Thursday, July 9, 2015

E-mail: July 6, 2015 "I don't care if it adds flavor"

One thing I've grown accustomed to while living here in India is always having to share our apartment with uninvited guests. These 'guests' include spiders, cockroaches, ants, several varieties of lizards, mosquitoes, and that branch member who drops by uninvited every once in a while hoping we'll give him food. Most of these can be controlled fairly easily; using bug spray, sleeping under the fan where the mosquitoes can't get us, and chasing the lizards and the branch member outside with a broom, all seem to be affective ways to keep the pests away. Yet, despite our best efforts and our ability to keep all the other critters away, we can't manage to control the ants. Ants are everywhere here, from the big ones that could bite your toe off to the minuscule ones that take a magnifying glass to detect, they always find a way to pester us. The infestation we have now consists of tiny ants that eat everything from sugar to toothbrushes (true story).

If you leave a snack on the counter for longer than 20 minutes the entire colony will arrive to devour it before you get back. I hate to admit it but I was fascinated the other day as I watched them trace a straight line almost 20 feet long across the floor from the food source to their colony without resting or deviating from the path. My fascination quickly turned into fierce anger however when I opened a sealed package of biscuits only to find that the six-legged devils had gotten to them first.

My breakfasts usually consist of cornflakes and rolled oats topped with bananas, honey, and milk. I keep the bananas and the honey well out the reach of the ants, but I didn't think they'd be audacious enough to touch my unsweetened oats.

My mistake. The problem is that I didn't notice until after I'd gotten halfway through my breakfast.
Before my mission if I'd seen 20+ dead ants floating in my cereal I would've thrown it and the bag of oats away immediately. Now however, when money is tight and food is precious, I resorted to freezing them so they'd at least be dead and making sure I don't look into my bowl while I eat breakfast from now on.

The ironic part is that lately I've been looking for ways to get more protein into my diet. The Lord truly blesses us with what we need when we need it (sometimes with a touch of cruel humor).

While we're on the topic of ants I had another experience with them a short while back that taught me a valuable principle. We were visiting a less active sister outside her home when I noticed that the Elder beside me was constantly shuddering and swatting at himself. As I looked closely I saw he was covered in ants, but after he shook them all off he'd be covered again in just a few minutes. We realized they were coming from a small electric cable running just above our heads, and the reason they were falling down onto this missionary is because they were all marching upside down on the bottom of the cable. The ones that didn't fall on him landed on the ground where they wandered around not knowing how to get back.

As I looked at them I couldn't help but think to myself- "Stupid ants, why are you all walking on the bottom of the cable when you know you could fall, just walk on the top where you'll be safe." As I thought this I remembered something I learned years ago about ants- when one ant finds food it leaves a chemical trail back to it's colony that other ants can sense and follow. Ants trust their senses so much that they'll follow the trail regardless of where it leads them, which in this case was walking precariously upside down 10 feet in the air.

How often are we like that? How often do we do follow what everyone else is doing regardless of how pointless or even dangerous it is just because we don't want to stand out? Going with the flow is not the Lord's way, and when He was on earth He paved the perfect example of what it means to stand out. He fearlessly went against religious and cultural norms of His day because He knew they were wrong, and because of His example many others followed. When we follow the way that the Lord has shown us we stay safe, when we choose to follow the crowd ,we risk falling and not being able to get back on our own. I pray that each of us will have the courage to follow the Savior regardless of what everyone else is doing. I pray that each of us will have the courage to be different.

Anyways, until next week everyone, don't be an ant, or a lemming, "or anything like unto it". :)
-Elder Cloward

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