Spiritually Prepared and Emergency Prepared

Yesterday Rob and I spoke in church. The topic was on being prepared, both spiritually and in case of an emergency. I spoke specifically on the Faith in God program for 8-11 yr olds and Rob gave an introduction into some of the natural disasters possible for those living in the area and some things we will be working on as a ward in order to prepare for one. I thought we’d share our talks here, just because.

PS. They’re mostly written out but since we weren’t reading them most of it isn’t word-for-word.



Faith in God

Our ward’s 1st anniversary. Usually takes a long time to feel integrated into the ward family. I’m quite introverted and I usually prefer to sit on the sidelines and observe. Well, when I became Primary President a year ago I was put into a position where I had no choice but to meet and interact with a whole slew of people I didn’t know. I had be up in front of them and teach, and basically do a lot of things that don’t come naturally to me. 

As much as doing these things has pushed me out of my comfort zone, I can honestly say that doing them has made me feel so much more connected to this ward in a much shorter period of time. I’ve loved getting to know so many wonderful people and making friends and, especially, serving the children of the ward. They are the center of my Sunday world (and many other days and nights as well) and I love each one of them. 

I’m going to explain the Faith in God program for primary children 8+.

I was about 8 yrs old when, in primary, our leaders challenged us to read our scriptures every day for 60 days. Card, colored in each day. Took challenge seriously. I missed a couple of days and looking at those blank spaces motivated me to not miss any more. Became habit. Have never stopped. It’s brought me a lot of peace in my life. 

Good habits really can start as a young child. Will affect rest of life. Young children are enthusiastic and capable of starting righteous, lifelong patterns.

Talk about my own Gospel in Action award.

Since the parents of younger children have earned our award, the program has changed quite a bit. It asks our children to do more.

This statement is about the seminary and institute programs, but the principle it teaches can also apply to the other Church auxiliaries and programs. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “These programs were started when they were nice but were not critically needed. They were granted a season to flourish and to grow into a bulwark [defense] for the Church. They now become a godsend for the salvation of modern Israel in a most challenging hour” (“Teach the Scriptures” [address to CES religious educators, Oct. 14, 1977], 3; si.lds.org ).

Since Nate is my oldest I can picture him leaving on a mission. Only 10 more years! He can’t just wake up one day and be ready without any prior effort. 

The purpose of the Faith in God guidebooks is to help boys and girls ages 8 through 11 live gospel principles, develop testimonies, build friendships, and prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood or become a righteous young woman. 

Explain logistics of program. When you child turns 8 years old, they will receive. One for boys and one for girls. 

Letter from the First Presidency.
Our Dear Young Friend,You are a child of God. He is your Heavenly Father. He loves you and cares about you. He wants you to have faith in Him and pray to Him often—anytime, anywhere.
We encourage you to learn and live the gospel, serve others, and use the talents Heavenly Father has given you to learn and do many good things.

Love how they start by saying “you are a child of God.”

Basic Requirements: All of our children are already doing these things. These things help you develop faith and resist temptation:
  1. •Pray daily to Heavenly Father.
  2. •Read the scriptures regularly.
  3. •Keep the commandments
    •Honor your parents and be kind to your family.
  4. •Pay your tithing and attend tithing settlement.
  5. •Attend sacrament meetings and Primary regularly.
Other Requirements
Doing the following activities will help your understanding and testimony of the gospel grow:
  1. •Write your testimony.
  2. •Memorize the Articles of Faith and explain what they mean.
There are 4 areas to be completed: 2 activities per year under each topic. Very doable.  

Learning and Living the Gospel Tell a story from the Book of Mormon that teaches about faith in Jesus Christ. 
Serving Others Plan, prepare, and service a nutritious meal.
Developing Talents Learn how to budget and save money. Discuss why it is important to faithfully pay our tithing and how Heavenly Father blesses us when we do. Pay your tithing and begin saving for a misison.
Preparing for the Young Women and Young Men.  Read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Make a list of things you can do to help strengthen your family and make a happy home. 

•Have an interview with a member of your bishopric or branch presidency.
Use the chart on page 20 to track your progress.

We would love to have every child graduating from primary to have earned their Faith in God award. Primary teachers and activity days/scouts are already helping with requirements. The next step is to contact all the parents to 1-make sure your child has the manual and 2-find out where your child is in the process. Then we’ll all be able to work together to help the kids achieve their award.

Kids are enthusiastic about program. As soon as they receive their book they are flipping through it and want to get working on it right away. We need to keep that momentum going. The kids are doing many of the requirements already but we need to sign them off and keep them going. One family in the ward has their children each bring their Faith in God, Duty to God, and Personal Progress books to the dinner table every Sunday night. They can work on goals together and then sign them off right then. It’s also a great thing to do for FHE.   

Last week in sharing time we learned about the Plan of Salvation. At the end of the lesson, the kids were asked, “Do any of you have any questions?” Brothers and sisters, you children had questions and not your basic primary level questions. They asked serious doctrinal questions about the plan of salvation. Isn’t that exciting? You’ve all done a great job teaching your children the gospel and they know the basics very well. They are now ready to know more. It was testimony-building for me to witness this. and I learned my own lesson. I need to ask the primary children, including my own children in my own home, if they have any questions and I need to be prepared to answer them. I encourage you to do the same. 

Testimony

Preparing in Times of Plenty

I appreciate the words of my dear wife about preparing the youth for years ahead. The purpose of strengthening them now for the decisions they will need to make and for the situations in which they’ll find themselves is a very worthy and proactive objective. With the group of children and adults we have in our ward I believe we’ll be successful. 

My wife cautioned me about starting off with a joke. The likelihood of my joke or story falling flat is so high that it has become a very funny joke unto itself around our house. Case in point.  

I’m grateful to be here today to discuss a subject that I’m very passionate about. But first I want to share a couple of quick bits of information about me. I’m part of a post disaster rapid assessment team for the American Society of Civil Engineers, I’m also part of a post disaster group of folks charged with quickly inspecting facilities, buildings, and bridges to assess their safety. I consult on emergency management, hazard modeling, and put together a training course for FEMA on earthquake scenarios for emergency managers. I’m also CERT trained, *which I’ll talk about later in more detail*. I’m really excited to be able to focus on emergency preparedness in our ward as the emergency preparedness specialist. 

I’m going to start today by sharing a couple of realistic scenarios related to emergency preparedness. These are only two and numerous others are possible (these could also include personal emergencies such as extend illness, unemployment, or disability). I don’t mean to alarm but just want to get everyone thinking about what we might face if we are placed in this situation. Scenarios are great for that; when taken seriously they can kick us out of complacency and motivate us to action. Sometimes they can even be fun. 

*Scenario 1 – Zombie Apocalypse* I’m just kidding.

*Scenario 2* – It is winter and very cold outside, one parent is home with a young child, two kids are at the nearby elementary school, the other parent is 17 miles away at work (this parent may also be out of state). A massive earthquake hits the provo or salt lake segments of the Wasatch fault. Chaos ensues.

> * How will your family get back together?
> * How will you get medical attention if you or your family needs it?
> * You may or may not be able to contact loved ones in the state via phone? Who is your out of state contact?
> * How will you stay warm?
> * The water distribution system is down. Do you have water? How will you get water?
> * If one member of the family is away frequently on travel, How will your family get on while you are away. It may take some time for you to return.

*Scenario 3* – Warm day in Late June or early July. Conditions around Traverse Mountain are very dry and no rain has fallen for some weeks. Mobile construction equipment idling near dry grass at the top of the neighborhood sparks a small flame. It is windy as usual. It really doesn’t take anything more than that to start a serious emergency. 

> * Do you know where the members of your family are if you need to evacuate?
> * How do we spread the word?
> * Where are you going to go?
> * Are important hard copies of documents stored in a fire-proof safe?
> * Do you have important files such as family photos and videos backed up in an off-site location?
> * Does your home have a defensible perimeter (against the spread of fire)?

I was part of the rapid assessment team when this actually happened in Herriman a couple of years ago. Several homes were lost including the home of a coworker. They lost all their belongings and I surveyed the aftermath first hand. Sad times. All their photos, other special documents, and belongings were lost. They had a computer backup but it was sitting next to their computer. Luckily the were away from the house when the fire occurred.

The subject of my talk is *preparing in times of plenty* implying that bad times will come despite the blessed conditions that we might find ourselves in now. When they’ll occur and what these bad times may entail is unknown to us for the most part. However, we can identify the hazards around us and consider what scenarios might occur (natural hazards, industrial incident, unemployment, extended illness, and disability). The scriptures are replete with good examples of preparing in times of plenty as well as a few examples of people really messing it up. Consider Joseph in Egypt (an entire nation was saved from a cataclysmic famine based on a warning dream of one person). Noah is another excellent and poignant example where one family was prepared by listening to the the council of prophets and all others perished. Let’s consider the 10 virgins; some made it into the wedding on time because they were prepared with backup oil and those without sufficient oil were told that the Lord knew them not. 

The leaders of the church have counseled us time and time again over several decades to be self-reliant and to prepare for emergencies by storing water, food, and money. They have at times used very strong language regarding this matter. Recently the prophet joked that “Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their . . . supply of food . . . and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.” Thomas S. Monson, “That Noble Gift—Love at Home,” Church News, May 12, 2001, 7. We could all do a little better and we will.

The church’s emergency preparedness site states the following: “Our Heavenly Father created this beautiful earth, with all its abundance, for our benefit and use. His purpose is to provide for our needs as we walk in faith and obedience. He has lovingly commanded us to ‘prepare every needful thing’ (see D&C 109:8) so that, should adversity come, we may care for ourselves and our neighbors and support bishops as they care for others. “We encourage members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. “We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.” 

So, we definitely need to prepare but we don’t want to go crazy on this. But how do we proceed gradually without getting complacent? We don’t mean to put things off but more pressing needs alway seem to come up and slow our efforts. This describes my experience in emergency preparedness all to well. How do we proceed? I suggest we do it together. 

Over the next couple of years I suggest we focus on subject at a time, all work on it together, and over time get this done. 

Focus subjects can include the following among others:
> * Water Storage
> * Food Storage
> * Mitigation for specific local hazards
> * Financial Reserves
> * Fuel
> * Emergency Items
> * Emergency Training (CERT & Communication)
> * 72 Hours Kits
> * Outline the stake emergency plan

For example, over the next 3 months I suggest we all focus on water storage. I have put together a primer on water storage that I’ll share with you in the next couple of weeks. It covers what we need and how to do it. FEMA and the Utah Department of Emergency Management has identified water as a particular point of concern. Following an earthquake the water supply may be disrupted for days to months depending on how much repair is needed to underground pipelines. We can discuss this subject further in elders quorum, relief society activities, and home and visiting teachers and neighbors can ask about how we are progressing and help each other out. 

By working together on a specific subject over a specific period of time we won’t feel the need to rush but there will be enough pressure to keep us going. By working together we’ll encourage each other and maybe have a little fun doing it.  

I’d like to share a few final things about opportunities to volunteer. Lehi is home to over 60k residents. As is typical in most communities the number of emergency responders we have is dwarfed in comparison. I spoke with the firefighter and emergency responder in charge of cert volunteers. He explained that the city only has 12 firefighters and EMTs to meet the needs of the entire city. We may also have folks with specialized training living among us such as doctors, firefighters, EMTs, and nurses. However, for the most part these folks need to report to work following a serious emergency. We need to prepare and get plugged into the city and stake emergency program to know what to do following an emergency. This brings me to CERT training. 

CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Teams. Really we are just normal folks that receive a little extra training so that once our families are taken care of and all set we can help others nearby (our neighbors). CERT volunteers receive training in first aid, basic search and rescue, triage, basic fire fighting, and the incident chain of command. The incident chain of command will mesh with the stake leadership (and if fact is often one and the same) and that is how we’ll get emergency medical attention to folks in the area. CERT volunteers find injured people, sort out those just in need of first aid from those in need of more serious medical attention, contact the EMT’s by HAM Radio, and prepare the seriously injured for transport. Calling 911 will not work in a large scale emergency.

The stake is making a big push on this. Currently the number of CERT volunteers we have in the stake can be counted on one hand. However, the stake is pushing training of at least two people per ward. That is huge! In our ward, I’m trained, and Josh Cornia, and Wayne Witmarsh are both in training at this time. This is a great start and over the next couple of years I’d like to see several more with cert training in our ward. In a previous ward this included both men and women as well as a few of the older young men. We need a critical mass of people so we have enough to organize the incident chain of command and work closely with the stake. If any of you are interested in CERT training please let me know. Also, we need more HAM operators in the neighborhood. HAM operators are a critical component in post disaster response, those radios don’t rely on any outside infrastructure to function and are ideally suited for emergencies. 

In closing, DON’T PANIC, we don’t need to and we are not really able to prepare everything all at once. For the most part time is on our side and large emergencies happen infrequently. The approach to work on emergency preparedness slowly and all together will work. We just need to keep making progress and the lord will bless us in our efforts. 

Brothers and sisters I testify that the Lord is mindful of our desires and needs. He knows what we are going through and loves us dearly. He knows us. I’m grateful for a living prophet of the lord to help keep us on track. I’m grateful for the gospel of jesus christ and for the atonement. I testify that the gospel is true. 

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