I hate ants. With a passion. Growing up in Southern California, our home was plagued with them, and it drove me crazy. There is nothing worse than pouring yourself a bowl of cereal, adding milk, and watching ant corpses bob to the surface. It was enough to make an 8 year old who loves her Fruit Loops weep.
So, you can imagine how much Emily Milner’s essay Daily Bread , her story about eating ant-ridden food in Ecaudor, stayed with me. Oh, how I shuddered.
Emily discusses how eating the food became a major part of her service as a missionary, as well as a topic for fervent prayer. It seems an interesting and unusual thing to pray about, really. Praying about food? As a missionary? Shouldn’t we pray for bigger things?
Of course the answer is that we pray for the things that are important to us in the moment, and if that happens to be eating food that the locals present as a sacrifice to the missionaries, so be it. More than the storytelling of this essay (which is excellent, of course. But all of us here at Segullah know that Emily rocks), this essay made me think again that the Lord is willing to bless us in all things, even when it involves the miniutae of our daily lives. The big and the small things are worthy of His notice, and if we are prepared to give to Him any trial we have, He is willing to take it. Even when that trial comes in the form of ants swimming in the lemonade.
Ok, now let’s share food stories. I have never served a mission, but I did spend a semester abroad in Germany, where I met many Africans. I spent many a Sunday afternoon in the company of one African, who almost always served us chicken mixed with something. I would help him prepare the food, and watch as he would handle raw chicken with his hands, and then touch everything else. It made my stomach turn to see him handle all the other food stuffs with his greasy salmonella-chicken fingers, and I once even meekly suggested that raw chicken can carry disease, and was he sure he wanted to prepare the vegetables on the same surface as the chicken?
“Oh, that’s not true, ” he said. “Raw chicken does not have disease. Only eggs carry that. Chicken is fine”, he would tell me, and proceed to lick his wet fingers to emphasize his point.
It sometimes made me nauseous to do it, but I ate his food, only because I knew he had emptied his cupboards for the feast. And perhaps he was right about the disease, as I was never sick eating his food. Or perhaps the prayers of the righteous are heard after all.
Can you relate to Hermana Emily’s food plight? Has a fervent prayer gotten you through an unsavory culinary situation? Have your prayers been answered in other ways involving seemingly small but significant events? And do you have some tried and true tips for keeping ants out of cereal?
As for me, I’ve decided Tupperware is my friend.