When Disaster Strikes

When a tornado struck near our house and caused significant damage in our neighborhood, I soon learned a lot about what help is needed in a disaster.

Urgent needs. As my husband and I rushed to be of service, we found that some of the things people needed almost immediately were drinking water and cups, diapers, bottles of milk or formula, shoes, blankets, changes of clothes, sanitary napkins, pet carriers and leashes, telephones, and a place to stay. We found that food was not the main concern for these people; they were too busy dealing with the present crisis to be hungry for the first couple of hours.

Short-term needs. After immediate needs were taken care of, we had time to gather or arrange things that would be needed within hours: food, hygiene supplies, clothing, laundry facilities, dishes, pet food, baby-sitting, things to keep children busy and happy, transportation, packing materials, freezer space, and clean-up help. Whatever can be done to make people’s lives less complicated is of great benefit. Some homes that have not been noticeably damaged or directly affected may be without power or gas. An offer of a hot shower or a camp stove may be appreciated. One helpful thing is a constantly updated list of families and where they are currently staying, so they can be located quickly.

Long-term needs. Don’t assume that all of these needs will be met by insurance companies and community organizations. If you own empty rental property or storage space or can supply other long-term needs, your assistance may be invaluable.

Be aware that volunteers are needed in community organizations to work within their framework of experience and knowledge. A good way to serve is to go to a Red Cross emergency recovery center and ask how you can be of help.

Remember that service is rarely convenient and that doing only what you want to do may not fit with pressing needs. By serving without fanfare and by giving aid behind the scenes, we can accomplish much good in times of disaster. Quiet service can do a great deal to allow the gospel to touch the lives of those around us.Becky E. Ludlow, Wichita, Kansas

Capture the Moment

Five-year-old Mary asked, “If I curled into a cocoon, would I turn into a butterfly too?” What a great opportunity for teaching about cocoons, chrysalises, and the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly! If the season is right, a wonderful approach to answering this child’s question would be to find a caterpillar and watch the changes it goes through in the weeks ahead.

In our busy lives it often seems difficult, if not impossible, to capture precious teaching moments with our children. But as we take advantage of these occasions, we help create in children an insatiable curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning. Here are some guidelines that have helped me learn to capture teaching moments with my children.

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    Listen purposefully to children. As you listen, use their questions and comments as springboards for discovery and problem solving. For example, researching questions such as “What do ants eat?” “Why do crickets chirp slower in the fall than in the summer?” and “Did Nephi love his brothers Laman and Lemuel?” led us to some interesting facts and new understandings.

    Also, when you listen to children’s questions and comments, you can give feedback to clarify their understanding. A child visited a dairy farm with his school class and observed the cows being milked with the use of machinery. As the group was leaving, he tugged at the farmer’s arm and asked, “How can you tell when the cow is full?” The wise farmer turned around and took the machinery off one of the cows; then he milked the cow by hand so the children could see that milk was coming from the cow.

    No matter what age children are, when parents or other adults really listen to them and then talk with them, offering insights to their questions and comments, children will grow in their understanding and desire to learn and seek answers.

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    Develop techniques to encourage thinking, problem solving, and thoughtfulness. One approach is to use open-ended questions such as “How do you feel about … ?” “What do you suppose will happen if … ?” “Have you thought about … ?” and “What would you do if … ?”

    Another approach is to provide books on subjects that interest the child. For example, after hearing about an earthquake, our sixth-grader wondered what the Richter scale was. Finding and exploring books on the subject not only answered the question but led to further understanding about earthquakes.

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    Take advantage of teaching moments as they happen. Questions can be forgotten, perceptions can change, interest can wane, and thoughtfulness and inquiry can be lost if teaching opportunities are put off until later.

    Wonderful opportunities to teach and to reinforce important concepts will come every day, but it takes time to seize those teaching moments. It takes time to ponder and discuss a scripture story, time to stop on a hike to explore what is under a rock, and time to show photographs of a child’s great-grandpa. But the expense of time and effort is eternally worthwhile as we see our children develop a deeper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the world in which they live.Claudia Eliason, Ogden, Utah

[photos] Photography by Matthew Reier

[illustration] Illustrated by David McDonald