It’s amazing how just a few images and videos of planes and buildings can stir so many emotions. These images work together and transport you through a magical time machine to the infamy that is 9/11.
You instantly remember where you where when you first heard of the unraveling events in New York and Washington. You see in your mind’s eye the news footage portraying the horrific carnage of the towers falling, large smoke clouds billowing through the streets of New York, and people wrapped in the arms of others fleeing the destruction. You feel again, the shock and feelings that stirred in your heart as the world became dark and uncertain.
But you also remember the hope which brightened the dark clouds of fear and despair that filled New York and the rest of the United States in the stories of the selfless first responders, the brave passengers of United flight 93, and the other amazing stories of the helpers.
Like many of you, I sat with my children today trying to recount the unbelievable 9/11 story to children who couldn’t comprehend the tragedy of the day. As I labored through the events of the day, now through the wide eyes of children, I was reminded of the iconic quote from Mr. Rogers:
I tried to do what his mother did for my children, I recounted the stories of the helpers both small and large. We talked about passengers of United flight 93, the first responders, the people who helped fellow coworkers escape the building, the businesses who freely gave water and walking shoes to those making the long walk home in uncomfortable business attire. The stories went on and on showcasing those who consecrated their lives and what they had to people they didn’t know for the good of man. The truth is, those helpers not only saved those around them, but also saved us that day, and every year, as we struggle to remember 9/11.
While it is important for my children, and us to take solace in knowing there are helpers in these situations, it is even more important to realize we should be preparing to be the helpers in these situations. One of the greatest reasons to prepare is ultimately to help others. This is my creed, but it is also yours–to help those in need during difficult times.
President Eyring said, “The Lord’s way to help those in temporal need requires people who out of love have consecrated themselves and what they have to God and to His work.”
In fact, the scriptures are very clear in their command that it is the duty of those who have to give to those in need.
I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26)
Unfortunately, food for the hungry cannot come from empty shelves, money to assist the needy cannot come from an empty purse, and support and understanding cannot come from the emotionally starved.
Can’t you see why it is really important to be prepared? It’s to be a helper! In deed, you can endow yourself with a higher power as you prepare to be a helper.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband put it this way: “So often, it is the Spirit inspiring us to reach out to someone in need, family and friends in particular. “Thus … the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things,”18 points us to opportunities to…offer support and concern, and to rescue one of God’s precious children.
Think of it as being what is called a first responder. In most communities the first responders to a tragedy, disaster, or calamity are firefighters, police officers, paramedics. They arrive with lights flashing…The Lord’s way is less obvious but requires just as immediate a response. The Lord knows the needs of all His children—and He knows who is prepared to help. If we let the Lord know… we are ready, He will call on us to respond. If we respond, He will call on us time and time again and we will find ourselves on what President Monson calls “the Lord’s errand.”19 We will become spiritual first responders bringing help from on high.
If we pay attention to the promptings that come to us, we will grow in the spirit of revelation and receive more and more Spirit-driven insight and direction. The Lord has said, “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good.”20
You see, storing food and being prepared isn’t about hoarding or only saving our families, nor is food storage and preparedness just something to be endured on this earth (you know, that “insurance policy” people hope they never have to use). Instead, being prepared to share in both small and large ways is the very fiber of which life and heaven are made.
Elder Holland said, “But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hands of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods….Indeed heaven never seems closer than when we see the love of God manifested in the kindness and devotion of people so good and so pure that angelic is the only word that comes to mind.”
This is our call and our purpose, the real reason for preparing, to work for the relief of the ills and the sufferings of humanity just as Christ spent his life walking the dusty roads of Palestine doing. This is why I prepare–I want to be a helper, I want my children to know they can be the helpers, and most importantly I want God to know I am prepared to be a helper. So remember, when life gets dreary, when the storm clouds, literally and figuratively, cloud your view of the world, remember to watch for and be prepared to be the helpers. “In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)