Down through the ages, prophets have called us to action – to prepare ourselves and our families both spiritually and temporally for tests and opposition. While Noah called the world to repentance, he and his family followed God’s command to build an Ark. Joseph with his coat of many colors was first betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, then became a ruler of Egypt – eventually ruling over his brothers and saving their families temporally through his obedience to a message from God. He had prepared. We learn from the Book of Mormon: “But behold, this was an advantage to the Nephites; for it was impossible for the robbers to lay siege sufficiently long to have any effect upon the Nephites, because of their much provisions which they had laid up in store.” (3 Nephi 4:1)
Few in the world are willing to recognize that obedience to the counsel of modern prophets can bring real peace through preparing ourselves spiritually to rely on God and working temporally to be self-reliant. As President Ezra Taft Benson said, “the world has it backward – advocating that man should be independent of God, while making a claim on government for temporal support”.
For years I have encouraged families to look at their home inventory of food and supplies as a kind of “General Store”. Why a General Store? Just a few generations ago, a General Store was the source of all the basic goods required to care for and sustain a family. A General Store stocked food, clothing, fabric, gardening tools, seeds, medications, shoes – everything you needed. There was a post office tucked in one corner and often a bank in another.
You too can create a General Store in your home and become ready for whatever may come. What can you do to get started?
- First and most importantly, listen to the Spirit. We have been told by ancient and modern prophets of the challenges that would come. Those warnings were not meant to frighten us, but to warn us so we could be prepared as they came. We have seen wars and those who listened to the prophets weathered the horrors better than those who had not. We have seen increased numbers of natural disasters and those who were prepared thrived as others sank into despair. Their preparations, both temporal and spiritual, enabled them to find comfort. We lived through a pandemic and again, some thrived while others stood in long lines hoping to find TP and other necessities and fearing what the future would hold.
- Think of this project as self-reliance, not just emergency preparedness or food storage. It is only through being self-reliant that we are truly prepared to care for our families, and sometimes others as well.
- Self-Reliance is more than food storage. Think back to our General Store. It is food, camping supplies in case of a disaster which drives us from our home, car kits in case we become stranded while traveling, five-day kits in case we need to flee quickly, stamps, cash, first aid, and medical supplies. If you love camping you may already have begun your General Store with a camp stove, a must have during any power outage. Or a tent, perfect for setting up in the house during a winter power outage, preserving body heat.
- It doesn’t matter where or how you begin, just begin. The Lord will bless your efforts if you will simply show your commitment by taking a first step, then a second. Purchase just two or three extra cans of food each week. Ask for camping supplies or a Dutch oven for your birthday, Christmas or anniversary. Noah did not begin with a boat but with a stack of wood.
- You are the best judge of what to stock. No one knows better than you how your family eats, what your job situation is, or what natural disasters may occur in your area. If your family loves peaches and doesn’t like apricots, don’t store apricots. I have seen charts that tell you to store five gallons of oil per person. I wouldn’t use that much oil in ten years, no less one, but you may. Make a list of the foods your family likes and start there to build a three-month supply. Don’t forget spices and condiments which make an ordinary meal extraordinary.
- Once you have decided which foods you want to store, begin stocking your store with a three-month supply of those foods. Store foods from each food group: fruit and vegetables, meat (proteins), dairy, and grains. If you don’t know how to cook with wheat don’t store wheat, at least not until you learn how to use it, but store other grains. The Church has never told us what we need to store, they have only made suggestions based on foods that are inexpensive, nutritious, and have a long shelf life. You must consider for yourself such issues as food allergies, food preferences and your ability to prepare items – thus, which foods to store. A dairy farmer would probably not store much powdered milk. You can have an excellent food store plan without a bean in sight. Never follow another person’s plan. We do not know what foods Noah stored but we know horses and lions do not eat the same things. He had to take into account what was needed by the animals and his family. If you need help check the Monday posts on com or at Totally Ready on Facebook.
- Complete a three-month supply of the foods you eat before beginning on your long-term storage. Having three months of foodstuffs stored allows you time to plant and harvest fruits and veggies to supplement your long-term storage. Remember the seeds I mentioned that you could always purchase at a General Store? Three months also allows you time to begin incorporating more of your long-term storage items into your everyday diet.
- Avoid debt. You should not go into debt for food storage or other items needed for your General Store. There are many ways to reduce spending and shop wisely to get everything you may need. Once self-reliance becomes a priority, the possibilities will begin to be obvious. Remember Heavenly Father desires effort on our part and He will fill in the rest and provide a way.
- It is important to have some cash on hand. During a true emergency, banks may close and credit cards may become useless without the electricity to run card processing equipment. Again, start small, and avoid the temptation to spend that pocket change. Every time you skip a meal out and eat at home instead, place the money you would have spent in a special jar and don’t touch it! Some in government are pushing for a cashless society. Can you imagine the mess? Think of all the mindless spending that will occur when everything is put on a credit card and what happens during a power outage when credit cards are useless?
- Educate yourself. There are many great books, forums, websites and blogs which can help, BUT check them out carefully. I have seen some dangerous advice given on sites with thousands of followers. There are experts in your own ward and stake – ask for help. Ask your ward or stake to plan an emergency preparedness day or evening. Remember, if you are feeling the urgency to prepare, the Spirit is warning others as well and they may not know, just like you, where to begin, how to afford preparing or how they can improve on what they have already done. Prepare an emergency binder so you will have a reference manual when a disaster comes to your home. Noah had to learn to build a boat and care for animals of all kinds. He had help from above and Heavenly Father has provided help in the form of research and knowledge we can study and save now for when the internet is no longer available to us.
- Be prayerful. Heavenly Father has always helped those who have made the sacrifice and commitment to live his counsel. He will help you too. Anything that is important to you is important to Him.” Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men, neither Adam, your father, whom I created.” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:34)
- Never give up. If you get discouraged, ask for help. If money runs low, adjust your purchasing and/or re-examine your spending habits and ask for help.
One Christmas we had a group of Young Single Adults in our home for an evening of gift wrapping. The YSA branch provided Christmas gifts for a few families in need every year, and this year, we had seven families. We gathered in our home to wrap the gifts. As we proceeded, we realized some children in one family received great gifts while others in that family might feel overlooked. As we began to make a list of things we would have to purchase, I retrieved a few boxes of new gifts stored in my attic. These were items I purchased at 60-90% off and stored for just such an occasion. By the time we finished, we had fabulous gifts for all and were left with just two gift cards to purchase to fill in the gaps. As we cleaned up the wrapping paper, one of the young men looked at me and said, “This is what preparedness really means, isn’t it?”
Those gifts I had stored had nothing to do with a natural disaster or emergency, but they were of great value in caring for the needs of others who were experiencing stress in their lives. I did not need to write a big check or do last minute shopping; my General Store met the need.
As Heavenly Father’s children, those who live provident lives are among the most blessed. Ancient and modern prophets have warned that tough times will come. Surely, they will. Yet, we can live with a feeling of peace in our homes during such times if we take care to follow the steps that lead to self-reliance in temporal matters, and reliance upon God for spiritual understanding and comfort. The choices are up to us, for he trusts us to choose well.
The apostle Marion G. Romney taught: ‘It has also been my intention to encourage all Latter-day Saints to review again their personal and family preparedness and to implement immediately the principles and practices that will ensure their self-sufficiency. If we will discuss these truths in our family councils and make a plan to do all in our power to live these principles, we shall all enjoy the promise of the Lord, ‘If ye are prepared ye shall not fear.’
“More importantly, if we will live providentially and righteously, we will qualify for the greater promise: ‘And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life.’” – Marion G. Romney, “Principles of Temporal Salvation,” Tambuli, Oct 1981.
For help in meeting your self-reliance goals join Carolyn at http://facebook.com/TotallyReady or her blog. Carolyn’s Totally Ready Emergency Binder is available to purchase and download at Totallyready.com and can be purchased complete or one section at a time.