Borscht and a cake from Brooklyn


The Christ Presbyterian Church Missions Conference concludes tomorrow. Two of our missionaries will be speaking to the combined adult Sunday School classes. Bob Mulloy is with Tulsa-based Literacy and Evangelism International, assigned to Mindanao in the Philippines. Bob's next assignment is to develop a written language for an ethnic group that is known for piracy and which follows a blend of Islam and animism. This group has about a dozen Christians in a population of over 100,000. The other missionary speaker, Doug Shepherd Jr., will be headed back to Ukraine later this year with his Ukrainian bride Masha and their first child (once first child arrives). The Shepherds will be planting Presbyterian churches for Mission to the World. Doug will also be preaching during morning worship. (For what it's worth, I'll be filling in as worship leader.)

Bob, Doug, and Masha spoke at Friday night's missions banquet. The content was very interesting -- I hope to write about what Doug and Masha said about the gap between the program-oriented approach American mission organizations take to ministry and the things that really had an effect on the lives of Ukrainians.

For now, I'll just mention the food. A good missions conference should introduce you to some unfamiliar customs, words, and sounds, and, if possible, strange food. Friday night's buffet line featured styrofoam cups of hot purplish-red stuff with a dollop of something white and creamy. Hot cherry jello with whipped cream? was the question in the mind of the man who once, in a cafe in Wales, put a spoonful of mushy peas in his mouth expecting to taste guacamole.

It was borscht, of course, and it was good, but then I like beets. The whole meal was Ukrainian. The main course was chicken pilaf, which we were told was really an Uzbek dish that has been adopted by Ukrainians.

Dessert was a cake of many colors, textures, and flavors -- green icing and white cream and chocolate cake and some light brown crumbly stuff (nuts?) and red cherry filling in layers. Apparently you can't get a cake like this in Tulsa, so someone brought it from the Kiev Bakery in Brooklyn, New York. The cake box had a checkmark next to the word крещатик, and I'm told the cake is also known as Kiev torte. I don't know if our cake had a fancy design on the outside -- it was already cut when I got some -- but that page about Kiev torte is a great description of the texture and flavor. I suspect this is the same kind of cake I tasted (and later blogged enthusiastically about) at an event in New York last August.

You hear about homesick folks who have favorite foods from home shipped to where they are -- wings from Buffalo, deep-dish pizza from Chicago, ribs from Texas. I was impressed that someone would think to have this cake shipped in, not to satisfy his or her own yearning for familiar flavors, but to go beyond sight and sound to use another of the senses to connect our congregation with Ukraine, a nation where we've been investing our prayers, our finances, and our people for over the last 10 years.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 5, 2005 11:49 PM.

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