“Members of the LDS Church have been counseled for many years to be prepared for adversity,” states the Emergency Preparedness and Response page on LDS.org, “With the guidance of Church leaders, individual members and families should prepare to be self-reliant in times of personal or widespread emergency,” the site says.
Several Latter-day Saint families in Arizona say they have experienced the blessings of heeding this counsel.
For Danell Tarwater and her husband Bob of the McQueen 2nd Ward, in the Chandler Stake, preparedness has been a way of life. “Growing up on a farm, I could understand why you needed to be prepared and how to do that,” she says. “A lot of times we would go into town to get groceries only once a month.”
Even then, much of what they bought wasn’t pre-packaged and prepared food, but was whole grains, fresh produce or slabs of meat—items that needed to be prepared and preserved at home.
“When the Church came out saying we need to be prepared, it made sense to me. I was familiar with the concept and the skills needed to be self-reliant.”
Others saw Sister Tarwater as a great resource. “Leaders in various wards and stakes began asking me to share information, and I put together some lessons about preparing food, making bread and other topics,” she says. She went on to teach courses at Mesa Community College, and, today, Sister Tarwater has compiled the information she has gleaned over the years into a three-book series:The Secrets of Survival Handbook, The Secrets of Survival Recipes and The Secrets of Survival Healthcare and First Aid Manual. (For more about these books, visit www.inglestonepublishing.com.)
Sister Tarwater believes the idea of preparedness seems to be picking up. “Even in Wal-Mart there are items for preppers,” she says. Still, “everything seems so rosy, many people just haven’t seen that preparation needs to happen now.”
“A natural disaster or a crisis in the economy could leave us with no place to go to find gas, food and water,” she says. “It’s scary to me. I don’t know why it isn’t for everyone else.”
Dennis Lawrence and his wife, Mimi, members of the Remington Heights Ward, in the Queen Creek West Stake, focus on emergency preparation because, “Number 1, it’s a commandment, like tithing. Whether you prepare or not is a matter of obedience.”
“We have tried to prepare by stockpiling food and other resources to last us a minimum of a year,” Brother Lawrence says. Their stores include what he refers to as “short-term” items, those that are purchased fresh or canned from a grocery store and are more along the lines of “normal” everyday foods. In addition, they have a mixture of long-term foods, including freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, wheat and other grains.
The Lawrences also have accumulated fuel, big tents and other camping equipment and communication devices, including a short-wave radio; and they have developed certain skills as well.
“I do a lot of canning, especially pressure canning,” Brother Lawrence says, adding he has canned “mostly meat, including beef chunks, hamburger, chicken, pork, sausage and even hot dogs.”
“For the 41 years we’ve been married, we’ve been pretty well preparedness minded,” he says. “Our philosophy has been a little different. We never have bought a new car. We buy used. We don’t take expensive vacations. We don’t spend money on the latest and greatest devices and gadgets. We spend it on preparedness.”
“We view food storage as insurance. With health insurance and car insurance, you hope you never have to use it, but you make sure to have it in place just in case. The same thing with food storage. It’s good insurance, but if you wait until it’s time to use it, it’s too late.”
As the High Priest Group Leader in his ward, Brother Lawrence tries to encourage others to learn the skills and make the necessary preparations.
He says, as they do, many people say something to the effect, “I didn’t think I had the resources or finances to make it happen, but all of a sudden extra money just appeared when I finally decided to do it.”