When people ask me what foods I like, I usually say, “the edible kind.” In about 1985 I had some steamed okra that was a little slimy, but that’s the most recent time I had an adverse reaction to a food. Please note, however, that I ate all of that okra.

At my age, I can no longer eat whatever I want without causing damage to my delicate and finely honed vanity. I have become the sorriest - whiniest - partially sunny day between 60 and 70 degrees - runner on the face of the planet simply because I love to eat more than I hate to run.

I have been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for, let’s see, {finger, finger, finger; hold on, gotta take off my shoes} 89 days. The first time I attended church was a Fast and Testimony meeting. It didn’t seem to end any sooner than it was supposed to, so I figured there was more to this “fast” business than I thought.

Okay, I’m just kidding. I was raised Catholic. I know the score. We had the Friday fasting from meat, the Sunday morning fasting before receiving the Sacrament, and the whole Lent thing (during which my friend Carol’s non-Catholic father faithfully gave up watermelon). But I am not a faster by nature, moi.

This past Sunday our excellent talks were on fasting in support of our missionary effort, and I learned some specifics that were new to me. Begin and end a fast with prayer. Without prayer, it’s just going hungry. Fasting with prayer focuses our attention on communication with Heavenly Father, and our prayers achieve greater power. Our self-control improves, our awareness is enhanced, our character is strengthened. You all know these things already.

Today I am taking my place in the 40-day perpetual fast our ward sponsored in support of the missionary effort. When I signed my name to this day on the calendar, I asked my friend Kaye to split it with me. She smiled kindly and wondered silently why she answered the phone that day I called to ask if I could come visit the church. I had good intentions of making a feast and snarfing it at 12:00:000000000001 a.m. tomorrow morning. I wondered if it would count as a sin if I used daylight saving time.

But today all of that went away. The hunger hasn’t gone away. But every time I feel a pang, it reminds me to say another prayer. I’m hoarse. My stomach rumbles, and small children in nearby schools huddle under their desks and look at their teachers with large, questioning eyes. I’m on my way to the grocery store in a few minutes to get some shrimp and broccoli to roast for my husband’s dinner, and I won’t be sharing it with him tonight. But I trust that my novice efforts on this day will join with those of all the seasoned (yum!) members of my new church to bring more to the fold that I have come so quickly to love so much.

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