Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Nowhere fasting

While we're on the subject of fasting, I have my own confession: I never much cared for it.

I am prone to what I assume are low-blood-sugar headaches, so growing up, fasting always had the association of blinding pain and nausea for me. As a teenager, I grew to like the buzz you could get from fasting; your knees shake a little and your arm trembles involuntarily. You feel wonderfully light-headed and dizzy (Mormons will do anything to get around the Word of Wisdom, won't they?). At any rate, while it was enjoyable and gave me the sense of inner physical strength, I can't say it was an overtly religious experience.

Then came my mission. On my first fast Sunday in the MTC, an Elder passed out in the food line and we had to carry him out. Diagnosis? Dehydration.

Fasting is all very well and so forth, but making missionaries fast is stupid. And making missionaries fast in warm climates is downright dangerous. Under a beating sun, walking and tracting while wearing a tie is not conducive to hydration. At least my mission in Argentina was not tropical; I don't know what the Elders in the Philippines and Central America do.

On my mission, I finally developed a system that worked for me. After returning to the apartment on Saturday night with my companion, I would drink a two-liter bottle of Coke. I was so full, I didn't even want to eat or drink anything in the next 24 hours. It wasn't quite the spirit of the law, I know, but it got me through the Sunday.


Capt Jack said...

I can remember living with the zone leaders who fasted one Tuesday for their investigators--the only problem is it was also the first of a series of general strikes against the Alfonsin government. No colectivos (busses) so they walked the 5 miles to their area, walked all day, and then walked home with no water. In January, in Argentina. They collapsed--I can remember one coming out of the bathroom screaming because his piss was orange.

Funny thing is my comp and I stayed home and goofed around all day and still outbaptized them that month. And ours are still active 19 years later.

Ann said...

The missionaries in my home town mission in the mid-80's were not permitted to fast beyond fast Sunday.

Steve (FSF) said...

I don't see anything wrong with a sugar/caffeine fix before a Fast.

My second mission pres in the South of France was smart enough to instruct us to drink water as needed while working during a fast because he didn't want dehydrated missionaries getting ill. Fasts beyond fast Sunday or fasts longer than 24 h required permission too.

Are there Nazi mission pres out there that think missionaries tracting in the sun should get dehydrated?

Rusty said...

In Guatemala we weren't allowed to fast beyond fast Sunday. Smart move. So then our prayers went something like this: "...and since we're not allowed to fast (thou knowest we really, really wanted to) could thou please bless us as if we were fasting? Gracias."

NFlanders said...

In my mission, I think we were supposed to ask permission to do extra fasting, but just the regular Fast Sunday can get hairy in the summer.

Floyd the Wonderdog said...

You get off on the buzz you get from fasting? Ned, dude, I think you’re borderline anorexic. The white book limited fasting because otherwise the *spiritual giants* would stop eating at all. *Christ and Moses fasted for 40 days, I should be able to too.*

I have always appreciated the spiritual benefits of fasting. But, as I grew older, I started getting migraines every time I fasted. Sometimes I fast for an extra-special reason. I think that the pain is just another sacrifice. (Dude, I’m not a masochist!) I have a diabetic daughter. Fasting would kill her.

Tess said...

I know this is controversial, but I don't like the idea of forcing everyone to fast once a month on the same day. I think fasting should be a personal decision, and that you should feel free to fast whenever you want to, if you're so inclined, and not just go along with the crowd because everyone else is doing it the first Sunday of the month.

NFlanders said...

I like your idea, Tess. I think spontaneous fasting would probably mean more to people than routine fasting.

Floyd, you are a stronger man than me. If I am fasting (it's been a few years though) and I feel a migraine coming on, I call off the fast and get some Tylenol and water into me post haste. I think the Lord knows how bad migraines hurt and probably doesn't want you to suffer gratuitously.