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This article is part of a series on the Word of Wisdom. To view all the articles in this series, see Discovering the Word of Wisdom.
If you live in Europe (or are planning to visit), consider participating in the first ever European Word of Wisdom Conference. It will be held on July 9 in Switzerland. Everyone is warmly welcome! I’ll be addressing the Word of Wisdom from a whole food, plant-based perspective and my co-presenters will be sharing their experience and introducing great cooking tips. There will be lots of time for interaction and eating some delicious whole food, plant-based meals together! For more details see, European Word of Wisdom Conference.
In honor of the upcoming conference, today I’m featuring a few of the saints around the world who are embracing a Word of Wisdom diet and experiencing the promised blessings.
Because of the work I do to promote a way of eating in harmony with the Word of Wisdom, I frequently hear from faithful members of the Church who ask questions and share their stories. Most are from the United States, but a surprising number come from abroad. Every week, Latter-day Saints tell me about their search for answers through study and prayer and how they’ve received direction from God to go to D&C 89 and study the Word of Wisdom. Often, the Lord also directs them to some of the great whole food, plant-based literature, videos, and other resources. It is clear the Lord is using these tools to answer the sincere prayers of His children.
It is not just members of His Church that the Lord is trying to awaken to the principles in D&C 89. He is also encouraging and supporting people not of our faith in adopting a healthier diet in harmony with the counsel He revealed to Joseph Smith in 1830. I’m so grateful to be in a position to see the Lord’s hand move across this earth, stirring the hearts and minds of His children, and leading them to truths that are sweet and delicious. People all over this world are finding these truths to be much more desirable than the old traditions they now happily leave behind.
These experiences have impressed on me a great gospel truth: the Lord loves ALL of His children, no matter where they live and what their faith (or non-faith is). He wants to give all of us all the blessings we are willing to receive.
Based on my experience, I can say with great confidence that I know that this growing awareness and adoption of a diet in harmony with the Word of Wisdom is another way that the Lord is “hastening His work” in these the last days. There is great work that must yet be done to prepare for His coming, and the Lord needs workers who are well—physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. The health of our bodies, and more importantly our willingness to treat them as the temples they are, contributes immensely to developing our full capacity to receive the light and knowledge the Lord desires to give us as we go forth to do the work He needs us to do.
A Few Saints From Around the World
Below I feature a few of the many saints from around the world who have shared their stories with me. I’ll start with Europe, the site of the upcoming Word of Wisdom Conference, and with the story of Caroline Gappmaier. She and her husband, Markus Gappmaier, are sponsoring the conference in their home country, Switzerland. They will be presenting both practical and personal reflections on the Word of Wisdom, including the simplicity of creating healthy, wholesome plant-based meals.
Caroline Gappmaier (Bern, Switzerland)
Caroline Gappmaier grew up on a fairly healthy diet, but a period of extended stress brought on a severe health crisis. The symptoms were so serious, she felt her body could “stop working at any given moment.”
In desperation and due to the reactions of her body, she gave up unhealthy foods like refined sugar products and cheese and ate, for a while, fresh produce only. These changes made a huge difference, and she began to recover. Later, she, together with her husband Markus, adopted a whole food, plant-based Word of Wisdom diet for good. The healing continued and intensified. Here are some of the blessings she has experienced:
- I can perform hard work from early morning till night without my body or mind feeling tired or hurting.
- I eat as much as I want and keep my ideal weight.
- My feelings of depression are gone.
- No more constipation.
- My [chronic] athlete’s foot is gone
- I started to have new spiritual insights and an increased openness and awe for God and His creations
To read Caroline’s story in her own words, see “Our life will never be the same again!”
Elodie Picard (originally from France, now living in Vienna, Austria)
As a young mother, Elodie Picard was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Cancer treatment left her with a chronic condition that doctors told her would only get worse. After a short time, the cancer tumors also returned. As the doctors had no other answers for her, she went to her Heavenly Father to plead for help.
Along with her fervent prayers, Elodie tried to educate herself about her condition. She recalls, “All my research and prayers pointed towards nutrition.” Taking a leap of faith, she cut out all animal products (meat, dairy, and eggs) along with gluten, soy, and sugar, and ate dramatically more fresh fruits and vegetables. Within 6 months, she went from 12 supplements a day to none. She reports that by following a Word of Wisdom diet,
All the tumors disappeared completely. It’s been three years, and I have absolutely no trace of tumors or cancer. . . . I am full of energy and feel fantastic . . . We all are in great physical shape. We rarely get sick, and if we do it’s usually a day or two at the most.
To read Elodie’s story in her own words, see “I went on my knees and asked for His help.”
Warner Molema (Johannesburg, South Africa)
Interestingly, Warner Molema started living by the Word of Wisdom before he knew anything else about the Church. His parents purchased a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants from LDS missionaries when he was a teen. While browsing the book, Warner read Section 89 and gave up alcohol, tobacco, and “hot drinks.” He had already given up eating meat.
Ironically, it was only after he later joined the Church and was serving as an LDS missionary that Warner felt pressured by Church members to start consuming some meat. After his mission, however, Warner gradually returned to a vegetarian diet. In 2014, he adopted a whole food, plant-based diet. Most of his family joined him. Warner notes that eating a Word of Wisdom diet has better enabled him to accomplish the extensive Church leadership service he has been called to perform. As his entire family has continued to improve their diet, his children and wife have also enjoyed the blessings of better health. Warner notes:
I believe that living the Word of Wisdom before finding and joining the Church was the refining that helped me seek out and recognise the truth of the restored Gospel. Being a member of the Church, one who lives the Word of Wisdom, has indeed brought the blessing of finding wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures, into my life and the lives of my wife and children.
To read Warner’s story in his own words, see “My journey started before I joined the Church.”
Edith Bongi Ndlela (Durban, South Africa)
Edith Ndlela’s patriarchal blessing counsels her to learn, understand, and live by the Word of Wisdom. She tried eating a vegetarian diet, but not having much understanding of how to do so, she failed. Just a few weeks ago, she realized she had been eating quite a bit of meat. By the end of the week, she was feeling heavy and lethargic. This was the “final straw.” She decided to ask the Lord for help. Her eyes were immediately directed to D&C 89. She thought, “I have read this scripture several times, but I do not have a clear understanding of what I need to do.”
The very next day, Edith was surprised to find exactly what she was searching for. On her computer, a link that read, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom” led to the story of someone doing a 40-day fast from meat. She felt the Spirit testify that this was right for her. She immediately started her fast on April 10, 2016. Although she has not lost a lot of weight yet, she has already experienced many blessings. Here are just a few:
- Waking early feeling alive and full of energy all day long.
- Mood swings have disappeared, along with feelings of sadness, fear, and depression that used to linger for hours.
- Increase self-confidence and feeling good about herself; after many years, she now feels she can deal with issues without fear.
- Body aches, including severe pain in the back, are gone.
- Sinusitis is slowly disappearing.
- Her mind is more alert and attentive and memory much improved.
- She now feels hope for the future, something that has been missing for some time.
Kevin Tunstall (Hamilton, New Zealand)
Kevin Tunstall was a relatively young and healthy LDS bishop when he felt prompted to get screened for cancer. His doctor was skeptical, but humored him anyway. Sure enough, the tests came back positive for prostate cancer. Kevin’s life went into a tailspin. Seeking guidance, he went to the temple and there pled with the Lord for help. When the scriptures on his lap fell open to D&C 89, his heart started racing. He knew he could choose to believe that this was a coincidence, but instead, “I chose there and then to believe the Lord wanted me to read this. I felt He was telling me, ‘This is an answer to the problem. Read it and you can solve it.’”
It was a struggle for Kevin to figure out what the answers in D&C 89 meant and how to live them, but Heavenly Father helped him every step of the way. Eventually he fully embraced a whole food, plant-based diet with joy and thanksgiving. His cancer went into remission and his health returned. He says:
My energy and clarity increased dramatically . . . With the health benefits we’ve experienced, we don’t need to listen to any other perspectives—we just trust the Spirit. Now, more and more people who had initially been skeptical are asking questions, with several starting the transition to a plant-based diet.
To read his Kevin’s story in his own words, see “I just wanted to feel normal.”
Gary Powell (Sunshine Coast, Australia)
Before joining the Church, Gary Powell’s military career took him all over the world. Wherever he went, he looked up the local natural healers and learned from them. He also did formal training in healing. His deep understanding of nutrition and the healing arts enabled him to immediately understand the power of the Word of Wisdom when he joined the Church.
Due to the miraculous healings he had experienced through a healthy diet, Gary never doubted the counsel found in the Word of Wisdom and couldn’t understand why Mormons had this great advice but chose to ignore it. He was puzzled why no one else saw the value of following anything but the “Famous Four.” As a “very suspicious nutritionist,” he investigated everything about the Word of Wisdom, determined to know “the how, where, and why of it all.” As a practitioner of natural healing, Gary recalls:
As I continued my studies I felt the Spirit guiding me and telling me things I had never heard of concerning man’s physical welfare. I was living very close to the Word of Wisdom while in practice and several times this is how the knowledge to treat certain things came to me.
To read Gary’s story in his own words, see “I felt the Spirit guiding me and telling me things.”
Next Week: I’ll share additional stories featuring international saints in North and South America.
Share Your Story: If you have a story to tell, please contact me.
Find Latter-days Saints Living Near You
Want to locate others in your geographic area interested in a whole food, plant-based Word of Wisdom diet? Join the WFPB (whole food, plant-based) Mormon Map! Add your name so that others can find you and you can find others.
View the WFPB Mormon Map. To find someone, type your state or country into the search bar, or click directly on the map. Click on a pin to get the person’s name and email address. Contact the person and introduce yourself!
Add your name to the WFPB Mormon Map. Don’t be shy! At least leave your first name and email address to that others can contact you.
For help getting started on a healthy Word of Wisdom diet, see: “Getting Started.”
Jane Birch is the author of Discovering the Word of Wisdom: Surprising Insights from a Whole Food, Plant-based Perspective and many articles on the Word of Wisdom. She can be contacted on her website, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. Watch the video “Discovering the Word of Wisdom: A Short Film.”