In March 2020, Natalie Covher — like many others — felt overwhelmed by fears brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic’s shutdowns and changing landscape.
After the initial panic wore off, she began looking around for something to help her have more feelings of safety and fewer feelings of fear.
“It became clear that disasters come in many shapes and sizes, and although I was currently faced with one type of disaster, general preparedness could help me through any disaster,” she said.
Though not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the time, Covher felt she could trust the guidance of the Church because of the example of Church members who were her friends. She started to follow the Church’s principle of preparedness.
Beginning with simple aspects of preparedness that she could control, Covher began gathering the suggested items for an emergency kit. Living in Louisiana, she turned to the North America Southeast Area’s Temporal Preparedness Guide. The Church has published guides for different areas in a section of ChurchofJesusChrist.org called “local area preparedness guides.”
“I realized that being frightened of things out of my control was not helpful, and taking action in areas I could control made me feel peace,” Covher said. “[The guide] gave me all the guidance I needed, intermingled with spiritual advice. The spiritual aspects of the guide were comforting.”
Prepared before the storms
By the time August 2020 came around, the Covhers were significantly more temporally prepared for Hurricane Laura — a deadly and destructive Category 4 hurricane that ravaged the community and left their house without power for days.
The Covhers had stored enough food, water and supplies to make it through and were able to help others in need. Before winter set in, Covher was prompted to prepare for snow — in a part of the United States where it rarely snows.
She and her husband restored their emergency kit, food and water, then stacked up firewood and blankets. They also insulated their older home for colder weather.
And it snowed that winter. Then an ice storm hit, and everything froze, which is unheard of in her area. They lost power, and the cold made pipes burst in her town, and they lost water. Many people could not get repairs for weeks.
“Because of the preparedness guide, we had a water main key and helped our neighbors shut off their water after their pipes burst, and we were able to share water with them,” Covher said.
They had enough firewood and supplies to stay warm and fed for a week while emergency response was limited. She even baked bread with wheat she had ground earlier with her friend who was a member of the Church, and she took the bread to her neighbors.
Covher said she felt during the hurricane that while she was temporally prepared, “I, however, did not have the spiritual preparedness to weather that storm without contention. It was a very stressful time.”
In the meantime, she kept turning to the Church’s preparedness guide to see what else she could do. Soon she and her husband found a new place to live, where they could plant a garden and keep chickens. They felt safer in the new location as well. Their friends in the Church and missionaries helped them move, and they met new members of the Church who invited them to activities and park play dates.
“After our move I started quietly contemplating. I asked my husband, ‘What if we had the kind of preparedness the manual has brought us, but a spiritual preparedness?’” Covher said. “It kept coming to our minds, ‘What about that Church?’”
They began attending sacrament meetings and having lessons with the missionaries at their friend’s home on Sunday afternoons. The Covhers were baptized in June 2021 and sealed in the temple in July 2022. They are now members of the Natchitoches Ward.
“Looking back, I can see the hand of the Lord guiding me and my family to the Church,” Covher said. “I know this Church is true, and I’m so thankful to have been guided to it through the principle of preparedness.”
Church preparedness resources
The Church has many temporal preparedness resources listed online, including tips for food storage, making an emergency plan, and being financially prepared and emotionally prepared for whatever life brings.
A stake and ward Emergency Preparedness Planning Guide can be found at preparedness.churchofjesuschrist.org with steps, worksheets and other information.
People can also find downloadable guides by local Church areas like the one the Covhers used for their location.
The guides begin with a quote from President Russell M. Nelson from an October 2020 general conference address: “For decades, the Lord’s prophets have urged us to store food, water and financial reserves for a time of need. ... I urge you to take steps to be temporally prepared” (“Embrace the Future With Faith”).
At times caring for temporal needs may feel overwhelming. But following the guidelines and activities can help people feel more prepared. The scriptures teach that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).
The guide says, “When we act in faith and do our part to care for our temporal needs, God magnifies our small and simple efforts.”