In December of last year, the Kingstown Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) on the World Day of Service to hold educational sessions for church members and their friends on food and water storage and disaster preparedness. In addition to the presentations, seeds were provided to all attendees so they could plant their own gardens.
The following month, district and branch presidencies in St. Vincent and the Grenadines encouraged members to refocus their efforts toward being self-reliant both temporally and spiritually. Members took this counsel to heart and did what they could to and increase their food and water storage despite their limited financial resources. Some even planted their own gardens. Since then, there have been many reminders to start preparing, even in small ways. Some sisters began purchasing water bottles and sharing them with others who showed interest. Others planted gardens and added to their food supply.
These preparations have been very beneficial as they have been used since the La Soufriere volcano began erupting on April 9, spewing ash into the air.
Sister Nichole Franklyn, Relief Society President in the Kingstown Branch, recalls, “We started a kitchen garden. We were happy, but it took a lot of work. We prayed each night over the crops, and Heavenly Father heard our prayers and blessed them.” Their simple garden has grown and is producing.
Not all the produce in their garden is ready to harvest, but they are reaping cucumbers and sweet peppers. They were worried that the ash fall would ruin their garden as it has much of the agriculture on the island. “Many crops have been completely wiped out, but God has spared ours. We were able to reap cucumbers. Right now, we can sell our cucumbers for five dollars per pound, but we opted to share with three shelters,” Sister Franklyn said.
The members were also encouraged to become spiritually self-reliant. Following the example of a group that started in St. Lucia where a group of sisters are meeting for prayer and scripture study at 5:00 am each morning from Monday to Saturday, the sisters in St. Vincent also began in earnest. They meet on zoom with other members of the church in the Caribbean Area at the same time. Despite the prevailing circumstances, the members are strong and without fear, and they continue to meet morning after morning.
Sister Franklyn is grateful for the blessings that her garden has brought to her family and to those in the shelters. “The Lord watches out for His children and provides when we are able to follow His teachings through our leaders,” she said.” It really feels good to give rather than to receive at this time.”