It was a Tuesday morning in January 2005 and although we had experienced rain for a few days. It wasn’t coming down hard enough to cause too much concern. The rivers were rising, and my husband, along with other men in our ward, were busy placing sandbags around the homes closest to the rivers. We were taking precautions, not getting too overly anxious over a little rain… UNTIL….. I received a call from my husband; “Creekside #58 is going into the river, get men down here NOW!” Immediately, I ran down the street to give this news to the bishop in our ward. He was with other members of the priesthood, sandbagging by the river. Within seconds, these men were piled in trucks, heading for the neighborhood down the street.
#58 fell into the river, followed by houses on either side. The stream that we graciously call the Santa Clara “River” now resembled the roaring Colorado. It commenced in taking chunks of land out from under the homes as it cut a new path, far from it’s original course. Other neighborhoods were now being evacuated as more homes were being undercut by the torrential flood of water and debris. The Stake President was alerted to what was happening and soon, men from all over the valley were arriving to help.
Work continued after the sun went down. With the power out, car lights were focused on each house as workers made their way through darkened homes in order to save family pictures, grandma’s china and other precious odds and ends. Shortly after the fire department deemed the house unstable and the workers evacuated, a loud crack would echo through the air and the house would completely disappear into the dark mouth of the mighty Santa Clara. No one could believe their eyes. So much loss in so little time just didn’t make sense.
Gratefully, there was one thing during this tragedy that DID make sense… the organization of the Priesthood and Relief Society. No matter what was happening, we knew who was in charge. Our Bishop was truly blessed with the mantle of leadership for this emergency. He instinctively directed his ward council to see to those in their purview.
The Relief Society President instinctively knew that she was in charge of seeing to the relief of those who had lost their homes. Everyone must have clothing, food, and a roof over their heads. She already had Visiting Teachers in place who automatically knew to check on their families.
The Primary President was asked to make sure the children all made it safely home from school and were with their parents. When she called her teachers, she found that most had already checked on the children in their classes.
Everyone in the ward knew their job and were quick to magnify their callings and bring peace to every family within the ward boundary. This organization proved to be the miracle of the flood.
“The same priesthood power that created worlds, galaxies, and the universe can and should be part of our lives to succor, strengthen, and bless our families, our friends, and our neighbors—in other words, to do the things that the Savior would do if He were ministering among us today.” -Elder M. Russell Ballard
When the Red Cross came on the scene, they asked who was in charge and referred to our bishop and stake president. The city officers, police and fire departments even looked to the local priesthood leaders as the most qualified to lead.
Many families lost their homes that day, but it was awe-inspiring to see the organization of the priesthood at work. This eternal organization is even more perfect than I had previously realized. It makes the most of local, “boots-on-the-ground” ward leadership and combines it with the resources that come from belonging to a larger stake and a world-wide church. The Presiding Bishopric was even aware of our situation and ready to help. They didn’t look to a faraway specialist or data base to know how to serve, they looked to the local bishop to know how they could be of assistance to those souls in our little neck of the woods.
It was this day that I realized that no other organization on earth can compare to what the Lord has organized for His children. We can complain about imperfect people who are in this church, but the organization is truly perfect. Can you imagine if everyone in the world knew how to access the power of the priesthood in this way? No one would be left alone. No family would be helpless. No neighborhood would be overlooked.
We have so much work to do in order to “Lengthen our cords” and strengthen the stakes of Zion.
“Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;….. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isaiah 54:2, 13)
One of my fondest memories is from the night of our terrible flood. All of the neighborhood moms and children gathered into my neighbor’s home. The goal was to calm the fears of the children. The power was still off, but we were able to light the room with our flashlights and laughter. Games were played, sandwiches made, songs were sung, and hugs were shared. It was the most lovely feeling. We were loved and watched over by angels on this side of the veil and from the other side. As we gathered the children to pray on the food, we asked the Lord to watch over the fathers who were working hard to save the homes of our dear friends. We prayed for the families who were being afflicted. And we gave thanks for protecting the lives of our loved ones. The powerful feeling of that night still fills my heart with peace.
It is time to gather in our family, friends and neighbors. The safety of Zion can be accessed by all who seek it! No one can wade through the physical and spiritual attacks on home and family alone…. and they don’t have to. The Lord has provided a place of protection for His children: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We have covenanted with Him to bring peace to the whole world by sharing the life-saving truths of the gospel and the eternal organization of His Kingdom.
Let’s work with faith to flood the world with this wonderful miracle!
“In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee….. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:14, 17)