Monday, April 4, 2011

Missionary Monday - What's in the Box?

When we returned from America two weeks ago, these boxes (above) were waiting for us. And, I promised to share with you what was in them. When we first came to Ukraine nearly nine years ago, I'll never forget David telling me that we could live on little and still be very happy. He said, "If Ukrainians can live without it, so can we!" Wisely stated. Of course, he was telling me that we could not just box up Wal-Mart (or Target) and ship it to ourselves, and that I was going to have to get used to not having availability to some things anymore. Not that we lived with a lot then, anyway... I mean we were newlyweds and had just finished deputation. (We were on the field just two years after we were married.)
So, all that said... we can live without so much.... and we have. But, since we were just back in the states and had the opportunity to stock up on some supplies, I enjoyed the pleasure of it all. So, just ask yourself, if you could box up some things that you knew would not be available to you for two years and ration it out, what would you take? Well, as far as food goes, here are some things I decided on (I'll share non-food items in a later post):

Now, some things you saw in the pictures that we can get here: baking powder and cocoa (I just wanted the handy, labeled cans for refilling with the little packets we buy here), popcorn (expensive here) and peanut butter (expensive and "dry").

Some other things I have brought in the past or people have brought me: syrup, powdered sugar (we have it here, but the quality is not as good), lots of various seasonings and spices, cake mixes, brownie/muffin/cornbread mixes (no mixes here, including pancake mix or Bisquick), hot chocolate packets, hot apple cider packets, Kool-aid, marshmallows, Reese's, Butterfinger, Oreo cookies, pudding, jello, Starbucks coffee {gotta love it!}, etc...

There are other things we cannot get but just do not bring, either because it is too heavy, will go bad, or just is not practical because it gets used up too quickly. Some good examples of this would be the cans of Campbell's soups, Velveeta cheese, or cherry pie filling. (The pumpkin pie filling you see in the picture was not mine but my mother-in-law's who bought it to take to Mexico and it accidently got shipped in my things! Oh, well... guess I'll just have to "suffer.") We also have to give serious consideration to the weight of items since it is costly to ship things and we pay by the pound.

In an earlier post, I mentioned Reese's and Starbucks coffee being high on our priority list, but in actuality, the only Reese's I brought was to give as a gift to another missionary wife. And, the things we do bring for ourselves are rationed out over time and savored... every morsel is enjoyed to the fullest.

It is amazing to learn what you can really live without. And by the way, there are some things here that are not in America that we have learned to love and miss when we are not here!

And, did you know... living without all of the "instant" foods has made me learn how to cook from scratch? And that's not a bad thing! I've also learned the meaning of the word "substitute." Also, I'm sure my family is much healthier here than they would be if we lived in America. So, hard as it may be to spend so much time in the kitchen at times, the end result (a healthy family) is certainly worth it. It was also funny to me to return to America this last time and think that so many things there tasted "fake." Yep, we are eating real food here... it may be simple and modest, but it is not processed. So, any volunteers for the mission field?


  1. I had to laugh when I saw the cumin! Enchiladas anyone?

  2. Yep, since hubby is from Mexico, cumin is a must! Too bad I can't bring over packages of tortillas as well!

  3. Do you have a tortilla press? That is a great invention!

  4. Looks like some pretty good stuff. :)

  5. Jessica, come on over and I'll share! Laura, yes, I have a manual tortilla press (which I rarely use - shame on me!), but I've seen electric ones that press AND cook them.

  6. Had to laugh at all the chocolate chips. Can't get those here either. I brought two big bags with me on the plane. But I guess they were sitting too close to the engine in the plane. They were two big melted masses when I unpacked my boxes! You should've seen me with a meat pounder smashing those chocolate rocks apart! I refused to throw them away--that's gold over here!

  7. It was fun seeing what you took back. Just this evening I organized all the spices and flavorings I brought over last week. It sure was fun and mind boggling trying to shop for 4 years! :)

  8. Jolene, I have a homemade recipe for Bisquick if you would like it. You can make more than you need and it will keep for a while. Let me know if you would like it and I will email it to you.

  9. Jolene,
    Thankyou for the peek into the boxes. IT is true that the food in the States tasets "fake" I love all the fresh produce , steemed vegetables and chicken that actually tastes like chicken! our year round fresh produce is great. what kind of fresh vegies and fruit do you get there?

  10. Rosemary LechnowskyTuesday, April 05, 2011

    Thank you so much for sharing this info with us, Jolene! We are coming back to Ukraine in May and I was really hoping to get ideas on things that aren't easy to get there and that would be appreciated by the Ukrainian people. Chocolate chips were on the top of my list, but marshmallows are definitely coming as well (and maybe popcorn)! :-)

  11. LOL you never know what you have until you do not have it, loved this post, and to see how things are in the UK, God bless you.

  12. This is such a fun post, Jolene! And, you are right about America and all the "fast" and processed foods. It's SAD! I pray that I use wisdom when preparing healthy meals for our family too, but at times I give in to the temptation to grab "Chick-fil-A."

    I would love to hear some of your favorite, whole-food recipes? =)

    Oh, and maybe we will see you in Germany!!! Hugs!

  13. Rosemary,

    Just make sure that the Ukrainians you bring popcorn to have microwaves! LOL! :)

  14. Thank you so much for the sweet comment on my blog. It meant so much!

    I did add the subscribe by email button. It is on the bottom right. :)

    Have a great week!

  15. Jolene, what is the most economical way to ship big boxes like that? I'd like to mail a package to friends in Ukraine, but I've never even sent an international letter before, so I'm sort of clueless.

  16. Hello Jolene,
    I just read your missionary Monday post on your blog and I had to laugh! So many items mirrored what I request and bring
    back myself. Yes, I cook from scratch as well, but I grew up with my mom cooking from scratch:) I also love that fact that my family
    is eating healthy.

    Congratulations on the birth of your adorable baby boy. We just celebrated Austin's 2nd birthday and I can't believe that he is so old so fast!

    Praying for you,


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25