Mushroom Scholarship
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“Mushroom Scholarship,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2021, 6–7.

Mushroom Scholarship

What lessons could I learn from something as yucky as mushrooms?

Mushroom Scholarship

Illustration by Julia Yellow

I don’t like mushrooms. That smell and texture—I don’t like them at all! But my parents began cultivating mushrooms when I was a child, so we ate them at meals every day. During the harvest season, I would help my parents late into the night. I would measure 200 grams of mushrooms, pack them in a bag, and press the seal on the package. I remember having fun while talking with my family. It was almost like having a family home evening every day.

It also provided income for the family, so we had to help out. But there were two downsides: First, one of my favorite television programs was on at the time we had to work, so I couldn’t watch it. And second, by the time I finished work, my hands would be black from the mushrooms, and it was hard to get rid of the color and smell with soap. When I was a child, I sometimes complained about why I had to help so much every day.

The mushrooms provided a good income for a while, but eventually the prices fell as the number of mushroom farmers increased, and my parents stopped growing mushrooms. I thought that they had only stopped because the prices fell, but I learned a fact that surprised me when I graduated from college.

My parents had started cultivating mushrooms to save college funds for me and my brothers. They had only stopped because they’d reached their target amount. When I found out, I felt ashamed of ever complaining. I hadn’t known that I had been working for my future college expenses. And on top of that, my family had helped me!

I had complained over and over without knowing that we grew the mushrooms for my own scholarship. My complaining was like Laman and Lemuel’s in 1 Nephi 2:12: “And thus Laman and Lemuel … did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.” I’m so glad the Lord knows me well and blessed me, despite my complaining.

I don’t think I’ll ever like eating mushrooms. But if there were no mushrooms, I would actually be a little sad, because I wouldn’t have the opportunity to remember those experiences with my family. Because of them, I learned to value my blessings and trust in the Lord’s plan—and not to complain! So even though I dislike mushrooms, I now appreciate them. They are an important symbol for me to remember my family bonds.

The author lives in Shinagawa City, Japan.