We were invited to the pastor's house for dinner. When we pulled up to the house, I saw a plush garden pretty much the size of a lot. It was very green. Next to the house was a small, swamp-like lake they used for watering their garden.
A few weeks ago, the pastor's wife died giving birth. His sister was helping the family out during this time. She cooked us a meal of beet borscht, macaroni with chicken, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, bread, curd, potatoes, bagel pretzels that tasted like animal crackers, and two different chewy candies that tasted like sugary honey and the other that was minty-fruity. I didn't care for either of them. She served us milk straight from the cow. It was warm and interesting.
The problem with my meal here was my observation of the kitchen. The kitchen was the first room prior to entering the main body of the house. It was a covered porch. The smell was pungeantly rancid and once again there were flies all over the food she had obviously prepared for us. She had it all sitting on the counter, ready to be served. If I hadn't of seen that before we entered the house, I would have been fine. Out of sight, out of mind if you know what I mean. I really, really tried, but I couldn't eat much of the food. I noticed that many of my teammates didn't either. We all came prepared with medicine (Cipro) in case we ate bad food on the trip but I just couldn't get that image out of my mind.
After dinner, we proceeded to the living room. Toys were randomly displayed on shelves and tables. There were items of mismatch everywhere. There were curtains hanging up in the doorways and unfinished walls that didn't reach the ceiling. I later learned that the heat circulates better in the winter for them that way. They did have a t.v. and a vcr. They also had a piano that was in serious need of tuning. The pastor's tween daughter played and sang for us. Children of Russia are highly educated in music and know how to play an instrument or two. My hosts found out by my big-mouth teammates that I sing for our church back at home. I was a choir member and worship singer for our congregation. They asked me to sing for them but I was slightly overwhelmed so I wasn't quite ready to come out of my shell for them. I didn't really want to be the center of attention in that way.
We sat in the living room visiting; Posha translating for us as we talked. The pastor's wife kept trying to get us to eat apples she had picked from their tree. We kept politely refusing and she agrily said, "You will be disgracing Russia, if you do not eat these!" in which Posha translated for us. We ate them after that comment. We left soon after that, at about 5:00 P.M. If we didn't eat flies with our dinner, we were for sure catching them in our mouths while we slept in the van. We were out of it with exhuastion.