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The Personal Touch – Mormons Living through Financial Hardships

The Personal Touch

Who would have thought I’d ever need help from the Church? For 30-years I’ve reported on the news in Utah and California, have been a TV and Radio anchor, a Network correspondent, even run my own business. Those kinds of jobs make plenty of money right? So why would I ever have to worry about my future?

But having been a bishop about 20-years ago during the last series of economic downturns and seeing so many in my ward having to turn to me for help and guidance just to get by, I decided I better put the words of the Prophets into action and really get myself prepared, you know for the big war or the big earthquake that was surely to come some day in the future that could impact me and my family.

So during many Family Home Evenings while our kids were still small, we loaded up duffle bags and suitcases full of spare clothes for each of the kids. We purchased cases of food storage goods that we could dutifully rotate in our garage. And we filled those giant barrels full of water and wheat and kept them just to the side of the house. Emergency Preparedness right? Well almost, as I have come to find out.

For decades the leaders of the Church have encouraged food storage, and emergency preparedness among Church members. Many have heeded most of the warnings.

But not until about a year ago did I truly come to appreciate the need for preparedness not just in physical ways in case of natural disasters, but I’ve learned of the need to prepare for so many other kinds of emergencies.

About 15 years ago while attending a Stake play practice, my wife suddenly passed out. We took her to the emergency room where they determined her blood pressure was sky-high. When she regained consciousness she didn’t really know who she was or what had happened. She was hospitalized for about a week trying to recover. I was the bishop so it was difficult for me to call someone for help. Fortunately I had a wonderful Relief Society President who was right there to help. She organized food for the family. She helped coordinate visits. And my Counselors picked up the slack at the ward for me.

We would repeat this ordeal several more times over the course of time. Each hospitalization growing increasingly more difficult to heal from. Each experience leading to more complications involving depression, and more medications, and medications to counter-act the effects of earlier medications; weight gain from the medications; eventually bi-polar disorder; extreme mental illness from depression; and more hospitalizations.

I handled it. I was mostly prepared for the emotional drain. Not exactly prepared for the financial drain. At one point her final hospitalization tapped me for $40,000. But I had a 401-k plan I could dip into if I had to right?

Unfortunately I wasn’t prepared for the other shoe to drop financially as the economy began to crumble.

My ever steady employment in television suddenly was in jeopardy as the industry began to fall apart nationwide. Colleagues were being layed-off daily after 20-years at their stations.

Then in July of 2007 it was my turn. I too was laid-off. For my wife that was one of her final straws. The stress finally got to her. Just before Christmas she suffered a fatal heart attack. Perhaps I was prepared in some small measure for her passing since that first blood pressure experience, so now this was more relief than disaster.

Since then, I’ve had to rely on the Church for financial assistance from time to time as I’ve sought other jobs and started my own video production business.

Who would have thought I’d ever need assistance? I’ve come to truly believe in the words of the Prophets and am trying more than ever to heed their warnings on other things too.

With the economy faltering, with bank bailouts and foreclosures and job losses, thanks be to Heavenly Father for the wisdom of the Church Welfare and Preparedness plan.

Preparedness is more than just responding to an earthquake or flood or fire. It’s being spiritually prepared; financially prepared; and emotionally prepared for a host of things that may “rock our world.”

Thank goodness for faith that Heavenly Father will provide for our every need if we trust Him and “not rely on our own understanding,” as directed by the Proverb.

It is with that faith I now move forward a little bit more each day. It is with that faith I still care for my diabetic son and his hospitalizations. It is with that faith I gladly serve in yet another bishopric providing counsel and assurance from time to time to many of our ward members who wonder what lies ahead for them in these troubled times. It is with that faith that I testify that our Heavenly Father knows better than us what is ahead and loves us individually and won’t leave us to dangle on the precipice alone.

It is with that faith I have come to know that if we are prepared, “we shall not fear,” but we shall have peace even in the most troubling of times, for surely there will be more troubles ahead.

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