The first of these blessings were the wonderful sister missionaries who took the time to prepare food for all the hungry missionaries at church so they wouldn't have to travel an hour back to their areas on empty stomachs, but even though we knew that food would be waiting for us after the meetings, we were still wondering how we would make it till 3:00. The answer came during the administration of the sacrament as I quietly prayed that my growling belly wouldn't disrupt the reverence of the service. I don't know if it was because the priests were new, if there was more bread than was needed, or if it was simply a tender mercy from the Lord, but as the tray came to me I was surprised to see that instead of small bite-sized bits, each piece was almost half a slice of bread. I'm grateful to have been fed physically as well as spiritually that day.
This experience taught me another lesson as well though- any time we go without food our bodies send us signals, such as hunger, cravings, and even pain to let us know that it needs to be recharged. Think of a time (perhaps a fast Sunday) when you went without food for an extended period of time- any time you saw, smelled, or even thought about food it made the experience harder and almost unbearable. Now remember when you finally sat down at the dinner table to a large meal lovingly prepared by you mother- you could barely even make it through the blessing on the food before you dug in to comfort your ravished body. Just as the sacrament calmed my physical hunger during church last week it can do the same to soothe the spiritual cravings of everyone who worthily and regularly partakes of it. Everything we teach about in the church is centered on Jesus Christ. He was the Savior, the Redeemer, the great Jehovah sent to prepare a way so that we, as mortals and sinners could have a chance at eternal salvation. The most important event of the life of the most important individual to ever live was the Atonement, the sacrifice that allowed all of us to be fed and healed. When we take the sacrament each week we do so in remembrance of that great sacrifice and our promise to be completely loyal to the one who performed it. It can, if we let it, be an experience that feeds our souls and heals our wounds. Just as your physical body sends you signs when it's hungry, your spirit also sends you signs when it needs nourishment. These signs include guilt, sadness, remorse, emotional pain, and several others and they can only be satisfied as we show our love and gratitude to our Savior and His sacrifice by taking the emblems of His flesh and blood and renewing our promise to always remember Him. I testify that the sacrament is the most important thing we can do each week and it can, if we let it, be the nourishment our ever-hungry souls so desperately need.
Chennai is as hot and humid as everyone said it would be. Every time I step outside our air-conditioned bedroom it's literally like I'm walking into a sauna. I determined, however, that I wouldn't let the hellish temperatures get the best of me and that I would overcome my uncomfortable condition through patient endurance. After a few days as I started to get used to the heat I thought to myself "this isn't so bad", but just as I started to think that I was really something special for being able to adjust so quickly, the AC unit in our apartment broke and three sleepless nights full of sweat and mosquitoes did it's job to humble me again.
I have to say though that other than the heat I love this city. It's lush and green and has that salty, seaside feel wherever I go. The members here are awesome as well. Church on Sunday was very uplifting and I was able to meet many devoted yet lighthearted and humorous people who brightened my day. On top of it all my new companion is Elder Pushparaj, an Indian missionary from Bangalore who started serving the same time as me and who became a close friend while we were in the same zone in Hyderabad. He's fun, focused, and has a magnetic personality and infectious positive attitude that leaves everyone smiling. Needless to say but I think I'm going to enjoy my time here. :)
Anyways everyone until next week- Rock On.