I smiled to myself as my companion finished the conversation and hung up the phone. We were going to visit one of my favorite part-member families here in Chennai. The investigator we're teaching is named Priya (pree-yah), and her sister Dheena, who was baptized about a month ago, always prepares a five star meal whenever we visit. Now I'm definitely not complaining against a member preparing us food, especially when it's really good food, but this sister is notorious for preparing enough rice and curry for the entire Indian army and then expecting two missionaries to finish it all and lick their plates clean. As much as we love to visit this family I'm sure the memory of us staggering away from their home last week with enough rice in our stomachs to keep us full for days drove my companion to make sure that she only prepared a "small snack".
Famous last words.
The next morning after consuming three dosas, two servings of chicken curry, two glasses of Maaza (mango juice), and half a loaf of egg toast she finally let us leave, and we lumbered away wondering how "small snack" turned into "let's see how fast we can give the Elders diabetes".
As much as I resent the rice belly I've acquired through experiences like this though it has taught me what it really means to be selfless. Some of the people that we visit here barely have enough means to keep food on their own table, let alone enough to feed two hungry missionaries, yet whenever we visit a family like that we rarely walk away hungry. There was one time we went to a member's home and he served us a modest serving of what I thought was leftover beef curry. When he saw how much I enjoyed it he continued to serve us and insisted that we finish what was left. It was only until after we were walking away that my companion and I realized that the food he'd given us wasn't leftover, it was supposed to be dinner for him and his wife. That experience taught me that sometimes I just have to say no when there's not a lot of food because they'll literally feed us until there's nothing left, but it also taught me a little bit about how Christlike many of these people are and how I want to be like that. These are people who give more than anyone else because they give all they have, and although their means are meager a common factor that always exists is that they're happy. I'm going to work on being more like them.
Oh, and while we're talking about food let me add a few new members to the list of crazy concoctions I've encountered. In the last two weeks I've also tried pancakes made out of noodles, chocolate cheese toast (it's exactly what it sounds like), a crazy vegetable which looks like a coconut on the outside and has clear jello patties on the inside, and buttermilk with chili peppers drunk straight from the glass.
I'll start taking pictures from now on.
And before I forget again I finished the Book of Mormon three weeks ago on May 26th, so if you were able to keep up and finished by at least the 28th I'll send a postcard your way. Even if you weren't able to beat me though email me with where you are and share your experience, I'd love to hear about it. :)
Anyways until next week, work hard and pray harder. :)
A note from Jen (mom):
In a personal email he told us that he will for sure be going to the Philippines next month to renew his visa. The elders that were sent there in January finally got their new visas. This process should only take 3 months, so he is worried that it took the last elders 7.5 months to get back to India. He is asking us to please pray that his visa renewal will go quickly and smoothly.