Friday, March 04, 2011

All is Safely Gathered In (or: No Use Crying Over Dry Milk)

There is an LDS cannery in Garden City, ID, just west of Boise. In the summer they can produce. In the winter, it's meat. Since we've moved here I've had the opportunity to serve there 4 or 5 times.

This is not something I love to do. In fact, I rather hate it. But our ward is assigned shifts to fill, and even though we are a huge unit, we seem to have trouble filling our slots. I have the time, my kids are all in school, and I am capable. Largely out of guilt, therefore, I sign up. There is indeed some satisfaction in helping to produce food that will be used for folks in need, some of whom I am sure I know and love. And if someday those folks happen to be my family and I ... well I am sure my service will take on additional meaning.

Yesterday I was scheduled to work from 12:30 to 4:30 canning beef chunks. It's as lovely an experience as it sounds. It's smelly and wet and greasy and cold. Or it's hot, if you're working by the steam. It's also deafening. Even with earplugs. Time drags on like it does no where else. I was downright whine-y to my husband about having to go. But I couldn't not--it just isn't in me to flake if I know I'm flaking. So I bundled up in a flannel shirt, wool socks, and rain boots, and set off.

I've always thought that the blessings of service would be severely diminished if that service was given grudgingly, which fact crossed my mind as I complained to Larry. Yet, in spite of a poor attitude, I was handed some pretty nice blessings. First, I was asked to run quality control. This consisted of taking three samples of cans packed with beef before water is added, weighing each can and taking an average, and then doing the same with three sealed cans, water added. I recorded this information along with the time and the lot number every 15 minutes. Not cold, not wet, not quite as stinky. No sore back, knees or feet. Of course, that meant that I only was productive for about 3.5 minutes in every 15, but even so, time was segmented in a way that made it move faster for me. I was extremely grateful.

The next blessing, I'd never have anticipated. Every time you serve in the cannery, you receive a blue card. This card entitles you to purchase canned items from the cannery. Generally, you are only allowed to purchase only bulk items which you can yourself. I needed some bulk dry milk, so I went in after my shift and bought that and a case of canned beef chunks. One of the workers there helped me load my order into my car, and on his way back into the warehouse said to me (here comes that next blessing), "Good luck with your food storage."

That shouldn't have made me cry. Should it have? No. I'm pretty sure not. But it did, because he'd said it with meaning, like he was really concerned for the welfare of my family. And so am I. We used up most of our food storage before moving to Idaho, and once we got here weren't in a great financial position to rebuild those stores. We have a lot of expired #10 cans, too, that need replacing. It's a big job ahead, and it's a goal of ours to get that in order this year. I have been making some baby steps, but it's time to work in earnest. For some reason, this little comment, made by a stranger, has pushed my determination to do so to the next level. Those six simple words were an enormous blessing.

I'm glad I went.