Archive for serving a mission

“My journey started before I joined the Church”

Warner Molema FamilyBy: Warner Molema

My journey towards a whole food, plant-based diet is a long one. It started before I joined the Church…

In my mid teens I remember reading that we become what we eat. The article was accompanied with a picture of a man with a pig’s snout. The article also mentioned that a diet of meat leads to increased anger and hostility. I did not want these traits and made up my mind to become vegetarian – no meat, but I still had dairy and eggs – ovo-lacto vegetarian. My mother supported me by preparing a separate vegetarian addition to the family meal. I was the only vegetarian in my family.

A few years before this time, while living in Cape Town South Africa, missionaries knocked on our door. I remember my parents purchasing a copy of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants… they had to be purchased in those days. I remember a few visits by the missionaries. I think my parents indicated that they appreciated their visits, however would not be joining the Church. During those early years of being a vegetarian, I remember browsing the burgundy covered Doctrine and Covenants and reading Section 89. I stopped drinking all hot drinks thereafter. I refused alcohol and did not partake in tobacco. Both my parents both smoked at the time.

After completing high school in Welkom, I attended university in Bloemfontein. I stayed on campus in the student housing – dormitories or in Afrikaans koshuisse. At meal times I would swap my meat for extra vegetables or dessert with fellow dorm dwellers. I held to my resolution to be a vegetarian and to refrain from hot drinks, alcohol, and tobacco.

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“My overall sense of well-being has never been better!”

Terry & Nancy Hermansen

By: Terry Hermansen

My story begins about 40 years ago when I was about 16. My mother would share pearls of wisdom from her reading with me. She liked to read books and was always learning something new. Her reading was always of a practical nature; she didn’t waste time reading anything impractical. Not even the classics merited her attention, just the scriptures and self-improvement books. Even though this was before The China Study and Forks Over Knives, she somehow managed to find books on diet that favored eating whole grains and cutting back on meat. She never made any dramatic dietary changes, yet her determination to learn and search for wisdom had a big impact on me.

I remember her coming to me and saying on one occasion, “Did you know how powerful grains are and how packed with nutrients they are?” She was preaching a whole foods, plant based diet before anybody that I was aware of. It was strange to me but somehow it seemed logical. Her comments moved from point A to B or even to C, but I had a long ways to go before I reached Z and was ready to give up eating meat.

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Borderline omnivore activist goes plant-based

Devin BarnesBy: Devin Barnes

“Oh! . . . ok . . . cool . . . why?”

Typically that’s the response I get when people find out I’m a vegan. But I can’t blame them; vegans are so strange.

At least that’s what I thought three years ago. In fact, I was so opposed to any form of vegetarianism I was borderline omnivore activist. “For so many reasons you should eat meat,” I would argue, “plants alone don’t provide adequate protein or iron. And why else would God create all these animals? It’s not like He gave us canines by accident. And I don’t recall the scriptures ever referring to the land of soymilk and honey . . . ”

I could have written a 20-page persuasive essay. Needless to say, I was passionate about meat. But honestly, deep down I pitied vegetarians. Meat is delectable! In-N-Out, Outback Steakhouse, Chic-fil-A . . . All could be classified as “Heavenly.” Vegans were beyond my understanding. Give up eggs and dairy too? Butter, milk, cheese, ice cream?? You take all the fun out of eating!

You can imagine my surprise when I gave up all animal products early in 2012.

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“Do I believe the Lord means what he says?”

Sam SwensonBy: Sam Swenson

In 1997 I was starting out as a new missionary in the Taiwan, Taichung mission. I had just moved into my second area and was assigned as a junior companion to Elder Olmstead, a muscular football player from Oregon. Elder Olmstead was on his last assignment before heading home so he was getting up early each morning to run on a track at a nearby school to get back into shape before heading back to football. It was while I was running on the track early one morning that I first noticed it: a slight aching sensation on the right side of my lower back that radiated into my right hip. It felt a little like a charley horse so I didn’t think much of it and figured I must not have stretched enough before running. But stretching had nothing to do with it.

The pain continued throughout the remainder of my mission. In fact, as time went by, the pain intensified and spread. My ribs began aching too. After a while, breathing became painful and sneezing caused so much pain that my vision would temporarily go black and I would see stars for a few moments.

After returning from my mission, my mom noticed me limping up the stairs and saw me wincing whenever I breathed deeply or sneezed. She told me I moved like a 90-year-old man. She made me see doctors and after a few frustrating visits to a number of doctors without getting any answers, I made my way to a rheumatologist office where I first learned the term “Ankylosing Spondylitis” or “AS.” AS is a disease of the immune system that causes severe inflammation throughout the spinal column and the adjoining tendons. If untreated, it leads to the fusing of bones in the spine, eye and skin problems, difficulty breathing, and possibly heart problems.

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“So That’s What A Drumstick Is!”

Byron EltonBy: Byron H. Elton

I was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in 1954. Back then, we went to church twice on Sundays and on occasion between the meetings we would stop off at the local “Kentucky Fried Chicken” and grab a bucket so that Mum wouldn’t have to cook. If we were particularly hungry, or we had guests, we would get a “barrel.” When the cardboard box with “finger lickin’ good” chicken was delivered, I would volunteer to hold it until we got home. I remember it was wonderfully warm in my lap, and the aroma of the Colonel’s magical blend of “11 herbs and spices” filled our Buick and my nostrils with a wonderful aroma and the promise of a chicken chow down.

I suppose they have changed the recipe since, but in those days, the bucket would be soaked in grease, inside and out. No amount of washings could erase the smell from my church pants, and I was a walking advertisement for the Colonel from Kentucky. We typically dispensed with more formal dining protocol and sat in front of the TV watching “Jungle Jim” and “77 Bengal Lancers” while feasting on chicken parts. There were wings, breasts, and the coveted drumsticks. The latter were the favoured selection for the youngest as they were the easiest to hold.

One Sunday afternoon, we were watching some cartoons while eating. One featured a group of chickens being hunted by a ravenous fox. They proved particularly elusive, and Mr. Fox never did catch one, but every time he looked at them, he imagined them as various parts to be eaten. Each body part would become enlarged and labeled and great drops of saliva fell from his mouth. I was just finishing my drumstick when he started fantasizing about the chicken’s legs. In an instant, I made the connection. I looked down at the drumstick in my hand and suddenly saw the bone, tendons, ligaments and skin. For the very first time I thought, “So that’s what a drumstick is!” I never looked at a chicken or any other animal that we ate the same way.

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“I just felt clean!”

Flying HighSmBy: Victor Johnson

While I was growing up, healthy eating was important in my family. My mother had been a vegetarian for most of her married life, so she always insisted on our eating “healthy” food. We were far from vegan (we still consumed dairy), but we hardly ever had meat in our house, except when my dad made his delicious tri-tip steaks. We also had very few processed foods.

Later, both my parents became vegan, and the few animal products still in the house gradually began disappearing. Dairy milk was replaced with soy, almond, or rice milk. Meat was no longer an option, even on special occasions. More emphasis was placed on eating fruits and vegetables. I begrudgingly went along with the plan, seeing there weren’t many other food options at home. I loved going to friends’ houses or eating out because I could eat all the junk I wanted. I had no appreciation for a healthy diet.

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