Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pioneer Day Picnic 7/18/09

Pioneer Day Picnic
Clear after rain the night before
Wind calm

Last week Sasha Ozerelev asked us what kind of food the pioneers would eat. I suggested and described Jonnie Cakes and he thought that would be better than buffalo so he settled on that. Later in the week, not finding anyone to make 200 Johnnie Cakes, he asked Sister Cindy to make SOMETHING, anything because he was getting desperate. She agreed to make corn bread and made four cookie sheets of it, cut into 2 inch squares.

He also asked me what kind of drink they would have. After turning down putrid water and sour milk, he settled on my home made root beer. I made 6 liters Monday and they were finally ready that Saturday.

Sasha was the member of the district presidency in charge of the event and we wanted to help him out so we agreed to make our stuff and come to the event; something we had not really planned to do since no one seemed to know exactly where it was. We kept getting, "Over by Ikea" and "It's not too long a walk from the bus stop." To these people, not too long is about 5 miles.

We got President Yuri Gushchin to take us in his van since we had "sooo much stuff to carry" and we didn't know where it was anyway. With the transportation settled and the food assignments clear, we were committed.

Saturday morning around 9:15 he picked us up, then the Trejo's and we headed to the left bank and the picnic area. This was supposed to be a park. You know, grass, trees, tables, benches, a duck pond; you know, a park. Well, not all parks are created equal and this one was at the lower end of developed. That development consisted of a half mile walk along a jeep road to a clearing with waist-high weeks and two soccer goal frames set in the middle of the absolute wilderness. To make it even more authentic, there were thousands, no millions, of little flying bugs and about half that many mosquitos looking for a meal. I wore my suit and was pretty well covered up, but Cindy and the Trejos were the main target.

We arrived at 10:00, just at the time the event was to start and of course we were the only ones there for about 40 minutes. When the people started to come, we got debugged by the locals. The Russians have a traditional, homemade mosquito repellent made up of powdered vanilla mixed with water and sprayed with a trigger sprayer. Here Sister Cindy gets her "treatment" from Sister Gushchina who took some pleasure in spraying her.

The Trejos were good sports and tried to look like they were having a great time in spite of the bugs. They are kind, and caring people and will soon win the hearts of the people here.
Each branch gave some kind of play or reading about the
American pioneers. Two were very good with costumes and a nice story. The second branch skit involved the writing of "Come, Come Ye Saints" by William Clayton and was both accurate and well played out. As I was asked to tell a story at the last of the skits, I chose to tell the one about the Indians who, some years later, told Brigham Young that this song saved the lives of some Mormon travelers one night because the Indians could not attack them due to the influence of that song.

Here they are singing all four verses as they pretended to be the first group to sing the song. Elder Tanner and Elder Luddington are under the blanket.

Here, I am telling my story with Ivon Shmakov as my translator while I used the area we were in to describe the setting. I took advantage of the clearing as being similar to the place where the immigrants were camped and the surrounding trees as where the Indians were hiding, ready to shoot their arrows at the chief's signal that never came. As the chief said, "As we heard the singing of that song, our hands turned to stone and we could not give the signal nor release our arrows. The Great Spirit was in that song and we could not kill people who were friends of the Great Spirit."

Later they played pioneer games and ate the "pioneer" food consisting mostly of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, some breads, Cindy's corn bread, and my root beer. At left, Sister Cindy is setting out her bread and honey-butter.

At left, Elders Gardner and Luddington get read to square off in the stick pull. They were a pretty even match until Elder Luddington lost his grip. They also had the standing broad jump and other games of the period. In spite of the bugs and the wet conditions, everyone had a good time.

If it were not for the bugs, this would have been an ideal spot with the open meadow, the fragrant grass, and the clusters of wild flowers; daisies, bachelor buttons, irus, asters, and lilies. Someone gave me a bug chaser, a branch from a willow, and that made it bearable. Cindy got many bites while I had only two, due to my suit, the vanilla spray, and the bug chaser.

What a picnic. What a country.


Bob Steed said...

Elder and Sister Simmons - What a fun day that must have been! We had a similar event in Carmichael Stake, but I would bet that your event had a stronger spirit about it. Once again, thanks for the detailed story telling. I very much enjoy reading the posts. I can imagine myself standing with you both, having these experiences together.

Trisha said...

It sounds as if you truly had a pioneer experiance. Our ward and stake did nothing. I don't know if that is because we are in Utah or we have a huge prepardness fair comming up, but I do miss those things. i think next year we will do more as family in this area. Tell me more about this vanilla bug stuff. Need to know.

Andrea S said...

Sounds like a really fun pioneer celebration.

Mom/Cindy said...

A good time---glad for the experience. The wonderful attenders were happy to be there. And the vanilla experience was worth the trip and more! Don't try it at home, guys. It's different vanilla---no sugar and no alcohol to start with!!!!!!Wahoo!!!!!


Rosa Lee said...

Hello Elder and Sister Simmons. Always enjoy your posts. The pioneer event looks and sounds like everyone had a great time. Just goes to show you that even bugs couldn't keep the spirit away. Loved your story about the indians.