Mission Experiences, Chapters 29 & 30

This entry is part 15 of 18 in the series Mission

Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chicken Curry

I have one more story to relate about Bob and Betty. They were such a sweet couple I am reluctant to tell it, but even the nicest people seem to have their blind spots.

Remember the warning that was given me by Elder Elderidge? He told me to never eat Betty’s chicken curry and if it is ever offered to make some kind of excuse and then get out. He recommended saying that we are fasting if necessary.

Anyway I was in Scarborough longer than any other town – eight months altogether. We had hot drinks and cookies at Bob and Betty’s regularly and a couple times we had dinner. She wasn’t that great of a cook but at least it wasn’t chicken curry.

Then one day near the end of my stay there long after Elder Elderidge went home, the unthinkable happened. We stopped by there around dinnertime, not planning to eat there but on some type of missionary related business. As we sat in the living room talking to Bob in walks Betty looking as cheerful and happy as can be with a large plate in her hand.

“Guess what?” she said. “This is your lucky day. I just made Bob’s favorite dish and we have plenty for everyone.”

She laid a big plate of the substance next to Bob and he exclaimed, “Chicken curry, terrific!”

It had been so long since I received the warning that I had almost forgot about it, and I do not think I warned my companion. By this time Elder Cooper had been replaced by another elder and he knew nothing about the chicken curry legend.

Betty turned to us and said, “I’ll be right back with a big dish for the both of you.”

I tried to make every excuse I could think of without telling a bold-faced lie but she just replied with, “I won’t hear of it. It’s not every day that we get to share Bob’s favorite dish. Now just sit there and I’ll be right back.”

If I hadn’t become such good friends with these two we would have bolted one way or another but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Besides, I thought to myself, “How bad can it be?” After all, Bob liked it and he’s still in one piece.

Finally, I acquiesced and said, “Just a small amount please.”

Betty didn’t listen. Because she liked me so much she brought me a bigger dish than she gave my companion. It would have been difficult to eat it all even if it was something I really liked.

I took a look at the dish before me. It didn’t look very appetizing, but the English are not famous for their good food and I had eaten a lot of meals since I arrived in England that didn’t look or taste that great by American standards. Again I asked myself, “How bad can it be,” and took a bite.

From the first bite I knew that I was in trouble and that Elder Eldridge had told me the truth. The chicken was like nothing I have tasted before or since. It tasted like sawdust mixed with gasoline and the rest of the ingredients were not any better.

Then I looked over at Bob and to my surprise he was wolfing the alien substance down like it was the most finger licking good meal he had eaten in his entire life. I think that to this day I am still more puzzled over how he could have enjoyed the dish so much as by the mysteries of the universe. It just did not seem possible.

Within minutes Bob had finished his large dish and asked for a refill. Betty came in and replenished it and gave my companion and I a lecture to eat up, because there was lots more available.

My companion looked at me with a look of helplessness. By this time he also realized we were in a life and death situation. I felt bad that I got him into this and there was nothing I could do for him. I did see something I could do for me though. Next to me there was this large plant and when no one was looking I scooped as much of the stuff as I could into the pot. The dirt was recessed quite a bit and not visible so I was hoping the substance would decay and become unrecognizable by the time Betty came across it in the future.

Betty came back from the kitchen and gave Bob still another refill. He continued consuming it with eagerness so great that I was truly baffled and figured he should donate his stomach to science.

Then she asked me if I wanted more. I still had about a half a plate, as I couldn’t get rid of it all on the plant. I told her that I couldn’t eat another bite and handed her my plate. She reluctantly took it and then pestered my hapless companion who still had a full plate. The poor guy did the only thing he could do in that situation. He told her he had an upset stomach and didn’t feel like eating anything.

She looked at him with suspicion and I suspected she was going to insist he eat, but Bob saved the day.

“Great,” he said. “That just means there’s more for me. Pass it over. I’ll take care of it.”

As I watched Bob eat yet another dish I was amazed indeed. What a guy!

After we finished and Betty gathered up the dishes we visited a while and then left, happy to have escaped with our lives.

I believe it was about two days later that we paid them another visit. Betty answered the door and invited us in. “Where’s Bob?” we asked.

“He’s caught something and has been terribly sick since we saw you last. I was wondering if it could have been something in that chicken curry. Did you get sick at all from it?”

I shrugged my shoulders and told her I seemed to be okay. This was one of those situations where I told the truth, but left out some details. Sometimes you have to do that in life.

Fortunately, Bob healed quickly and was back to normal in a day or two.

And what was real fortunate was that I was not offered another dish of Betty’s chicken curry during my stay in England.

What happened to the plant, you ask.

On hindsight I ask myself the same question. I do not recall checking into it but would not be at all surprised if it suffered an early demise.

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Chapter Thirty
The Two Sylvias

After Elder Eldridge left and Elder Cooper became my companion we settled into the nuts and bolts of the work. Between the fact that Scarborough was a difficult town with an aging population and the duties of being District Leader we were unable to duplicate the results obtained in Peterlee. Even so, we plodded along and did manage some success in proselyting.

It was around this time that we came across and baptized two of the most unique characters of my mission. They were two fairly good-looking blond females, both having the name of Sylvia.

The first Sylvia was about 35, had previously worked in a bar and was a fairly worldly gal. Even so, she liked our message and decided she wanted to get baptized. Then an odd thing happened as we picked her up in our van to take her to the baptism. Just as I started to drive off a powerful message came to me telling me not to proceed with the baptism.

I found this to be extremely awkward timing as the van was packed with local people expecting to go to a baptism. What would I tell them if I did not proceed? “Hey, guys, we can’t go to the baptism because I received a message from God?” That would sound like crazy talk.

This was one of the few times I ignored the internal message, and I soon found out that it was correct and Sylvia was not ready to take her next step in her spiritual progression.

Shortly thereafter we began teaching a second Sylvia. She was a young blond lass of about 16. I remember clearly the first time I met her. We taught her with a group of three or four other investigators. After we finished with the first lesson we invited the group to kneel with us in prayer. We all got in a circle and with Sylvia to my left side I offered the prayer. It must have been an impressive one for the second I aid “amen” she threw her arms around me and attempted to kiss me.

This, of course, was against mission rules for the policy was that all missionaries are suppose to keep an “arm’s length” from all females, especially those that don’t remind you of your sweet grandmother.

I found myself in the rather embarrassing situation of constraining her as she seemed quite determined to plant one on me. After I was assured she was at a safe distance I explained to her about the mission rules and my rejection had nothing to do with her personally.

This didn’t seem to sink in, as from that point on she seemed very captivated with me and did everything in her power to draw my attention. The first thing she did was to take all the missionary lessons and then ask for baptism.

After getting a negative message on the first Sylvia, I almost expected one on the second. I did my best to tune into the Spirit on the matter as I didn’t want to get another one on the way to a baptism. A message a few days before the event would be much more convenient.

No negative message came and her parents gave her permission so there was no reason to deny her membership in the church. We went ahead and baptized her giving us the odd credit of two blond Sylvias to our baptism record.

Shortly thereafter the two Sylvias met and became the best of friends. There was about a 20-year age difference but the two really hit it off. Even though the younger Sylvia was 16 she could have passed for 20 so the two palling around did not look that out of place.

Around this time Elder Cooper was transferred and I received a new companion. The strange thing is that the new guy was the most supportive companion I had during my mission but, try as I will, I cannot recall his name. It’s odd that the two companions whose names I cannot recall are the best and the worst. I cannot recall the name of the elder from hell nor the heaven sent one that was a great sidekick during my last few months at Scarborough.

From now on we’ll just identify him as “my companion.”

My companion thought he was walking into a pretty standard situation but little did he or I know about the experiences we would have awaiting us in dealing with the two Sylvias.

Copyright 2010 by J J Dewey

Series NavigationMission Experiences, Chapters 27 & 28Mission Experiences, Chapters 31 & 32

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