“I never played soccer before my mission, but now I’ll watch and play whenever I get the chance,” Hurd said. “I have about four or five different jerseys from Mexico’s national team to a few different teams in the Mexican professional league.”
In addition to developing better study and organizational habits, sister missionary Amberlee Lovell said she has a habit of relating everything to LDS Church history after serving in the New York Rochester Mission.
For example, she recently saw a wooden bucket.
“When I saw that bucket, I thought of a cooper, who made such items (in the 1800s),” Lovell said. “Then I remembered that Joseph Smith Sr. was a cooper. I’m always thinking about things like that.”
Bonnie Spencer was a Spanish-speaking missionary in the Washington D.C. North Mission. While developing an appreciation for Hispanic food, social skills and the Spanish language, Spencer also learned she liked to run.
“Many of my companions liked to run,” she said. “That ignited my interest in running.”
In addition to pelmeni, Ferrin favors two other Russian foods — borscht and kefir.
Borscht is a red beet soup that Ferrin’s wife makes because she knows he loves it. The bright red soup includes beets, beef, carrots and potatoes.
Kefir is a little more complicated. Ferrin describes it as a cluster of yeasts and bacteria that you drop in a cup of milk and leave in the refrigerator overnight, turning it into a “sweet, yogurt-like consistency.”
“The next morning you dump it out, stir in some fruit, maybe some sugar and drink it up. It’s a little bitter, a little buttermilky, but it’s unique,” Ferrin said. “You remove the cultures themselves, rinse them and drop them in another cup of milk and back into the fridge for another day. You can keep making as much as you want.”
It’s important to get the timing right — too long and it’s nasty, not long enough and it’s like warm milk, Ferrin said. One son tried the substance after Ferrin told him it was like a Go-Gurt, but other family members have declined. His wife smelled it once.
“It’s science meets cuisine,” Ferrin said. “There is a little bit of bravery involved in eating it, but I love the flavor. It reminds me of Russia.”
As a missionary in the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission, Kyle Christensen said the pantry was often empty. The most common items were basic in nature, including salsa, tuna, mayonnaise and tortilla chips. One day he experimented with those ingredients and discovered something.
“I mixed the salsa, mayo and tuna together and ate them with the chips,” Christensen said. “It was good. I still have it from time to time.”
Ben Sweat was serving in the Wisconsin Milwaukee Mission when he tried his first bratwurst.
“Brats are definitely a Wisconsin thing,” he said. “I still love them, though my wife doesn’t have the same penchant for them. A pack of eight lasts me forever.”
Josh Sorensen acquired a love of pasta and Italian food while serving in the Italy Catania Mission from 1998-2000. His favorite recipe includes olive oil, crushed red pepper, parsley and Parmesan cheese.
“We still eat pasta a couple times a week,” Sorensen said. “I make this one for myself whenever I eat alone.”
Darin Southam, who served in El Salvador, wouldn’t say he is much of a cook, although he still savors a traditional plate of beans, cheese and rice once in a while. The most important lessons he returned home with are ones every faithful missionary is capable of retaining — an appreciation of the culture, a love of the people and a stronger testimony of the gospel.
“I brought home a spiritual sensitivity from my mission that I did not previously have,” Southam said. “My ability to listen to and act upon spiritual impressions was greatly augmented from my experience as a missionary.”
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