Another District Meeting Lunch
Fog, burning off around noon
5.8c Wind Calm
Sister Cindy is doing her magic in the kitchen Friday morning multi-tasking with the phone, dishtowel, the sour cream, cooking the re-fried beans, and the ground beef for the burritos.
IT'S MEXICAN LUNCH DAY at the Simmons house because sister Cindy found REAL tortillas at the Syuprmarkyet across from the Poshe Lennina metro stop and the opera house. She made a second shopping trip Thursday with the Gushins who just came back from a 4 week visit to Utah & California. They are sort of expensive (637 roubles for 7 pkg of 6 each) but the missionaries really love Mexican food. By 9:00 pm last night they were all gone.
This was the last District dinner for some of our Elders. The Zone Leader, Elder McCleary is going to Kemerovo, Sister Berlutskiya is going to Ulan-Ude on the far east of the mission, Elder Pister is headed to Omsk, and Elder Doroshkin is going to Krasnoyarsk. We are getting Elders Bradshaw, Olson, Wilson, and sister Timochko. Elder Egan, the AP will be replaced by Elder West. Change is good, but we will miss these missionaries for a time.
A word about Elder McCleary (in the Cabo chair under the window, I have trouble remembering that he is only 20 years old. He has a great spiritual depth that comes out each time he teaches the District Meeting lesson. This week he instructed the district to set personal goals and be accountable to themselves. He also bore his testimony about the search for the elect and that when we as missionaries are lonely or discouraged to remember that "them who are with us are more than them who are against us". I love this young man and hope that he comes back into Novosibirsk again before we leave.
Some of these young men are pretty big and here is the proof. On the right is a missionary pair of shoes next to Sister Cindy's shoes. Enough said!
Today was a busy day with two other major events. The first was the Yulia License celebration in the office. She finally passed her driving test and we all had cake and ice cream to celebrate with her. She is a sweet young lady and a lot of fun. She speaks good English but does not have confidence to do it often.
After the Office Elders and the Assistants came by to help us finish the last of the burritos, Sister Cindy and I did our house jobs (I ironed 10 shirts and did the laundry while she finished reading and responding to her emails) and we opened the 5 boxes we had received this week.
It was a voyage of discovery, uncovering treasured ingredients from the mysterious land of California and the frozen plains of South Dakota. What a thrill, each time to open a box and see what creativity emerged from it. We got a lot of cooking spices, brown sugar (non-existent here) powdered sugar (also extinct in Siberia) coconut, and a variety of other miscellaneous items. We got soup mixes, candies, Gatorade, jello, and Spam. I don't know who thought up the Spam, but that's got to be the most unusual item in the whole shipment.
Several boxes had ruptured plastic bags which made for an interesting mix in the bottom of the box. One box was torn open and they delivered it in a bag like Elder Lunt's last month. We salvaged EVERYTHING, pouring out of one of the emptied boxes a mixture of Gatorade and lemon jello into a zip lock bag for later use. That should be interesting. We looked like a couple of desperate, marooned sailors who just had a box dropped from a spotter plane. You should have seen us as Cindy would say, shaking the box again, "I think there is an other teaspoonful here. Hold the bag up higher.
We combined it with the earlier box from Trisha and from Heidi Coleman, a great friend who was in our ward before she got married and moved. Her box was wonderful too. By the time we got it all inventoried and sat back, the thought hit both of us, "Where are we going to put this stuff?" After going through the entire apartment's geography, we settled on consolidating the landlady's teenybopper book collection into one shelf of the hutch and opening up the area under my "desk". Here is the after-glow of this box-opening frenzy.
It is so fun to get these boxes and discover what our friends have sent to their "starving" missionaries in Siberia. Honestly, we are not starving, but we do miss some of the comfort-food things and ingredients that we are used to and covet. I think we are good on most of the dried herbs used in most cooking, and we are definitely well stocked with that white powder, oh yes, Creme of Tartar. It is surely not cream and I don't know if it is tart or not, but we sure have a lot of it.
Since this stuff is Sister Cindy's department, I hesitate to make any comment and I am surely grateful for the Gatorade and peanut butter, but I have noticed an obvious absence of Reese's Pieces. Now I don't want the 19 of you blog followers to get the idea that I am asking for Reese's Pieces or even M&M peanut candies. I wouldn't think of encroaching on Sister Cindy's territory, but it is just an observation. I also noticed a lack of Duct Tape. Now there is an essential for anyone marooned on a desert (or arctic) island for any time at all.
Anyway, thank you, thank you, thank you for all that sage and tartar, and thyme, and stuff. I am looking forward to what Sister Cindy is going to make with it all and I am keeping the Spam for myself; Cindy is not a lover of 1940's prepared meats. It will go great on the stale bread in the office refrigerator.What friends. What a District. What a country.