Almost 20 years ago, I was a brand new missionary fresh from the MTC and had just arrived in Salvador, Brazil. It was a lot different than Payson, Utah where I had grown up. The people were different, the climate was different, the language was different, the food was different, the everything was different. But I was excited about the one thing that, I had heard, was awesome in Brazil. The fruit.
I would soon get to experience the exotic, fresh, tropical fruit that I’d really only heard about. The kind of fruit that you could pluck from the vines while using a machete traveling through the thick rain forest jungle.
It took only a couple of days before I had my first experience with this famous Brazilian delicacy. On my second day in my new country, I was still in a small group with a few of the Elders in my MTC district and we had basically been relegated to wandering around with a babysitter Elder while we waited for all of our assigned companions to arrive by bus, and take us back to our individual areas. Our babysitter Elder was a native Brazilian guy who spoke no English, but was super excited to share his “Brazilian-ness”with us newbie Americans that morning.
Breakfast was all on him. He treated us to the most delicious meal imaginable. He went all out to impress us. We skipped the normal breakfast of bread and juice that morning as he prepared sliced, fresh papaya, and milk.
Now, the milk he made that morning wasn’t what we would normally imagine when we hear milk. Not the super cold, fresh white stuff that comes from a super fat cow in some Wisconsin dairy farm. Nope. This milk was made from warm water that had been boiled, and then sent through a clay filter, then mixed with the dehydrated milk powder your mom used to try and get you to drink when you were a kid. Not delicious. And we were just getting started.
The papaya slices, however, were fresh, I’m sure it had been on a tree up until the day before. The day had finally come for my fresh tropical fruit baptism, and I was excited! But, I had never had papaya before. And that was a problem, because I wasn’t prepared for what happened when I first brought that fruit toward my anxious watering mouth.
I knew that something was wrong when the fruit neared the 2 inches away from my mouth mark, because that is where my nose was able to pick up on the aroma that emanated from that freshly cut morsel. Warning bells, alarms, and sirens flooded my mind and ears. Red flashing lights, and stop signs suddenly flashed before my eyes. Something was definitely wrong! The unmistakably stench of vomit had just invaded my nose! How could that be? It was a just a beautiful tropical exotic fruit, it wasn’t making sense! Then, a fraction of a second later, it made perfect sense, because having been locked in the motion of putting that slice into my mouth I had passed the point of no return.
It hit my tastebuds and was disastrous. My tastebuds then verified and intensified the warning signals my nose had initiated. It tasted just like it smelled. It was as if I had willingly placed a slightly solid or at least congealed slice of warm, formed emesis, or vomit into my mouth. You’re welcome for that thought. Papaya was nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
I was at a loss. I didn’t know what to do. All I could do, was try and wash it down with some of the warm pretend milk. I looked up at the grinning face of the Elder who had nearly killed me, and smiled and gave him the thumbs up sign. What else could I do?
Needless to say, papaya is not on my list of delicious fruits. In fact, its on my list of apostate foods. Im sure papaya only came into being after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, along with the thorns, weeds, briers, and asparagus.
What did I learn that day? Not all fruit is good. Something that I really hadn’t imagined could even be possible. Tyson, also on his mission in Brazil, learned this same lesson. Besides, after eating an apple cobbler, or cherry hostess pie, how could you think that all fruit wasn’t delicious?
Fruit is a perfect analogy for spiritual effects. Is it any wonder that the Savior taught us how to recognize truth by comparing it to fruit?
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them¹.”
We can know the truth or recognize it when we taste it! It will either be sweet, and delicious, or it won’t be. Lehi and Nephi tasted the fruit in his dream about the tree of life. It was “sweet, and desirable above all other fruits²!”
The Lord also describes how it will taste or, in a spiritual sense, feel, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance³…”
This is still very relevant today because there are a lot of artificial fruits out there. Some are purposefully meant to deceive. Many other doctrines, ideas, cultural norms, lifestyles, traditions, histories, or thoughts specifically target us. They are meant to pull us away from the real fruit that is delicious, by deceiving us with different fruit that looks great, but in reality, is nothing more than those fake, hollow, plastic things used for Thanksgiving decorations.
Earlier on this blog, Tyson described fruit as “a literal product of, or the end result of the growth process of [the] tree…”. If we look at each doctrine, or piece of information we read or come by in this sense, we can determine what type of tree it came from both by looking backward and then forward from the time the fruit was picked. What kind of tree did this particular fruit come from? Was it scripture? Words from the prophets? Or, was it found on a Wikipedia bush? If we look forward from the time we sink our teeth into it, we can spiritually “taste” if it is truly sweet.
Real fruit has a real sweetness that produces real happiness, joy, peace and love. False fruits or untruth has the opposite effect. Confusion, anger, bitterness, contention, and hatred. When we examine what kinds of effects the fruit we eat has on us, which of these two camps do we find ourselves in?
We can know truth when we see, hear, or read it by the power of the Holy Ghost. He will not deceive us. We can be protected from the wolf in sheep’s clothing. We just need to be able to recognize the taste as either something resembling a homemade fresh apple pie, or a rotten sliced papaya (in my case).
When we go through life and experience all sorts of different fruits, lets pay closer attention to the effects each bite has on us. Truth will bring happiness, love and contentment. Untruth will bring sadness, anger, and contention.
This life will be full of rocky patches and confusing roads. The better we are able to understand and trust our spiritual tastebuds, the real fruit will be able to guide us and keep us on the true path.
Most fruits, when from the trees are plucked,
And then consumed, or juiced, or sucked,
Produce a happy, yummy taste,
Unless, of course, you’ve sadly placed,
Papaya on your tasting buds,
Then, memories begin to flood,
of vomit bursting from your lips,
and finally, you’ll come to grips,
That not all fruits are good to eat,
Especially those that taste like feet.
- Mathew 7:15-20
- 1 Nephi 8:12
- Galatians 5:22,23