Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Mystery Meat, Cooking Fail

Sister Erekson's art with a little help from friendly kids

On the Train

July 10, 2013

So here's the thing about eating dog: don't do it. That's all I have to say about that.

Haha just kidding of course I'm going to tell you the whole story! So let me back up. Last monday after I emailed you, our district had shoshlik (means shish kabob in russian) which basically consists of going into the woods and making shish kabobs. I'm pretty sure it's a ukrainian tradition and not just a misisonary tradition but it's hard to be sure. Anyways it was awesome, the elders got way into it and the meat had been marinating for 2 whole days so it was super good. except we were a bit impatient and i don't think the meat was cooked completely when we ate it. also, I probably ate more than I should and was feeling pretty full when we went to a lesson with Albina. So we were walking with Albina and her baby when it started to rain and we ran (I mean full-on sprinted) to her apartment. Now I am not a good runner in any condition, but when my stomach is full of partially cooked ukrainian meat, it's not an ideal situation. Anyways, so we get to Albina's house, teach her the first lesson and when I thought it was the perfect time for us to go home, Albina says "now my mom will cook for you." Okay, that's not really a sentence any missionary wants to hear. So we get to the table and there's these little patty things that look like baby hamburgers, but let me tell you, they were definitely not hamburgers. I started to eat it and kept a very straight face and Albina says "oh good you like it! it's from the liver." i almost asked what animal's liver i was eating, and then i decided i'd rather not know. then she asks me if i'd ever tried sala and I say no, and sister erekson tried to warn me, but i knew it was inevitable and eating nasty food is something every missionary should have to deal with so i just went for it. I told her I would love to try it. Guess what sala is....literally Lard. Straight up fat. She cut a huge chunk of it for me, put it on a piece of bread and handed it to me. I took a bite, tried to smile and she asked me what i thought. the nicest thing i could think of to say was "well, the closest american thing i can compare this to is bacon" (raw nasty bacon is what i was thinking, but i didn't say it) and Albina says "oh yes, but this is much better than bacon." Hahahaha okay biggest lie i've ever heard! anyways i choked it down and we survived but this isn't even to the good part.
so tuesday i kind of recovered, didn't really have an appetite, but by wednesday i was feeling pretty good. we went to a lesson wednesday night to a family that for some unknown reason (it became known pretty quickly) the elders had passed to us. this family is a dad and mom who are probably 40, and apparently 5 kids but we only saw three. the parents were slightly drunk and asked us super weird questions and demanded to feed us before we could have a lesson. the worst part is we brought a member with us, Nastia, who is this super awesome girl who just put in her mission papers so now after this experience she's probably regretting her deicison to go on a mission! so they brought out this food to us that honestly i cannot tell you what it was. there was some form of meat, on top of what i hope was potatoes with some sauce on top. anyways, i ate that food so fast because i knew if i dragged it out i would never be able to finish. so i just went for it. it was maybe the hardest thing i've ever done. anyways, as soon as we finish eating, the dad lets their dogs in and they smell LITERALLY exactly like the meat we just finished eating. so that was extremely disturbing. we tried to teach a lesson and they wouldn't even talk to us, they only wanted to talk to nastia because she speaks real russian, so that was great. we got out of there eventually (like 2 hours later) and as soon as we were going to walk away, they run out with this huge bag of clothes (barbara style) and told us that we could keep them or give them to the poor. haha we got home and looked at them and sister erekson said, "give them to the poor? the poor wouldn't wear them!" they were seriously just cleaning out their closet haha anyways we put the bag next to the dumpster, so maybe somebody took them.
so our stomachs were not doing so great when we left wednesday night and all morning thursday we were just lying in our beds wishing death would come sooner (happy 4th of july to us!!!). we didn't actually throw up, but i considered punching myself in the stomach to make myself throw up at one point. seriously, it was the worst. so if you ever have the choice to eat dog: DON'T DO IT. that's my life lesson for the week.
in other news, wednesday before the dog incident we got a call saying we need to be in Kharkov friday morning for registration. we were super confused because i just registered in lugansk, but it turns out it was for sister erekson so that she can stay longer and train me, so we figured it was worth the 11 HOUR TRAIN RIDE. wow. that is longer than my trans-atlantic flight! it's okay it was a sleeper train so it didn't seem too long. luckily our stomachs were feeling better by the time we got on the train because that would have been terrible. as you may or may not know, the toilets on trains here are literally holes so that you just go straight on to the tracks. well that didn't seem like a great option to me, so i managed to hold it and not go to the bathroom for 13 hours. if you know my bladder, that is a huge accomplishment. i told sister rohrbaugh and she almost cried, she was so proud of me hahaha.
so we make it to Kharkov and literally spend 5 minutes at the registration place. that's right 11 hours on a train for 2 signatures, but it's all good. I got to see Kharkov which is a way awesome city. Then we went to our first restuarant! I forget what it's called, but it was authentic Ukrainian food and i had my first borsch! It was like a million degrees in the restaurant so hot soup wasn't really what i was looking for, but it was still pretty good. Then we got on a train to donetsk (with sister rohrbaugh and her companion and two elders) it was so much fun. sister rohrbaugh and i sat together and talked and tried not to watch the tv which was playing the russian version of The Nanny which was so funny. We probably could only pick up 5 or 10 words each episode, but we could tell it was an exact copy of the american version haha. So we got to donetsk friday night and made pizza at sister rohrbaugh's apartment and then went right to bed. we had zone conference first thing in the morning where we got to meet President and Sister Lochhead which was so awesome!!! Also we heard from President Malm who is in the Eastern Europe Area Presidency. It was such a good conference. The coolest thing is that the Lochheads were there for the big missionary broadcast and also a special mission president meeting with the first presidency. President Lochhead told us that L. Tom Perry said that "the Class of 2013 Mission Presidents are the first to experience this new era of missionary work which is comparable to the coming forth of the Book of Mormon" whoa. that is a big deal!!!! this is the coolest time to be a missionary. 
Here's what I learned about President and Sister Lochhead. President Lochhead is from St. Louis, so he definitely is awesome because he's from the Midwest. Sister Lochhead is from a small town in Idaho, and they met at BYU of course. Sister Lochhead was at her very first ward activity in college when this newly returned missionary who had served in Germany came up to her and said "They won't let me through the food line anymore because they said i've gone through too many times, could you maybe get me some more food?" hahaha and the rest was history. i love it because if a guy had said that to me i would have been like, no what is wrong with you? go away! haha i guess that's why i'm not married yet. Anyways, they got married and have 6 kids and 18 grandkids. They have lived in Moscow for the last 3 years because President was the Church's lawyer for Europe East area. everyone tells us he is full of love, but it is tough love. So far I haven't seen the tough part yet, he is just so nice to us! I had an interview with him and it was so nice. He said that he is so glad I am just starting because we get to spend so much time together. I am so excited to get to know him and sister lochhead more! He said that they will be coming down to lugansk soon and he wants me to teach sister lochhead how to contact hahaha i guess i need to learn how to contact first! he also told me that i will be in a leadership position (aka training) sooner than I will want to be, but it will be good. I already knew that, but it felt more real when he told me! I can't believe I will be training so soon! it's insane! i don't know anything yet! tomorrow we get to go to donetsk to get our new companion!!! we're so excited! we went and bought her a fork this morning hahaha we only had 2. we considered telling her that she had to eat with her hands until she got a baptism but then i realized that would mean i couldn't use a fork either hahaha. 
it was so good to come back to lugansk saturday night. seriously i didn't realize how much i love lugansk until i left it for a few days. It actually feels like home. I loved going to church on sunday and realizing that i know everyone's names and consider them to be my friends. I was sitting down waiting for sacrament meeting to start and realized that i was sitting between two recent converts, both about my age and both who are my friends. it made me so happy! i love working with the members here! please be friends with the missionaries at home, it will make a big difference to them. at church we had a new investigator come which was way exciting! her name is Natalia, and she approached us in the grocery store and asked if she could come to church on sunday. of course we said yes! and she actually came! she had to leave after sacrament meeting, but she wants to meet with us later in the week. 
t-shirt of the week was this little kid, probably 5 years old, i think it was supposed to look like a football jersey and the front said "Cream 369 Sugary" and the back said "Don't Expression Made By You 158" hahaha what!?!? runner up is this lady whose shirt said "I <3 hanger" it was actually a picture of a hanger and it's ironic because we don't have hangers in our apartment and i've never realized how much i love hangers until i don't have any haha. 
on monday we were walking and within 5 minutes I saw graffiti that said "happy birthday Kait" and "i love you katya" and i took it as a sign that lugansk loves me as much as i love it. this week our elders got 2 of their investigators (a husband and wife) on date to be baptized July 27th!!!! we're so excited! there's no font here so we get to go to a river or lake, i'm so excited. This week was elder mckenney's birthday and i tried to make him a cake and it was the biggest fail of my life. i actually don't want to talk about it. sister erekson says everyone has cooking fails here though because things just don't work the same in ukraine. so then i tried to make apple cobbler as plan B and it looked pretty nasty coming out of the oven so we decided not to give it to him, but we ate it and it actually tasted pretty good haha. whoops sorry elder mckenney. sister erekson drew him a cartoon of our district though and he loved it so it's all good.
p.s. have you seen a dog in a dress and a cat in a straight jacket this week? i have!

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