A Little Fervency

Right now, life should be a bucket of rocks. My husband was laid-off a few weeks ago, we have three small children, and we bought a new house last year. You would think, with all that, things would be really scary and hard- and yet… and yet… I find myself shaking my head in wonder, because we’re in the best spiritual place we’ve ever been.

Do you all know how amazing this church is? Do you? Again, my convert eyes allow me to marvel at the work done, in the name of Christ, for the service of man. Case in point: The Bishop’s Storehouse.

When I first cracked the door and tentatively peered inside the Bishop’s Storehouse, tears sprang to my eyes. How did I get here? Am I really going to let someone else buy my groceries for me? My pride was buzzing in my ears, and it took all I had to walk in that office and hand my paper to the Sister behind the desk. Immediately I started weeping, and she enveloped me in a tender, grandmotherly hug.

Many kind older couples staffed the storehouse, and the sweet lady in the office wiped my tears and gave me a tour of what they do there. My tears of pride and humility soon turned into awe. Stacks and stacks of food, produce, and dry goods filled the modest, clean warehouse. Out back were silos of wheat for the entire geographical area in the event of an emergency. People were busily engaged in sacking potatoes, cleaning and bagging fresh fruits and someone was cooking lunch for the twenty or so folks working.

While I was standing there, a man came in with two small children. He had a paper from a Bishop, just like mine, but he wasn’t of our faith. The bishop had heard of the man’s need, and given him a food order to have filled. The workers were as kind and tender to this worn, tired man as they were to me. The elder couple serving their mission in the storehouse told me the food is considered the Lord’s food, and it doesn’t matter who needs it- it’s not up to us to decide.

Plunking down on the couch, I sat and began to cry again. Only these were tears of gratitude, sweet, soft and untainted by the bitterness of pride. How did I ever live without this sweetness in my life?

I left the storehouse with every needful thing. It wasn’t about soap or applesauce or a gallon of milk- it was about human dignity, and taking care of one another- no questions asked.

Be so grateful. To those of you who have always known this restored gospel, step back for a second and marvel at what you have. Marvel at the miracles that take place in your lives because of this Church, and marvel at the richness added to your lives. Marvel at the council of wise old men, and a the willingness of so many to serve their fellow man. Marvel at the role models you see all around you- and know you this; the windows of heaven are indeed open and pouring forth their abundance.

Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Tracy. I hope your trials are short and that you’ll always marvel.

  2. We had our Stake Conference in November and Elder Nelson came (the first time and Apostle had been at our Stake Conference in 18 years). I met with him for 5 minutes. I had commented about how much I love the Church. He said that was a very nice thought and he told me that “the Church is a great force for good in the world.” He then paused, and corrected himself, “No. It is the greatest force for good in the world.” I really liked that. There are so many organizations that help in so many ways, but the Church is the “greatest force for good in the world”! Of course there are those who would debate that, but I think Tracy’s post certainly tells us one part of the story. Thanks Tracy!

  3. I have fond memories of living off Storehouse food growing up. Though I also believe in the dole, I enjoyed working at the storehouse as part of our receiving church welfare, moving big pallets back and forth, husking and sorting onions.

  4. Antonio Parr says:

    Thank you for sharing such poignant and eloquent sentiments.

  5. Thank you for posting such wonderful words Tracy. I enjoy reading such nice things about the church.

  6. Now can someone get this man or woman a job? I think that is one thing that Mormons half do right. They give a person a list of possibilities, but don’t help with making contacts or connections. It is the second half that ends up with the most results.

  7. I also have some great memories of and gratitude for the Storehouse. It saved our family in those years I think. Plus, every kid wants to work in a grocery store. We got to sort and stock shelves, fill out orders, go into huge freezers and refrigerators. There was some food there (this was in the 80s) that was absolutely disgusting. But that made it more adventurous. My oldest brother remembers boys’ underwear that had the flap that opened horizontally, rather than vertically. If that’s not awesome I don’t know what is.

  8. What a wonderful post. I would make only one suggestion. In the first sentence, you should have told us to have a Kleenex handy.

    Thank you, Tracy.

  9. @Tracy – Please remember these experiences if the Lord continues to chastise you (lose your house). Through difficult trials is most often how the Lord molds us and how we come to know ourselves better. How will you handle certain trials? After you’ve been through the fire you will much better know yourself.

  10. Tracy, this post is beautiful–both the meaning, and the crafting of the words. You are an amazing writer. Thanks for sharing your talent with us.

  11. Thank you.

  12. Elder’s Quorum President: “We need some volunteers for the Bishop’s Storehouse on Tuesday the 23rd. Can anyone…”
    Room doors flapping. Crickets chirping. Echo.

    Too often our Ward assignment conflicts with work but I love volunteering and love taking my 16yo son. It’s good for him. Bishops Storehouse work is, IMO, some of the BEST work one can do in the Church. Try it.

  13. Tracy: Thanks for sharing your story. Needless to say it is very touching and helps to put things in the right perspective. My wife is involved with the Bishops Storehouse and providing needed goods to those who have fallen on hard times. Everyone at some point in time needs help in one form or another. I really can’t thing of anyone that I have known that hasn’t needed some help at one point in time. As much as we’d like to think so, we don’t always control all aspects of our lives. Things simply happen, for reasons we just don’t understand.

    I agree with Mark IV, you should have told us to have Kleenex handy. Thank you for penning: “Marvel at the miracles that take place in your lives because of this Church, and marvel at the richness added to your lives. Marvel at the council of wise old men, and a the willingness of so many to serve their fellow man. Marvel at the role models you see all around you- and know you this; the windows of heaven are indeed open and pouring forth their abundance.” Your words remind us of the things that really matter. Thank you.

    Rich

  14. A great post. Thanks for sharing it.

    One of my favorite interactions with the church has always been the LA cannery, where I would sometimes go to work if I just felt depressed. Even out here where we have no bishop’s storehouse etc., I am often touched by the spirit of generosity that accompanies the stewardship of FO funds.

  15. Steve Evans says:

    Tracy, you are the best of the best.

  16. Tracy,
    As one who has had need for the support of the BSh, both as a child and a parent, I heartily echo your sentiments here.

    Great stuff.

  17. Kevin Barney says:

    Geez, Tracy, you’re not supposed to make me cry while I’m sitting here at my desk at work. It’s unprofessional!

    mondo cool #12, anyone who is in a position to ask for volunteers for storehouse assignments should clip and save this post and share it before asking. It would be kind of like that old “touch of the master’s hand” story, and I bet a lot more hands would go up after hearing this (even though it resonates more with us perhaps given that we know and love Tracy).

  18. Thank you for sharing this story.

    I remember a time when I had been home from my mission for a few weeks, and my ward had an assignment to work in the Bishop’s Storehouse. I signed up to volunteer, and it was one of the most amazing spiritual experiences. It felt as holy there (perhaps even more so in a way) as in the temple. I truly felt the spirit of Christian love and service. What I hadn’t realized before is that local businesses (not run by church members) also donated to the storehouse. We had bread from a local bakery to give away, and milk from a local dairy. It gave me a taste of what Zion must be like to see the community pitching in to help those in need.

  19. Thank you for your wonderful words. I believe I’ll increase my Fast Offering a bit.

  20. I have never heard of the Church helping anyone other than members, ever.

    Before I was a member, my roommate was a member,and we fell on hard times, the Bishop would help only her, wouldnt help me at all, and offered HER a plane ticket back to the place we were from to leve me in a strange city alone with noone!!

    I am glad you got help when you did, but I did not!!

  21. Steve Evans says:

    ANGELIA, there are countless stories of nonmembers getting help from the Church. I can’t speak as to your circumstances, but bishops can assist anyone within the geographical region of their wards.

  22. Shortly after my mission I volunteered at the Salt Lake cannery to make vegetable soup. Nobody told me that soup was messy. To keep from getting too bored, we rotated between different stations throughout the day. I was doing okay until I was at the station that had to stop the hose as it went into the vat where the broth and the vegetables were mixed. If I had been warned, I would have worn a swim suit and flip flops.

  23. Jettboy said “Now can someone get this man or woman a job?”

    The Church does through LDS Employment services. I know many in our area submit jobs through them and you can go and get contacts and use their phones to call. You can get training in interview skills, resume help, ect. and then search their database for jobs.

  24. Great story. Thank you for sharing this.

  25. Tracy,

    If not too personal, what line of work is your husband in (I assume he is the one looking for a job as per your comments on other pages)? And what area of the country?

  26. Tracy,

    Thanks for sharing. About two years before I became a bishop, we went through a six month unemployment situation, and the Bishop’s Storehouse was a miracle in our life. It does two things for you that are of immeasurable worth. First, it protects your dignity, and second, you can save your cash for debt service and other cash only requirements that the church is less able to help with. Too often folks will wait until their cash reserves are all gone before they go to the church for help. Get there early, and save your cash.

    While I served as bishop, the Storehouse was a huge help. As a bishop, you are counseled to seek out the needy, and getting folks into the storehouse is a first big step towards helping them get back on their feet. Plus the quality was pretty good. It was comforting to know that the tithing and fast offerings of all the members of the church allowed us to be able to help in meeting basic needs.

    Tracy, best wishes for your family, and good luck to your husband on his job search. All I can say is network, network, network. Have him talk to everyone he knows, and let them know he’s looking for work.

  27. Tracy, thanks for sharing your experience with us. You have a beautiful perspective and I really admire you. Thanks for the reminder to marvel at what we have in the church. That’ll stay with me for a long time.

  28. This is a great reminder- thank you. It is so easy to become complacent and to take for granted all that we have. Thanks for the wake up call to be more grateful and humble.

  29. Tracy, I also hope the best for your financial recovery. LDS Employement here in SoCal is remarkably good — I hope it helps you where ever you are. I’ve done some job counseling also — please email me at manaen@byu.net if I can help in any way with resumes, networking, interview preparation, on-line searches, etc.
    .
    I’ve been on both ends of the Church’s welfare system and I’ve been blessed in each. As a recipient, I felt love, protection, and safety in the help I received. As a volunteer one day while I was a corporate executive, I was scooping peaches into the processing machine when I realized that there would be more resources available if I did something else to make money to donate: I was scooping peaches instead so that *I* would have this experience in humble labor. The realization that somewhere some poor family had less so that I would have that experience has been a humbling influence ever since. And, I wept while I scooped those peaches.
    .
    .
    David O. McKay, GenCon 10/1936:
    The development of our spiritual nature should concern us most. Spirituality is the highest acquisition of the soul, the divine in man; ‘the supreme, crowning gift that makes him king of all created things.’ It is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the infinite. It is spirituality alone which really gives one the best in life.
    .
    It is something to supply clothing to the scantily clad, to furnish ample food to those whose table is thinly spread, to give activity to those who are fighting desperately the despair that comes from enforced idleness, but after all is said and done, the greatest blessings that will accrue from the Church [welfare program] are spiritual. Outwardly, every act seems to be directed toward the physical: re-making of dresses and suits of clothes, canning fruits and vegetables, storing foodstuffs, choosing of fertile fields for settlement—all seem strictly temporal, but permeating all these acts, inspiring and sanctifying them, is the element of spirituality.

    .
    Marion G. Romney, GenCon 10/1982:
    There is an interdependence between those who have and those who have not. The process of giving exalts the poor and humbles the rich. In the process, both are sanctified. The poor, released from the bondage and limitations of poverty, are enabled as free men to rise to their full potential, both temporally and spiritually. The rich, by imparting of their surplus, participate in the eternal principle of giving. Once a person has been made whole or self-reliant, he reaches out to aid others, and the cycle repeats itself.
    .
    We are all self-reliant in some areas and dependent in others. Therefore, each of us should strive to help others in areas where we have strengths. At the same time, pride should not prevent us from graciously accepting the helping hand of another when we have a real need. To do so denies another person the opportunity to participate in a sanctifying experience.
    .
    Again, I say the principle of self-reliance is spiritual, as are all the principles of the welfare program. This is not a doomsday program, but a program for today. One of the three areas of emphasis recently outlined in the statement on the mission of the Church is to perfect the Saints, and this is the purpose of the welfare program. Today is the time for us to perfect our lives. May we continue to hold fast to these truths, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
    .
    .
    Jacob 2:
    15 O that he would show you that he can pierce you, and with one glance of his aeye he can smite you to the dust!
    16 O that he would rid you from this iniquity and abomination. And, O that ye would listen unto the word of his commands, and let not this apride of your hearts destroy your souls!
    17 Think of your abrethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your bsubstance, that cthey may be rich like unto you.
    18 But abefore ye seek for briches, seek ye for the ckingdom of God.
    19 And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to ado good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

  30. Amen.

  31. I’m a former stake employment specialist. There are numerous ways that LDS Employment Services can assist your husband with finding a job.

    If you’d like, you can also email me at queuno at gmail.

  32. Tracy, you made me cry. In a very good way.

    I wish I could be there right now, because I want to hug you and say, hey, let’s go work at the cannery.

  33. I have not read the comments yet, but this was beautiful, Tracy. I have been unemployed and receiving food assistance before, and it is a humbling experience. It also is a wonderful experience, if you let it be.

    This post brought back the gratitude I felt when I was in your shoes. Thank you!

  34. Tracy,

    Thank you for your touching story and thank all those who left comments as well.

    My grandfather served as a service missionary in the bishops storehouse. I had the great opportunity to serve not only LDS members, but those of other faiths as well.

    This is what is at the core of Jesus’ gospel. You will be back on your feet again and this experience will lead you closer to the Lord…it already has.

    Thank you for sharing because your experience led me closer to the Lord as well as others.

  35. Tracy,

    My family and I have been in the same position you are now experiencing. As the head of the household it was a real struggle for me to overcome my pride. I still struggle with it but the lesson of humility that came with accepting help has been a welcome addition to my life. I think the saying “It is better to give than receive” could be changed to “It is easier to give than receive”. False pride is a dangerous position to put yourself. Maybe I’m on my way to accepting our Saviors grace, instead of thinking I can just do all by myself. I hope so.

    I am grateful for the charity of Christ that our church demonstrates around the world. Maybe the world will pick up on it someday and countries, including our own, will incorporate some of our programs into their welfare systems. Allowing people their dignity while giving them help and love, what a incredible concept!

  36. I can’t find the entire quote, but here’s a snippet of a GBH classic:

    “A man out of work is of special moment to the Church, because deprived of his inheritance, he is on trial as Job was on trial—for his integrity. . . . The Church cannot hope to save a man on Sunday if during the week it is a complacent witness to the crucifixion of his soul” (“Helping Others to Help Themselves,” Church welfare pamphlet, 1945).

  37. Tracy,

    May I have permission to copy and send this to all of the Bishops and Stake Welfare Council members in my stake?

  38. My dad worked in the Church Welfare System for over 30 years. I grew up playing hide and go seek amongst those huge palates of food in the warehouse and getting scolded for going near the forklifts. And we got to try out the new food lines the Storehouse was considering (we approved the orange drink, but vetoed the cheerios).

    It is amazing to see the amount of work and organization that goes into the Storehouse. Some of the food is completely Church-owned from planting it in the ground to putting it in the jars. Others, the Church buys and processes itself. There’s just something amazing about an entire enterprise that wants to feed hungry people.

    If you’re even in Salt Lake, take a tour of Welfare Square on 900 South. Skip seeing Temple Square if you have to – Welfare Square is just as important, but doesn’t get nearly the attention. Temple Square explains our beliefs; Welfare Square explains what we’re doing about our beliefs. (Welfare Square is separate from the Humanitarian Aid Center. I know some people think they’re the same thing, but they aren’t.)

  39. What a sweet experience, Tracy! My parents were in a situation early in their marriage when they had to depend on the church for a few months of groceries. They weren’t going to ask for help, but the Bishop has invited himself over for dinner and all they had to offer him was a peanut butter sandwich. He helped them tear down their pride and accept some charity. It really was a lifechanging experience for them and now that it is decades behind them, they have ALWAYS donated a bunch of extra tithing and helped a lot of kids with missions. Service is beautiful in that it almost always pays forward.

  40. Tracy,

    I must admit that you are one of my favorite bloggers. I to have been amazed at trips to the bishops warehouse.

    Sometimes we forget just how good the church is at this kind of stuff.

    May God be with you in this period.

  41. Tracy, thank you for your beautiful expression of gratitude. My husband and I served a mission as managers of the Bishops’ Storehouse and Cannery in our area so your message and the other comments are very meaningful to us. Even now the tears come to my eyes as I think of the saints that donate so much time and money to help others. It is a sacred place filling the needs of many and how grateful I feel for the inspiration that brought this forth in our time.

  42. Name (required) says:

    I’ve been to both welfare square and to the humanitarian aid center. It truly is a moving experience.

    Personally, I’m quite impressed that the non-member was walking away with some food. This is true charity. Maybe its the skeptic in me, but I’m less impressed with how the church helps its members. Yes, you can walk away with some food in a time of need and get help with some bills. But in most cases this help will be orders of magnitude less than the amount that you will pay in tithing over the years. When you give 10 percent and get 1 percent back, is this supposed to make you marvel at the generosity of the church? What am I missing here?

  43. #42 – In all sincerity, I have deleted my automatic response. Suffice it to say, an understanding of the big picture, since I don’t want Tracy’s wonderful post to get bogged down in minutia.

  44. Ray, I agree. This is not the post to start complaining about the Church’s generosity or on its policies re: uses of tithing/fast offerings.

  45. Name (required) says:

    #43–OK, I’ll assume then that I just lack an understanding of the ‘big picture’. I understand enough to feel for Tracy and I’m even willing to contribute to help her out. Despite this, the ‘big picture’ still eludes me.

  46. Ah, Tracy, you rock.

  47. No kidding Steve and Ray. If you are looking for a return on investment as measured by $$ try calling Fidelity

  48. Thank you all for your kindness and offers of prayers and help. We appreciate them all.

    Ironically (or not, I’m learning), during this time of strife we feel so buoyed up and cared for. My faith is strenghtened each day.

    As far as comments about money, you missed the point entirely, and I’m sorry about that.

    If anyone finds this worth of sharing, please feel free. It’s public domain now- but I appreciate the asking.

  49. This was really beautiful. I’d like to send this story along to a few other people, if that’s apropos. Thank you for sharing such a touching experience.

    #29 comments about the full spectrum of experiences we are here to have is so resonating with me. We seemingly all have times in our lives where we are serving and are served. There are such powerful messages from both, and we cannot fully appreciate either until we’ve seen both sides.

  50. 42 & 45
    .
    Re: The Big Picture, please (re)read the quotations I included at the end of #29.
    .
    My quick take is that the big picture is that this life is our best opportunity to become Christlike and everything here has that as it’s overarching purpose. As noted in those quotations, everything — including the welfare system — is spiritually-based.
    .
    This system engenders humility in both donors and receivers, regardless of the net flow of temporal goods. Receivers as in Tracy’s posting that her pride was buzzing in her ears. Donors as we give up treasures and as my recounting of humblin in #29. Humility, coupled with faith, opens the door to God changing us to become Christlike.
    .
    We first existed as intelligences. Everything beyond that manefestations of God’s *grace* towards us: spirit creation, physical creation, earth life and all we falsly claim to own here, to all the pending blessings for which we have hope. You mentioned giving — we cannot give truly anything that we don’t own. As King Benjamin noted, “And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.” (Msh 2:25). We don’t own anything, except possibly the original intelligences that we were, so it’s pointless to talk of the relative values of what we give or receive on earth — the true relative values are: 100% received; 0% given.
    .
    King Benjamin told us how to manage our stewardship of the Lord’s things which we sometimes inaccurately say that we own,
    21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
    22 And if ye judge the man who putteth up his petition to you for your substance that he perish not, and condemn him, how much more just will be your condemnation for withholding your substance, which doth not belong to you but to God, to whom also your life belongeth; and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.
    26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God [not that we would be net gainers in the flow of goods] — 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.
    (Msh 4)
    .
    I hope this helps you to understand how the welfare system fits in the big picture.

  51. Beautiful, Tracy. Thank you.

  52. Cyril Miller says:

    Tracy, thank you so much for sharing this with us. Your eloquence and humble spirit are beautiful to behold. As a Bishop, I know that the Storehouse IS a miracle of this Church. I would like to share your posting with our ward members — especially in our next Ward Welfare Committee meeting. A gentle word of thanks and praise can have such enormous consequences for good. Yours will, I assure you. Thank you so much.

  53. #20: I have never heard of the Church helping anyone other than members, ever.

    The Church has distributed over $200 million in funds and nearly $800 million in goods and services worldwide over the past 20 years, much (and perhaps the majority) of which goes to people outside of the Church. Locally, our welfare cannery does regular canning runs for local (non-LDS) food banks. ..bruce..

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