Many of you, who are my friends, know that this last six months have been very difficult for me, especially financially. My parents have had to step in and help us cover what could have been a very big gap in our health insurance, and just recently, we started to get assistance from our ward.
This is probably the second or third time in our 20+ years of marriage that we've had to get what's known to Mormons as "Church Welfare". The most common form it takes is the food order.
You meet with your Relief Society President and determine what food staples you need. The two of you fill out a form called a "Food Order", and then you take that to what's called a "Bishop's Storehouse".
The Church has a vast network of farms, orchards, canneries, and other food-producing resources all over the World, but especially in America. The food is all grown, manufactured, packaged, and distributed to these storehouses all across the country. It also happens across the world, but I'm more familiar with how it works in America.
In a lot of cases, these canneries and distribution networks are managed by paid church members, but much of the staff that does the more menial labor that requires less critical skill is volunteer. Assignments are given out to wards and stakes (local and regional congregations) to fulfill certain days and hours of volunteer labor.
Usually, the first people to fill those slots are the the folks that are receiving the aid. So, when the next assignments come up in our ward, we will be expected to go. Still, there were many times when I helped fulfill these assignments when I was not on assistance. Sometimes you just go to help out.
In addition to all this help, one of the more famous, if not mundane, aspects of the church is its emphasis on prudent living, and a great emphasis is placed on having food storage. This is only partly due to a mild paranoia that arose out of the great depression. It's actually very practical. We don't have any special line on a prediction for the next natural disaster. It just makes good sense to have a supply on hand when you need it.
I mention all this because tonight, I cooked a meal that was provided, in part, by the groceries that were given to us from the bishop's storehouse, and partly from our own food storage. I didn't have to go out and buy anything to make tonight's meal. Technically, it cost money, because we had bought the part that came from storage. But still...
And, since I cooked it in my dutch oven, I didn't even use any electricity or gas!
Here's the fun part: It was incredibly delicious. I made a seafood chowder with garlic, cheese, and butter biscuits. I daresay, it was as good as, if not better than, a restaurant meal.
I'm not sure that I should be bragging about needing help from our ward to make ends meet. I hope it doesn't sound like I am.
But a long time ago, as I was growing in the music industry here, I learned something very important from a friend. You can complain about what you don't have, or you can make some thing good with what you do. I feel like I followed his advice tonight. And I feel a bit richer for it.