Father-Daughter relationship, LDS Mission, Prayer, Pre-mission activities, Service, Spiritual

MTC Mexico City: Week 1

The last 5 days before entering the MTC (Missionary Training Center) went by in a crazy flash. As I look back now, all I can remember is a blur of shopping trips, to-do lists, emails, phone calls and packing.

But somehow, someway, by the time Tuesday night rolled around, everything was done and I was ready to go. How I managed, who knows. But I sure was happy :)

My flight to Mexico City left early Wednesday morning. I had to be at the airport at 6am the latest, which meant I had to wake up around 5am. SO not fun :( Especially after having gone to sleep at 1:00 AM the night before. Esssh!

The final farewell between Papushka and I left us both a bit teary eyed… you’d think we’d be pro’s at the whole airport farewell thing, but no, some things you never get used to I guess. Nevertheless, I could feel we were both happy for everything that was to come and we both knew that the next 18 months would go by in a flash!

My first day at the MTC was not only an eye opener but a very humbling experience. I remember sitting in my first class and listening to one of my instructors –a recent RM (returned missionary) — quote scriptures and talk doctrine like it was nobody’s business! It seemed like it all came too naturally to him that if he had told me he had been born with all that knowledge I probably would have believed him.

He seemed to know so much and all I could think was, “oh my goodness! What have I gotten myself into?” It felt like information was flying at me at 100 mph from every direction… and I was actually being expected to register it all.

I was overcome with the strangest feeling. I had always been more than comfortable with my knowledge of the gospel yet here I was, feeling like I knew nothing at all.

Needless to say, I went to bed that night feeling restless, anxious, scared, frustrated, and so much more. I knelt down on the floor and offered what must have been one of the most heartfelt and sincere prayers of my life. I told my heavenly father exactly how I felt and I asked him to help me. I said, “Father, you know I have a desire to serve you. You know I want to be useful in your hands… and I am WILLING… help me. Prepare me. Provide the way”

The next morning, even though I slept EXTREMELY poorly… waking up every 45 minutes and having crazy dreams all night, I woke up feeling refreshed and happy in a way I could not explain even if I tried.

A few hours later, during my personal scripture study, my prayer was answered. As I read the following scripture, I felt how my Heavenly Father was speaking directly to my heart and how my testimony of the gospel was being reaffirmed. He really is there. He really does listen. And He really does bring comfort when we most need it and lightens our burden.

John 14: 26 – 27

One of the most important things I’ve learned this first week at the MTC is that if you TRULY have a desire to serve the Lord, then you TRULY are called to the work… His work (D&C 4:3), and those that the Lord calls, he qualifies!

Before coming out to the mish, I knew I would face trials and difficulties, but to be perfectly honest, I think I mostly focused on how amazing this experience would be. The best two years and all (or 18 months in my case). I don’t think I ever gave much thought to how having an amazing experience during this time would come free. It would come at a cost. And that cost would be LOTS AND LOTS OF HARD WORK!

I can’t believe how tired I am. Honestly. I’m tired like 80% of the day… I really can’t emphasize enough HOW tired I am… it’s unreal… but I HONESTLY have NEVER been happier in my life. I can’t stop smiling :D

I wish I could write more but time is SOOOO short! So, very quickly before I go;

1. My companion is amazing! She is from Puerto Rico and although we are quite different in character I feel like we make a great team. Her name is Sister Aldana and she waited even LONGER than me to come on the mish. She waited a whopping 8 months! She served a 3 month mini mission and was then in the mission field for a whole month as a set apart missionary while she waited for her visa. She knows so much and I feel so blessed to have gotten her as my comp. She teaches me new things every day!

2. I was called as sister coordinator for all the sisters at the MTC. Can you say PRETTY BIG RESPONSIBILITY right off the bat? I’m realizing VERY fast that leadership positions require lots of hard work, empathy, love, and service. Did I mention lots of time in meetings? I’m not sure why, but I feel like my comp and I are always running around EVERYWHERE. Nevertheless, I feel truly blessed to have been given this opportunity to serve and to grow and to learn. My heavenly Father must think I’m up to the challenge… so, I guess I just gotta roll with it :)

3. I love it here. The MTC is all that and a bag of chips. The people I am meeting here are amazing! The instructors are amazing. Did I mention I SERIOUSLY cannot stop smiling???? :D :D :D

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Emotions, LDS Mission, Mormon, Pre-mission activities, Spiritual

Doubt

“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.”
~ John Lubbock

This morning I spent some time on the phone with the LDS lawyer who was assigned to my case by church headquarters in SLC. We were able to finally go online, fill out the application, pay the fee, and make an appointment at the embassy. I’ll be trying for my visa one last time tomorrow morning at 9 am.

As we were talking about the application process, he mentioned that he had just received word that the two other missionaries he had been helping had been granted their visas to the UK. However, he told me that they had been expecting a letter of refusal, same as me, because both of those missionaries had used the exact same Sponsorship letter I had used in my application. And since mine had been denied, they expected theirs to be denied as well.

But they weren’t. Only mine.

While I was told that my sponsorship letter did not fulfill all the requirements, they were told to come pick up their tier 5 visas any day of the week between 10 and 11 am.

When I got off the phone I kept thinking about what he had said. And wondered why they had lucked out while I had not. I thought perhaps I had drawn the short straw and gotten my application reviewed by someone very strict or mean or who was not partial to the LDS church. Maybe the other two missionaries got lucky with a nice person. Maybe Heavenly Father needed them on the mission field right away. Maybe… maybe… maybe. The possibilities are endless.

There was no way of knowing why things played out the way they did. All I could do now was stay optimistic. The words, have faith Kitzia kept playing in my head like a broken record. But no matter how much reminded I myself of that, a small voice kept sneaking in saying, if it was meant to be, then why so much opposition?

I don’t have an answer to that yet.

I do know that I’ve never doubted the confirmation I received last year regarding whether to serve a mission or not. But in the months following, especially the most recent ones, I have wondered whether I missed an update somewhere along the way? Did my Heavenly Father say, okay, thanks for being obedient but I was just testing you. No need to serve a Misison? And did I simply not hear it because I was so focused on getting out there? So excited about being a missionary?

I hope not. But I suppose it’s possible.

I’ve spent so much time and energy on this endeavor and invested so much of myself in this… that I cannot say I would not be absolutely devastated if things did not work out.

But then I’m reminded of the quote by John Lubbock, and I have the comfort of knowing I did everything in my power and tried my very hardest to be obedient and do what I thought was right. That leaves no place for regrets. Only for graciously accepting the Lord’s will. It only leaves room for trust… trust that I’ll somehow, someway end up being exactly where I’m suppose to be.

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Fasting, Liquid Fasting, Personal Interests, Pre-mission activities

Fasting

When I hit 20 a thought dawned upon me. I’m aging. With that one thought, a box of worms opened up for me. I began using sunscreen almost religiously and I bought my first anti-wrinkle cream. The anti wrinkle cream might have been taking it a bit too far, but 20 was a pivotal point for me because I realized that the body I was walking around in was the only one I was ever going to have! And something told me that over the years, my body would show me the same love and respect that I showed it. This marked the beginning of a quest. The quest consisted of finding the answer to two questions; how could I ensure I was living the healthiest life style I possibly could and how could I best care for the wonderful gift I’d been given, my body?

Today, four years after this little epiphany, I’m proud to say that the knowledge void I had concerning these two questions is significantly smaller. Unfortunately, some of the things that have come to my attention during this time are quite disappointing and downright scary. Today I know that we are exposed to hundreds and thousands of pollutants on a daily basis. Worse yet is that these pollutants are pretty hard to avoid since they can be found pretty much anywhere; in restaurants, on the street, at school, at work and even in our very own homes.

There are toxins and chemicals everywhere. We find them in the air we breathe (this is especially true for those poor souls living in places like Mexico city!), the food we eat, and in the water we drink. Some of these toxins enter our bodies without our knowledge or consent but worse yet are the ones we willingly put inside of us.

I’m talking about the massive amounts of sugar we intake through the irresponsible eating habits we have developed as a society. Don’t even get me started with the artificial sweeteners food companies are pumping into us in everything from chewing gum to yogurt! Splenda? Really? Have you ever taken to time to educate yourself as to know what it actually is? I have, and trust me, cutting half the calories from my spearmint gum is not worth putting that junk into my system. Take a quick look here.

You might be thinking, sugar? Splenda? Those are the big bad toxins you’re all riled up about? Okay. How about the pesticides and hormones that we eat at every meal even when we think we’re making wise food choices? Or the over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs we have become so accustomed to using? Most of which have as a primary purpose smyptom relief, not to cure whatever is actually wrong with us. And have you ever read the ingredient label on your body lotion, shampoo, conditioner or deodorant? Did you know that our skin is the biggest organ in the human body? Not to mention extremely absorbent? You’d be surprised to find out what it is exactly that you are slathering on.

To put it simply, we’re abusing our bodies with sedatives, stimulants and harmful chemicals. Not cool.

From where I stand, I see a society that is constantly more and more obsessed with their outward appearance and with staying young, staying skinny, and looking good for as long as possible. But they refuse to go about it in the right way. Botox, diet pills, magical cellulite reducing creams? Wow! Seriously? What ever happened to feeling good? Having vitality, vigor, stamina and energy!? I’m sorry, but when did that go out of fashion? We spend a lot of time and effort (not to mention money) to keep the outside of our body looking good and clean. However, have we considered trying to keep the inside clean?

I think it’s due time we take responsibility for our health. That involves learning how to protect our bodies.

Many people are unaware that the body can become overloaded with toxins as a result of poor lifestyle habits and ignorance. A poor diet and limited physical activity combined with excesses of drugs, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol is not to be taken lightly. While our bodies have a miraculous and natural ability to expel these toxins, the amount that is entering our bodies on a daily basis is fast becoming more than what the body can cope with. Is it so hard to imagine that the natural process of expelling these toxins is becoming backlogged?

A body cleanse or body detox is a great way to address this issue. In addition, of course, to addressing all the above mentioned issues. Well, the ones that can be helped at least. I don’t know how much we can do about the pollution in the air we breath.

Detox is short for the term detoxification. The process of detoxification involves a systematic approach to assisting your body to remove toxins stored in its tissues. It is important to know that a body cleanse is not necessarily something that only “unhealthy” people should do. Even people that lead relatively healthy life-styles should cleanse their bodies as they are exposed on a daily basis to a multitude of chemicals and toxins.

One of the best way to detox your body is through a fast, and in my opinion (and after thorough research), a liquid fast. A Liquid fast consists of substituting solid food in favor of liquids. It’s purest form consist of drinking nothing but H2o, but research has show that a juice fast is more efficient since it has a greater ability to encourage healing compared to fasting on water. Juice fasting cleanses the body while supplying a remarkable increase in vitamins, minerals and enzymes while still allowing the digestive track to have a well deserved rest.

If you’re new to the idea of fasting in general or to fasting as a way to detoxify your body, don’t be so fast to write this off. Keep in mind that juice fasting is just a variation of the age-old fasting and detoxification rituals that have been a part of human diet for centuries. Maybe there are some health benefits that were understood by our ancestors?

After all, fasting plays a role in every major religion; the Bible (both old and new Testaments), the Koran, and the Mahabharata all advocate periodic fasts. (Although I think they were focused on its spiritual cleansing properties rather than it’s physical cleansing properties)

… but more on that in a later post.

Just think about this, what happens when an animal gets sick? When an animal, such as a dog or cat, is sick, its natural instinct is to refuse food. When the crisis is over, and the internal healing work has been accomplished, the appetite will return naturally, of its own accord.

The human organism also has a fasting instinct, just like that of other animals. Evolutionary adaptation has made our bodies very efficient at storing energy reserves, and drawing upon them when food supplies are scarce.

The ancient Greeks were great believers in fasting. Hippocrates greatly advocated it, as is shown in the following quotation,

“Everyone has a physician inside him or her;
we just have to help it in its work. The natural
healing force within each one of us is the greatest
force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine.
Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you
are sick is to feed your sickness.”

Plato said that he fasted for greater physical and mental efficiency. Aristotle, his pupil, also fasted.

The first time I ever heard of a liquid fast was when I was about 12 years old and I witnessed my father perform a 30 day liquid fast. His approach was a bit different. His fast was based on broths taken from vegetables and meat. This wasn’t the first time my father had fasted for a prolonged period of time. The first time had been when he was 20 years old. The difference between the two fast had been their purpose. The first had been done for detoxification, and the one he was undergoing at the time, was done for spiritual reasons.

In any case, I remember that watching him go on nothing but liquids for 30 days made a lasting impression on me. Since then, the thought of fasting for both physical and spiritual health has been in the back of my mind. I’ve had the desire to perform a liquid fast for quite a while now, but have never been able to carry one out due to my lifestyle and circumstance. I knew I would require at least 30 days to relax, rest and be able to concentrate on the task at hand (liquid fasts are no joke people!). A fast of this type pretty much rules out work, school, and a typical daily schedule. Not to mention the need of a stress-free, supportive, safe (relatively temptation-free) environment.

Not until now have I been given the opportunity.

So, if you are reading this, remember that everything mentioned above is my opinion. I’m no expert. Just a girl trying out different things on her search to a healthier lifestyle. Personally, I love to push myself and test my limits. Nevertheless I realize that long periods of fasting is NOT for everyone. It takes guts, commitment and a whole lot of self-control. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

But, as with all my other posts, all I’m doing here is sharing my experiences with the world. I’ve done lots of reading on the subject, I’ve formed certain personal opinions and now I’m ready to try it out myself. If the topic interests you, then I suggest you check out any or all of the following reads. Which can even be found on Google Books for free!

Juice Fasting and Detoxification:
Use the Healing Power of Fresh Juice to Feel Young and Look Great

The fasting path:
the way to spiritual, physical, and emotional enlightenment

The Juice Fasting Bible: Discover the Power of an All-Juice Diet to Restore good health, lose weight and increase vitality

There is tons of information on the subject. So go and inform yourself :)

Today is day one of my fast. I’ll be in the pre-fast phase for 7 days. This means I’ll slowly begin declining my food intake and increase my fluid intake. It also means that the solid food I eat will consist of ONLY raw fruits and vegetables.

I read the following quote in one of the many books I read:

When a person begins a fast the body instinctively understands its duties are redirected to cleansing and healing. After the first few days, the person should actually begin to feel more focused and develop a sense of well being. Some people experience euphoria, which is sometimes due to the fact that they have never cleaned out or rejuvenated their body.

I guess over the next few weeks I’ll be able to tell you if this is true or not :)

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