Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Preparedness - Part II

I will probably be writing lots about preparedness in the coming days because it’s a subject that is weighing quite heavily on my mind. I’ve had several recurring thoughts and felt the need to get them down on “paper” (or computer screen, as the case may be!)

As with other important things in life, I sometimes over analyze things and play them out to all sorts of varying scenarios. One of the things that has always plagued me is wondering what I would do if we all needed to rely on food storage and I was asked to share by neighbors or others. My first thoughts are always, “No! I worked hard to prepare my food storage and I have my own children to think about.” But then I feel sort of selfish and wonder if that’s really the Christlike thing to do. At the same time, I KNOW that most people do not store food. And most people know that LDS people are commanded to do it. So many people think we are freaks for “food hoarding”. But I wonder how freaky they’ll think we are when times are hard and their own children are starving. In recent times, even larger organizations such as FEMA and the Red Cross are advising the storage of non-perishable foods for survival. Although their suggestions are for “several days to a week”. I think that’s very foolish thinking. I think back to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Even though we are a country of plenty and have federal organizations set up to deal with such disasters, many people died waiting for them show up because of the length of time it took them to arrive. And that was ONE SMALL AREA. If a disaster occurred on a wider scale, I shudder to think of how long one would have to wait for outside supplies to arrive.

That said… How do I balance the need to protect my own children with the desire to help others? Obviously, we’ve all been commanded to prepare. We’ve been told until the church leaders are blue in the face. In fact, I don’t know if anyone else seems to notice… but it seems to me that recently, the leaders have actually backed off on telling the church membership to prepare. We’ve been told for so long and for so many years. Is the Lord simply done talking about it? We’ve all had ample opportunity.

I recently read an article that helped allay my fears about making the above decision. I was reminded of two very important stories from the scriptures. The first occurred when Noah boarded the ark. The rains poured down for forty days and forty nights. I assume that it didn’t flood right away. I’m willing to bet it was a slow process. The rain fell and fell and the waters gathered and gathered. Surely people sought higher ground and protection. Surely people sought refuge aboard the ark. But did the Lord require Noah to share his space on the ark? Did Noah open the doors of the ark and take pity on the people he knew would surely die? The answer to both questions is no.

Another story that I was reminded of is the story of the ten virgins. In fact, this story more specifically relates to my concern about food storage. All ten virgins were well aware of what was coming. Yet only five prepared by bringing oil with them. When it was time to trim their lamps and meet the bridegroom, the five unprepared virgins begged the other five to share their oil. Did the five share? Did the bridegroom say, “Go ahead, share your oil so that everyone can come in”? No. In fact, the five with oil were very specific in stating that they would not share because then there wouldn’t be enough for everyone and that the other five would need to go and buy their own. They had been warned. They knew the time was coming and yet they chose not to prepare, much to their own detriment. No one felt sorry for them at the appointed hour. No one took pity on them and shared with them. They were turned away, plain and simple.

Isn’t preparedness much the same principle? We’ve been warned and warned and warned and warned. Somehow, we find ways of buying the things we want in life, but we never seem to get around to getting our food storage in order.

As people, we are the ten virgins. The bridegroom (the Lord) has warned us to trim our lamps and secure our oil (food storage and emergency supplies). Soon (I feel VERY soon), we will be called (we will face uncertainty that will require us to have prepared) and only some of us will be ready. The rest of us will be turned away. I have only the supplies necessary to take care of my own family. I don’t have the goods to keep others alive. By the same token, I can’t expect anyone else to provide for my family. That is my responsibility. And I must expect that if I beg others for something I had ample time to secure, I too will be turned away. What a cold day that will be when I must tell my hungry children that I have nothing to feed them because I failed to heed the Lord’s counsel.

On a more positive note, the First Presidency has said that almost anyone can get a year’s supply together with careful planning. It takes sacrifice, but isn’t it worth it? I find that as I prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in this matter, little ways are opened up. My mind is made clearer and I’m able to break things down and not feel so overwhelmed by it all.

Here are some ways that I am trying to prepare:

  • I’ve found a couple of online calculators which allow me to plug in some numbers (number of people in my family and how many months of storage I want). These calculators will then tell me approximately how much food I need to build a year’s supply. I then took that list and divided it up into 3-month increments. When I’m thinking about collecting a year’s supply, it’s much less overwhelming to look at it in smaller increments.
  • I’ve printed out these lists and plan on keeping one in each car so that I always have a handy list of essentials.
  • It is my intention to buy one or more items each time I go to the grocery store.
  • We’ve gotten pretty good at purchasing water each time we go to Costco.
  • Last year, I felt compelled to begin collecting more lighting needs. I was able to collect many candles. Also of note, matches are very, very inexpensive and whenever I think about it, I pick up a 250-count box of Blue Diamond Large Kitchen Matches.
  • Speaking of matches, my next goal is to pick up some paraffin wax or shellac and waterproof all the matches. I have looked online. It’s very easy to do and a wise use of time. Nothing like storing matches only to find that they won’t light after they’ve gotten wet or moist!
  • PETE bottles. I have tried to save PETE bottles in the past but have gotten pretty lazy about it. I need to do that again. They are wonderful for storing dried foods or even water. Plus, they are shatterproof and waterproof. Why throw them in the recycle when you can just use them again in your own home?

On another positive note, there are some recent studies out of (I think) the University of Utah which show that many, many more foods than previously thought have a shelf life of >25 years! Also, I recently viewed a video online about a man who opened up several buckets of food he had stored from the 80s and 90s… all of it was good because he had stored it properly.

If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.

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