The Monday night before Utah held their state-wide mock earthquake my daughter and her husband gathered their children together and held a family home evening on earthquake preparedness. They read the scripture “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” Then they told the kids that the next day there would be an earthquake.
My daughter didn’t mention at first that it would just be a drill. She wanted to see how the kids would react. Immediately one of the children started to cry, so she quickly explained that Utah was having a state-wide earthquake drill to encourage people to become better prepared. She tried to explain what a drill was in a way they would all understand, but she also emphasized that someday we might really have an earthquake and that it is very important to know what to do in such a case. They talked about earthquakes, and how to “drop, cover, and hold on.” They even practiced a few times.
Jack, age 3, was very attentive at first but suddenly became quite agitated. Apparently he didn’t understand one of the vocabulary words associated with this Family Home Evening activity, and it was quite clear that there would be no peace until he did. With great frustration and determination he kept asking over and over, “What does ???? mean?” The trouble was no one could understand his frustrated “Four Year Old,” a language quite as difficult to decipher as German or Chinese. Finally my daughter used the word “prepared” again, and Jack said: “Yes! That word! How do we be “repaired?” Relieved to have been given the translation, she went on and shared all the ways she could think of that they could prepare as a family.
She showed the children the backpacks she had been able to purchase on sale for $3.00. The smallest one actually had Jack’s name written on it. She distributed the packs. They made a family list of all the things it might be nice to find in their packs if they ever did have to grab and go. Finally she assured them that she was going to make it a priority to start buying the things on the list and fill the packs. The children were quite excited. Disaster or adventure, it was all the same to them.
When the kids woke up the next day she didn’t say a word to them about the earthquake drill. Her plan was to turn on the radio at 10:10 and surprise them with the whole thing. Well Jack was not about to be surprised. He remembered all about it by himself. Unbeknownst to the rest of his family he crawled out of his bed with a little plan of his own, and while my daughter was busy helping the other children, he started getting “repaired.”
Armed with some kind of pre-school intuition that told him an empty backpack was not going to save the day, he started to collect the basics. Here is what he came up with:
- 6 cups- one for each member of his family
- One apple
- A half bag of carrots
- Book of Mormon
- Two toy trucks
After gathering he loaded up the backpack, put it on, and waited.
At just the right moment mom turned on the radio, and all family members took cover as planned. Under the kitchen table they dove. It was Jack who broke the stillness with words I will never forget. “Mom, when is the shaking going to happen? You told me it was going to be an earth-shake!?!”
I guess he didn’t understand what mom meant by mock or pretend or drill. In Jack’s mind he was preparing for the real deal. Jack did his best to collect everything he thought might be important. At only age 4, it’s amazing how well he did with the basics. He knew water would be important as demonstrated by the cups. Not knowing if everyone in the family was preparing like he was, he generously grabbed six, one for each potentially thirsty member. He demonstrated all he had been taught about foods that count for health with the selection of a fruit and veggies, enough to go round. Spiritual preparedness was also on his list as he grabbed his copy of the Book of Mormon, and finally something told him that even in a disaster there has got to be time for some fun and for a little boy that means toys with wheels!
Now I have to admit that I didn’t practice for the earthquake that day, but I did learn some important things from Jack. I smiled when my daughter told me that Jack kept mixing up the word “prepared” with the word “repaired” because in terms of spiritual preparedness, to be “repaired” by the Lord is to be “prepared” for the Lord. Those of us living in recovery are continually working on our preparedness for the future—future temptation and triggers, future trials, future opportunities to serve others, and that promised future meeting with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can probably all learn a thing or two from Jack. First, after he had any understanding of what was necessary he took immediate action. He gathered everything he could think of to support himself and his family in times of trouble. Next, he was well rounded, gathering things that represented spiritual, physical, and emotional support. Finally, in his mind, the time to be “repaired” was now, not later. The need was not at some distant hour. He prepared with the mindset that the time of need was imminent.
Jack demonstrated to me the two necessary elements for being “repaired.”—First, take immediate action, and second, practice believing my need is real. I want to be like Jack. Every day I want to gather everything I might need to the best of my “misunderstanding,” take cover, and hold on for the ride. It may be some time before the great Utah “earth-shake,” but if your life is anything like mine there are tremors that rock your personal world every day that will never register on the seismograph. Spiritually speaking we all need to pack and grab our backpacks and take cover! Thanks Jack for reminding me of what the Savior meant when he exhorted all grownups to become like little children.
By Nannette W.
Posted Sunday. August 20, 2012
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