lift others. Our sure foundation is found in following and serving Jesus Christ and in heeding counsel from our living prophets.

The assumption that “it won’t happen to me” is that of the foolish man building a house upon the sand. The process is to begin now, one small step at a time. Doing all we can do, within our means, allows Heavenly Father to make up the difference.  

“For we labor diligently ... for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The message is clear; we cannot stand still and do nothing and expect that our faith will increase and our afflictions will be resolved.