Lance & Megan's Blog

Revolutionary Mashed Potatoes


Who knew mashed potatoes could cause such a ruckus? In Ukraine they’re all the rage. Behold the mighty potato! I did not think to write about this since it seemed like such a small funny moment, but I am still hearing about. So it now warrants a place in the blog.

Last Sunday I was on dinner duty with another girl named Inna. She wanted to do some kind of fried wafer thing. I will tried to explain this as best I could but it took up way too much space. Just know that it involves cooked rice, mixed with diced hard boiled eggs, sauteed mushrooms and onions sandwiched between two crispy round wafers and fried. Sounds crazy, but it was really good.

I volunteered to make American mashed potatoes. What are American mashed potatoes? I figure they’re mashed potatoes with the skin on. No big deal to me, but I discovered it’s a big deal here.

Lena was going to help me by pealing the potatoes, but I stopped her and said “no, no, no, we’ll leave the skins on. It’s easier.”

I should have gotten the clue when she said “with the skins? Mashed potatoes with the skin on?”

I kinda laughed at her simple question. Until I realized her shock was sincere. She asked “how do you do that? Oh, you mean you cook them first and then peal them.” Nope, I meant to mash the potatoes with the skins on and then eat them with the potatoes. She went on to explain she had never heard of that and that she was very curious how that would turn out. She left the kitchen with that look like she needed to be prepared with plan B incase these crazy American mashed potatoes did not turn out.

Well the shock and horror continued as various people filtered through the kitchen hearing of the rumored American mashed potatoes. There were not too many comments at dinner, but most people seemed to enjoy them. I only saw one young man picking out the skins from his mashed potatoes, but I know he picks out a lot of vegetables from his meals so I don’t count him. I actually got a few compliments.

This was all over a week ago. Middle of last week, I hear from my DTS directors that it can be offensive to some people to eat the skins of potatoes. It is more a sign of being poor. The first time he was in the states and was served mashed potatoes with the skins he was mortally offended.

Today was the clincher. I was informed that several people thought the grayish brown things in the potatoes were mushrooms. (That’s actually a good idea when you think about it.) They recounted their stories of eating mashed potatoes with skins for me just tonight. They told me they thought ‘hmmm that’s not mushrooms. What could that be?’ When they discovered that they were potato skins, they thought ‘that’s funny, why would she mash potatoes and then put the skins back in?’  Hahaha, I chuckled out loud at this.

We have one staff member who is the mother of our base director, she is grandma to everyone. This rumor of mashed potatoes with skin reached her because I guess she asked someone else “is it true, did Megan really make mashed potatoes with skin?”

Another student told me at first he was shocked. He probably would not have eaten the potatoes had he known what was really in them. He informed me that in Ukraine potato skins are what you give the pigs. GREAT! I just called my entire class a bunch of pigs!! He relieved my sudden feeling of horror and desire to sink into the floor with saying that he liked them. Whew, I may have called him a pig but at least he liked the slop I gave him.

I may have just  started a revolution with my mashed potatoes! What other kind of revolution can I start? Hee hee hee…

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Being like cabbage


I forgot to mention one funny cultural moment.

It has gotten colder here in Ternopil so people have been a little cold. I asked one girl if she was cold and I kinda pointed at her clothes since she was wearing a long sleeved shirt, a sweater and a scarf.

She said “yes, yes kabage, like kabage.”

I gave my smiling blank face look. “..kabage? Sto kabage?” [What is kabage?]

There have been a few times when I am confused on whether someone is telling me a new word in Russian or they are mispronouncing an English word. This was one of those times.

She repeated this mystery word again and followed it with some hand motions.

I was still lost. And she said, “you know many clothes.”

It came to me. Like a candle being lit in a dark room, I saw the light. CABBAGE! She was talking about wearing many layers like a cabbage is wrapped up in many layers.

I found this really funny. Only in Ukraine would it make sense to say you are wearing many layers like a cabbage. I am quite positive North Americans would not think of that.

What would we say? Any thoughts on what North Americans would compare themselves to if they were wrapped up in many layers?

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Hooray for Kiev!

The conference was not the end of our adventures away from Ternopil! Oh we were there for a whole nother week!

After the conference, we joined forces with the Kiev DTS team to sit under the tutelage of the prestigious Al Akimoff. It was an honor to hear from such a man of God. He had worked in the Soviet Union smuggling Bibles in for years. Let me just say he was full of story after story! I though surely we have heard all the good ones, but no, there was always more.

The housing got complicated, it wasn’t like Ternopil. We couldn’t just wake-up, mosey on over to the shower, get ready for the day in a nice and orderly fashion, and meander down to breakfast. Nope, life just can’t always be that easy. [Note: Maybe I exaggerated a little bit on how “easy” my life is.] The YWAM base in Kiev is on a barge and yes, the barge is in the river. So space is limited needless to say and there was not enough room for us to sleep at the base. The staff graciously opened up their homes to us. We were all split up into small groups, some groups had 5 some had 1.

I was fortunate enough to spend the week with Lena’s family. Lena’s (our translator) parents allowed four completely strange girls to come and stay with them for a whole week. Yes, I meant to say completely strange as opposed to complete strangers- we can be strange. There were actually 6 of us total staying in a tiny Soviet apartment. Her parents were so incredibly loving, they each felt like they had adopted new daughters.

Outside of teaching times, we led different times of worship and fellowship with the Kiev DTS. It was overall, a great opportunity for the Ternopil team to see how it is being outside our comfort zone. We were not in charge, we did not know the schedule, we had to simply be ready and wait. Everyone is grateful to be back in Ternopil and we are even more grateful to be where we are.

posted under DTS, team, travel | 1 Comment »

I’m back…


Actually, I’ve been back. I have much to catch you up on. Right now I will start with the conference in Kiev.

It was an honor to hear from Loren Cunningham and his wife Darlene and to celebrate 50 years of YWAM!! I had actually just finished his book Is That Really You God? a week earlier so I knew a little more about how YWAM started. He gave a little history on YWAM, where YWAM is now and where they want to go in the future. Lots of vision and wisdom!

Our team was not the only team there of course. There were teams from Georgia, Armenia, Russia and naturally, Ukraine. Many people came just to hear from Loren but others came to reunite with old friends. We had a great time learning about the different cultures represented with in Eastern Europe. I discovered Armenians love to dance and Georgia is a very beautiful country. Russians and Ukrainians have a humor all their own. It was a great time of coming together.

We stayed at a retreat center which is a called a sanatorium here. I got a little worried the first time I heard that, but was relieved to find out we would be the only ones on the compound. It is a very old retreat center built in the 70s’ during the Communist era. Let me just say that I am quite positive nothing has changed since then. Same furniture, same appliances… it was old and very communist-like. I have to confess, I was excited to leave my squeaky bed when Saturday came.

I am going to leave you with a photo of everyone at the conference with Loren and Darlene Cunningham. Can you find me? I know, I just asked the impossible.

I will update you on the rest of my busy life soon!

(I know the picture is small, it was either a fuzzy picture or an enormous picture. Sorry!)

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