Sunday, August 31, 2008

More Rolls and Roles 8/25/08

More Rolls and Roles 
After our inspections we walked back to the office to start our day, which today will run until 8:30pm because Cindy is in high gear learning her job from Elder Lunt before he goes on his Visa Trip on Saturday.
Sister Cindy works in the front office next to the entry door where she can greet everyone who enters as she sets the tone for the office. Sister Olga works at a desk to my right (as I took this picture) and Brat (brother) Pyotr (Peter) sits at a desk to my left. My place is just behind me and to the left. This picture is taken from the same spot, just 3 steps back and turning to the left. Pyotr is on the other side of the wall that I am facing.

As you can see, both of our spots are a little snug, but I'm in the snuggest spot. I have to turn my chair to the right to get up because the back of my chair hits the wall in back of me. I do have a window there on my left with the flash glare. I'm working on a plan to move Pyotr's wall a foot into his space, but haven't decided how to move that concrete wall yet. Give me a little time.

My other role is as commissar of clean veggies. After we return from shopping, Cindy puts away the non-perishables and I wash the fruit and veggies. It is a little labor intensive (that's missionary for "A lot of work") and takes me from 2 to 3 hours to complete.

First, everything is washed in detergent to get rid of the gross dirt. The cucumbers and tomatoes are not too dirty, but the potatoes and onions closely approach "gross". Sometimes the potatoes are crusty with black, flakey dirt that has to be scrubbed with a brush. They must be growing these in a Mongolian river bottom.

Here is the setup with the sink full of soap water and the two bowls full of filtered water and a cap full of bleach. I do the cleanest stuff first, here it is the apples and tomatoes, and do the dirtiest stuff last. They all stay in the bleach for about 15 minutes. Cindy thinks she read some place that we need to bleach then for 30-45 minutes. A biologist in our group at the Krasnoyarsk YSA Conference said 30 seconds to 2 minutes would kill everything killable, so who knows.

The onions pose a unique problem because they grow mold under the first couple of layers and have to be pealed down to the mold, scrubbed and bleached. It is hard on my hands and on the onions, but neither of us has a choice. I try very hard not to let any onion skins pass down the drain . . . shades of clogged sewer last week.

After things are washed and "nuked", I set them out to dry before they are put away. The most sensitive go in the refrigerator, but most of the time a lot has to stay in bowls because there is not enough room in our TINY refrigerator.

Some of our friends are familiar with the "wall of food" that our home refrigerator showed when the door was opened. In our apartment, we hardy have the "lineup of food", let alone a wall. Since we feed the missionaries several times a week and 16 of them every other Friday we really need a bigger refrigerator.

In our present condition, Cindy cannot prepare anything ahead and freeze it or even refrigerate it. That means that we have to come home at 3:30 pm to serve a 5:00 dinner and then go back to finish the day at the office. If she had a larger refrigerator, she could make things on our P-day and just heat them for dinner. We have looked at units that are as wide as ours but 2 feet taller that would work swell in the space we have. We just have to meet with the landlady to get her to take out her old fridge that needs defrosting every two weeks and let us install our own. Everything has to go through the landlady and it's a pain, between the language, her limited availability, and her procrastination. It ain't like at home.

Here is a sample of what Cindy does for the District meeting every other Friday. This week she made enchiladas, but not just enchiladas, OH NO. She had the missionaries on the hunt for avocados for a week so she could make guacamole,. She (we) stayed up until 2 am the night before hand making chips from what looks like won ton shells. She made refried beans from 8 cans of red & white beans mashed (by yours truly), several pounds of shredded cheese, onions, and I don't know what all. She produced Spanish Rice from scratch in the big cream-colored pot using Russian stuff never intended to be Mexican. She then made a dessert from caramel candies, chocolate chips, and oatmeal. This lady knows no boundaries in her dedication to feeding the missionaries, feeling that she is lifting their spirits with food from home; and she's right.

After the meeting and the lunch or just at our several-times-a-week dinners for them, they go away stuffed and praising her great food, feeling her love, and feeling renewed. I am still in wonder at her energy and dedication to helping these missionaries feel good and re-energized for their work on the streets. She is a one-woman rejuvenator.

The only thing I can do, in my role, is to provide her with the tools to lessen the burden and make what she does as efficient as possible. We have a lot to do in the office and she cannot keep up this pace for much longer. It will end up to be a $900 donation to the mission, but buying a bigger refrigerator is the right thing to do for her.

This assignment and this country will absorb all you can give to it and still beg for more. I could spend 12 hours a day solving problems, paying bills, doing analysis and reports, and still feel like I'm behind. Cindy could spend the same time at her office tasks, cooking for the missionaries, loving them, taking care of her friends at home, and feel the same way. It is 11:25 Sunday night and she is two-fingering her monthly letter to our friends and will no doubt be up til 2 am finishing it. It is a great work filled with joy and pain, but we are glad we are here.

What a mission . . . what a country.



Kathy said...

That is all so incredible! I don't doubt that Cindy gets what she wants done! :) That attitude seems like it's so needed in the mission field.

I can't imagine what it is like to live there but, Doug, you give a good account of it.

I have a sister-in-law that says she doesn't need life insurance because the 2nd coming will come before she dies. (She's my age.) But there's so much work to be done in the gospel! Thinking about where you two are and China and India aren't even open! We have our work cut out for us.

Love to look at the photos and read your entries! Good luck!

Doretta said...

Wow, we need your energy! You are accomplishing so much in so many ways.
We were excited to see an article in the Church News about the YSA Conference that you attended and looked to see if you were in any of the pictures. (No)
We love to read your journal and look at the pictures.
Love ya, Bob and Doretta

Shannon Simmons said...

Can I tell you how much I love you both? It fills me with so much happiness to read your blogs dad - its like I am there. Sister Simmons (mom) keep up the great work. I KNOW the missionaries love a good homecooked meal and all the love behind it. Thanks for your sacrifice - the Lord is pleased!

Michelle said...

You two are amazing! Thank you Uncle Doug for all of the credit that you give to Aunt Cindy for her hard work. You are the model of a good husband, and Nick and I are working hard to follow the good examples of marriage around us, including you and Cindy. :) We will talk to Shannon about the fridge fund and help with what we can. Love you both!

Grandma Walker said...

I'm not very "up" on this technical stuff but will try a comment and see if it goes through. How I enjoy your reports...and what a GREAT job you wonderful missionaries are doing under such difficult circumstances. I admire you and love you. God bless you!!

Barbara W

Trisha said...

I agree with all that was said before.

JudyGrandma said...

You both are amazing! Amazing! Amazing!

Rodney&Sara+3 said...

It's no wonder that Trish is such a good cook with an example like you, Sister Simmons. Just reading about your cooking experiences makes me tired :) The two of you are incredible and what a blessing you must be to those missionaries, like home away from home. Bless both of you and your tireless efforts. If only we could all be so willing to serve. Thank you for your example.