Thursday, October 10, 2013

Cheese Deception

Today will always be a special and bizarre day for me.  12 years ago, I entered a training center to learn Mongolian, which didn't really work, and then two months later I found myself on a plane headed to Asia, where I lived for the next 16 months serving a LDS mission.  Now, don't get me wrong, I could go on and on about the life changing experiences I had in Mongolia, but that's not why you read this blog.  Right Mom?  You read it for the humor, and trust me, while in Mongolia some very funny stuff went down.  (You had to find things funny because the country only gave you three choices: Laugh, Cry or Freeze.)

So, here's one of my favorite moments:

When you serve a LDS mission you are always with someone else, who is called "your companion."  (Or "Escapee from the insane asylum"...oh wait, this isn't a story about that.)   At the time of this story I was companion with one of my best friends, Katie McBride.  McBride knew about twenty words of Mongolian more than I did and could tap dance, which I sort of made her do whenever the chance arose.  Yes, it was a beautiful partnership.  One day we found ourselves teaching inside this Mongolian tent, or ger, to...and the details are getting slighty fuzzy here, but I think a family.  Anyway, while we were teaching the man offered us some cheese.  Now before I go any further I should explain that food in Mongolian is pretty awful.  It' I think that sentence actually covered's awful and this cheese was no exception. I think if I remember correctly, it was from camel's milk.  Didn't know camels made milk?  Well they do and someone in the world is making cheese out of it.

Anyway, McBride and I had this stupid rule that whatever the one ate the other companion had to match it.  The rule was going really well until one day McBride threw out a bowl of mare's milk, which tastes exactly like baby throw-up, out the window before the person, who gave it to us, returned to the room.  Unfortunately, I was still holding my bowl and since hers was empty I was forced to actually drink mine so we didn't offend our host.  To say this caused some friction to the rule would be a slight understatement.

Back to the cheese.  So, there we were trying to bite and chew through this forsaken camel cheese, when I realized the small stool I was sitting on allowed me to discretely lower my cheese, without anyone seeing me, and hide it in my shoe.  Which I did....without telling McBride.  So, there I sat with no cheese in sight, a satisfied look on my face, and then I did the unthinkable - I asked for some more.  Immediately, McBride shot me a look and realized she was going to have to finish her piece of cheese and then get an additional piece!  Quietly, she asked me if I had eaten the cheese, and I told her, like any honest missionary, "Yes."  This continued through a couple more pieces, until one fateful pencil rolled off the table, and as McBride reached down to retrieve it, she saw my shoe lined with pieces of cheese I had claimed to enjoy.

Folks, I saw lives changed in Mongolia because of the work I was blessed to be a part of.  However, the moment McBride's eyes widened in disbelief at my cheese deception was the true time my life changed for the better.

I can't remember what exactly happened afterwards, but I think we started throwing the cheese at each other once we got outside, and then some kids came by and started eating our discarded cheese.  Oh, Mongolia, how I miss you.

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